Tornado warnings and a flight delay didn’t stop U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, from speaking to Rock Hill Friday night.
The weather and a more than 2-hour delay didn’t stop Rock Hill from showing up either.
More than 400 people came to McBryde Hall at Winthrop University Friday night for Harris’ first appearance in Rock Hill in the lead up to the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
“As I look around this room and know the leadership that is here, I know that we are all here for the same reason,” Harris said as she started speaking just before 9 p.m. “And that is because we love our country. We love our country and we are prepared to fight for the best of who we are.”
Harris is the fifth Democratic candidate to visit Rock Hill, following appearances by former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and most recently, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, also from California.
Harris told the crowd she came to “speak truth” — to speak, and to listen.
Here’s what she told Rock Hill she believes in.
Jobs and the economy
Harris said unemployment rates should not be the indicator of economic problems in the U.S. Instead, she said it’s a problem when people are forced to work multiple jobs to survive.
“In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to pay rent and put food on the table,” she said.
Harris said she would reform the tax code as president to allow families who make less than $100,000 a year to collect a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year, of which they could collect up to $500 a month.
“(The tax credit) will be all the difference, between so many families being able to get through the end of the month or not,” she said.
Harris said it’s a problem that teachers in the U.S. are underpaid and some have to buy school supplies for the classroom with their own money.
“We’re not paying them their value,” Harris said. “… So what I am proposing, and will institute, is what will be the first, in the history of our country, ever, federal investment in closing that teacher pay gap.”
Harris said her first-grade teacher attended her law school graduation — which she said shows the importance of teachers in building up and encouraging children.
“I strongly believe you can judge a society based on how it treats its children,” she said. “And one of the most significant expressions that a society can make toward its children is to invest in their education, and by extension, their teachers.”
Health care and climate change
Harris said she supports the “Medicare for All” plan to provide universal health care.
“That we still have an administration that is playing politics with people’s public health, and is trying to revive a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, tells us we still have a lot more to do to fight for the values of who we are as a country and where we stand on this issue of access to health care,” she said. “This is an issue of morality. Nobody should be made to suffer, to be in pain, to be denied relief of something that is harming them, simply because they don’t have the money to pay for the health care that will help them and save them.”
Harris also said she supports the Green New Deal, a push for renewable energy to combat climate change.
“Climate change is real,” she said. “Let’s also speak truth: isn’t is sad that we have to say that. And the reason is we have supposed leaders who are pushing science fiction instead of science fact on an issue that represents an existential threat to who we are as a species.”
Gun control and criminal reform
Harris got one of the biggest cheers of the night from the Winthrop crowd talking about gun reform.
“There are supposed leaders in Washington, D.C., who have failed to have the courage to reject a false choice which suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment, or you want to take everyone’s guns away,” she said. “ (They) have failed to have the courage to say … we need reasonable gun safety laws in this country.”
Harris, a former prosecutor, said there are many African-American families who have to teach their boys how to interact with police safely. And she said the criminal justice system as a whole must be fixed.
“In our America, we have a lot to do to reform our criminal justice system,” she said. “We must acknowledge where it has been formed by lies, and we must agree that it must be reformed.”