Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has been on a tour of South Carolina, shoring up support from voters in the state ahead of the 2020 primary election. But the candidate has also found time to visit diners and BBQ restaurants — and to do some shopping. On Saturday morning, Harris visited a boutique along with a gaggle of national reporters. Some people have criticized the shopping trip as a sign that the reporters with Harris are far too close to their subject.
CNN’s political reporter, Maeve Reston, tweeted this shot of Harris trying on an oversized sequined jacket. Reston gushed, “We kind of forced @kamalaharris to try on this awesome oversized rainbow sequin jacket … She snapped it up. @alivitali perfectly named it as “the Mardi Gras Jacket” #2020 #SouthCarolina #CampaignFashionReport.” NBC’s political reporter, Ali Vitali, and CBS’s reporter, Caitlin Huey-Burns, also tweeted out pictures of the rainbow jacket, which reporters decided to call a “Mardi Gras coat.”
The shopping trip was part of a tour of women-owned shops in Columbia, South Carolina. Harris’s first stop was at the all woman-owned boutique “Styled by Naida” on Columbia’s Lady Street, where the owner told Harris, “I want to show women you can look fabulous … and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”
But the trip, and the photos of Harris trying on clothes, also led to some push-back from social media users who seemed to think reporters were getting too cozy with their subject. Twitter quickly filled up with criticism — and defense — of the boutique visit from both journalists and ordinary social media users.
Fox News’ Brit Hume tweeted, “This is just embarrassing. So now journalists are going shopping with Harris, helping pick out clothes and then putting out glowing tweets about it.” Huey-Burns shot back, “Hi @brithume. Harris was on an a tour of small businesses, including this boutique, in Columbia that we were covering as part of several campaign stops.”
NBC’s Kasie Hunt also fired back at Hume, arguing that there’s a long history of reporters accompanying candidates on all kinds of activities. Hunt wrote, “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.”