The Interview: California Attorney General Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris sits down with Raj Mathai

By Raj Mathai, Liza Meak, and Mark Villarreal
|  Monday, Dec 3, 2012  |  Updated 8:50 PM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai sits down with California Attorney General Kamala Harris for a 1-on-1 interview.

NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai sits down with California Attorney General Kamala Harris for a 1-on-1 interview.

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris is becoming more than just a household name in the Golden State. But while her star power may be rising on a national stage, the Bay Area native has a unique perspective on her future, and what keeps her feet on the ground.

We've seen the 48-year old Oakland native rewrite the history books as she climbed the ladder. Nationally, Washington insiders say it's only a matter of time before she heads to the capitol.
"Is it flattering to hear your name possibly to the Supreme Court?" Raj asked Harris. "The U.S. Attorney General? Is it flattering?"

"I am so superstitious," Harris answered with a laugh. "I am truly focused on what I am doing. So many people who are focused on that thing over there that they trip over the thing over here. It's not worth it."

"It seems like you have a dynamic relationship with President Obama," Raj said to Harris. "Tell me about your relationship."
"First and foremost it's a relationship built on profound mutual respect," Harris said. "You know there's a whole group of really I think dynamic elected leaders, who are finding each other and feeding off each other, and working with each other."
"Is it a friendship?" Raj asked. "It's a friendship, it's a friendship, it's a friendship," Harris answered.

"If there are critics, they say maybe you're overly ambitious. She's on Oprah, the Today Show, Fair criticism or unfair?" Raj asked Harris.
"I certainly do believe that life is short enough that you should get things done. I love my work. I love my work. I feel challenged by it," Harris said. "I feel it is important work. I have seen through the course of my professional life that if you focus on it in a certain way, you can get things done, you can make a huge impact on the lives of other people.  People you'll never meet by the way. People who will not necessarily ever know your name and that drives me. That certainly drives me."

She also knows how to drive the headlines, sometimes being accused of grandstanding. Earlier this year she targeted big banks, in the highly publicized $26 billion dollar settlement stemming from foreclosure abuses. And just last month she outlined her battle against human trafficking.
"I wanted to see the tunnels that connected California to Mexico and see the tunnels through which there has been an incredible amount of trafficking of guns, and drugs, and human beings," Harris said. "I heard stories of children as young as  5-years old being trafficked through those tunnels. It became clear obviously that it is about people making a great deal of money off of trafficking of human beings and they're doing it in a way that is trafficking for the purpose of sex work and forced labor."

Raj then changed topics to what she's like when not on the job. "Behind the scenes, without the cameras here, what's your ideal Saturday?"
"Oh I usually have events on Saturday. Ask me about a Sunday," Harris said. "OK," Raj said.  "Tell me about your ideal Sunday?
"It depends," Harris said. "I love to cook. I love to cook. That's my ideal day. Recently and I hope we get it in San Francisco,  have you ever tried soul cycle?"
"No tell me," Raj Said. "Oh it's fabulous!" Harris said. "It's this thing that came out of New York and it's in LA, and I did it when I was in LA for the meetings we were having there, and it's fabulous! It's like a bunch of stationary bikes in a room. I'm much too old to go to the club right?" Harris said laughing. "But it's like being in a club and it's kind of dark and they're playing this throbbing hip hop. and you just cycle. I did that recently at it was really fun."
 

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