Kamala Harris Has Been Shopping a Book and Fueling 2020 Talk

Going on a national tour is a rite of passage for any White House aspirant.


Sandy Huffaker/Getty

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a rising star in the Democratic ranks often spoken about as a potential presidential challenger in 2020, shopped a book to a number of New York publishers as recently as a month ago, The Daily Beast has learned.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Daily Beast, the senator’s working title for the project was “Speaking Truth: Hard Facts and Hope for America’s Future.”

“Senator Harris has been encouraged by many people over the years to write a second book and is actively considering it,” Lily Adams, communications director for Harris, told The Daily Beast.

A national book tour is a rite of passage for any potential White House aspirant. And Harris has a history of publishing shortly before making a campaign run. In 2009, she wrote her first book Smart on Crime before successfully running for California attorney general.

“Speaking Truth” certainly has all the hallmarks of a pre-campaign-launch book, with personal anecdotes about a humble upbringing, stories about individuals who inspired the California senator, policy prescriptions for the future, and calls for national unity amid a digitally fueled rise of partisanship.

“We’re thinking in 280 characters and in emojis, and it’s causing a generational divide between parents and kids that we haven’t seen before,” the proposal says. “It’s causing people to feel displaced and to wonder where they fit in or if they are obsolete.”

The book proposal casts Harris as a political underdog who has overcome numerous obstacles and expectations. In it, she notes how she won a San Francisco district attorney race that people said was “impossible” to win, recounts how she took heat “on all sides” by seeking large settlements from banks as California attorney general in 2011, and says she “can’t count the number of times people have told me that a choice I’d made was political suicide.”

Harris writes about racial bias and her personal experience contending with it, including a story about a neighbor not being able to play with her at a young age “because her parents didn’t want her playing with black kids.” And she deals with the gender politics of her current place of work, the U.S. Senate, including instances in which her male colleagues interrupted her line of questioning.

“I wasn’t focused on power games or gender dynamics,” the proposal reads. “I was simply trying to get answers to my questions. I was trying to get at the truth, just as I always did when I was a prosecutor.”

The book proposal also offers an outline of a laundry list of Harris’ political priorities, including a number of boilerplate Democratic issues such as disappearing jobs, racism, climate change, drug dependency, and mass incarceration. Should Harris end up running for president, this would be a veritable policy white paper for her campaign. And it comes with themes. Chapters include “Income Inequality is Robbing Us of Our Dreams,” “When We Attack Immigrants, We Attack Ourselves,” “Our Criminal Justice System is Not Always Just,” and “All Issues Are Women’s Issues.”

“These are the hard truths we must face,” the introduction reads. “And these moments, when others are trying to convince us we have nothing in common—that we should talk over one another, or that we are set against one another in a zero-sum game—are the exact moments at which we must embrace our commonality the most.”

The book proposal also packs in pop culture references. Harris hat-tips Stephen Colbert, and one of the proposed sections discusses the Oscar-nominated gritty comic book film Logan, in the context of automation.

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“There is a scene in the latest Wolverine movie, Logan, in which there’s a car chase on a highway,” the Harris proposal reads. “There are a bunch of trucks driving fast on the other side of the road. If you don’t look carefully, you wouldn’t notice that there are no cabs on the trucks. They are all driverless.”

Though the quotes and excerpts are extensive, the copy of the proposal obtained by The Daily Beast may have only been a preliminary version of what could become a published work.

Harris, and those close to her, have remained mum on a potential 2020 bid. But beyond the book proposal, there are signs suggesting she is indeed entertaining the possibility. Vogue published a glossy profile of the California Democrat on Monday with praise from a number of her colleagues. She and a number of other high-profile Democrats have also been spending money on digital ads despite not being up for re-election (such ads help prospective candidates collect email addresses for future fundraising solicitations). Recently asked by Politico if she might have aspirations for higher office at some point in the future, Harris joked, “I have aspirations to get through this interview.”