Kamala Harris in Michigan to encourage early voting as election nears


Detroit Free Press Washington correspondent Todd Spangler breaks down where the polls stand in Michigan a little more than 5 weeks from the election.


With Election Day just a little more than a week away, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris visited metro Detroit Sunday, with stops in several cities where she encouraged Michiganders to vote.

At one stop, Harris referenced the importance of Michigan in this year’s presidential election, noting the thin margin by which President Donald Trump won the state in 2016.

“I’m traveling around the country, but I keep coming back to Detroit,” Harris said, according to press pool reports.

AFP_8TU6WV.jpg Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)speaks at a campaign stop at Northwest Activities Center on October 25, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. – As she speaks to cheering crowds, drops in to neighborhood coffee shops or pays “surprise” visits to college students, 56-year-old Kamala Harris has brought a jolt of youthful energy to the low-key presidential campaign of her 77-year-old running mate, Democrat Joe Biden. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images) (Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY, AFP via Getty Images)

At another stop, she told the audience that “there’s no question our democracy had taken a bit of a beating” under Trump’s presidency.

“We all have PTSD from 2016, yes, but there are lessons from 2016, and one of them is that in 2016, in Michigan, we missed that election by, on average, two votes per precinct. Think about that,” Harris said. “Like, this is doable!”

When asked by a reporter if she sees Texas and Georgia, both traditional Republican states, as winnable and what her message was to Democrats who were concerned about chasing many states instead of going all-in on Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.   

“The bottom line is we’re focusing on every state and we are working to earn the vote of every American regardless of where they live,” she said, according to press pool reports.  

Another reporter asked Harris if she thought Vice President Mike Pence should cancel his events in North Carolina after several of his aides tested positive for COVID-19. Pence was in Waterford, Mich., last week.

More: Vice President Pence brings ‘law and order’ message to Oakland County

“He should be following the guidelines. We’re doing it, I think that we have modeled the right and good behavior, and they should take our lead,” Harris said.

Harris’ first stop was Triumph Church in Southfield, where she emphasized faith and unity. Most churchgoers attended Sunday’s session by remaining in their cars and watching Harris’s speech on a screen, according to a pool report.  

She discussed on how her connection to God guides her to do the right thing. Harris referenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote of the “moral and ethical commitment” to make the world a “brotherhood.” Harris spoke of those rising in the moment, from Black Lives Matter protests to essential workers during the pandemic to parents sharing stories about their sick children in defense of the Affordable Health Care Act.  

Olive Burrus, 6, holds a sign as Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Troy, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Photo: Carlos Osorio, AP)

“We still have a lot of work to do, to build that brotherhood and sisterhood, to build that beloved community,” she said. “And we will get there, so long as we keep working and fighting for the ideals we hold dear, born out of our faith.” 

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Harris then made an unannounced stop on Detroit’s west side before a canvassing kick-off event, according to pool reports. She met with U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence and was introduced by the Rev. Steve Bland, standing in front of large Biden-Harris and Sen. Gary Peters bus. 

Harris listed reasons why Detroiters at the polls should vote, emphasizing the experiences of Black Americans. She bought up on the disproportionate deaths Black people faced during the pandemic, criticizing the administration for attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  

“One, to honor the ancestors,” Harris said. “They sacrificed lives for our right to vote.”

Harris said “powerful people” wanted to prevent change, saying she has seen the barriers to voting as she has traveled the country.

“They know when we vote, things change,” Harris said, to cars honking in agreement. “They know when we vote, we win. So let’s not let anybody take our power from us, ever.”

“Let’s bring this home! Let’s bring this home! Show the country and show the world that Detroit made the difference in this election.”

Her next stop was a canvassing event in downtown Detroit with 120 people, where she was introduced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The pool report said individuals were masked.

“Joe Biden knows how to bring people together,” Whitmer said. “He will be the one who can bring us together, who can span the divide between Ford and Chevy. Span the divide between Vernors and Faygo. Lafayette and American. Joe Biden can bring us together.”

Harris praised Whitmer, “And you know who can’t stand strong women, right?”

She also emphasized reelecting Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who is in a tight race with Republican challenger John James, a business executive.

 At Troy’s Community Center, Harris was greeted by a crowd of around 80 masked people in a large outside space during a chilly day. She was introduced by Whitmer again and by U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills. 

Stevens, firing up the crowd, said change will come from Michigan. 

Troy resident Lisa Neal, who worked for Barack Obama’s first Senate race in 2005, brought Harris to the stage and said she was especially excited as an African-American woman herself.  

More: Michigan reports new highest number of daily coronavirus cases on Saturday

In the middle of her speech, Harris ducked from a bee, joking “it wasn’t a fly” as Pence had faced during the vice presidential debate. 

Her last rally was a drive-in event in Pontiac, where by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel were in attendance.  

Local chapters of historically African-American Greek life, including Harris’s own sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, also made an appearance, the pool read. AKA has been enthusiastically supporting its alumna since Harris’s Vice President announcement. 

Before heading to Metro Airport, Harris made an unannounced stop to pick up dinner at 

Khalaf Grill, a Lebanese restaurant in Dearborn.

 The Trump administration responded to Harris’ trip across to southeast Michigan, saying the contrast between their policies couldn’t “be clearer.”

“Michiganders will soundly reject Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 9 days,” Trump’s Victory spokesperson Chris Gustafson wrote in an email.

Nisa Khan is a data and Freep Now intern for the Detroit Free Press. Contact her at nkhan@freep.com and follow her on Twitter @mnisakhan

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