U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate Kamala Harris, D-California, campaigned Friday in Birmingham as part of a Southern tour through that included stops in Montgomery and South Carolina.
“This is an inflection moment in the history of our country,” Harris said. “Who are we? I think we all know part of that answer, and that is we are better than this.”
Harris said when she was growing up, she would come home with something that happened, and her mother would ask, “What are you going to do about it? So I decided to run for president of the United States.”
“There are a lot of folks in this country who are rightfully distrustful of this country, this government and its leader,” Harris added.
“America’s economy is not working for working families,” Harris added. “People are working, but they are working two and three jobs. In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to put a roof over their heads.”
Harris said if elected, she would give a tax credit of $8,000 to Americans making less than $100,000,
“But how are you going to pay for that?” Harris said. “We are going to repeal that tax bill that Republicans passed. That is how we are going to pay for it.”
Harris said 94 percent of public school teachers purchase classroom supplies and materials out of their own pockets, and they make 11 percent of similarly educated professionals.
“We are not paying them their value,” she said.
Harris said as president she would work on closing the teacher pay gap. In Alabama, that is $14,500 a year.
“Seventy-seven percent of the teachers in Alabama are women,” Harris said.
“Since the beginning of time, women have not been paid equally with men,” Harris added. “Women make 80 cents on the dollar that a man makes. Black women, 63 cent on the dollar. Native-American women make 56 cents on the dollar. Latina women, 53 cents on the dollar.”
Harris that in gender pay disputes, she would shift the burden of proof from that woman to the corporation and for every 1 percent of differential, the company would pay 1 percent of their profits to go back to pay a fine.
Harris said schools have drills where students learn how to hide in a closet in case there is a man wandering the halls with a gun.
“What are we waiting on to get serious about guns?” Harris asked. “What we are waiting for is for Congress to have the courage to act.”
“After I am elected, I will give Congress a hundred days to put a bill on my desk,” Harris said. “If that doesn’t happen, I am prepared to take executive action.”
Harris said she would instruct the ATF to take licenses from gun dealers who fail to follow the rules and would require everyone who sells more than five guns in a year to do comprehensive background checks on buyers and would prepare to put a ban on the importation of assault weapons.
“Access to healthcare should be a right and not just a privilege,” Harris stated.
“There is a full on assault against women and their access to reproductive health care,” Harris said. “We are going to fight it every day of the week.”
Harris said her Department of Justice would require that any law affecting women’s reproductive health rights would have to pass a DOJ review if it is coming from a state with a history of infringing on women’s reproductive health rights.
“Until it clears constitutional review, it can’t be enforced,” she said. “We are going to go on the offensive.”
“Climate change is real,” Harris said. “It represents an existential threat to our survival as a species.”
“We have leaders pushing science fiction instead of science fact and this is one of the most urgent reasons why we need a new president of the United States,” Harris continued.
Harris said when our “supposed commander in chief” prefers to take the word of the Russian president, a North Korean dictator and a Saudi prince over the word of our own intelligence agencies, “We need a new commander in chief.”
“Powerful forces are trying to sow hate and division,” Harris said, “But the vast majority of us have more in common than what divides us.”
“One of our greatest strengths of our nation is that we are aspirational,” Harris told the crowd of about 200 at the UAB Hilton Hotel.
Harris was introduced by State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham.
Coleman-Madison warned that there are forces that want to see a return to back alley abortions and a loss of lives. Coleman-Madison added that they struck down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, and now, there are photo ID laws.
Coleman-Madison said when she was growing up they said a woman’s place is in the house.
“I agree with them,” Coleman-Madison said. “A woman’s place is in the house — the White House.”
“Kamala is leading the fight to hold the Trump Administration accountable.
Harris said she has had her eye on Coleman-Madison and her fight in the Alabama Legislature.
The Alabama presidential primary will be March 3, 2020.