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Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious'

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is in consideration to be former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, appeared to respond to criticism that she was "too ambitious" on Friday while speaking to an audience of young Black women.  

"There will be a resistance to your ambition. There will be people who say to you, 'You are out of your lane,'" Harris said during a livestreamed conversation for the Black Girls Lead 2020 conference, according to CNN.

"They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don't you let that burden you," she added. "I want you to be ambitious." 

Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, is the second Black woman to be elected to the Senate and would be the country's first Black and Asian vice presidential candidate. If elected, she'd be the first woman and the first nonwhite person to fill the office.

Her comments came after CNBC reported that unnamed allies of Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee, considered Harris to be "too ambitious." 

On Monday, Politico reported that former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who is on Biden's search committee, said Harris had not apologized for pointed remarks toward Biden during a Democratic primary debate. 

"She laughed and said, 'that's politics.' She had no remorse," Dodd told a Biden supporter and donor, Politico reported. 

Harris said Friday that she has dealt with those attacks and criticisms her entire career.

Observers quickly pointed out the pattern of women being considered "too ambitious" or facing other criticisms that men hardly face. 

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) defended Harris, calling it "very unfair." 

"Do we ever hear anyone that's a man, saying he's too ambitious? Why do they say her? I think it's because she's a woman," he said.

Biden has committed to choosing a woman as his vice president and has faced pressure from some party leaders to choose a woman of color. Harris is one of several Black women who are being considered for the job, including Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, all of whom have been gaining attention in recent weeks. 

Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, expressed annoyance with comparisons between herself and Harris, questioning why the same wasn't being done with white women who are being considered for vice president, such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

"Why are you comparing me with her?" she asked Friday on "The Breakfast Club" a syndicated radio show. "Why don't you compare Whitmer with Warren?"

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