Mar 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Vice President Harris to visit Minnesota abortion clinic

Vice President Kamala Harris, wearing a blue suit, holds a microphone as she speaks to an audience.

Photo: Bonnie Cash/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will visit an abortion clinic in Minnesota's Twin Cities area Thursday, a dramatic and symbolic move to emphasize the Biden administration's commitment to reproductive rights.

Why it matters: Harris will become the first president or vice president to tour an abortion clinic while in office, according to the White House.

  • Her visit is another indication that the Biden-Harris campaign considers reproductive rights as one of the most potent and salient issues favoring Democrats in the 2024 election.
  • It's also a sign of the key role Harris is taking in trying to generate enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket among Black, Hispanic and young voters.

The big picture: Polls suggest that many voters in those traditionally Democratic groups are either lukewarm about President Biden, giving Donald Trump a look or haven't tuned into the 2024 campaign yet.

  • Getting those three groups to support Biden is crucial to the White House's plan to reassemble the coalition that gave Democrats a narrow victory in 2020.
  • Harris has been tasked with making appeals to those groups, and has had an increasing presence in battleground states that are key to Biden winning a second term.

Driving the news: Harris will tour a health center that provides abortion services, in addition to birth control and preventative wellness services.

  • She will listen to how Minnesota is potentially affected by the Supreme Court's overturning of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade, and aims to blast Republicans who push for a national ban on abortion and other limits on reproductive rights.

Between the lines: In his State of the Union address last week, Biden made a forceful case for reproductive rights and accused Republicans of wanting to restrict birth control and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

  • But he skipped over the word "abortion," which was included in his prepared remarks, and used phrases that he's more comfortable with, such as "freedom to choose."
  • "I happen to be a practicing Catholic. I'm not big on abortion," Biden told donors last June.
  • Harris is much more comfortable talking about abortion. She routinely calls Republicans "extremists" for supporting national abortion bans.

Flashback: Earlier this month, Harris traveled to Selma, Ala., where she called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza, directly addressing the concerns of many Democrats who have been concerned by Biden's rhetoric and actions on the Israel-Hamas war.

  • It was another example of Harris moving to shore up support for Biden with a key group, in this case progressives upset about the war.

Zoom out: Minnesota is the fifth state Harris has visited in a cross-country tour that also included stops in Arizona, Nevada, California and Colorado as part of Biden's post-State of the Union push to sell the country on his economic and social policies.

  • She's spoken to specific groups in the party's base on issues she cares most about.
  • Next month, she'll go to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Fla., and walk the halls with family members of those killed in a mass shooting there in 2018.
  • This week in Denver, she focused on the Biden administration's efforts on behalf of Latino voters, mentioning its push to lower prescription drug costs.
  • In Durham, N.C., earlier this month, she talked with African American entrepreneurs how the Biden administration is trying to ensure they have adequate financing to help them grow their businesses.
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