Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Tuesday that she refused to debate Florida’s new African American history curriculum with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and a top black academic who created the study program.
DeSantis, one of the top two GOP presidential candidates, had issued a challenge to Harris on Monday night after she ignited a week full of false narratives about the curriculum following an emergency trip to Jacksonville to protest the materials.
“I am officially inviting you back down to Florida to discuss our African American History standards,” DeSantis said. “We will be happy to host you here in Tallahassee. I will ask Dr. William Allen — instrumental in the development of our impressive new standards — to join. We welcome you, of course, to bring Randi Weingarten or someone else who shares your view about the standards.”
The governor said he was prepared to meet with Harris as soon as Wednesday, but Harris declined.
“They attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable,” Harris said in Orlando. “Well, I’m here in Florida, and I will tell you there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact. There were no redeeming qualities of slavery.”
CNN reported this week that Harris wanted to boost her national profile ahead of the 2024 presidential election, so she decided to copy a page out of California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s playbook and attack DeSantis.
Harris’ team has reportedly “marveled” over the fact that her critique of the curriculum has led to DeSantis’ “opponents” using her claims “as ongoing fodder for attacks.”
“Harris has been quietly noting how other Democrats, including her friend and sometimes rival for attention California Gov. Gavin Newsom, have grabbed the national spotlight by swinging at Republicans aggressively,” the report said. “Aides say she has also been watching the news out of the Republican presidential race and telling Biden aides she wants to be seen as fighting against extremism.”
The report said that “Biden aides lapped up the response and the series of events it set off,” which included attacks by Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott and three black U.S. lawmakers — all of whom have endorsed Trump — on DeSantis and DeSantis’ responses hitting back.