This Labor Day, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris traveled to Wisconsin for her first in-person campaign appearance to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot by Kenosha police seven times in the back, and local Black Milwaukee business owners.
This visit coincided with Vice President Pence’s visit to La Crosse, though their interactions with state residents were quite different. In fact, their visits marked the first time vice-presidential candidates have campaigned in the same state on the same day, offering voters a clear mode of comparison between the two candidates.
As Harris met with the family and legal team of Jacob Blake, Pence met with employees at Dairyland Power Cooperative to campaign for Trump’s reelection, promising to “make America Great again” and deliver a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.
Pence also reaffirmed his support of the police and assured those in attendance that Trump has no plans to defund the police.
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Prior to Harris and Pence’s simultaneous visits, it was abundantly clear the Republican’s response to the civil unrest in Kenosha significantly contrasted the Biden-Harris efforts to ease tensions.
Yet, while both Trump and Biden have condemned looting and violence in Kenosha in response to police brutality, Republican responses to Kenosha protesters have not extended past such disapproval.
Both the left and the right are publicly against looting and violent protest, yet the loudest calls for reform have been coming from Biden and Harris, not Trump and Pence.
To further emphasize the contrast between the pairs of running mates, Pence used his visit to La Crosse to criticize Harris’s lack of support for Wisconsin farmers, citing her vote against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), an updated version of NAFTA, as proof she put her “radical environmental agenda” ahead of “Wisconsin farmers and Wisconsin power.”
Meanwhile, Harris has a track record of supporting environmental justice, which has become apparent since her own presidential bid and plans to enact further legislation under a Biden presidency, proving her vote spoke more to her actual beliefs rather than a dismissal of Wisconsin residents who happen to feel a bit more disappointed in Trump than Pence would likely care to admit.
Harris and Biden are clearly campaigning more heavily than Democrats did in 2016 in Wisconsin to help swing the state blue come November. It’s telling how different their approach is in terms of addressing voters versus that of Pence and Trump’s.
Even the pandemic safety measures at Harris’s roundtable with Black business owners in comparison to Pence’s parking lot speech, during which few were even wearing masks, demonstrate how out of touch the Republicans’ reelection campaign has been, which also has little to say regarding new policies if Trump is reelected.
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Though Harris and Biden’s increased focus on Wisconsin as of late are obvious campaign tactics, they are still doing so far more effectively and less divisively than Pence and Trump, neither of whom, for example, have personally spoken to Blake or his family.
The Democratic campaign has certainly become more than just “we’re not Trump” in the lead up to the election, yet the Republicans have seemingly reverted to baseless criticisms of the opposition in order to garner votes.
What is so significant about Harris and Pence’s two visits are that we had the chance to see, side-by-side, the differing tactics candidates are using to reach swing state voters, which could very well translate into a win for Biden-Harris.
Anne Isman ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying economics.