- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2020

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris on Thursday said President Trump’s long-known “incompetence” became deadly at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic and that a “scared” Mr. Trump froze at the most consequential time.

In her first major solo speech after accepting her party’s nomination last week, Ms. Harris said the president isn’t changing at this point but that the country can choose a new path with her and Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.

“It’s his obligation to protect us, and yet he has failed miserably,” Ms. Harris said of Mr. Trump. “Donald Trump’s incompetence is nothing new — that has always been on full display. But in January of this year, it became deadly.”

Ms. Harris delivered the pointed jabs from an auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, just hours before Mr. Trump was to deliver his nomination acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention from the White House a mile away.

Ms. Harris said Mr. Trump was too busy fixating on the stock market and flattering Chinese President Xi Jinping despite his tough talk on China to get a handle on the COVID-19 crisis.

“Donald Trump stood idly by. And folks, it was a deadly decision,” said Ms. Harris, a senator from California. “Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared and he was petty and vindictive.”

Ms. Harris said different leadership would have made a difference.”All we needed was a competent president,” she said.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 180,000 people in the U.S. and ground the economy to a halt for part of the year, though the number of new daily cases has been trending down in recent weeks.

She said the Republican convention this week has been designed solely to “soothe Donald Trump’s ego” and “make him feel good.”

“Donald Trump doesn’t understand the presidency — he thinks it’s all about him,” she said. “Well, it’s not — it’s about you. It’s about all of us — the people.”

Ms. Harris, the first woman of color to be on a major-party presidential ticket, also condemned the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin, which has sparked deadly protests and violence.

“People are rightfully angry and exhausted,” she said. “And after the murders of Breonna [Taylor], George [Floyd] and Ahmaud [Arbery] and so many others, it’s no wonder people are taking to the streets.”

She said she supports peaceful protests, but not the looting and violence that has ensued in Wisconsin, where two people were shot to death amid the unrest.

“The reality is that the life of a Black person in America has never been treated as fully human and we have yet to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law,” she said.

As she left the podium, Ms. Harris did not respond to questions on whether the officer who shot Mr. Blake should be charged or whether she plans to go to Kenosha.

Mr. Biden had said earlier in the day that he would be willing to go to Wisconsin if it were safe to do so. He and Ms. Harris have spoken with Mr. Blake’s family.

Steve Cortes, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, questioned why it was Ms. Harris, and not Mr. Biden, who was venturing to the nation’s capital to “pre-but” the president.

“Number one: Why isn’t Joe Biden giving this speech today?” he said. “Number two: If it’s safe for Kamala Harris to travel, why isn’t Joe Biden traveling? Where’s Joe?”

Later on Thursday, Mr. Biden said at a virtual fundraiser that he would be venturing out on the campaign trail in swing states after Labor Day, “consistent with the state rules about how many people can be assembled.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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