Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she welcomes former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s entry in the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
“As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier,” Harris, who’s also running, told MSNBC’s Peter Alexander on Thursday shortly after O’Rourke kicked off his campaign.
O’Rourke, who narrowly lost his long-shot bid for Senate in 2018 against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said in his announcement video that voters should “show ourselves and those who will succeed us in this great country just who we are and what we can do.”
The 2020 field now includes 15 Democrats, and former Vice President Joe Biden is likely to join them.
Harris praised her rivals.
“I think we have an embarrassment of riches among the Democrats who are running,” Harris said. “We have incredible public servants who are smart, whose voices are important, and I think it’s going to be a robust and a very healthy process, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the biggest name in the Democratic competition, had a far less enthusiastic reaction to O’Rourke’s run when asked by CNN’s Ryan Nobles.
“Free country, anybody can run,” Sanders said.
O’Rourke acknowledged that as a white male, he faces legitimate questions from voters who are seeking diversity in 2020. In a Vanity Fair interview published Wednesday, he noted his identity is “part of the problem,” adding that he could “totally understand people who will make a decision based on the fact that almost every single one of our presidents has been a white man, and they want something different for this country.”
However, Harris, a candidate of color, said she trusts that the public “is smart enough to make decisions based on who speaks their truth.
O’Rouke’s website currently offers no descriptions of policy platforms. He has been an ardent supporter of immigration rights and has advocated for the removal of El Paso’s border fencing. He also has expressed support for universal health care, gun control and criminal justice reform.