VP Harris Adds Trips To Speak To Black Women Voters In July

Jennifer Gerson

Originally published by The 19th

Vice President Kamala Harris will be traveling throughout the month of July for targeted outreach to Black women voters, the White House shared exclusively with The 19th.

In addition to a previously announced appearance at the 30th annual ESSENCE Festival of Culture this weekend in New Orleans, Harris will be giving the keynote address during the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s 71st annual Boulé, or gathering of total membership, in Dallas on July 10. Harris is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Then on July 24, she will have a moderated conversation during the Zeta Phi Beta sorority’s Grand Boulé in Indianapolis.

The appearances at the annual meetings of two of the “Divine Nine” historically Black fraternities and sororities are critical opportunities for the vice president to engage with young Black women as she works to appeal to and turn out voters.

“We are excited to welcome Vice President Kamala Harris to our 2024 Grand Boulé to discuss what this administration has done to improve the lives of all Americans as well as the investments being made in the historically underserved communities our members serve,” Dr. Stacie NC Grant, International President and CEO, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., told The 19th via email.

Harris has made over 60 trips to 20 states since the start of 2024, with a focus on Black women voters, youth leaders, and other communities, focusing on issues including abortion, gun violence and the economy. The vice president has led a number of conversations with youth leaders and other gun safety advocates, framing life without gun violence as a key freedom, in Atlanta; Parkland, Florida; Las Vegas; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The vice president has also highlighted issues of economic mobility for Black communities and protections for reproductive rights and voting rights. Black women are a key constituency of the Democratic Party, and their support at the ballot box and in the months leading up to Election Day on November 5 is critical to the party’s success.

Harris’ travel comes as all eyes are on the presumptive Democratic presidential ticket in the wake of President Joe Biden’s debate versus former President Donald Trump last Thursday, when Biden stumbled over answers, even on subjects that are strengths for their campaign. Biden’s debate performance renewed questions about his age — he is 81 — and ability to run for another term.

Harris, 59, has been a critical spokesperson for the White House and campaign on key issues like abortion — a topic on which Biden gave confusing answers last week. Immediately following the debate, Harris appeared on cable news, acknowledging a “slow start” to Biden’s performance while also emphatically stressing the achievements of the administration and the stakes of the election. Her clear message and prosecutor-like case against Trump — a callback to her days as California’s attorney general — were in sharp contrast to Biden’s performance.

Biden is reportedly meeting with advisers as at least one Democratic member of Congress has called on him to drop out of the presidential race. While he won the Democratic presidential primaries, Biden has not officially become the nominee, a process that usually happens during the party convention but could be moved up because of a ballot access deadline in Ohio.

Many have speculated about who could possibly replace Biden on the ticket, especially if he dropped out ahead of the official nomination. If Biden were to drop out — he has given no publication any indication that he would — Harris would be the likely replacement. Names including those of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro have also been mentioned as other possible candidates.

Suggestions that any replacement for Biden would be someone other than Harris have been met with some criticism, given her role and the optics of passing over a Black and Asian-American woman who is currently in the No. 2 spot. Harris also reportedly would have easiest access to the money the Biden-Harris campaign has raised.

A poll released Tuesday from CNN showed Harris performing slightly better against Trump than Biden in a hypothetical matchup, in part because of stronger support from women voters.

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