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Trump says Kamala Harris 'nasty' and 'disrespectful' to Joe Biden, surprised by VP pick

The president and his campaign focused their attention Tuesday on Harris' criticism of Biden during the Democratic primary.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday, criticizing her for past comments she made about Joe Biden and calling her his "number one pick" shortly after the California Democrat was announced as Biden's running mate.

“I was a little surprised that he picked her," Trump said during a press conference at the White House, adding that "she did very, very poorly in the primaries.”

Trump said Harris was "nasty" and "disrespectful" to Biden during the primary, and his campaign sent out a statement claiming Harris "called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received," adding that "Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals."

Harris criticized Biden during a June 2019 primary debate for his record on bussing, but stated at the time "I do not believe you are a racist."

Trump also focused on Harris' position on the Senate Judiciary Committee, telling reporters that she was "nasty" during Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court hearing.

“I won’t forget that," Trump said.

Trump tweeted out a video Tuesday attacking the Biden-Harris ticket, labeling the Senator as "phony."

"Voters rejected Harris. They smartly spotted a phony. But not Joe Biden. He's not that smart," a narrator in the video says. "Slow Joe and phony Kamala. Perfect together, wrong for America."

Harris dropped out of the Democratic primary in December, before the first nominating contests were held.

The Trump campaign also went after Harris for being too far left, claiming that she called "for trillions of dollars in new taxes and backing Bernie Sanders’ government takeover of healthcare."

Harris raised some confusion during the Democratic primary on where she stood on Medicare for All and whether she supported eliminating private health insurance. She clarified during the primary that if elected, she would not abolishing private insurance.

A White House administration official said Tuesday that Harris was an “expected pick” and that no one was surprised by the announcement. The officials said the campaign would hit heavily on Harris' past criticisms of Biden and would focus on her record in the Senate.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted that Harris' "extreme positions" demonstrated that the "left-wing mob is controlling Joe Biden’s candidacy, just like they would control him as president."

Sarah Palin, who was chosen as John McCain's running mate in 2008, posted on Instagram a list of lessons she learned from her campaign experience, telling Harris "trust no one new" and "don't get muzzled."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of the president, called Harris a "formidable opponent."

"She is smart, aggressive, and has fully bought in to the Democratic Party’s very liberal agenda," Graham tweeted.

Donald Trump Jr. shared an April 2019 article on Twitter from when Harris said she believed and respected women who claimed to have had uncomfortable encounters with Biden. That same month, Biden said that he needed to be “much more mindful” of people’s personal space.

Harris and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to participate in a debate on Oct. 7 in Utah, the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 election.

"My message to the Democrat candidate for vice president: Congratulations," Pence said Tuesday evening during a trip to Arizona. "I'll see you in Salt Lake City."

Trump twice donated to Harris while a private citizen, according to California state donation records. Both times were when Harris was an Attorney General candidate. The first donations was in September of 2011 for $5,000 and the second was in February of 2013 for $1,000. Ivanka Trump also donated $2,000 to Harris in 2014.

The Trump campaign said Tuesday that the president made the donations before he ran for office, when he supported candidates on both sides of the aisle.

"Kamala Harris is a Black woman and he donated to her campaign so I hope we can squash this racism argument now," said Katrina Pierson, Trump 2020 senior advisor.

When asked during the primary if she thought Trump was a racist, Harris told The Root, “I don’t think you can reach any other conclusion.”

Tom Winter and Monica Alba contributed.