By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO’s Christiane Cordero on Monday had a chance to talk with Democratic Vice President candidate Senator Kamala Harris, who says Minnesota has “much at stake in the outcome of this election.”

Harris blamed the President’s “greatest administrative failure” in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for Minnesota’s economic problems.

WEB EXTRA: Click here to explore WCCO’s 2020 Election Guide.

Her campaign stop was virtual and coincided with Vice President Mike Pence’s in-person stop in Hibbing.

Below is a transcript of their conversation:

CC: I want to start off by going down memory lane a little bit. The last time Minnesota voted for a republican presidential candidate, you were you were all of eight years old. Does it feel like this state is up for grabs right now?

KH: Absolutely. And I think it’s because Minnesota has so much at stake in the outcome of this election. When you look at it in terms of how Minnesota has been struck by this virus, you know, one in 17 families is describing their household as being hungry. One in 11 families are struggling to pay rent or unable to pay rent, and one in five small businesses have closed. And we have witnessed the greatest administrative failure in the history of our country. The Trump/Pence administration… it sat on information that had the American people known, they could have gotten ready for this. They could’ve prepared. They could’ve protected their families. And now so many have been devastated in terms of the health consequences, the economic consequences, the educational consequences. So I do believe the people of Minnesota are ready for real leadership. Joe Biden is someone who works across the party lines. He’s someone who cares about the people. And we are someone who will spend their time, full time, addressing the needs of the people, understanding that this pandemic could care less who you vote for and god willing when we win, we’re going to have the same approach, which is that this is one America and what everyone is gonna need to get back on their feet.

CC: It’s all very consistent with what you’ve said throughout the campaign. Other than the fact that it’s a whole 27 degrees right now in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities at least, why not be here in person today, especially knowing that your counterpart, Vice President Mike Pence, is?

KH: We are all over the country doing a combination of in-person and virtual. Today, I’m probably in six or seven states virtually and so I’m still happy to be in Minnesota. We want to be safe, we want to create an environment where the people who come to see us are safe and we can’t do that if we’re trying to pack people into a room and so we’ve been very judicious and you know frankly, I’ve been there virtually in September, back in July, and we’re gonna keep talking to Minnesotans about the issues that impact them. And we’re very proud to have the support of people like Tina Smith, please re-elect her to the United States Senate, Amy Klobuchar and so many leaders and it really is about pushing forward to make sure everyone votes and they vote early. Because again there’s so much at stake.

CC: You mentioned the safety component of it. Does it bother you that Vice President Pence is here in person despite having aides that tested positive?

KH: I mean there’s so many contrasts that the voters have in this election. You know, on the one hand, you have Joe Biden and I saying look, we’re gonna wear masks. We think it’s a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. On the other hand, you’ve had you know the President of the United States who’s the commander in chief, who has suggested that to wear a mask is somehow a sign of weakness, when all of the experts are telling us if we want to get a handle on this thing, we’ve got to love thy neighbor and wear a mask. Nobody likes to wear a mask but it’s all part of the sacrifice that all Americans should make to get through this pandemic. Otherwise it is predicted that as many as 500,000 Americans will be dead by, from the beginning of this until March. And we all have to do the right thing and it can’t be about politics, it’s gotta be about public health and safety.

CC: Does it feel like we’re past that point of it not being about politics. Everything feels so politicized right now, doesn’t it?

KH: You know, I believe that when we are talking with families, and I can tell you, when I’m talking with families and they’re sitting at their kitchen table in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to make all of this work, they really could care less about the politics. They want to know there’s a plan. Joe and I have a plan. Our plan is about what we need to do around national testing, contact tracing and god willing when we get a vaccine, distribution of that vaccine. Our plan is about building back up our economy and focusing on working families and working people, and helping them… helping small businesses reopen safely with federal grants that help people with plexiglass barriers and PPE. This is the kind of approach that Joe and I have, which is about a plan, not about politics. And you know, I think everybody gets to decide over the course of the next eight days, what kind of future do we want? Do we want leadership that speaks truth and tries to heal and unify our country, or do we want more of the same?

CC: It certainly seems like you are speaking to undecided voters…

 *staffer warns of last question*

CC: Okay, I’ll skip ahead then because you were speaking to undecided voters there. But I just want to touch quickly on Justice Amy Coney Barrett because it seems all but certain that we will have a Justice Amy Coney Barrett by the end of the day. You seemed quieter during her confirmation hearings versus hearings past and I want to give you the opportunity Senator, to be really clear about what it is to be a woman in power right now and have your job qualifications not necessarily be at the forefront of your job interview?

KH: I have said from the beginning that this has been an illegitimate process, and for this reason. The American people by the tens of millions have been voting. They’ve been voting on who will be the President of the United States. And actually, the majority of the American public agrees that the people should make the decision on who should be the next president, and then that person will decide who sits for a lifetime on the highest court in our land. In addition, there’s so many important issues that that court is gonna decide, such as whether or not Donald Trump wins a lawsuit trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, or whether the people win in extending the Affordable Care Act to increase coverage, to bring down Medicare eligibility to age 60, to increase healthcare that’s not only about the body from the neck down but the neck up and that’s called mental healthcare. These are the issues before the American people. This is what they’re voting on in this election and the election will be over in eight days, and whoever wins that election can determine who sits on the United States Supreme Court. And the American people agree with that.

CC: As a woman, does it feel familiar to you?

KH: I believe that all, all Americans regardless of gender, agree that we should uphold our democracy and that we should uphold standards about fairness and about putting the people of the country first. And that includes allowing them to vote in an election about who will be their president, and then letting the process continue after they have made that decision.

CC: Senator, I appreciate your time, I know that it’s extremely valuable. Where will you be election night?

KH: We haven’t figured that out yet. But I’ll keep you posted, it’s all very much in flux.

CC: Sounds good. Thank you so much, good luck with the home stretch.

Christiane Cordero

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