U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris likened the upcoming presidential election to a collective, questioning gaze into a figurative mirror.
“This is a reflection moment in the history of our country,” she said today at Convivium Urban Farmstead in Dubuque.
The Democratic presidential candidate from California said President Donald Trump's administration has forced Americans to pose a difficult question.
“This is a moment in time requiring each of us as individuals, and certainly collectively, to look in the mirror and ask a question: Who are we? And I think what we all know, as part of the answer to that question, is we are better than this," she said. "This is a moment in time when we must fight for the best of who we are."
Harris spoke for 32 minutes to an audience of nearly 300 people, according to event organizers.
“If events in Charlottesville (Va.) didn’t make it clear, if the Tree of Life Synagogue (in Pittsburgh) didn’t make it clear, the truth is that racism, antisemitism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia – these issues are real in this country, and they are born out of hate,” Harris said, referencing a white nationalist rally in Virginia after which a man who drove into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19, as well as the synagogue shooting in which 11 were killed and seven hurt last October. “Hate over the last few years has received new fuel, and we must all agree that whenever and wherever that hate reveals itself, we must all stand up and speak out and we must all agree -- whomever is the subject of that hate -- they should never be made to fight alone.”
The former attorney general of California also focused on the economy during her Dubuque campaign stop.
“America’s economy is not working for working people,” Harris said. “How do we know that? Well, in America today, for almost half of American families, they cannot afford a $400 unexpected expense. That could completely topple the stability of that family. That could be the car breaking down, a hospital bill they didn’t see coming. But yet we have supposed leaders who prancing around talking about, ‘Oh, the economy is great.’ They will point to the stock market. Well, that’s fine if you own stocks. They will point to the unemployment numbers. Well, Dubuque, I’m traveling our country, and yeah, people are working – they are working two or three jobs.
"In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head and put food on the table.”
Jim Herrig, of East Dubuque, Ill., said he has attended campaign events featuring four or five candidates. He was eager to hear from Harris.
“I want to hear what distinguishes her from the rest,” he said. “My wife and I listen to the candidates on TV. We’re looking for someone who can win because we have to change the course of this country in profound ways.”
Harris also advocated for investing federal money to close the gap between the pay that teachers receive and the wages of similarly educated professionals.
“You should judge a society based on how it treats its children,” Harris said. “One of the greatest expressions of love that a society can extend toward its children is to invest in their education -- and by extension, in their teachers.”
A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa poll found that 7% of likely Democratic Iowa Caucus voters would support Harris. That put her in fifth in the field of more than 20 Democratic candidates, behind former Vice President Joe Biden (with 24%), U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (16%) and Elizabeth Warren (15%) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (14%). No other candidate received more than 2%, and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Republican opponents say Harris’ policies would be too costly.
“Kamala Harris and her latest policy proposals are targeting the wallets of Iowa families,” wrote Republican National Committee spokeswoman Preya Samsundar in an email to the Telegraph Herald. “From her plan to federally fund teacher pay raises and ignore the struggles children face in school, to government-run health care, it’s clear Harris will have a hard time convincing caucusgoers that less money in their pockets will be better for their families’ bottom line.”