Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, visited the key battleground state of Florida on Thursday to court Black and Jewish voters just days after the Democratic vice presidential nominee’s first in-person campaign event in Wisconsin.
The trip included Emhoff’s first in-person campaign event since former Vice President Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate.
Harris met with Biden campaign surrogate Ana Navarro during a visit to Amaize Latin Flavors, a fast-casual Venezuelan restaurant in Doral. During her stop, Harris greeted diners and staff, took photos and picked up large bags of takeout.
Later in the day, Harris held a conversation with community leaders, including fellow members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Black Greek sorority of which Harris is a member, along with past regional president Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Miami Shores Mayor Crystal Wagar, at Florida Memorial University. The women discussed the challenges that African Americans face in South Florida at the historically Black university in Miami Gardens.
Harris took a direct shot at President Donald Trump saying the president acted in his “political self-interest” after a panelist told a story about how her community has suffered great physical and financial loss due to the impact of coronavirus. The California Senator responded to the woman saying, “our country is grieving, the loss of jobs, the loss of life, the loss of normalcy, the loss of consistency and in many cases the loss of hope and Joe and I talk about that all the time.” She added, “we need leadership that sees and recognizes the suffering and is prompted then to be guided by truth and fact, and not what is in their political self-interest which is what we have seen in Donald Trump.”
The California senator was introduced by Wilson, a Bahamian American, who said, “We’re so proud of you because Black women have carried this nation, this race, this Democratic Party.” Wilson added, “For you to be on the cusp of being the first Black Caribbean vice president — I’m Bahamian — it means so much. It means so much to our district. It means so much to all of the people here.”
Before the discussion, Harris was greeted by Florida Memorial University’s marching band, called “The Roar,” which played three songs.
At the same time as Harris’ event, Emhoff, who is Jewish, held a community conversation with Jewish leaders at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Miami. Emhoff was joined by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava and several local rabbis to talk about issues important to the Jewish community.
Emhoff is not new to campaigning as he was often on the trail during Harris’ primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In late August, Emhoff took a leave of absence from his law firm, DLA Piper. Since then, Emhoff has headlined several Zoom calls and fundraisers, including a Lawyers for Biden Virtual Conversation with Emhoff and Harris’ brother-in-law, Tony West, on Wednesday. That event raised $960,000, according to organizers.
Emhoff said if he becomes the “first second gentleman” he will focus on issues involving access to justice, which he became interested in as a young lawyer.
“When I first went to court, and I would go into the Superior Court in Los Angeles downtown and I was shocked to see just lining the halls, just people … just tugging at my — at the time, double-breasted jacket to say you know, ‘Help. Help.’ It was just so impactful.”
He added, “So for 30 years this has been sticking with me, how some are able to hire these amazing lawyers and many aren’t.”
While Thursday’s events mark the couple’s first time campaigning in person in the Sunshine State since joining the Biden campaign, it isn’t the first time Harris has targeted Miami. In late August, Harris participated in the launch of the Biden-Harris campaign initiative focused on Latino-owned small businesses dubbed Nuestros Negocios, Nuestro Futuro, which translates to “Our Businesses, Our Future.”
The virtual bilingual event was a virtual roundtable discussion focused on Miami, with Harris, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and local business owners highlighting the difficulties of running a business amid the pandemic and the role of Latino business owners in job creation and boosting the economy. The first of a series of events will also call on business owners to ensure that people in communities they serve are registered to vote.