Awkward Kamala Harris Moments That Were Caught On Camera

It's no wonder that Kamala Harris has endured a couple awkward moments on camera, given that all eyes are on the nation's first female vice-president elect. Her heavily press-covered campaign trail, public appearances, and debates pretty much captured every second Senator Harris spent in public, and, because of that, the media caught some tense exchanges and awkward encounters.

Of course, not one politician is going to get everything right all the time, and despite her groundbreaking role on President-Elect Joe Biden's ticket, Harris has faltered in the public eye from time to time. Things got a little weird when she broke into laughter when asked if she was a socialist during a serious on-camera interview, and the mood got extremely awkward when she sat on the debate stage across from Vice President Mike Pence while a fly was on his head.

Politics is often compared to entertainment, and like any person who has a camera crew and reporters following them 24/7, Harris has provided some awkward and ill-timed slip-ups. So whether you're a fan of her or not, here are the most awkward Kamala Harris moments that were caught on camera.

Things got weird when Kamala Harris broke into laughter while encouraging people to vote

The presidential campaign looked really different in 2020 due to the restrictions imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19. For the Biden ticket, virtual town halls and campaign events became a well-used tool, but one virtual campaign event in North Carolina saw a bit of an awkward slip-up for Kamala Harris. While encouraging people to register to vote and to vote early if possible, Harris said, "So my last point is this: This election ends in 19 days."

"Kamala did you say it ends in 19 days?" she said, as noted by Fox News. "Yes, I did, I said it ends in 19 days," she continued, before starting to laugh due to the awkward comments and laughter coming from a man not seen on screen. "Because you see North Carolina, early voting begins today on Oct. 15," she said, despite the chuckles coming from off camera. "So, we want you to start voting. Oct. 15, we want you to start voting and voting early." Virtual events are never easy, but this awkward moment was a bit cringeworthy.

The debate stage got tense when the moderator didn't refer to Kamala Harris by her title

The 2020 presidential and vice-presidential debates got a lot of attention, and not always for the best reasons. Despite there being just one debate between the vice-presidential candidates — Kamala Harris and Mike Pence — it provided a slew of awkward moments. The debate was moderated by USA Today's Washington bureau chief, Susan Page, and while asking the senator a question about the coronavirus, she referred to the candidate by her first and last name only, rather than formally calling her "Senator Harris." 

Doesn't sound like that much of an awkward slip-up, right? Wrong. And the fallout from the slip-up was really awkward. As noted by Express, Page referring to Harris by only her first name broke the standard protocol of debates, and, as such, led to an awkward backtracking. "That's fine, I'm Kamala," Harris said, trying to laugh off the tense moment. But Page quickly apologized on camera and said, "You're Senator Harris to me." We certainly don't envy anyone who was asked to moderate the debates, but this moment was a lot to take in.

Kamala Harris' avoidance of the press during an event in Wisconsin just got weird

File this one under awkward with a capital A. While at a campaign event in Wisconsin, Senator Kamala Harris all but avoided reporters, even after Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes tried to give her the microphone. As noted by the New York Post, Harris told the members of the press that Wisconsin was "part of her story," as she had lived in the state for a brief time, but then she was rushed off stage by staffers. 

The local Empower Wisconsin had more on the awkward encounter. "I'm very honored, proud and lucky to have the very soon-to-be Vice President Harris with us today and I will pass it back over to you," Barnes said. "I know you want to take some questions before you get out of here." But before the moment could be saved, one of the senator's handlers said, "No, I think we're all set," and the campaign stop was awkwardly wrapped up. That's when Harris quickly threw in the line about living in Wisconsin, in perhaps an attempt to salvage the affair, but it was just as tense and ill-footed as it sounds.

The tension between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence was so awkward during this debate

It's never a good idea to interrupt a smart, politically powerful woman like Kamala Harris when she's speaking and addressing big issues facing the United States, and that's something that Vice President Mike Pence learned fairly quickly during the one vice-presidential debate held in October 2020. And even though we love a moment of sticking up for yourself, the dynamic was really awkward, and at one point, the tension bubbled over. 

Harris was more than prepared to tell the vice president that he needed to wait his turn to address the questions and her answers, but her steadfast comeback had more of an awkward delivery than not. "Mr Vice-President, I'm speaking," she said at one point during the debate, as noted by BBC News. "If you don't mind letting me finish, then we can have a conversation." Pence seemed to take the hint, but the exchange created such a weird and tense dynamic on-stage that we're confident that the few people sitting in the audience felt it. Even though most of us were watching from home, the awkwardness was palpable.

