Kamala Harris takes page from Obama's political playbook

Amid scrutiny over former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Senate lawmakers on Thursday, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris appears to be strengthening her position as a potential top contender for the 2020 presidential race.

SEE ALSO: Comey reveals what Trump whispered in his ear

Harris' questions and comments to Comey on Thursday drew both praise and criticism. But her outspokenness—about the Russia investigation, illegal immigration, and members of Trump's administration—has raised her profile as a potential future presidential candidate.

In fact, her rapid political ascent has been compared to that of former President Obama, with political consultant Robert Salazar quoted by the media outlet as saying, "You saw it with Obama. It is a very rare mixture of passion and professionalism that is hard to come across in politics."

During Comey's testimony on Thursday, after Harris was given the floor, she began by thanking Comey and then notably stating, in part, "You and I are both former prosecutors...I just want to make a statement that in my experience of prosecuting cases when a robber held a gun to somebody's head and said 'I hope you will give me your wallet,' the word 'hope' was not the operative word at that moment."

People who might run against Trump in 2020:

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People who might run against Trump in 2020
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People who might run against Trump in 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Sen. Kamala Davis (D-Calif.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

(Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

(Photo credit MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

(Photo credit ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

(Photo by James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Environmental activist Tom Steyer

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton 

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

(Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

(Photo credit FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Former first lady Michelle Obama

(Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Gov. Jerry Brown

(Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Caruso )

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey

(Photo by Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Former Vice President Al Gore

(Photo credit DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images,)

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

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Harris was likely making a pointed reference to a part of a written statement Comey had submitted earlier which indicates that President Trump was referring to the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn when he allegedly told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go."

Harris also made headlines on Wednesday after she was admonished by Republican Senators John McCain and Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee—for continuing to ask Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if he would agree to officially give Special Counsel Robert Mueller autonomy from the Justice Department in investigating Trump associates' ties with Russia.

Rosenstein ultimately refrained from answering the question with a "yes" or "no," at one point telling her, "It's not a short answer, senator."

Despite the buzz, when the Los Angeles Times' Patt Morrison asked her about running for the nation's top job a few months ago, Harris deflected the question, saying, "I don't know why my name is in that context. I'm focused on being the junior senator from California and very proud to be representing our beautiful state."

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