Las Vegas Sun

July 14, 2024

Harris appears in Las Vegas to rally support for Biden

Vice president makes appeal at AANHPI event at Resorts World

VP Kamala Harris at Resorts World

Steve Marcus

Vice President Kamala Harris, right, shares the stage with Las Vegas restaurant owner Maya Kwong Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. Harris announced the launch of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) for Biden-Harris, a national program to mobilize AANHPI voters.

VP Kamala Harris at Resorts World

Vice President Kamala Harris greets supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Resorts World Las Vegas Tuesday, July 9, 2024.Harris announced the launch of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) for Biden-Harris, a national program to mobilize AANHPI voters. Launch slideshow »

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign picked Las Vegas as the site to kick off its formal outreach effort to gain the backing of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island (AANHPI) voters.

And Vice President Kamala Harris, backed by a cadre of speakers, on Tuesday laid out reasons why Biden merited their support in November.

Harris, making her sixth campaign appearance on Biden’s behalf this year in Nevada — this time at Resorts World Las Vegas — reminded her audience that it was Biden who in 2021 signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act — legislation that recognized the influx of incidents against Asian Americans because of the pandemic.

Harris said she didn’t want to repeat former President Donald Trump’s exact words, but that Biden’s opponent often incited hate toward the AANHPI community.

“Someone who vilifies immigrants, who promotes xenophobia, someone who stokes hate should never again have the chance to stand behind a microphone and the seal of the president of the United States,” Harris said.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then-President Trump referred to the infectious disease as the “Chinese virus,” and commended himself for what he described as an early, unpopular decision to close U.S. borders to people from China. One of Trump’s tweets at the time was found to have played a role in the spur of hate crimes against Asian Americans that followed, according to a 2021 study from the American Journal of Public Health.

Harris also expressed concerns about what a Trump presidency would look like in the aftermath of the recent Supreme Court ruling granting presidents immunity for their official acts.

“So, if the Supreme Court says the laws do not apply to Donald Trump, if people like (former Vice President) Mike Pence are not around to stand up to him, and if extremists in Congress continue to bow down to him, our last line of defense is the ballot box,” Harris added.

Nevada continues to be seen as one of a handful of battleground states that will decide the election, and the AANHPI community is the fastest-growing ethnic demographic in the Silver State, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

The vice president was not the only speaker to remind voters about Trump’s relationship with the AANHPI community during his term. Moments before Harris spoke, Kaila Gibler, IT director for the Nevada Democratic Coordinated Campaign, told the audience he wanted to share what Trump did for the AANHPI communities during his presidential term.

“Nothing,” Gibler said after a pause, met with immediate cheer from the crowd.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who referred to Trump as the country’s “former xenophobe-in-chief,” spoke about the Stop Asian Hate campaign, which was part of the response to rising violence against Asian Americans after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. He said there’s a reason that campaign started.

“It’s because President Trump put a target on the backs of everyone in this room and your families. Don’t forget that,” he added.

Steven Cheung, communications director for the Trump campaign, doubled down on Trump’s COVID statements. “It is completely accurate and appropriate to claim the virus originated from Wuhan, China. Kamala Harris and the Biden campaign would rather stick their heads in the sand instead of listening and sticking to the facts,” Cheung said in a statement to the Sun.

The room was filled with attendees ranging from young children to small-business owners — all with the shared purpose of backing the Biden-Harris ticket.

The lineup that took the stage included Assemblywomen Erica Mosca, Brittney Miller and Cecelia Gonzalez, Nirenberg, and author and television host Padma Lakshmi.

Throughout the event, the speakers framed Biden’s accomplishments through the lens of how they affected the AANHPI community, like the $35 cap on a month’s supply of insulin. Harris said the cap was particularly important among Americans from South Asia, who are at a higher risk of diabetes.

Nirenberg also spoke about being the first Asian American mayor of San Antonio, describing the city as a “forward-looking community in deep red Texas.”

“We are here to make sure that we deliver Nevada and deliver every single state in this nation to make sure we get four more years of Biden and Harris,” Nirenberg said. “And they reflect our community. The Biden and Harris administration is a reflection of this very room.”

The event was Renee Ya’s first political rally. Ya, a product manager at GlobalComix, came, dressed in her traditional Hmong outfit, because she wanted to show solidarity with her community and the excitement for a Biden-Harris second term.

Ya, originally from California, moved to Nevada about a year ago and said she didn’t feel as safe as she did in her previous town. She said it has been a bit difficult to find other Asian members of the LGBTQ+ community here.

“There was a bit of a culture shock, but at the same time, I’m really excited to be able to represent,” she added.

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