The audience in Houston broke out in applause when moderator Linsey Davis pressed Sen. Kamala Harris of California on her record on criminal justice, which has been a source of concern for some Democratic voters.
Davis, an ABC correspondent, noted that Harris, as the attorney general of California, had opposed the legalization of marijuana as well as outside investigations of police shootings.
“When you had the power, why didn’t you try to effect change then?” she asked.
The senator addressed neither point, instead claiming, “There have been many distortions of my record.” Harris touted her efforts to pair drug offenders with jobs and to expand the use of police body cameras.
“Was I able to get enough done? Absolutely not,” she acknowledged. But she said her plan to reform the criminal justice system has been hailed by activists as a “bold and comprehensive plan.”