Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at an Organizing Event for Reproductive Freedoms in La Crosse, Wisconsin

April 22, 2024

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Can we hear it for Charlotte? (Applause.)

Hi, everyone. Hi. Please have a seat.

I just want to say about Charlotte — she and I got a chance to visit just for a little bit. And, you know, when we look at leaders like Charlotte, let's just all know that our future is bright. Our future is bright. I mean, she's dedicating herself to caring for other people. She wants to study rural medicine and be an OB-GYN, where there is such a need for that work.

And when I look at someone like her and all of you who are here, I know we're going to be okay because we know what's at stake. And we're prepared to fight for all that we know is right and good.

So, thank you all. And thank you for spending the time to be here today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

How'd the training go? Everybody good? You pulled out your cell phones and figured out that whole app and everything? We're good, kind of? (Laughter.) Kind of. We'll keep — we'll keep working on it.

So, let me just say, it's — first of all, it's good — (The Vice President picks up a handheld microphone.) Here, this is what I wanted. I hate talking behind a podium.

Let me just first, again, thank everybody who's here. You know, there is so much at stake in this election. I know you all know that. That's why you are here instead of the 5,000 other things you could be doing.

And I am very optimistic about what we are capable of. I know what we are fighting for. We're not fighting against something; we're fighting for all that we believe in to be good and right about our country.

We love our country. We love our country. And we understand, then, what is at stake in terms of foundational, fundamental principles and ideals, including one of the most important: that of freedom.

I believe freedom is fundamental to the promise of America.

The promise of America is the promise of protecting and respecting individuals' rights and liberty and freedom to make certain decisions, including those of heart and home.

And what is at stake right now in our country — on the topic of this convening, but there are so many others — is so fundamental to the question of what kind of country do we want to live in. That's what is before us in November. And each of us has the power to answer that question. What kind of country do we want to live in?

And what we know is that, sadly, almost two years ago now, the highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood and RBG — took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America.

And thereafter, in state after state, we've been seeing laws proposed and passed that would criminalize healthcare providers — in some states, providing prison for life for doctors and nurses who simply provide healthcare. Laws being proposed and passed that make no exception even for rape and incest.

And many of you know, I started my career as a prosecutor. You may not know why.

So, one of the reasons is because, when I was in high school, I learned that my best friend was being molested by her stepfather. And I said to her, "You've got to come and stay with us." I called my mother. My mother said, "Of course she does." And she came to stay with us.

And so, I decided at a young age I wanted to take on the work that was about protecting women and children from violence.

The idea that some would be proposing and passing laws that say to a survivor of a crime of violence to their body, a violation to their body, that you don't have a right to make a decision about what happens to your body next, that's immoral. What we've been seeing in terms of the harm that has resulted — and those are the stories we know.

And so, we are here to say that we understand the nexus between where we currently are — including some in Wisconsin which would try and enforce a law from the 1800s. I was just in Arizona. I mean, can you imagine? In the 1800s, in Arizona — before Arizona was even a state, before women could vote. And there is a direct nexus between where we are on this subject and elections.

And on this subject in particular, there is a clear line between where we are now and who is to blame. Because the former President was very clear with his intention: He would fill and appoint three members of the United States Supreme Court with the intention that they would undo the protections of Roe. And when they then got on that court, they did exactly what he intended.

And remember, let's not forget that interview where he said women should be punished. Let's not overlook that he has said he is proud of what he did. Proud that healthcare providers could go to jail, no exception? Proud that our daughter — Doug and my daughter will have fewer rights than her grandmother?

And look at the reality of this in terms of the stories every day. But here's the thing: I've been traveling our country on this subject. And one of the things I do believe is that the majority of us, as Americans, do have empathy. And what I'm finding is that more and more people will openly agree that one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body. (Applause.) Right?

If she chooses, she will talk with her priest, her rabbi, her pastor, her imam, but it should not be the government telling her what to do.

What I am finding is that, when people go on election day, if they are encouraged and reminded that their vote can actually make a difference in terms of who holds that local seat, who holds that statewide seat — God love your governor. God love your senator. (Applause.) God love Pocan. Where is he? (Laughs.) (Applause.) Right there.

People, when they are encouraged and reminded of the power of the individual and their vote to weigh in on the subject, they see and know what is possible.

So, that's what we are in the process of doing, is traveling the country — I am — and you here, as leaders in Wisconsin, reminding people of what is at stake, reminding them that I think most of us don't intend that other people would suffer, that most of us don't intend that the government would be making such personal decisions for other people, and that this is a moment where we must stand up for foundational, fundamental values and principles.

And here's the other piece that I will say. When we think about what is at stake, it is absolutely about freedom. (Applause.)

You know, we talk about democracy. Well, let's think about it. I think of — of democracy as — as having basically a — there's a duality to the nature of it. On the one hand, incredible strength. When a democracy is intact, the strength it has in terms of what it does to protect its people and protect individual rights and freedoms when intact.

It is also very fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it. And so, fight we will and fight we must.

And here's the thing: When we fight, we win. (Applause.) (Laughs.) When we fight, we win.

So, I will say let's just make sure that we do everything we possibly can. I'm just looking for — here, that's where I knew it was. A hundred and ninety-seven days. (Laughter.) We have 197 days to go, which is kind of a long time but really a short amount of time. And there's a lot we can get done.

And I know I'm preaching to the choir here. Elections can be fun.

You know, one of the things that I love about ca- — yes, think about it. (Laughter.) But think about it. I don't know if the person you're sitting next to right now you've met before or not, but what I love about campaigns: You get to meet people that you may have never met before who all come together because we care and we understand what's at stake, and we understand the power of the collective, and we remember that we're not in it alone; we're all in it together.

And so, let's think about these next 197 days — yes, 197 days — in a way that we remind ourselves that this is what the strength of our country looks like. It's about everybody staying engaged and involved.

It's about remembering that the sign of real leadership is based not on who you beat down but on who you lift up. That real leadership — (applause) — right? — is about looking at someone and knowing that the character is about the kind of character that has some level of compassion and concern and care about the struggles of other people and then takes it upon themselves to do something about it.

And that's what we are, then: a room of leaders who care and are willing to get engaged.

And so, in this process, Wisconsin, I say: Let's reelect Tammy Baldwin to the United States Senate — (applause); Pocan to the Congress — (applause); and Joe and me to the White House. (Laughs.) (Applause.)

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at an Organizing Event for Reproductive Freedoms in La Crosse, Wisconsin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/371375

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