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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks from Statuary Hall at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris warned Thursday of the fragility of democracy, saying, "if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand" on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Driving the news: "The strength of democracy is the rule of law," Harris said, while also advocating for the expansion of voting rights, saying, "We must pass the voting rights bills that are now before the Senate. We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must unite in defense of our democracy."

What she's saying: "On January 6, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful — the lawlessness, the violence, the chaos," Harris, who was in the Capitol one year ago today, said.

  • "January 6 reflects the dual nature of democracy — its fragility and its strength," Harris said.
  • "The strength of democracy is the principle that everyone should be treated equally. That elections should be free and fair. That corruption should be given no quarter. The strength of democracy is that it empowers the people."
  • "And the fragility of democracy is this. That if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand. It will falter and fail," Harris added.

Go deeper: In photos: Looking back at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Go deeper

Democrats take voting rights fight to state-level races

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Photos: Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images (left); Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Democratic gubernatorial candidates are unveiling their own voting rights plans ahead of this fall's midterms.

Why it matters: Congressional Democrats have, so far, failed to deliver federal legislation. Because Republicans have succeeded in introducing restrictions at the state and local levels, the ability to vote in 2022 will largely depend on where a person lives. That makes state executive races a high priority for both parties.

Focus group: Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images 

As President Biden approaches the one-year mark of his presidency, some swing voters say his handling of the pandemic has weakened him in their eyes.

  • But they see him projecting strength when he talks about protecting American democracy.

Driving the news: These were key takeaways from the latest Engagious/Schlesinger swing-voter focus groups for Axios, conducted Tuesday, just days after the president's Jan. 6 anniversary speech.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

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