In Raleigh campaign swing, Kamala Harris speaks one-on-one with ABC11 about importance of battleground state North Carolina

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
ABC11's Joel Brown speaks one-on-one with Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris in Raleigh
ABC11's Joel Brown speaks one-on-one with Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris in Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Kamala Harris' campaign plane touched down at RDU just before 1 p.m., and the first Black and Indian-American woman on a major party presidential ticket was ferried directly to Shaw University, the first Historically Black College or University in the South.

"Vote as if your life, your choice, depends in it -- because it does," Harris said in her prepared remarks inside Shaw's historic Estey Hall.

There was no cheering crowd -- just a handful of reporters and photographers. The Biden-Harris campaign seemed to be trying to evoke a seriousness about COVID-19 safety to draw a sharp distinction from President Donald Trump's North Carolina rallies where there are few masks and little social distancing - but large crowds.

In a one-on-one interview with ABC11, we asked Sen. Harris whether the new normal of campaigning hurts the Democratic ticket's chances of winning this crucial battleground where polls show Joe Biden and Donald Trump are in statistical tie among voters.

"We love North Carolina. It's so good to be back here. And we are going to do everything we can to earn the vote of every North Carolinian," Harris said. "But, that's going to be about virtual presence and physical presence. We want to make sure people are safe. We certainly don't want to put people in harm's way."

Harris' visit to the Capital City comes as Raleigh cleaned up from another weekend of unrest -- sometimes-destructive demonstrations over the Breonna Taylor case. Harris answered President Trump's charge in TV ads, airing across the state, that looting and rioting in cities and states with Democratic leaders represents "Joe Biden's America."

"It's about Donald Trump trying to scare the people, to distract from his failures," Harris said, then pivoting to the pandemic. "You want to talk about safety, you want to talk about law and order -- let's talk about the 200,000 people who've died under Donald Trump's watch."

In Raleigh, Harris assumed the role of many VP nominees through the years: the aggressor. "Donald Trump is weak," she said in her speech -- hammering the president, claiming he mishandled the pandemic; accusing him of trying to suppress the vote; and warning that if Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, wins confirmation, it could spell the end of the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights.

"They just want to jam this nomination through as fast as they can," Harris said in her speech.

Senate Republicans appear to have the necessary votes to confirm Barrett.

"Let me tell you, I serve on the Judiciary Committee, I feel very strongly that we're 36 days away from an election. We're not just in an election year. We are literally in an election, voting," Harris said during our interview. "Democracy and the legitimacy of our democracy requires that we wait until the next president is elected before a nomination is made."

There is, of course, no such requirement, but the message and tone will be oft repeated leading up to Election Day.

Harris then departed Estey Hall with a small taste of HBCU fanfare from Shaw's marching band and cheerleaders. A small group of university leaders and students greeted her; thanking her for the visit. She then headed to east Raleigh for a roundtable discussion with Black voters at White's Barbershop on Hill Street.


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Harris left Raleigh with nine days left to prepare for her Vice-Presidential Debate with Vice President Mike Pence -- scheduled for October 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

On Monday, Lara Trump also campaigned in Wake County and spoke one-on-one with ABC11's Tim Pulliam.