(CN) — Condemning the man just hours before the GOP will renominate him for a second term, Kamala Harris called President Donald Trump out on Thursday for failing “to protect the American people.”
The California senator and running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden turned to ongoing Republican convention about a third of the way into her 20-minute address, having first recounted the latest police shooting of a black man to spark civil unrest. As documented by bystander video, a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Jacob Blake at least seven times in the back on Sunday in front of his children.
“Thankfully he is alive today, but he is fighting for his life and he shouldn’t have to be,” Harris said.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency, but the state saw more bloodshed as a 17-year-old was charged Wednesday with opening fire on the protesters.
“We see the pain, hurt, and destruction in the aftermath of another black man shot by police,” Harris said.
At least two protesters are dead, and Blake, 29, remains hospitalized, paralyzed from the waist down.
“Joe and I spoke with them yesterday even in their pain and their grief — even as they seek justice for their son — they speak about the need to end the justice and heal for our nation,” Harris said of Blake’s family.
The vice-presidential hopeful, who is herself Black, delivered this afternoon’s address from George Washington University, just a half-mile from the White House lawn where Trump is set to accept renomination this evening.
She said she stands with those who are angry and exhausted at continuing police shootings even after months of protests following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.
“The reality is that the life of a Black person in America has never been treated as fully human,” Harris said.
While Harris has been criticized for contributing of America’s mass incarceration problem in her previous career as a prosecutor, she pledged Thursday that a vote for Biden-Harris is a vote for reform, both of the criminal justice system broadly and how policing in this country is done.
Highlighting that Biden-Harris have crafted a plan to contain Covid-19, Harris also blamed Trump for dropping the ball on taking proactive measures to protect America from the disease in the beginning of the year. As of August 27, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show around 5.85 million Covid-19 cases and around 180,000 related deaths in the United States.
“Donald Trump’s incompetence is nothing new. That has always been on full display,” she said. “But in January of this year it became deadly.”
The CDC began tracking U.S. cases on January 21, 2020. Harris linked Trump’s early dismissal of Covid-19 to his calculations that it could damage his chance at a second term.
“He was fixated on the stock market over fixing the problem,” she said, calling the president scared, petty and vindictive. “He was convinced if his administration focused on this problem, it would hurt the market and hurt his chances of being reelected.”
She also recalled the Trump administration’s disbanding of the U.S. Global Health Security and Biodefense unit — a group responsible for preparing and responding to pandemics, established under President Barack Obama.
Harris touted a Biden presidency as one that would lead America through the pandemic with the help of scientific and economic experts.
“As president, Joe Biden will put a plan into effect on Day 1,” she said, continuing on to say that Trump “is in court right now trying to throw out the entire Affordable Care Act,” a move that could prevent those who contract Covid-19 from later getting insurance if it causes them to develop long-term medical conditions, as they will have a preexisting conditions.
“President Trump won’t tell you any of this at the Republican convention tonight,” she said. “We all know he’s not changing. The president he has been is the president he will be. But we have a chance to right these wrongs and put America on a better path forward.”
The Republican convention underway this week comes on the heels of the Democrats’ own event. The day Biden was set to accept his party’s nomination, Trump spoke to a crowd of around 250 supporters near Scranton, Pennsylvania, calling Biden “a puppet of the radical left movement that seeks to destroy the American way of life.”
Democrats are hopeful that Harris, who joined the ticket on August 11, will be able to pull in the votes of Black women and white college-educated women.