VP Kamala Harris urges Hispanic leaders in Chicago to unite against extremists: ‘When we fight, we win’

Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to Chicago came as she continues a monthlong series of events to galvanize key Democratic groups, including Hispanic and Black voters.

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Vice President Kamala Harris UnidosUS 2023 Annual Conference McCormick Place

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks Monday at the UnidosUS 2023 Annual Conference at McCormick Place.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

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Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday urged members of the largest Hispanic civil rights group in the country to stand united against extremists as she returned to Chicago to help mobilize key Democratic voters.

“Unidos, let us stand together in the fight to institute national paid family and medical leave, to pass pay equity, affordable child care, stand in the fight to renew the assault weapons ban, to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade, pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and to finally pass immigration reform,” Harris said to applause at the UnidosUS 2023 annual conference at McCormick Place.

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“Let us stand together, knowing when we fight, we win,” she said.

Harris’ trip to Chicago came as the vice president continues a monthlong series of events to galvanize key Democratic groups, including Hispanic and Black voters.

The blitz included a speech at Delta Sigma Theta’s conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Orlando, Florida, and a stop at Chicago’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition convention this month.

Harris plans to travel to Boston on Saturday for the NAACP National Convention and to return to Chicago on Aug. 11 for an Everytown for Gun Safety event.

Vice President Kamala Harris UnidosUS 2023 Annual Conference McCormick Place

Vice President Kamala Harris’ appearance at the UnidosUS 2023 Annual Conference was part of her eighth trip to Illinois since taking office.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

During a 17-minute address, the vice president touted President Joe Biden administration’s efforts to lower the cost of insulin to $35 and to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices.

“All of this is part of our blueprint together for what America can be,” Harris said. “This is Bidenomics. A plan to invest in America and build a future in which all people can truly thrive.”

Biden on June 28 used Chicago to kick off an economic pitch dubbed “Bidenomics” — banking on an improving economy more than a year out from Election Day. The president said his plan includes “smart investments” in America, educating and empowering workers to grow the middle class and promoting competition to lower costs and help small businesses.

Harris called on Hispanic leaders to fight against extremists who she said “have a movement to attack hard-won freedoms and to do it state by state as part of their national agenda across our nation.”

She cited a new Florida law that limits social services for the undocumented, gives more money to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ migrant relocation program and invalidates drivers licenses issued to undocumented people by other states. It also requires hospitals to ask for a patient’s immigration status.

The vice president also called reports that children and pregnant women have been forced back into the Rio Grande River “inhumane, outrageous and un-American.” Harris also ticked off the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the limiting of voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision and the GOP’s refusal to pass gun safety laws as reasons to continue to mobilize Democratic support.

“I know going forward that this group of leaders will always lead the people of our country to come together, will always stand in refusal to those who have tried and divided us,” Harris said. “That we will never be distracted by those attempts to divide us and that we will stay focused on a commitment to stand united.”

Vice President Kamala Harris McCormick Place UnidosUS Chicago

“I know going forward that this group of leaders will always lead the people of our country to come together, will always stand in refusal to those who have tried and divided us,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Monday marked the vice president’s eighth trip to Illinois since taking office. Harris was last in Chicago on July 17 to celebrate the Rev. Jesse Jackson on the day he officially stepped down as president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

After the conference, Harris attended a fundraiser at the Gold Coast home of Desiree Rogers, with proceeds to go to the Biden Action Fund to benefit the presidential reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, Mayor Brandon Johnson, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham attended the very packed private fundraiser, according to a pool report.

“Mayor Johnson, I want to thank you for your leadership and your friendship,” Harris said at the event. “He came to visit with me in Washington, D.C., in my West Wing office. We had an extensive conversation.

“And he has the full support of our administration around what he is trying to do here, around building up the city and understanding the connections between — between issues like economic health and wellbeing and reducing violent crime.”

Vice President Kamala Harris UnidosUS 2023 Conference McCormick Place

Vice President Kamala Harris walks onstage at the UnidosUS 2023 Annual Conference at McCormick Place on Monday.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

“Many of the people here are the reason and were part of the reason that there was a President Barack Obama,” Harris also told the attendees. “And so, we are back at it again. Because our job is not done, and we have more to do. ”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also traveled to Chicago Monday to highlight the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs through the Inflation Reduction Act. Becerra, also a featured speaker at the conference, visited Mount Sinai Hospital with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin Monday morning for a roundtable discussion.

The vice president also ramped up her travel schedule last year ahead of the midterm elections, part of a strategy to capitalize on reaction to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and GOP restrictions on voting.

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