Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., spoke at a Vote Now Car Rally at a United Auto Workers parking lot in Pontiac, Michigan on Sunday afternoon. Prior to the start of the rally, 110 cars pulled into the parking lot and around 96,000 viewers tuned in for the livestream. Carolyn Winston, a local UAW member and advocate for the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, introduced Harris at the rally.

Harris began her speech by emphasizing the importance of voting. She told the crowd that in 2016, an average of two votes in each precinct of Michigan determined the outcome of the election. She appealed to the public to keep up their effort and to continue to exercise their democratic rights.

“The significance of each vote in Michigan will determine who will be the president of the United States,” Harris said. “That is the power of you.”

Harris then went on to discuss the U.S.’s public health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and what she said was incompetence on the part of the Trump administration. She condemned President Donald Trump for downplaying the seriousness of the virus in January, which has so far led to the deaths of more than 225,000 Americans. Harris said Joe Biden’s plan to expand the ACA could work to mitigate this crisis.

“(Trump) is trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act in court right now,” Harris said. “And if he wins, over 20 million people will lose their coverage.”

While discussing COVID-19’s impact on the American people, Harris also recognized the preexisting financial challenges faced by people, such as taxes on low-income households and expensive child care. She said Biden’s plan for the economy will allow people to have access to the “American dream,” while Trump’s economic policies benefit only the most privileged families and big corporations.

“One of (Trump’s) first acts when he got in office was to pass a tax bill, benefiting the top one percent and the biggest corporations in America,” Harris declared. “In a Biden-Harris administration, we are about to get rid of that and invest that money in working people.”

Harris then acknowledged what she said was a “long overdue reckoning of racial injustice in America.” She criticized Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists during the first presidential debate and neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville in August 2017. She also called for criminal justice reforms and an end to mandatory cash bails.

Harris shared her goals for what one of the most pressing issues for younger generations — the climate crisis. As a California native, she spoke about witnessing the consequences of climate change. Harris also touched on the suffering of Midwest farmers as a result of constant flooding, noting that working to alleviate the climate crisis can also bring immediate physical benefits to the workers.

“Let’s invest in the future of our planet, protect this planet God gave us,” Harris declared. “And also understand to do so means investing in renewable energies, and that’s jobs!”

Lastly, Harris highlighted the importance of voting in Michigan and identified efforts throughout the country to suppress voter engagement, such as purging voter rolls and restricting ballot drop boxes. She said during the presidential debate, Trump openly invited suppression of the vote in front of 70 million Americans. Harris dismissed such efforts and encouraged people to stand by their cause.

“Why are these powerful people going through so much effort to mess with our vote? The answer is, they know our power,” Harris said. “America’s democracy is as strong as our willingness to fight for it. And as long as we fight for it we will be strong.”

Andrew Schaeffler, LSA sophomore and president of the University of Michigan’s chapter of Students for Biden, said the most pressing issue to him is the climate crisis.

“If we give four more years in the White House to a climate change denier, that will fundamentally change our generation’s future,” Schaeffler said. “That presents the fundamental difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.”

Schaeffler also said the Biden-Harris campaign is making Michigan a first priority and will be able to make an impact on many Midwest-specific issues such as the Great Lakes and the oil industry.

“Not only do they care about us during the election, they are going to fight for the issues that we care about,” Schaeffler said.

LSA sophomore Nick Schuler, vice president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said he expected Trump to win in Michigan as he did by a very narrow margin in 2016.

“I think Michigan is gonna go red,” Schuler said. “We are working really hard to turn out voters. We are working to keep the state for the president.”

Daily Staff Reporter Lola Yang can be reached at lolayang@umich.edu

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