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Harris an elusive election target for Trump

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BROADCASTERS: NO USE. DIGITAL: NO USE AUSTRALIA BROADCASTERS. NO USE ABC, CNN, FOX, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO, BBC AMERICA, NBC. VIDEO MUST BE USED IN ITS ENTIRETY. EXISTING GRAPHICS MAY BE OVERWRITTEN BY CLIENT’S OWN GRAPHICS BUT NO FURTHER EDITS ARE PERMITTED, INCLUDING FOR LENGTH**~

Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate may present a new and difficult target for President Donald Trump, whose campaign has already struggled to find effective attacks against Biden himself.

The day Biden named Harris, Trump stepped up to the podium and called her, quote "the meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate."

And he tried to paint her as a far-left progressive.

But the usual Trumpian broadsides might not harry Harris.

There is little evidence at the moment that suggests that the public views the former prosecutor and California attorney general as a radical.

In fact, a Reuters/Ipsos poll this week before she was named as running mate showed Republicans like her even more than they like Biden.

21% of registered Republican voters -- that's over one-in-five -- said they have a favorable impression of Harris, compared with only 13% who had a similarly favorable view of Biden.

More concerning for Trump: Attacks that could appear sexist or racist against the first Black woman on a major party ticket in U.S. history undermine his effort to shore up his standing among suburban women.

This demographic rebelled against Republicans in the 2018 primary.

But Trump on Tuesday wasted no time repurposing his 2016 smear - "nasty woman" - of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, calling Harris "extraordinarily nasty."

Privately, however, Trump’s aides acknowledged Harris would be a formidable adversary.

The president even admitted as much last month.

One senior White House official said that the Harris pick means Vice President Mike Pence would have a tough debate in October.

In the Senate, she's made a former Attorney General squirm.

Her background as a tough-on-crime prosecutor could protect her from attacks as anti-cop - even as she's staked out a strong stance on police reform this summer.

During her presidential bid, Harris was fiercely criticized by progressives who viewed her prosecutorial record as overly supportive of law enforcement. She has since become a vocal supporter of progressive criminal-justice reforms.

Video Transcript

- Joe Biden's selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate may present a new and difficult target for President Donald Trump, whose campaign has already struggled to find effective attacks against Biden himself. The day Biden named Harris, Trump stepped up to the podium and called her, quote--

DONALD TRUMP: --the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the US Senate.

- And he tried to paint her as a far-left progressive. But the usual Trumpian broadsides might not harry Harris. There is little evidence at the moment that suggests the public views the former prosecutor and California attorney general as a radical. In fact, a Reuters/Ipsos poll this week, before she was named as running mate, showed Republicans like her even more than they like Biden. 21% percent of registered Republican voters-- that's more than one in five-- said they have a favorable impression of Harris, compared with only 13% who had a similarly favorable view of Biden.

More concerning for Trump-- attacks that could appear sexist or racist against the first Black woman on a majority party ticket in US history undermine his efforts to shore up his standing among suburban women. This demographic rebelled against Republicans in the 2018 primary. But Trump on Tuesday wasted no time repurposing his 2016 smear, "nasty woman," of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, calling Harris "extraordinarily nasty."

DONALD TRUMP: --extraordinarily nasty.

- Privately, however, Trump's aides acknowledged Harris would be a formidable adversary. The president even admitted as much last month.

- How do you rate Kamala Harris as a VP? There's a rumor it's going to be her.

DONALD TRUMP: I think she'd be a fine choice, Kamala Harris. She'd be a fine choice.

- One senior White House official said that the Harris pick means Vice President Mike Pence would have a tough debate in October. In the Senate, she's made a former attorney general squirm.

JEFF SESSIONS: Somebody came up to me--

KAMALA HARRIS: Sir, I have just a few minutes--

JEFF SESSIONS: Will you let me qualify it? I-- so I need to be correct as best I can.

KAMALA HARRIS: I do want you to be honest.

JEFF SESSIONS: And I'm not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.

- Her background as a tough-on-crime prosecutor could protect her from attacks as anti-cop-- even as she's staked out a strong stance on police reform this summer.

KAMALA HARRIS: And let's be clear. Reforming policing is in the best interest of all Americans.

- During her presidential bid, Harris was fiercely criticized by progressives who viewed her prosecutorial record as overly supportive of law enforcement. She has since become a vocal supporter of progressive criminal justice reforms.