‘Everything is on the line’: Kamala Harris talks about voting, warns of ‘irreversible’ damage from Trump in 1st campaign interview

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In her first media interview since becoming Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris stressed Friday the importance of voting, vowing to fight suppression efforts. She warned that a second term for President Trump could cause “irreversible” damage to the country.

“This is probably one of the most important elections of our lifetime,” the California senator and presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president told Errin Haines, editor at large of the 19th, a nonpartisan site that promotes participation by women in politics and government. “This is about everything … and whether we’re going to have a president who actually works to lift folks up and give you a sense of pride in your country or somebody who is, full-time, just beating people down.”

Harris spoke with the 19th at the outlet’s virtual summit on Friday afternoon about what she and Biden want to accomplish in the next administration, and what it would mean for the country to have a female vice president for the first time.

The interview covered the Biden campaign’s proposals, such as the “Build Back Better” plan, which embraces job creation, infrastructure and racial equity, among many other things. Harris said all these issues are also women’s issues.

She also talked about why voting is crucial and what she believes is at stake in the 2020 election.

“I fear that if we don’t correct course, the damage will be irreversible,” she said. “Everything is on the line. And here’s what I’ll say about voting: There are states and there are state legislatures who, especially after the [U.S.] Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, have put in place laws that have been designed to suppress the vote.”

Harris said she and Biden will work to eliminate obstacles to voting, especially those targeted at people of color.

“Some of them are still going to be in place,” she said. “Everybody has to remember this and ask this question of yourself. Why don’t they want us to vote? Why are they creating obstacles to us voting? Well, the answer is because when we vote, things change.”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s attempt to destabilize the United States Postal Service, voting has indeed become a major issue in the 2020 election. On Friday, House Democratic leaders sent a letter to election officials in four swing states expressing concern about potential problems in November, Yahoo News’ Jon Ward reported.

“The job ahead of us in the next 80-something days [will be] to jump over obstacles and to make sure our voices are heard and counted in this election,” Harris said Friday.

Harris did not divulge the details about the vice presidential selection process, but she touted what she called the “audacity” of Biden to select a Black woman (Harris is of Black and South Asian ancestry) to be his running mate.

“How incredible is that, and what a statement about Joe Biden that he decided that he was going to do that thing that was about breaking one of the most substantial barriers that has existed in our country,” she said. “And that he made that decision with whatever risk that brings.”

Harris later acknowledged that, as the only Black woman currently serving in the U.S. Senate, and only the second Black woman to be elected as a senator (the first was Carol Moseley Braun, a Democrat who represented Illinois from 1993 to 1999), her becoming vice president would mean there would be no Black women in the legislative body.

“It is inexcusable,” she said, “that we would not have full representation in the United States Congress. … There are so many talented Black women and women of color, period, who are on that path, and they should be encouraged.”

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