Gabbard rips into Harris for her record on marijuana prosecutions and death penalty

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard took aim at Sen. Kamala Harris in one of the more fiery moments of Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Detroit, blasting the California senator and former prosecutor for her record on the death penalty, marijuana and other criminal justice issues.

“Sen. Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president,” Gabbard said. “But I’m deeply concerned about this record.”

Reading from her notes, the congresswoman from Hawaii then cited numerous examples of her concerns about Harris.

“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the court’s forced her to do so. She kept people in prisons beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California,” Gabbard said. “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”

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From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stand for the National Anthem as they are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, participates in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Vice President Joe Biden are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., shake hands before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) listens during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) takes the stage at the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US entrepreneur Andrew Yang delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee listens as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
From left, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A protester yells during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden (R) speak during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from California Kamala Harris gestures as she speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester unfurls a banner as Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester leaves the Fox theatre after being escorted out for interrupting the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls Governor of Washington Jay Inslee (L) and Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee gestures as he speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden gestures on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee chat during a break in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopefuls US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker (L), US Senator from California Kamala Harris (C) and Former Vice President Joe Biden shake hands after the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (2nd L), and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (2nd R) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (R) greet each other after the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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In February, shortly after announcing her candidacy, Harris admitted in a New York City radio interview that she has used marijuana herself, and unlike Bill Clinton, she inhaled. (“I did inhale,” Harris said, laughing. “Listen, I think [it] gives a lot of people joy,” she added. “And we need more joy.“)

Harris responded by saying that as California attorney general, she “did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.”

“And I am proud of that work,” she continued. “I am proud of making a decision, not just give fancy speeches, or be in a legislative body and give speeches on a floor but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.”

Gabbard, a longshot candidate for the Democratic nomination, then addressed Harris directly.

“When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives you did not,” Gabbard said. “And worse — in the case of those on death row — innocent people? You actually blocked evidence that would have freed them.”

Gabbard scolded Harris.

“You owe them an apology,” she said.

“My entire career I have been opposed, personally opposed to the death penalty,” Harris replied. “And that has never changed.”

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