‘Joe Biden is a fighter,’ VP Harris says in Las Vegas as Dems rally for ticket

‘Joe Biden is a fighter,’ VP Harris says in Las Vegas as Dems rally for ticket

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a post debate campaign rally, Friday, June 28, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ronda Churchill)

By Casey Harrison

July 9, 2024

While President Biden has publicly rebuffed calls to step aside, Harris reminded supporters the party should be focusing on defeating Trump in November.

With all eyes on Vice President Kamala Harris in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the Democrat did her best to address the elephant in the room. 

With fewer than four months to go until November’s presidential election, Harris reassured Democratic supporters during a rally at a Las Vegas resort that President Joe Biden is “all in” on defeating former President Donald Trump. 

Biden in recent weeks has faced calls from pundits and some Democratic lawmakers to step aside as the party’s presidential nominee following a shaky debate performance late last month. While the president has publicly rebuffed those calls, Harris on Tuesday reminded supporters the party should be focusing on defeating Trump in November. 

“[This is] the most existential, consequential and important election of our lifetime,” Harris said. “But the one thing we know about our president, Joe Biden, is that he is a fighter. And he is the first to say, ‘When you get knocked down, you get back up.’“ 

Supporters and attendees largely agreed with Harris, and said the party needs to coalesce around Biden, and fast, in order to defeat Trump. 

Former Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat who served from 2018-2022, told reporters he thinks the president has “made it clear he’s not stepping aside,” and that further calls for Biden to do so could splinter Democrats at a critical point in the election. 

“We need to change the dialogue,” Sisolak said, adding that Biden has proven his fitness for the job. “It can’t be a referendum on Joe Biden. It should be a referendum on Donald Trump, and his legal problems, past issues as president, and have that be the discussion as opposed to the discussion of the fitness and character of Joe Biden.”

Kathie Klass, a Las Vegas resident who attended Tuesday’s rally, said the discourse over Biden’s fitness has been overblown, and lamented that such rhetoric distracts voters from seeing the vastly different policy standpoints of Biden and Trump. 

MORE: Kamala Harris’ fight for reproductive freedom takes center stage in 2024

“Biden is our choice, and we need to support him,” Klass said. “He’s done so much for this country and he’s running against a felon. … I think there’s been too much focus on Biden, and not enough on Trump.” 

Harris’ remarks were part of a larger event in which the Biden-Harris campaign celebrated the launch of a voter outreach arm tailored at engaging voters with Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander backgrounds. 

The event also highlighted accomplishments from AANHPI state lawmakers and local small business owners, as well as remarks from Indian-American writer and actress Padma Lakshmi, who blasted Trump’s overarching rhetoric toward immigrants. 

“He’s trash, and everyone knows it,” Lakshmi, who was born in India, said to a round of applause. “Don’t let Donald Trump tell us we don’t belong here. We built this country, too.” 

The Biden-Harris campaign will have staff nationwide specifically dedicated to AANHPI voter outreach, as well as provide “culturally competent” resources to inform voters and combat misinformation, according to a news release prior to Harris’ visit. The campaign will also make certain materials available in several languages, including Chinese, Tagalog, Hindi, Vietnamese, Korean and more. 

“We stand for the beauty and diversity and the promise of America, and the individuals in this room right now represent that,” Harris said. 

Harris painted a stark contrast between the Biden-Harris administration and what a second Trump term could look like. While Democrats are looking for ways to codify abortion protections and access to reproductive health services, Harris said, Trump would sign a nationwide abortion if given the chance. 

The vice president also touted the administration’s record forgiving student loans, strengthening the Affordable Care Act, as well as a law enacted by Biden in 2021 to make reporting hate crimes more accessible amid a rise in violence against Aisan Americans at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We work for you, the American people,” Harris said. “Not special interests, not billionaires or big corporations, you.” 

But like Biden, Harris also warned the nation’s soul remains on the line in November. Harris criticized a recent Supreme Court ruling making it virtually impossible to bring criminal charges against a sitting president, and also mentioned by name Project 2025, the policy guide published by conservative activists and Trump loyalists.

Harris said if Trump is elected, he could use objectives outlined in Project 2025 to dismantle government institutions and irreparably damage American democracy. 

“If the Supreme Court says the laws do not apply to Donald Trump, [that] if people like Mike Pence are not around to stand up to him, and if extremists in Congress continue to bow down to him, our last line of defense is the ballot box,” Harris said.

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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