Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) made her first campaign visit to Philadelphia on Thursday, striving to reach the city’s Black and Latinx voters in one of the most contentious battleground states of the 2020 election.
After spending the afternoon with Black community leaders and later with Latinx elected officials during a closed-door roundtable discussion in Kensington, Harris made a surprise visit to the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee headquarters where she briefly met with longtime party leaders, as well as members of the Penn community.
State Sen. Sharif Street, Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and 1999 Penn Law grad, and former Congressman Bob Brady, Chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party and Penn Professor, were among those working at the headquarters this evening.
“I think that we’re ready. We need somebody other than Trump there. We need somebody that’s honest to us. I’ve known Joe Biden for 40 years, and he’s as honest as could be and I think she’d be great,” Brady told The Daily Pennsylvanian of Harris. Brady, who served as the United States Representative for Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district from 1998 to 2019, described Biden as the “go-to guy” that former President Barack Obama always sent to Congress.
Street told the DP that Harris talked with various interest groups during her visit, particularly with Latinx voters, Black women, and party organizers putting signs out in the city. Harris is the first Black woman and first Asian American to be nominated for national office by a major political party.
Street said that Philadelphia’s Democratic Party is gearing up for the campaign through virtual meetings with interest group leaders, reaching more than 150,000 voters through phone banking, and hosting digital ads. He emphasized the party’s efforts in talking to younger voters and leading issues of climate change and job creation for “ordinary people.”
“While the President talks about [these issues,] Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a real plan and we’re getting that message to people,” Street said. “And the difference is that this time, we’re not just talking to people in big cities and in the suburbs, we’ve got a really robust plan even talking to rural voters. Because there are a number of rural voters who were Donald Trump, Barack Obama voters and we’re going to get them back.”
Harris was also the featured speaker at Sister to Sister: Mobilizing in Action, a discussion with Black female community leaders hosted by Philadelphia Councilmember Cherelle Parker, who received a Master of Public Administration from Penn in 2016. During the conversation, Harris spoke of the need to address issues in the nation’s education, criminal justice, economic, and public health systems — suggesting giving wider access to capital for Black communities and other communities of color, as well as standardizing methods of police accountability.
College sophomore Gianni Hill, Street's political coordinator who was also present at the headquarters on Thursday, described Harris as “very gracious.” Hill said he made his first-ever political contribution to Harris’s campaign the morning she announced her candidacy for president in early 2019.
“It was a great opportunity to hear from, hopefully, our next vice president,” Hill said.
In the evening, Harris attended a virtual fundraiser at the Biden campaign’s headquarters in Center City, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Biden was also campaigning in the state on Thursday, appearing at a CNN drive-in town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he touched upon Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s policing system, and his plan to unite the country.
Earlier this week, 1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump visited Philadelphia for a town hall which drew hundreds of protesters — including Penn students — outside the event’s venue, chanting for his removal from office.