Kamala Harris’ mostly virtual campaign to get Wisconsin road test
Kamala Harris told a friendly crowd of Hollywood donors on Thursday they’d be surprised by how many states she’s visiting daily, if only virtually.
Earlier in the week, she’d campaigned before supporters in Minnesota, California and Connecticut, and she was greeting Missouri donors next.
Harris hasn’t been on a plane in more than a month. Three weeks after joining Joe Biden as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, the California senator is still campaigning largely in front of a computer screen to relatively small audiences.
That’s about to change. On Monday, Harris will travel to Milwaukee on her first traditional campaign trip. Biden’s campaign hasn’t yet said what she plans to do in the critical swing state.
Her trip to Wisconsin comes after Biden visited Kenosha this past week to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot by police, and talk to the community about racial justice and protests in the city.
The coronavirus pandemic has radically altered campaigning for Democrats, who, unlike Republicans, are largely avoiding in-person gatherings and organising digitally.
For Harris, that’s so far meant a mix of fundraising and organising events, along with local press interviews and one speech aimed at President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
Leaning into her role as the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket, Harris has spoken with Black leaders and activists in events that aren’t open to the press, but she did not travel with Biden to Kenosha.
“She’s been on the road. She’s out herself,” Biden said Friday. “I talk with her almost every day. I speak with her and we work together and I have every confidence in her. There’s nothing about not campaigning together, it’s about being able to cover more territory.” On Sunday, Harris is scheduled to be a guest on CNN’s “State of the Union,” her first solo appearance on such a show since becoming the vice presidential nominee. She has not held a wide-ranging press conference since joining the ticket.
Democratic observers say Harris is so far complementing Biden in a way that’s expected for a running mate. It’s the role of the vice presidential nominee to boost the presidential candidate’s agenda, as Harris has done, and reach out to constituencies that may not be as natural for the nominee, said Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist who ran communications for Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016.
Vice President Mike Pence, for example, was chosen in part to help boost Trump’s support among evangelical voters, a key Republican constituency not originally seen as natural Trump allies. Harris, meanwhile, counters the 77-year-old Biden as a 55-year-old Black woman.