Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris was joined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and actors Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph for a virtual grassroots fundraiser Sept. 14 afternoon supporting the Biden-Harris campaign.
Both actors have exhaustively portrayed the formidable politicians for the comedy show “Saturday Night Live.” Rudolph took on Harris’s persona during the primaries when the Indian American senator from California was a presidential contender, portraying her with smoldering eyes and windblown hair.
More than 100,000 people attended the event, donating $6 million to the campaign for Democratic contenders Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s White House bid. Individual contributions averaged about $30.
“This is an extraordinary display of democracy,” said Harris. “Democracy is stronger when everyone participates.”
The Biden-Harris campaign raised $354 million in August, outpacing incumbent Donald Trump, who raised $210 million.
Harris and Clinton both acknowledged the wildfires on the West Coast, which have burned more than 4.6 million acres in 10 states, and killed at least 35 people. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.
That same afternoon, Trump visited McClellan Park in Northern California, one of the areas of the state which has been virtually decimated by the flames. The president dismissed the role of climate change in the disaster, ignoring California Governor Gavin Newsom’s assertion that “climate change is real,” and a White House advisor who urged him to follow the science.
"I don't think science knows,” said Trump with a laugh. He said the wildfires were caused by careless management of forest vegetation; ironically, most of California’s forests are managed by the federal government.
Biden called Trump a “climate arsonist.”
“He is committing the crime of ignoring the science. Our climate is changing with drastic force,” said Harris, who was scheduled to visit the fire-ravaged regions of California the following day.
“California is currently experiencing five of the worst fires in the history of our state,” said the junior senator. She recalled her visit to the tiny town of Paradise, Calif., a year earlier. “The fire wiped out the entire community. All that was left were chimneys, which looked like tombstones.”
The Biden-Harris platform has laid out an ambitious plan to tackle climate change, building up to a clean energy economy by 2050 with infrastructure support for renewables.
Harris stressed the importance of voting in the Nov. 3 election. “Every issue affecting our lives is on the ballot,” she said, noting that even as the U.S. leads the world in COVID infections cases — with more than 6.5 million infections and almost 200,000 deaths — Trump’s attorney general William Barr is urging the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which currently provides health coverage to 20 million people, and provides protection for coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
Harris also discussed voter suppression, stating that many states are attempting to prevent minorities from voting. More than 48 million people, including 16 million people of color, have been stricken from their state’s voting roster and thus will be ineligible to vote this fall.
Clinton lambasted Trump for his inaction on climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the quest for racial justice, which has roiled the nation’s streets this summer.
Extending her support to Biden and Harris, Clinton said: “Kamala leads out of her values. She has been relentless in her pursuit of justice and equality, and has stood up for millions of marginalized people.”
“I’m so pleased to see her go toe to toe with members of the Trump administration,” said Clinton, referring to Harris’s grilling of several of the president’s nominees during confirmation hearings. “I’m looking forward to hearing her call out the failures of the Trump-Pence administration,” during the vice presidential debates, she said.
The conversation took a lighter tone at several junctures. Poehler asked Clinton and Harris what they were doing during the pandemic.
Harris said she taught her husband, Doug Emhoff, how to cook, after “he almost burned the place down. I was there with my briefing papers, fanning the flames,” she said, laughingly adding that Emhoff now knows how to cook three meals.