Just hours before the former Indiana governor faces Sen. Harris of California in the first and only vice presidential debate of the campaign, the GOP incumbent’s team has revealed they have put aside a ticket for Tupac Shakur.
Yep, you read that right. That’s the kind of people we’re dealing with.
“I can confirm that we have left a ticket for Tupac Shakur, who as we know is Sen. Harris’ favorite rapper alive,” said Trump/Pence re-election campaign senior adviser Jason Miller on a Wednesday call with media previewing the highly anticipated matchup between his boss and the Democrats’ VP nominee. “I don’t know if he shows up,” the frequent cable news talking head added. “I’m personally more of a Biggie fan, if he’s still alive, but we will have a ticket waiting for Mr. Shakur.”
The Trump/Pence campaign even doubled down on the dig:
— Tim Murtaugh – Download the Trump 2020 app today! (@TimMurtaugh) October 7, 2020
Two things, in the heat of the East Coast/West Coast throwdown of almost three decades ago, “California Love” superstar Shakur aka 2Pac and Brooklyn’s finest Christopher Smalls aka The Notorious B.I.G. both were shot down. In a notoriously unresolved case, as profiled in USA’s Unsolved drama back in 2018, Shakur was killed on the Vegas Strip after a Mike Tyson fight on September 7, 1996. In what many think was retribution, Smalls was gunned down on LA’s Wilshire Boulevard after leaving a Soul Train Music Awards afterparty on March 9, 1997.
The killings shocked the not easily shocked hip-hop community at the loss of two legends in their prime. With re-releases, newly discovered tracks and remixes almost every year from both artists, a hologram of Shakur joined old pals Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre to huge roars from the crowd at the 2012 Coachella festival.
So what does this have to do with the VP debate in Utah tonight?
Well, late last month, Harris had a slip of the tongue at the virtual NAACP convention when she said Tupac in reply to be asked who was “best rapper alive.” The Oakland-born junior senator from California was loyal to her school, so to speak, but caught her error too.
“Not alive, I know — I keep doing that,” an embarrassed Harris said after questioner and CNN regular Angela Rye pointed out Shakur had died more than two decades ago. Oddly, Harris ducked actually giving an answer to the query (the correct answer being Rakim, just sayin’).
Kamala Harris asked, who’s the best rapper alive?
She answers @2PAC
Then says “Not alive, I know, I keep doing that.”
Tries to think of another living rapper. “There’s some I would not mention right now because they should stay in their lane.” pic.twitter.com/MZJ5FZC4qP
— Emily Larsen (@emilyelarsen) September 25, 2020
Now, as Rye noted, there is school of belief that 2Pac wasn’t actually killed and the scion of members of the Black Panthers has been in hiding ever since 1996. But that’s pretty much the more modern version of the guys who see Elvis at the Walmart and clearly not where Harris was going with her reply.
Dog whistling a little more against the first woman of color on a national ticket, the Trump/Pence campaign likely also was reminding their obsessive vase of the 55-year-old Harris’ supposed comment on The Breakfast Club radio show last year that she used to smoke dope listening to Shakur and Snoop when she was a student at Howard University.
Problem for Harris is she graduated from the D.C. college before either rapper had put out an album.
Problem for the GOP is that the marijuana-legalization-supporting Harris never actually said the statement about Shakur, Snoop and her pot use – as you can see in the video below from one of Harris’ senior advisers:
This really isn't that complicated. Just watch. pic.twitter.com/jIuRLFUULF
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) February 12, 2019
In that context, if this is the pre-debate game, things are going to get rough tonight.