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'The right person': Harris takes lead in campaign over abortion access

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris paused briefly after telling an audience last month in Las Vegas, “So, let’s all be clear.” What followed has become a hallmark of her public campaign against states’ abortion bans.

“What we are seeing in these states that we are talking about are Trump abortion bans, and he can’t get away from that,” Harris said, repeating the line for effect: “Those are Trump abortion bans.”

The phrase has become Harris’ go-to club in her political golf bag as she aims to attack the electoral flag by blaming Donald Trump, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee, for the ending of federal abortion protections and the subsequent bans on the procedure in some states.

“This election is about many, many important issues, including the ability of the people to organize in support of what we believe to be foundational values and principles about who we are as America,” Harris said April 15 in Las Vegas, with battleground Nevada looking more and more like a dead heat between President Joe Biden and Trump.

“When we look at our power, let’s not forget the power of the people, and let’s not overlook the momentum we’ve already achieved,” she said. “I’ll remind us … When this issue has been on the ballot — from Kentucky to California, from Virginia to Ohio … the voters voted in favor of freedoms, in red states and blue, making clear, by the way, this is not a partisan issue. Making clear there is a consensus among the American people that it is wrong to take rights from the people of our country.”

Harris, who has drawn criticism at times for a sometimes unsteady public persona, delivers the lines forcefully, appearing to capture the full attention of her audiences, who hoot and cheer in agreement.

 

White House and Biden-Harris campaign officials are banking on that enthusiasm carrying over to Election Day, citing polling data that shows a majority of Americans support the right to abortion and legal protections for women.

Harris has been “outspoken” about women’s issues, including access to abortion procedures since she and Biden took office in January 2021, a White House official said Friday.

‘Her authenticity’

Asked if taking the lead on what the White House refers to as “reproductive freedom” was an assignment handed down by Biden, the official called them “governing patterns.” Harris decided the issue was “something she felt that it was important to talk about,” the official added.

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