By Amanda Terkel and Sarah Ruiz-Grossman
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced Monday that she will be running for president in 2020.
The theme of Harris’ campaign will be “For the people,” and she is expected to formally announce her candidacy in a speech on Jan. 27 in Oakland, California.
The senator previewed her announcement in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, and her campaign released a short introductory video.
“I love my country,” Harris told ABC. “This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”
She added: “My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe. It is probably one of the things that motivates me more than anything else. And when I look at this moment in time, I know that the American people deserve to have someone who is going to fight for them.”
Harris recently published a memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, that dove into many of the messages she is expected to focus on during her campaign. In the book, she describes her upbringing in Oakland as a daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, and her personal history going from prosecutor to district attorney to senator.
According to a Harris aide, her priorities in the campaign will be addressing the cost of living, pushing for a more just society, expanding access to better quality of life and restoring dignity and responsibility to public office. Issues like immigration, education and criminal justice reform are expected to feature prominently in her agenda.
Elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris made history as the first Indian-American to serve in the body, as well as just the second black woman. As attorney general of California for six years, she was the first woman, African-American and Indian-American in that role.
Harris announced her presidential bid on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and her campaign’s logo and color scheme draw inspiration from the 1972 presidential bid of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for the presidency from one of the major parties.
“My parents were very active in the civil rights movement, and that’s the language that I grew up hearing,” Harris told ABC on Monday. “It was about a belief that we are a country that was founded on noble ideals and we are the best of who we are when we fight to achieve those ideals.”
“The thing about Dr. King that always inspires me is he was aspirational,” she continued. “He was aspirational like our country is aspirational. We know that we have not yet reached those ideals, but our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals.”
Harris is expected to make her first campaign stop in one of the early states on Friday, in Columbia, South Carolina. She is slated to speak at the Pink Ice Gala, a major event held by the local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Harris was a member of the sorority during her time at Howard University.
Harris is the latest high-profile Democrat to declare her intention to run against President Donald Trump in 2020. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), along with former Obama Cabinet member Julián Castro and Reps. John Delaney (Md.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), are running as well.
The 2020 field is expected to get more crowded in the coming weeks, with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, among the speculated entrants.
When Trump won the presidency against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, crushing many Americans’ hopes for the first female president, some turned to Harris as a potential candidate to break that glass ceiling.
Harris’ track record includes support for LGBTQ rights, recent support for “Medicare for all,” and what she dubs her “smart on crime” strategy, which includes reducing sentences for low-level offenders.
Some have criticized her record as California attorney general, notably because her office declined to prosecute now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank for foreclosure violations in 2013.
Harris has been a vocal critic of Trump and his administration, calling for reform of Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, and for stronger environmental protections amid the Trump administration’s loosening of regulations.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.