Kamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate

Kamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate
© Greg Nash

Pundits and media members debated tweets from several reporters covering a shopping trip Saturday by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSan Francisco police chief apologizes for raid on journalist's home Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.) while she campaigned in South Carolina.

Twitter users, including some conservative pundits, questioned why journalists appeared in video clips to be urging Harris to select a certain item of clothing during the outing.

Harris tried on a colored sequined jacket in the store and the Democratic presidential candidate later bought the garment, according to reporters traveling with her campaign.  

Fox News political analyst Brit Hume called reporters' tweets about the shopping trip "embarrassing," while questioning why journalists were apparently helping the senator pick out clothes before writing "glowing tweets" about it.

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"This is just embarrassing. So now journalists are going shopping with Harris, helping pick out clothes and then putting out glowing tweets about it," Hume wrote.

Other media members, pundits and Twitter users piled on, questioning the reasons for covering the event and seemingly urging Harris to try on garments.

Caitlin Huey-Burns, a CBS News reporter covering Harris's campaign, responded to critics, noting that reporters asked the candidate policy questions at other stops during the day.

"Harris was on an a tour of small businesses, including this boutique, in Columbia that we were covering as part of several campaign stops," she tweeted in response to Hume.

"She also did two gaggles with reporters, where we asked her a variety of policy questions on immigration, the green new deal, and executive power." 

Several journalists and media analysts defended the coverage Saturday, pointing out that the event was part of Harris's tour of small businesses in Columbia, S.C.

They also noted that candidates have at times in the past had more casual interactions with journalists who cover them on the campaign trail for lengthy periods of time.

"Nobody seemed to have a problem when the candidate was @ScottWalker and the activity was motorcycle riding. Or @MittRomney riding jet skis on vacation. Or skeet shooting with @LindseyGrahamSC. I’m all for female candidates expanding the list of campaign activities," wrote NBC News's Kasie Hunt.

"Reminds me of the glowing tweets that I put out back in the day as Scott Walker hailed cheese popcorn & Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceMike Pence delivers West Point commencement address Dozens of graduates walk out in protest of Pence address Trudeau on tariff deal: Canadian and US businesses can get back to 'working constructively together' MORE praised grilled cheese sandwiches," added NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard.

Hume maintained that the latest incident "wasn’t coverage, it was participation."

Harris is campaigning this weekend in South Carolina, home to the third contest of the 2020 Democratic primary and an increasingly important early voting state.

Her campaign stops Saturday came on the heels of several endorsements this week from Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeLee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war MORE (D-Calif.) and Ted LieuTed W. LieuPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators introduce bill to end warrantless searches of electronic devices at border MORE (D-Calif.), as well as California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), among others.