CEDAR RAPIDS — Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris told Iowans she is “someone who knows how to fight and has a record of fighting” during a live podcast taping Sunday at CSPS in Cedar Rapids.
The California senator and former state attorney general was a guest on Political Party Live, a podcast hosted by Stacey Walker, the first African-American to serve as a Linn County supervisor, Simeon Talley and Misty Rebik.
In an hourlong taping, Walker dubbed Harris “one of the top contenders for president” as they discussed her support for criminal justice reform, her standing as one of few African-American women to run for president, and her background as a prosecutor.
That experience sets her apart, she said, in an already-crowded field.
“I have the ability to prosecute the current occupant of the White House,” Harris said of President Donald Trump, to roaring applause. “Prosecuting the case against why he should no longer serve and we need change — so (special counsel Robert) Mueller will of course deal with the other stuff, I’m not suggesting I’m doing that — but I am talking about the ability of a candidate who wants to unseat an incumbent president.”
The Iowa stop was the last of many for Harris this weekend, when she made appearances in Des Moines, Ankeny, Ames and Scott County. An event in Waterloo was canceled because of weather.
It was her first trip to Iowa as a candidate since a CNN town hall in Des Moines shortly after she announced her campaign last month.
Many attendees said they still were undecided about who to support in the 2020 caucuses but were interested in starting to know Harris.
“I am looking for the Democratic candidate that will put Trump behind bars, stand up to the Trump family, bring the moral issues back, get America back to being America,” said Randy Atkinson, 57, of Cedar Rapids. “Get rid of the lies, get rid of the immorality. I’m just seeing which Democratic candidates have those characteristics and can stand up to his bullying.”
After a guest appearance on the podcast by Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition founder Sarah Ziegenhorn, Harris voiced support for “on-demand” substance abuse treatment in emergency rooms. She later called for universal health care.
“It should not only be accessible to those who can afford it ... it should be accessible to all,” she said. “Then when people start saying, ‘cost, cost, cost,’ my response is no, it’s not about cost. It’s about investment. ... Let’s look at the return on investment, and I’m going to tell you, I’ll put money down on the American public every day of the week.”
She also addressed what she considers too little talk about climate change and foreign policy — conversations she said are overshadowed at times by talk about her fashion choices.
“Wars classically have been fought over oil,” she said. “In a hot minute they will be fought over water. We have to have leadership around foreign policy that understands that among our priorities climate change must be one of our highest.”
Harris said she takes seriously her role as an African-American woman running for president, as well as “making sure we leave the door open and provide a path to follow” to generations after her.
“When you break barriers, it’s not like you just start on one side of the barrier and just show up on the other. There’s breaking involved, and when you break things, it’s painful,” she said. “You might get hurt. You might get cut, and it will be worth it — it will be worth it — but it’s not without struggle and sacrifice and sometimes pain.”
Larissa Alire, a 20-year-old Coe College student, sat in the venue’s second row with other politically minded friends. A woman of color herself, she asked Harris how to carry on when no one in the room “looks like you.”
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“Here’s what I want you to know when you’re in those rooms, and you’ve got to know it in your head and your heart: We’re all in that room with you,” Harris said. “We’re all in that room with you cheering you on and expecting you, shoulders back, chin up. And that you will speak, and you will speak up, and you will know that your voice is an important voice to be spoken, and it must be heard.”
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