Biden running mate Kamala Harris campaigns in FL, decries vote suppression

Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, prepares to address a drive-in rally on Oct. 19 in Orlando. Source: Screenshot

Sen. Kamala Harris campaigned in Florida Monday — the first day of early in-person voting in some counties — saying that powerful forces including President Trump are trying to “to confuse people about the integrity of our voting system, trying to suggest you can’t trust it.”

Taking the stage during a drive-in rally under an open-air pavilion at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee attacked Trump for that and also for his inaction on COVID-19 and attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.

“Justice is on the ballot in 2020. Economic justice is on the ballot in 2020. Climate justice is on the ballot in 2020. Health care justice is in the ballot in 2020. Reproductive justice is on the ballot in 2020. Criminal justice reform is on the ballot in 2020,” the California senator said.

“Everything is on the ballot in 2020. Joe Biden is on the ballot in 2020,” Harris said. “And we’re gonna get this done.”

Trump and his family have been campaigning heavily in the nation’s largest swing state, often joined by Gov. Ron DeSantis, but they had no events here scheduled this week. The president and governor have generally ignored CDC-guidance to wear face masks against coronavirus transmission during rallies.

The Democrats in Orlando Monday were more observant — speakers including Harris and U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando kept their masks on until they began to speak on a podium situated at a distance from an audience that mostly kept to their cars, blowing horns in appreciation of applause lines.

Later, addressing an outdoor crowd in a second drive-in event at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville during a pouring rain, Harris remarked on Florida’s central role in the election.

“The voters of Florida, you guys are going to determine the outcome of this election. I’m sure of it,” Harris said.

Early voters especially “are going to have an impact on people you may never meet, people who may never know your name but, because you here in Florida voted in your numbers, voted with your voice and the power of your voice, you will very likely determine the outcome of this election.

“We don’t want a president of the United States who spends full time trying to sow hate and division between us,” she said.

During both speeches, Harris accused the Republicans of vote suppression.

“Why are so many powerful people trying to get in the way of us voting? Why are these powerful people trying to suggest we can’t trust the system? Putting in place laws that are trying to suppress the vote? Trying to purge the voter rolls? Why are they doing that?” Harris said in Orlando.

“And the answer, of course, we know, is this: Because they know when we vote that we win. When we vote, we change things. We make it better. We know our power. They know our power. … And we know we will never let anybody take our power from us,” she said.

“That’s why we are all here today — to say we are powerful, we are strong, we stand together in unity. We stand here as a coalition of people who recognize the beautiful diversity of who we are as a country. And we know that when we vote and when we use our voice, we win. We know our country is worth it. We know and can see a better day.

“And so, let’s get out there and organize folks and make sure everybody votes and we will win.”

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee weighed in on Harris’ visit,  with a statement from Emma Vaughn, the Florida Press Secretary at the RNC:

“Kamala Harris’s last-minute efforts in Florida are too little, too late. Regardless of who Joe Biden sends to stump in the Sunshine State on his behalf, Floridians will soundly reject Biden’s platform that will destroy jobs, pack the courts, and hike taxes. Meanwhile, President Trump and Republicans are experiencing record-high enthusiasm and have a massive ground game operation that will deliver Florida on November 3rd.”

Note: This story has been updated with remarks from the Harris speech in Jacksonville.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.