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Kamala Harris on 'electability': Pundits have it all wrong about impact of gender, race

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Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at a Service Employees International Union forum on labor issues on April 27, 2019, in Las Vegas. -
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John Locher AP file
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Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris said on Tuesday she believes the "pundits" have it wrong about the electability of women in the race.

"Every office that I've run for, in particular, running for (San Francisco) district attorney and then running for (California) attorney general, no one like me had ever done the job based on gender, based on race," Harris told MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." "And the pundits, for the most part, each time I ran said it was impossible, it can't happen, people aren't ready for it. And I won."

She added, "I will say that I think voters are smarter than perhaps pundits sometimes give them credit for. I think voters are able to distinguish who can best to do the job at this moment and they are able to overlook who has traditionally done the job in favor of who should do the job."

The 2020 race on the Democratic side has one of the most diverse field of candidates, with six women competing to become the party's nominee. And with that questions about the "likeability"of female politicians have emerged. A recent Morning Consult poll shows that former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are leading in national polls. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Harris are a distant third and fourth place, respectively.

Harris, however, said that in her town halls in early-voting primary states, such as New Hampshire, she's seen big crowds of voters who have shown interest in both her candidacy and policies.

"I mean, I'll tell you the people that I'm focused on are the people who are showing up at our town halls and they have been showing up by the thousands," she said. "So, if I gauge these issues based on real people and people who are in these states and who are voters and who are invested in the outcome of this election, I would say we don't have a problem."