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Kamala Harris came out swinging for voters that Trump has been targeting hardest

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
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In her first public appearance as the presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) used most of her time to focus on how the Trump administration has harmed Americans broadly, through his response to the coronavirus and matters of race.

Her opening words during Wednesday’s speech included these:

This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about, our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in, it’s all on the line. We’re reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century. The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country, demanding change. America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him.

Vice-presidential picks are often selected to appeal to voting blocs that a presidential candidate is less effective at reaching. While President Trump was leading with White evangelicals, according to some polls shortly after announcing his 2016 bid, the campaign’s selection of Mike Pence as running mate, a popular figure with religious conservatives after gaining national attention for signing a bill that critics said discriminated against LGBT people, was made in part to solidify the president’s support with conservative Christians.

And Biden, who hails from blue-collar Scranton, Pa., is said to have been chosen by some on Obama’s team to help the country’s first Black president win enough working-class White Americans to capture the White House.

During his 2020 run, Biden was already ahead of Trump with Black voters and women — and certainly Black women, arguably the most influential voting bloc in the Democratic Party. So there isn’t a huge need for Harris to attract additional voters to the ticket from those blocs, even though there is a desire within the campaign to attempt to return Black voter turnout to 2008 election numbers.

But Harris’s words suggested that she will be used to help make the case to many of the voters who backed Trump in 2016 but whose lives may be falling short of their hopes:

1. Working-class Americans who have been devastated by the economic downturn

Trump is also the reason millions of Americans are now unemployed. He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground. Because of Trump’s failures of leadership, our economy has taken one of the biggest hits out of all the major industrialized nations, with an unemployment rate that has tripled as of today.

2. Elderly Americans who have been disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus pandemic

When other countries are following the science, Trump pushed miracle cures he saw on Fox News. While other countries were flattening the curve, he said the virus would just, poof, go away, quote, like a miracle. So when other countries opened back up for business, what did we do? We had to shut down again. This virus has impacted almost every country, but there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation.

3. Suburban voters — particularly working mothers — who prioritize what is best for their families when making voting decisions

Because whether I’m cheering in the bleachers at a swim meet, or setting up a college dorm room, or helping my goddaughter prepare for her school debate, or building Legos with my godson, or hugging my two baby nieces, or cooking dinner, Sunday dinner, my family means everything to me. I’ve had a lot of titles over my career, and certainly vice president will be great, but Mamala will always be the one that means the most.

Views of Trump’s handling of culture war issues related to gender and race are probably well-established at this point among voters across the political spectrum. But the Biden campaign used Harris’s introduction to communicate to voters outside of her political tribe that she deeply believes that the president has failed them and that she has what it takes to get their lives going back in the direction of their pursuit of the American Dream.