In an awkward interview moment, Kamala Harris laughed off being called a socialist

It seems like Kamala Harris has a tendency to laugh or smile in moments of tension, and her interview with 60 Minutes was no exception. While being interviewed, Harris presented a very awkward smile and mannerism towards Norah O'Donnell, and she only continued to express tense laughter as the questions were asked. O'Donnell kept a very level-headed, serious demeanor throughout the interview, unlike Harris, and when she asked the candidate about her progressive policies, things started to go downhill. 

"You're considered the most liberal United States senator," O'Donnell said, before asking if Harris would bring a "socialist or progressive perspective" to the Biden White House. "No!" Harris said, laughing off the question. "It is the perspective of a woman who grew up a Black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, who also has a mother who arrived here at the age of 19 from India. Who also, you know, l — likes hip-hop. Like, what do you wanna know?" she said, keeping up the awkward laugh. O'Donnell was stone cold, which just made the encounter that much worse.

Things got heated as Kamala Harris reacted on camera to Mike Pence talking about race

If the energy between the vice-presidential candidates wasn't awkward before the topic of race came up during their debate, it definitely escalated when the questions about race relations were posed. Given the protests and demonstrations held across the United States during the summer and fall months of 2020 — many in the aftermath of the police killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd — some cities had been exposed to violence and property damage. 

So when asked about systemic racism, Vice President Mike Pence quickly pivoted and said that the notion that the United States has a systemic racism problem is insulting to law enforcement, as noted by BBC News. Cue tension here. 

Pence's answer clearly did not sit with Kamala Harris well because she clapped back. "I will not sit here and be lectured by the vice-president on what it means to enforce the laws of this country," she said, and the awkward tension that was once simmering under the surface erupted like a volcano. And yes, this is when the fly made its way onto the screen.

Kamala Harris' appearance on this news show got awkward when she was asked about... the fly

The question that everyone was asking after the vice-presidential debate wasn't about the coronavirus, but about the fly that landed on Mike Pence's head while he was talking systemic racism. To top it off, Kamala Harris did notice it, and she awkwardly sat on stage with him while the fly was just hanging out. 

After the debate, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked Harris about the strange encounter. "I would kick myself if I didn't just ask you ... if you noticed the fly on Vice President Pence's head at the time during the debate?" Maddow asked. "We could see it at home. Could you see it sitting next to him?" Laughing, she also asked if Harris wanted to shoo it away. 

Harris responded to the inquiry with more of a head nod than anything else, before saying, "I think that it's important that we kind of find a way, all of us, to move on ... and kind of fly away from this subject onto something else." Either way, the fly, the tension between the candidates, and the awkward facial expression on Harris' part will always have a place in vice-presidential history.

Kamala Harris lost a little bit of momentum when she called Donald Trump "a really small dude"

There are moments for clapbacks, but one moment during the Democratic debate (while Kamala Harris was still a candidate for the presidency) was really awkward. When talking about trade policy, Harris compared Donald Trump to the man who sits behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. Yes, you read that correctly. While discussing an important issue like trade, Harris pointed to a supposed similarity between Trump and "a really small dude" calling all the shots.

The analogy was just as awkwardly received as you'd think, with some audience members giggling — because how else do you react? The moderator, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, responded by saying, "Ok," with a long pause and then a laugh. "I'm not even going to take the bait, Senator Harris," Stephanopoulos, who has a rather short stature, said. To which, Harris responded, "Oh George, it wasn't about you!"

What made the moment even more cringeworthy was that other participants of the debate were still trying to answer the question seriously, like Bernie Sanders who held his hand up to be called on to answer throughout the entire exchange. Not the best moment for Harris, that's for sure.

Remember when Joe Biden called Kamala Harris this nickname during a hot mic moment?

It seems like debates are really venues for awkward moments caught on camera because this one takes the cake. Before the second Democratic presidential debate of 2019, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden had an uncomfortable hot mic moment as they took the stage. As noted by SFGate, Biden said the following to Harris. "Go easy on me, kid," in a very awkward, very avoidable moment. 

Harris took it as well as you might think, given that at the time she was one of the highest ranking senators in Congress with a sprawling resume to match. "How are you doing, you good?" Harris responded to Biden's opening line, clearly avoiding his jovial and slightly insulting nickname. 

The video of the tense exchange quickly made its way to Twitter, and that's where things get even worse. Ian Sams, Harris' national press secretary, did not hold back his critique of the former vice president. "Kid?" Sams tweeted, clearly indicating his disdain for the nickname and Biden's categorization of the senator. All in all, the exchange was as awkward as you're imagining.

