Kamala Harris attends Miami Gardens roundtable on race relations, discusses campaign

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris met with members of the Black community to speak about race relations in South Florida and discussed the current presidential campaign during a one-on-one interview.

There is reported concern in the Biden campaign that President Donald Trump and Republicans are gaining ground in Miami-Dade County, which may be the reason behind the visit.

Harris said she wants people to know she will campaign hard during the election and aims to win.

“My feet hit the ground almost minutes after Joe asked me to join him on the ticket because there’s just so much at stake in this election,” she said.

She knows a win in November’s election is impossible without Florida, and she believes the campaign’s message can help them win the state.

Harris was anxious to discuss revelations from Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward’s new book that claimed the president downplayed the threat of COVID-19, saying that alone should deny him a second term.

“Talking about a virus that has impacted over six million people directly, those who have contracted it and, frankly, a dereliction of duty,” she said. “The president of the United States has as one of their most important duties to concern themselves with protecting the safety, the well-being of the American people. I think that it is very clear from the most recent comments, plus from his actions for months now, that the president has acted with a reckless disregard of human life.”

Harris added that a Biden administration would offer a different approach to the pandemic.

“Joe and I feel very strongly about the need to address these issues by speaking truth about the science and then having a national plan that is about testing, it’s about treatment and when, God willing, we get a vaccine, about distribution of a vaccine,” Harris said. “The health and well-being of our nation is at stake.”

With only weeks to go before the election, a new Miami Herald poll of 500 likely voters showed the race tightening in Miami-Dade County, with Biden garnering 55% of responses while Trump garnered 38% of responses.

Although Biden is ahead of Trump, it is a far cry from Hillary Clinton’s 30-point lead over Trump in 2016.

The survey also found Biden is in a statistical tie with Trump among Hispanic voters.

When asked about the newspaper’s poll and what they’re doing to make up the ground lost, Harris said, “Well, what I know — and Joe and I feel very strongly about this — we have to earn the vote of each person. We are not telling anyone that they are supposed to vote for us. It is because they believe in the policies that we prioritize.”

There is little doubt Harris and Biden will win South Florida, where Democrats far outnumber Republicans, but the campaign said they are looking to offset the GOP strength in other parts of the state.

7News cameras and cellphone video captured Harris deplaning after arriving at Miami International Airport on Thursday.

Soon after, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, headed to Amaize in Doral to court the Venezuelan vote.

“It’s very important for you to know that we support Biden and you in this community,” Carlos Ganeo, an event planner, said to Harris. “Welcome to Doral-zuela.”

While at the restaurant, the U.S. senator from California took photos and bumped elbows with patrons. They also grabbed arepas to eat before heading to their next stop.

She was welcomed at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens with a serenade from the school’s marching band before she spoke with local leaders at a virtual event.

“I am here on behalf of myself and Joe Biden to listen and learn, to ensure that the work we are doing, and intend to do, is relevant to the people of this community,” Harris said.

She also touched base on the coronavirus pandemic and the Democratic plan to rebound from it.

“Here we are in this community talking about the number of deaths, talking about the number of people who have contracted the virus, talking about the number of people who have become unemployed, who are standing in food lines,” Harris said. “Helping small businesses, helping to encourage entrepreneurship and doing that understanding one of the best ways to do it is to provide access to capital for communities that have historically been denied access to capital.”

Around a dozen of her supporters gathered at the opposite side of campus during the event.

“I’m excited to see Kamala,” Stephanie Steinburg, a Biden supporter, said. “She’s got energy. She’s got the willingness to unite Americans.”

“We just want to welcome her,” Jose Vivas, a Biden supporter, said. “I think she’s great, and she deserves for us to be here saying hi.”

Supporters of Trump were also on hand during the vice presidential nominee’s visit.

“For me, as a Democrat, I’m saying ‘I’ve had enough,'” Bob Kunst, a Trump supporter, said. “If this is the way you’re going to treat America by going after Trump and keep on baring us, I’m not going to support you on any level.”

While Harris was at the university, Emhoff met with community leaders at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, where he compared the Democratic campaign to Jewish ideals and values.

“Attention to basic fairness, an adherence to the rule of law, a commitment above all for justice for all,” Emhoff said.

On Friday, Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, his wife, will travel to New York City and Shanksville, Pennsylvania to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

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