A lot of digital ink has been spilled on the hot mess of dysfunction and departures that has become the presidential campaign of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). But something is happening with the candidate herself. The real Kamala, the down-home pol I have gotten to know since we first met in 2012, is coming through, and I like it.

The first sign of the Harris reemergence took place at the Liberty and Justice event hosted by the Iowa Democratic Party on Nov. 1 in Des Moines. From the moment Harris said, “We all know why we’re here,” her serious tone and demeanor when she said it signaled a new beginning. Over the course of her 13-minute address, Harris laid out the clearest articulation yet of why she’s in the race in the first place.

“Justice is on the ballot” was the refrain Harris employed to paint an America with her as president. “Economic justice is on the ballot” was followed by “Health care justice is on the ballot” was followed by “Education justice is on the ballot” was followed by “Reproductive justice is on the ballot” was followed by “Justice for children is on the ballot” with Harris providing a policy pronouncement after each one. Harris ended her remarks with passion.

Here’s the bottom line, Iowa. I do believe that when we overcome these injustices, we will unlock the promise of America and the potential of the American people. And I do believe that this is what we want and need. That is the America I see. That is the America I believe in. That is the America I know us to be. And that is why I am running for president of the United States.

The next sign of the reemergent Harris was the ad her campaign dropped hours before Thursday’s Democratic debate in Atlanta. “Sick of this?” asks the narrator as President Trump fills the frame, “Well, think about this” as Harris comes into view.

The rest of the 53-second ad is a study in contrasts between her and him that reflects her willingness to take the fight to Trump. Harris has never been shy about that, actually. But the consistent knock against her, otherwise, has been that she is too cautious. That’s gone. From the ad’s message to the no-B.S. voice of the narrator, what gives the spot punch is the air of liberation that seems to have enveloped the candidate.

That liberation was on full display at The Post-MSNBC Democratic debate in Atlanta on Thursday, which was Harris’s best outing. After appearing stunned by an attack from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) at the July debate, Harris embraced her Oakland roots by taking the fight to Gabbard over her loose loyalty to Democrats and their party.

Another moment of liberation came when Harris spoke truth to her own party about its treatment of its African American base.

For too long I think candidates have taken for granted constituencies that have been the backbone of the Democratic Party and have overlooked those constituencies and have — you know, they show up when it’s, you know, close to election time and show up in a black church and want to get the vote, but just haven’t been there before.
I mean, you know, the — there are plenty of people who applauded black women for the success of the 2018 election, applauded black women for the election of a senator from Alabama. But, you know, at some point, folks get tired of just saying, oh, you know, thank me for showing up and — and say, well, show up for me.
Because when black women …
When black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth in America, when the sons of black women will die because of gun violence more than any other cause of death, when black women make 61 cents on the dollar as compared to all women, who tragically make 80 cents on the dollar, the question has to be, where you been? And what are you going to do? And do you understand who the people are?

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the three signs I’ve highlighted. Perhaps I’m hoping that a campaign and a candidate that held out so much promise when she announced in Oakland, Calif., back in January is getting back on track. (Full disclosure: My husband volunteered on the Harris launch.) Or maybe, just maybe, the candidate who has always been better than the campaign around her has decided to run like she has nothing to lose — because she doesn’t.

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