With the midterm elections less than 100 days away, Indiana Senator Jean Breaux, a Democrat, told CNN on Sunday that she could see abortion rights as an opportunity for Harris to show her leadership — no matter what. Is it now or in the future.
“I think there’s something behind her as well. She’s trying to position herself as a leader on this issue so she can show America that she has leadership potential and can articulate an issue that resonates with voters across the country,” she said on Twitter. Zhou said after a roundtable meeting with the vice president.
Blue told CNN she still believes Harris is “sincerely concerned about abortion and the loss of abortion rights for women in this country,” with White House officials and others downplaying the idea of Harris playing a political role by focusing on abortion. They argued that she was simply responding to the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade’s decision, which established abortion as a constitutional right.
“It’s not about the next election. It’s about an attack on women’s reproductive rights. It’s about an extreme Republican Party willing to undermine liberties and erode rights. I don’t think anyone thinks about it in a political sense,” Cedric Rich Man said he left his White House post to become a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee.
While President Joe Biden has been unable to do anything to restore abortion rights nationwide, Democrats and advocates have been pressuring the White House to do more on abortion rights. The White House has dismissed some progressive ideas to protect abortion access, including allowing abortion providers to work on federal property in states that ban abortion.
Abortion rights have long been a prominent issue in Harris’ campaign. When she ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019, she vowed, if elected, to require states with a history of restricting abortion rights to obtain federal approval before any new abortion law could take effect. Harris said at the time: “We cannot tolerate a It’s a regressive view and not understanding women’s agency.”
She brought that same intensity to her discussions with state lawmakers about how to respond to Dobbs’ decision, in which conservatives on the Supreme Court overturned Roe. As November looms, the vice president plans to gain more prominence on topics front and center in the Democratic Party, aides said. In particular, Harris will continue to promote abortion rights and increase her travel to express the “urgency of the moment” three months earlier in the midterms, aides said.
“As a former local official, the vice president is acutely aware of the critical role these leaders play, especially now in protecting access to reproductive health care,” Harris’ press secretary Kirsten Allen told CNN. “The vice president will continue to travel the country, meeting with local leaders and citizens, highlighting the risks and building coalitions to protect women’s right to make their own reproductive decisions without government interference.”
Harris found her voice on the road
The vice president has been traveling state to state this summer, sometimes several times a week since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. Harris focused on crimson and purple states like Florida, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where state lawmakers have implemented or are discussing new restrictive measures to reduce or simply eliminate access to abortion for women. Chance.
According to DNC officials, Harris will add to his already increased political travel in the coming months, much of which is focused on raising money for the DNC and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund.
“She’s been intentionally going to some places and calling primarily Republican governors in a way that we haven’t really done so far,” an aide said.
Harris’ allies, who have previously criticized the administration’s use of the vice president, now herald President Joe Biden in an effective way to position her on an issue for which she has “a high degree of credibility.”
“It’s just an area where she has a more defined profile,” said the White House official, noting that Harris’ strong pro-abortion speech on Emily’s list came hours after the draft opinion leaked. more focused attention. “It’s a fusion of events, capabilities and opportunities.”
Harris then asked her office for data on the broader impact of the Supreme Court ruling, such as the impact of in vitro fertilization (IVF), birth control and same-sex marriage, the official said.
Still, these latest appearances give supporters hope that they may question what happened to the ferocious former prosecutor who made headlines questioning Republicans during a high-profile Senate hearing.
“If you think she’s a rising star in the party, that’s what people see,” one Harris-aligned person told CNN. “They’re like, ‘Yeah, she’s our warrior.’ So her voice on this issue is both helpful in literally fighting the fight and in mobilizing voters and reminding them what she’s good at.”
less than 100 days
Allies say the roundtable with state lawmakers has been a winning model for the vice president because it bolsters Harris’ ability to convene and organize, while also shedding light on restrictive policy proposals across the country.
They also provide a way for Harris to demonstrate skills honed over the years as California’s prosecutor and attorney general to be more persuasive than the president on abortion rights, which has a complicated history.
“I think on issues like this, it’s pretty obvious why they’re a good pair,” a source close to Harris told CNN.
“Her unique history, credibility, and expertise are invaluable to the administration and the nation at this time of crisis,” said NARAL vice chair and Democratic strategist Karen Finney
As November looms, the vice president has tasked staff with focusing more on attracting younger voters, aides said. A source with the Democratic-aligned super PAC told CNN that their focus groups showed that Harris remains a popular figure among black voters despite a general decline in the president’s approval ratings.
“So that’s going to be an important angle going forward,” the source said, suggesting that Harris is sent to help Democrats in tight House races, such as Bishop Sanford in Georgia or Amelia Sykes in Ohio, They are fighting for a vacant seat.
After a series of staffers left her office, the vice president will begin campaigning with a relatively new team around her. In the administration’s second year in office, faster decision-making has simplified coordination with the West Wing and the vice president’s office, a source familiar with the office’s relationship said. A White House official believes Anita Dunn, who returned to the White House amid the personnel changes in the West Wing, was responsible for some positive changes.
This has resulted in Harris becoming a more public figure than she did in her first year, giving more media interviews in 2022 than in 2021, and taking more travel to promote the Biden agenda.
Harris has held more than two dozen roundtables on abortion rights since publishing a preview of a draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade in Politico in May.
Florida Rep. Fentrice Driskell, who has participated in two roundtables with Harris in Washington and Orlando and aboard Air Force 2, said: “I really have a real feeling that she wants to hear us on the ground. experience.”
In some ways, Harris has been working hard to create a national message for Democrats — repeating at nearly every roundtable that “one doesn’t have to give up your beliefs or your beliefs to agree that the government shouldn’t do things for women. make this decision.”
But advocates say Harris is likely to do more as they press the White House to be more aggressive on abortion rights legislation and embrace the moment.
“I’m glad the vice president is doing these things,” We Testify founder and executive director Renee Bracey Sherman said in an interview with CNN. “But we’re asking for something very specific, and we need to see those deliver.”
Sherman said: “It will be amazing to see her have a stronger voice and be able to say the word abortion without apology and let her remind everyone in this country, everyone who loves abortion. , and seeing the actions of the White House match her energy.”
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez, Isaac Dovere, Kevin Liptak, and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.