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Harris on Gabbard criticism: 'I'm obviously a top-tier candidate' so I expect to 'take hits'

The Hill logo The Hill 8/1/2019 Marina Pitofsky
a group of people standing in front of a computer screen: Harris on Gabbard criticism: 'I'm obviously a top-tier candidate' so I expect to 'take hits' © Getty Images Harris on Gabbard criticism: 'I'm obviously a top-tier candidate' so I expect to 'take hits'

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) hit back at Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a fellow 2020 White House hopeful, after the congresswoman attacked her record as a prosecutor in California, calling herself a "top-tier candidate" and noting Gabbard's standing in recent polling.

"This is going to sound immodest, but I'm obviously a top-tier candidate, and so I did expect that I would be on the stage and take hits tonight because there are a lot of people that are trying to make the stage for the next debate," Harris said during interview with CNN Wednesday night after the last Democratic presidential debate in Detroit. "Especially when people are at zero or 1 percent or whatever she might be at, and so I did expect that I might take hits tonight."

During the debate, Gabbard accused Harris of advocating for jailing people for marijuana violations, keeping "people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor," fighting for a cash bail system and hiding evidence that would have freed an "innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so."

"Sen. Harris says she's proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she'll be a prosecutor president, but I'm deeply concerned about this record," Gabbard said.

Harris defended her record during and after the debate, saying she is proud of the work she did that went beyond giving "fancy speeches."

"I did the work of significantly changing the criminal justice system and I'm proud of that work, to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor but actually doing the work," Harris said on the debate stage.

Harris also called Gabbard out for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in 2017 and declining to call him a war criminal.

"Listen, this coming from someone who has been an apologist for an individual, Assad, who has murdered the people of his country like cockroaches," Harris told CNN.

"I can only take what she says and her opinion so seriously, and so I'm prepared to move on," she continued.

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