California’s Sen. Kamala Harris employed subtlety and a sledgehammer on Monday during a set of local appearances meant to rally supporters against President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress.
At a naturalization ceremony for 40 children aboard the battleship Iowa in the Port of Los Angeles, the Democratic Harris did not mention the president’s name. But her words evoked the travel ban he sought to impose one week into his tenure and the protests his plan incurred at airports and elsewhere.
She said that the meaning of Tuesday’s Independence Day extended beyond fireworks and picnics to those protests.
“Whenever you feel the future is threatened … you must speak up, you must speak out,” she told new citizens aboard the vessel, now a maritime museum moored in San Pedro. “That’s the whole point of the freedoms we cherish.”
She pushed back repeatedly at Trump’s characterizations of immigrants. The president has sought to eradicate illegal immigration and has announced he wants to curb legal immigration, ranking those with proven financial standing over immigrants with family ties.
“A reminder that immigrants don’t just believe in America; immigrants have built America,” said Harris, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica. “When I see you, I see our future. I see patriots who will make our future more inclusive and more innovative.”
At her next stop, a rally of Obamacare supporters at Harbor- UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Harris’ tone grew mocking as she called on hundreds of healthcare workers and union members to protest Republican efforts to repeal the measure.
She took particular aim at the language used by the GOP plan’s opponents: that it would cause tens of millions of Americans to “lose” healthcare coverage.
“It’s not like we left our healthcare on the bus, or at the club or in an Uber,” she said. “This is not about losing something. They’re trying to take our healthcare.”
“Don’t take our stuff,” she added, a refrain that was repeated by later speakers.
Harris said Obamacare opponents were “fixated” on the program’s nickname and their desire to punish former President Obama by repealing his signature domestic act.
She also mocked the team of Republicans who came up with the Senate plan—all white men, whom she described as “this group that looks exactly like each other and not like most of us here.”
“They’re pretending this is about healthcare. This is about a tax cut” that would benefit only the wealthiest Americans, she said. “Not on our watch.”
The reality of California politics is that Harris does not face the cross-pressures being leveled this holiday week on senators representing competitive states. She encouraged supporters to push Republican senators from those states to block repeal efforts.
And she had advice for the senators: “Look in your backyard. Look in the mirror and check yourself and do the right thing.”