Harris leads Biden’s ‘reproductive freedoms’ push and makes it a key poll issue
WASHINGTON — US Vice President Kamala Harris will start a nationwide tour on Monday in Wisconsin, a swing state, to preserve “reproductive freedoms” threatened by calls of restriction from Republicans.
The Biden re-election campaign is putting abortion rights centerstage in a bid to galvanize the party base, and the Vice President, who has emerged as the administration’s most forceful campaigner on this issue, will be in the lead.
Harris will be joined by President Joe Biden the next day, Tuesday, at a campaign even in Virginia, another swing state where the party won both state legislatures with abortion as a key issue. They will be joined by their spouses making it the first time they will share a stage after Biden announced his re-election bid last April. Harris will carry on her nationwide tour from there.
“Extremists across our country continue to wage a full-on attack against hard-won, hard-fought freedoms as they push their radical policies – from banning abortion in all 50 states and criminalising doctors, to forcing women to travel out of state in order to get the care they need,” Harris had said in a statement when the tour was announced in December.
“I will continue to fight for our fundamental freedoms while bringing together those throughout America who agree that every woman should have the right to make decisions about her own body – not the government.”
Abortion was a constitutional right in the US guaranteed by a Supreme Court ruling in 1973. It was overturned in June 2022 by the conservative justices of the Supreme Court, who now dominate the bench with the addition of three nominated by former President Donald Trump, a Republican.
The court ruled that the issue should be settled by the states individually, and for themselves.
The blowback was furious, and across party lines. President Biden’s Democratic party rode it to cushion anti-incumbency in the midterm polls in 2022. Several deeply conservative states have since voted to preserve abortion rights. But these rights are under severe threat in other states such Texas, which recently rejected a woman’s plea for abortion citing medical emergency.
In the 18 months since the case was struck down, Harris has been the administration’s face on the fight to restore abortion rights. She traveled to eight states in 2023 on a “Fight for Our Freedoms” tour of colleges.
On Monday she starts a “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour of politically strategic states that can be the difference between winning and losing in a presidential election. The party will be holding campaign events and rallies and flood the air waves with ads on the issue.
Harris is a key part of the Biden-Harris campaign, not a burden. “As we enter the heart of the 2024 cycle, Vice President Harris is positioned once again to be a strong political force and invaluable asset to the Biden-Harris reelection effort,” said Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez and senior adviser Becca Siegel in a 2023 memo that was first reported by ABC news.
Harris’s approval ratings have been even worse than Biden’s. She is averaging 37.5 per cent in the weighted average of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight; Biden is ahead at 39.1 per cent, which may not be much. But the Biden campaign believes she performs strongly among groups that are critical electorally: non-white and low-income voters.
“More important than any approval polling, however, is that the Vice President has established herself as a fearless voice on many of the issues that are most important to the core voters in the Biden-Harris coalition,” campaign officials had written in the memo as reported by ABC.