Awkward tension filled the room during Kamala Harris' CNN town hall

We can't imagine what it's like to appear and engage in a town hall meeting, but since the venue seems pretty common for Kamala Harris, it came as a surprise when one town hall went so awry. During a town hall hosted by CNN in April 2019, Harris all but avoided answering the questions posed to her, and she consistently delivered the line, "I'm open to the conversation." 

As noted by The Washington Post, Harris announced many of her major policy plans and what executive decisions she would make as president (as this was when she was still trying to snag the Democratic party's nomination). But the power of her answers was completely lost in the weeds due to her lack of a response when asked about issues like voting rights for formerly incarcerated people or the voting age. 

What made the situation even more awkward was that CNN put a montage video together of all the time she used the phrase "open to the conversation," given that she had said it so many times. Clearly the line was a pivot tactic that did not go well.

Things were off between Kamala Harris and her husband after she accepted the VP nomination

Kamala Harris has had a stunning transformation. She is paving a way in politics and is going where no woman has gone before — the West Wing of the White House as the United States' first woman vice president. That's groundbreaking, no matter your political preferences. And like Harris, her husband, Doug Emhoff, is occupying a place no man has before — the first second gentleman in history. But unlike his wife who is more than comfortable in front of crowds, Emhoff seemed a little off his game during the ticket's acceptance of the democratic nomination, and as such, he had a brief awkward encounter with Harris. 

As noted by the Los Angeles Times, Emhoff made his way onto the stage after Harris' speech, along with Dr. Jill Biden, and joined his wife on stage. But as he did, Emhoff was "tugging at the hem of his suit jacket," and he then gave Harris a very quick kiss before waving to the cameras. Perhaps the grand scale of the event and the spotlight led to the little awkward encounter between the two, or maybe Emhoff was just caught up in the moment.

This exchange between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden is awkward given their current relationship

When Kamala Harris took to the debate stage in June 2019, she delivered one of the biggest punches to Joe Biden, as both were still trying to snag the democratic presidential nomination. As noted by The New York Times, Harris jumped in when the issue of race in the United States was brought up, and she used her time to criticize Biden and his former work with segregationist senators. She called his track record with them "very hurtful" and all but forced Biden to apologize. 

As reported by The Times, Biden was not at all prepared for the poignant questions by Harris, and from the footage of the debate, it's very clear that Biden was caught off guard. The moment was a strong one for Harris at the time, but since has not aged well given that she was chosen by Biden as a running mate. The heated exchange between the two now serves as an awkward reminder about how they did not get along on the public stage as opponents, and seems particularly weird now that they are governing together.

This awkward moment at a town hall resulted in a messy apology from Kamala Harris

Again, we can point to Kamala Harris' ill-timed laugh as the culprit behind yet another awkward moment on the campaign trail, because she laughed at a really bad time when asked about Donald Trump's actions and behavior at a town hall in New Hampshire. 

The question, posed by an audience member, used the slur "mentally retarded" when describing Donald Trump, which is a big no-no as the phrase is extremely offensive. Instead of rebuking the language used, Harris laughed and said, "Well said." Yikes. Later, she said that the language used was not something that she "really heard or processed or in any way condone," but, like most things caught on camera, the moment is still there for everyone to see. 

The incident was even discussed on the hit talk show The View during its "Hot Topics" segment, given the charged nature of the slur and Harris' lack of refuting it. The View's Whoopi Goldberg argued that Harris could have used the words "bone-headed" instead to describe her political opponent. Talk about awkward.

This moment between Kamala Harris and town hall audience members had us cringing

While Kamala Harris was still campaigning for the democratic presidential nomination, she had a painfully awkward interaction on the trail. While at a town hall event in Reno, Nevada, she posed a question to the audience: Is the country ready for her presidency? 

As noted by the Daily Mail, Harris asked the following: "There's this whole conversation that has been coming up about electability focused on our campaign. Is America ready for that?" Instead of getting a resounding yes, or even silence from the audience, some onlookers used the opportunity to express their answer. "No!" some shouted at the candidate. 

The moment very clearly caught Harris off guard because she had to do a double take and looked "sternly towards the dissenters," according to the Daily Mail. Their answer was not what any candidate would have wanted to hear, but Harris was very clearly shocked by the exchange. The whole thing was painfully awkward. Some took to social media and said that the moment reminded them of when Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush asked people to clap at one of his campaign stops. Cringe.