White House hopeful Kamala Harris says she can unify country

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris says she's the kind of leader who can unify the country and would fight for the needs of all Americans.

The first-term California senator, who announced her candidacy on Monday, planned a speech at a rally in Oakland, her hometown, later Sunday, as she outlines her campaign and introduces herself to the nation.

"I'm running for president because I love my country. I'm running to be a president by the people. Of the people. For all the people," according to prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.

The appearance at a plaza outside City hall was intended to portray her candidacy as the latest chapter in a lifetime of advocating for all people and to promote a message of unity. She began her career as a prosecutor in Oakland and later became California's attorney general.

"My whole life, I've only had one client: The people," Harris says in her prepared remarks, echoing the words she has used in courtrooms and has adopted as her campaign's slogan.

Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, has drawn deeply from symbolism as she has rolled out her campaign.

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UNITED STATES - MAY 22: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes her way to the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrives for a town hall meeting in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Senate Judiciary Committee members Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) talk during a hearing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich testified that the FBI could have and should have done more to stop the school shooter Nikolas Cruz after it receieved several tips about him. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) holds a town hall meeting in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks about the Senate Intelligence Committee findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
California gubernatorial candidate, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom arrives with Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) at a campaign rally in Burbank, California, U.S. May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (2nd L) shares a moment with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) (R) as Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) (L) looks on during a news conference on immigration in front of the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Harris, joined by other female Democratic congressional members, held a news conference 'to show support for immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (C) speaks during a news conference on immigration in front of the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Harris, joined by other female Democratic congressional members, held a news conference 'to show support for immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US Senator Kamala Harris attends the United State of Women Summit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on May 5, 2018. (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questions witnesses during a hearing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich testified that the FBI could have and should have done more to stop the school shooter Nikolas Cruz after it receieved several tips about him. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats, 'Dreamers' and university presidents and chancellors to call for passage of the Dream Act at the U.S. Capitol October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and has asked Congress to find a solution for the status of the beneficiaries of the program, called 'Dreamers.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) walks to the Senate chamber for a series of 6 roll call votes regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on Capitol Hill, on October 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Senate Intelligence Committee members Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (C) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) arrive for a closed-door committee meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Some members of the committee have demanded that Donald Trump, Jr. testify before the intelligence committee after it was revealed that he and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer in hopes of getting opposition information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)(L) walks with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (C), to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence closed door meeting at the U.S. Capitol, on April 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigation possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) heads for her party's weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Many Republican and Democratic senators expressed frustration and concern about how President Donald Trump may have shared classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister last week at the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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She entered the race on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Campaign aides say she has drawn inspiration from Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first black woman to run for president from a major party.

If Harris were to win the White House, she would be the first African-American woman and first person of Asian descent to be president.

Her first news conference as a candidate was on the campus of Howard University, the historically black college in the nation's capital that she attended as an undergraduate. On Friday, she was in South Carolina to speak to members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, of which she is a member.

Harris' campaign is expected to highlight her career as a prosecutor as part of her rationale for seeking the presidency. Harris was the first black woman elected district attorney in California, as well as the first woman, first African-American and first Asian-American to hold that job. Some of her tenure as attorney general, particularly relating to criminal justice, has come under early scrutiny.

Harris is among the first major Democrats to jump into what is expected to be a crowded 2020 presidential contest.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have announced exploratory committees. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Julian Castro, federal housing chief under President Barack Obama and a former San Antonio mayor, already are in the race.

Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont may also run.

In her Oakland speech, Harris says she sees this year as an "inflection point" in American history and that she is best positioned to unite a divided country.

"Even though we have powerful forces trying to sow hate and division, the truth is that, as Americans, we have much more in common than what separates us," according to her prepared remarks.

After the rally, Harris planned to her first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate. In the weeks before last November's elections, Harris traveled to the leadoff caucus state to campaign on behalf of Democrats, and also visited other early-voting states.

Harris's campaign will be based in Baltimore and led by Juan Rodriguez who managed her 2016 Senate campaign. Aides say the campaign will have a second office in Oakland.

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