Scarborough asks Kamala Harris question that ‘doomed’ Ted Kennedy’s presidential run: ‘Why would you want to be president?’

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s attorney general pick passes first test Sanders to meet with staffers as he does damage control Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration MORE (D-Calif.) has not yet announced a bid for the White House, but on Friday the California senator faced a line of inquiry from MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that he credits with dooming the presidential campaign of former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Speaking on "Morning Joe," Harris was asked by the co-host why she wants to be president — the same question that some historians point to as the end of Kennedy's ill-fated 1980 campaign for the White House.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I want to ask you the Roger Mudd question that he asked to Ted Kennedy, that Ted Kennedy couldn't answer and really doomed his presidency from day one," Scarborough began. "And that is: Why would you want to be president?"

Harris responded by saying the country is looking for vision and leadership.

"Because I believe our country wants and needs leadership that provides a vision of the future of our country in which everyone can see themselves," Harris told Scarborough. 

"So let's start from that, and then think about what we need to do to speak to all of the people of our country, to ensure that we see them, to understand we don't need to accept false choices in terms of how we approach public policy," she added. "I'm a career prosecutor. I've spent my entire life, almost, focused on public safety."

"We can do that and also focus on issues like what we need to do to build a healthy economy," Harris said.

A local California radio station reported this week that the senator is planning to announce whether she will enter the presidential primary race on or around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Harris told CNN's Jake Tapper this week that a decision on a run was coming "soon."

"We have to give the American people more credit, and we have to understand that the American public and the people of our country are smart people who will make decisions about who will be their leader based on who they believe is capable, who they believe has an honest desire to lead, to represent, to see them, to be a voice for them even if they have no power," Harris told CNN this week.

If she declares, Harris would emerge as a possible front-runner in the Democratic primary alongside Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Julián Castro calls for ‘tuition-free’ public colleges, apprenticeships Native American leader asks when US will come to its ‘senses’ after Trump’s ‘racist’ attack against Warren MORE (D), who announced her own exploratory committee for president earlier in January.

The Democratic primary field is expected to be the most crowded in the party's history, with a few dozen hopefuls rumored to be considering a run.