Fort Worth

Harris Emphasizes COVID-19 Response, Immigration During Campaign Stop in Fort Worth

Texas hasn't backed a Democrat for president since since Jimmy Carter in 1976

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Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) visited Fort Worth, Houston and the U.S.-Mexico border town of McAllen on Friday.

"We're talking to people everywhere," Harris said. "And there's no area that's off limits."

Texas hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976 or even elected one to statewide office since 1994. Texas was long so reliably red that top national Democrats visited only to hold fundraisers.

"I am really grateful for the attention that they have given Texas because it has been so long since a presidential campaign gave this state a look," said Beto O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman and one-time presidential hopeful. But he declined to predict that Biden would win the state, saying only "There is a possibility," contingent on turnout breaking records.

Harris took the stage to a crowd of socially distanced, mask-wearing supporters at First Saint John Cathedral in Fort Worth.

After a brief hello, she started to talk about what has been a leading topic during the election: COVID-19. Harris visited Fort Worth during a time when cases in Texas are on the rise again.

"Latinos are three times as likely to contract the virus, twice as likely to die from it," she said.

She’s visited on the day early voting numbers in Texas surpassed the state’s total voter turnout in 2016. She said hers and former vice president Joe Biden’s camp understood the significance of such a large turnout.

"I’m here to make sure that the people of Texas know that we see them, that we want to earn their votes," Harris said. "The voters of Texas have the opportunity to decide who will be the next president of the United States. And we have to make sure everyone knows their power."

And while President Donald Trump's campaign has no scheduled stops in Texas before Election Day, their camp seems to understand the importance of the state as well.

"Texas has been a reliably red state, but we also know the demographics of Texas are changing. The success of Texas has attracted a lot of internal immigrants, people from blue states who have come for opportunity and they bring their voting ways with them. So, we take Texas seriously and we need to earn the votes of Texas," said Steve Cortes, senior advisor for strategy to the Trump campaign.

As for topics known to be polarizing in Texas, Harris not only touched on COVID-19, but immigration.

"It’s what this administration does that includes separating children from their parents at the border, what this administration has done making children to sleep on cold floors with aluminum blankets," she said.

Trump’s team hit back on energy, another important topic to Texas voters.

"When Joe Biden said on the debate stage in Nashville in front of a massive super bowl-sized audience that we’re going to transition away from energy in this country, I think he convinced a lot of folks to transition away from his candidacy," Cortes said.

At this point, Biden and Trump have not scheduled any trips to Texas before Election Day.

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