Kamala Harris Delivers Counter To Trump's Acceptance Speech

Aug 27, 2020
Originally published on August 27, 2020 5:35 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I want to turn now to politics because the Democratic ticket made itself visible today ahead of the final night of the Republican National Convention. Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris spoke about the pandemic along with ongoing racial unrest in Kenosha, Wis. NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow was at her remarks in Washington, D.C., joins us now. Hey there, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there.

CORNISH: So we know Harris's background - right? - as a prosecutor. What was her overall message on what's been happening in Kenosha?

DETROW: Well, in a week where Republicans have really ramped up their law and order warnings about protests that have been violent at times, and many Democrats have started to worry that maybe those framings are resonating with voters, it was interesting to me that Harris made it clear that she and Joe Biden are firmly on the side of the protesters. She said that she and Biden spoke to the family of Jacob Blake, who's the man who was shot at seven times by Kenosha Police and is now paralyzed. And she also said she understands why protests have broken out again.

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KAMALA HARRIS: People are rightfully angry and exhausted. And after the murders of Breonna and George and Ahmaud and so many others, it's no wonder people are taken to the streets. And I support them.

DETROW: She was quick to separate peaceful protests from looting and acts of violence. And she made a very specific point there to tie in to those acts of violence this Illinois teenager who's been arrested and charged with murder for allegedly traveling to Kenosha and then shooting protesters in some sort of vigilante attempt.

CORNISH: Because she's speaking on the same day President Trump is delivering his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, people are talking about this as a prebuttal. I understand Harris zeroed in on how the president has handled the pandemic as well. What stood out to you?

DETROW: Yeah, she echoed some central attacks that we've heard from Biden and now Harris throughout the campaign that President Trump did not take the pandemic seriously at first, that he still doesn't take it seriously. One thing I noticed was that given our collective short-term political memories and how short they are, Harris made a point to walk through key moments in meetings from the spring from the early days when President Trump told governors states needed to take the lead.

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HARRIS: Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared. And he was petty and vindictive.

DETROW: She said Americans really have a choice here between a government that will take this pandemic seriously or not take it seriously.

CORNISH: And final thoughts, Scott, Joe Biden himself finally coming out and speaking more, right?

DETROW: Yeah. He and Harris had both laid low over the last week. It's a real contrast to Trump being out there every single day trying to make news during the Democratic convention. But Biden did two TV interviews today. Harris was out there. They clearly wanted to get their message. And, notably, Biden is going to air a two-minute ad during the speech tonight.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Scott Detrow covering Kamala Harris today in Washington, D.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.