By AVERI HARPER, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — In her first solo event as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris delivered a preemptive strike on President Donald Trump and Republicans ahead of the final night of the Republican National Convention.
“Today, on the eve of the March on Washington, I will speak about the recent events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the wildfires raging across the California coast to the Rocky Mountains, the storm, which is working its way through Texas, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, and most of all, about who we are as a country,” she began her remarks.
She started by addressing the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man by a white officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, before segueing into a broader issue of systematic racism.
“As Vice President Biden put it, the shots fired at Mr. Blake pierced the soul of our nation. It’s sickening to watch. It’s all too familiar. And it must end,” she said. “Thankfully, he is alive today. But he is fighting for his life and he shouldn’t have to be.”
She said both she and Biden spoke to Blake’s family Wednesday, and the pair defends all of those peacefully protesting. She invoked the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Arbery.
“It’s no wonder people are taking to the streets, and I support them,” she said.
“We will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice. Here’s my promise to those mothers and fathers and all who stand with them — in a Biden-Harris, administration, you will have a seat at the table in the halls of Congress, and in the White House,” she continued.
Harris then segued into prosecuting the case against the Trump administration’s handling of COVID-19, the initial focus on her speech, according to guidance from the Biden campaign.
She slammed Republicans, she said, for not addressing the realities of the pandemic at their convention in order to please the president.
“The Republican Convention is designed for one purpose: to soothe Donald Trump’s ego. To make him feel good. Well here’s the thing — he’s the president of the United States. And it’s not supposed to be about him. It’s supposed to be about the health and the safety and the wellbeing of the American people,” Harris said.
“And on that measure, Donald Trump has failed. You see, at its most basic level, Donald Trump doesn’t understand the presidency. He thinks it’s all about him. Well, it’s not. It’s about you,” she continued.
Harris said the president got the pandemic “wrong from the beginning” and “was fixated on the stock market over fixing the problem.”
She ticked off a list of actions and inactions she said led to more Americans dying, such as Trump telling governors to secure their own equipment and praising China’s response when the country wouldn’t let American scientists in to study the virus.
“Here’s what you have to understand about the nature of a pandemic. It’s relentless. You can’t stop it with a tweet,” she said.
Harris spoke from George Washington University’s campus, blocks from the White House and just hours before Trump is slated to accept the Republican presidential nomination in a speech from South Lawn.
While Harris’ remarks were given in Washington, D.C., her only in-person audience was a small group of reporters. By contrast, Trump will give his address in front of a large audience tonight at the White House.
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