Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris visited Flint and Detroit on Tuesday in hopes of building enthusiasm with Black voters days before early voting begins in Michigan.
“I am here to speak with you because you possess an ability to make a decision in this election that could impact hundreds of millions of people in our country,” said Harris, a Democratic U.S. senator from California.
“We’re asking folks to make a plan to vote. Like, pull out your calendar and make a plan to vote, that that’s the day you’re going to vote. You can even have a ceremony about it, have a party about it if you want, but let’s make a plan to vote.”
Michigan residents can vote in-person at their county clerk’s office or their local clerk’s office starting Thursday, and voters can already request an absentee ballot be mailed to them.
President Donald Trump also encouraged his supporters in Michigan to vote early in a tweet posted earlier this week, backtracking on earlier tweets in which he claimed that absentee voting would be the “SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES.”
Harris also spoke to Black men in Detroit as part of the campaign’s “Shop Talk” series of roundtables focused on the challenges facing Black men across the country.
“The reason we’re at a barber shop is because we want to have a real conversation,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said at the event. “You see Black men here from different walks of life who all have shared experiences.”
Harris addressed the economy during the event, saying that she and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would advocate for a $15 minimum wage.
“The cost of living in America keeps going up, but wages have remained stagnant,” Harris said.
Michigan’s minimum wage is currently $9.45 per hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Harris said a Biden administration would also expand access to mental health resources, noting that living in poverty can have long-term effects on mental health.
“Poverty is trauma-inducing. Going to school or going to sleep at night and hearing gunfire and being told, ‘Baby, just jump in the bathtub’ to avoid the stray bullet is trauma-inducing,” Harris said. “And then when we don’t address it, it manifests itself in a number of ways. Our children have such potential that we are not tapping into because we’re not giving communities the kind of mental health resources that we need.”
Harris addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that Trump was “more concerned about the stock market than he was about the health and well-being and lives of the American people.”
Gilchrist said he has now lost 23 people in his life to COVID-19.
“Not a single one of them had to die. Their death was a policy failure – a policy failure that started in the White House,” Gilchrist said. “That is why the stakes are so high.”
Harris, who serves on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, warned that Russia targeted Black voters with disinformation campaigns in the 2016 election to try and suppress turnout – and will likely do it again.
“They know when we vote things change. They know when we vote we are powerful,” Harris said. “And so I say, let us not let them take our power. Let them not get away with trying to take our power, in any form, including the power of our vote.”
Harris made unannounced stops at three Black-owned small businesses in Flint: MagnifiClips, Comma Bookstore and Bedrock Apparel.
Harris also visited the Flint Farmers Market, where pool reports indicate she purchased a box of Honeycrisp apples, two ears of corn and a box of jalapeños.
Harris was greeted at the farmers market by several Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters, who chanted “Kamala” as she arrived. She was a member of the Black sorority while attending Howard University.
Harris was joined in Flint by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is expected to visit Flint tomorrow.
Biden was last in Michigan on Sept. 9 for a speech in Warren. His wife, Jill Biden, toured a food bank in Grand Rapids and met with military families in Battle Creek the following week.
Second lady Karen Pence will visit Michigan on Friday, headlining Evangelicals for Trump and Women for Trump events in Holland and Grand Rapids.
Trump was last in Michigan on Sept. 10 for a rally in Freeland.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., visited Michigan on Sept. 14 for a rally with Kid Rock and Kimberly Guilfoyle in Harrison Township.
Harris said Tuesday that she and Biden “will keep coming back, because so goes Michigan goes the rest of the country, as far as we’re concerned.”