Is Kamala Democrats’ Secret Weapon of 2024?

At a black outreach event packed with Democratic heavyweights on Wednesday, it was Kamala Harris who proved to be the unexpected star of the show.

The vice president has been pilloried in the past for her awkward and stilted delivery at events. But at Girard College in Philadelphia, as a warm-up act for Biden, she seemed much more at ease, cracking jokes and returning applause..

She also received some of the biggest reactions during a raucous performance in which she rattled off a list of Biden administration accomplishments that specifically benefit the black community — from a $35 cap on the cost of insulin and amnesty student debt to record investments in the historic black. colleagues.

She pointed out how the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel Roe v. Wade disproportionately affected black women. “And today, one in three women and more than half of black women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban — a Trump abortion ban,” she noted.

Vice President Kamala Harris introduces President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Girard College on May 29, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vice President Kamala Harris introduces President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Girard College on May 29, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Getty Images)

She also delivered some fighting lines, which went down well with the mostly black crowd. When she condemned Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, she described it as “Thurgood’s court,” referring to the first black justice, Thurgood Marshall, who sparked a strong and positive response.

The star turn did not go unnoticed among those gathered in the boarding school’s gymnasium.

Aminah Shabazz, of Philadelphia, commented on Biden’s lack of “swag,” but noted that Harris also visited Philadelphia just last week, making a trip to Jim’s in West Philadelphia — a local favorite for cheesesteaks, as opposed to more popular Pat’s or Geno’s.

“I’m curious why it wasn’t used sooner. Just something as simple as Kamala going to Jim’s Steaks was huge,” she said The Independent. “It’s the little things that go a long way to make them more relatable.”

Biden and Harris, along with prominent black surrogates — Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore — came to the City of Brotherly Love this week at a critical time for the campaign.

Recent polls show Biden continues to struggle with black voters. A New York TimesThe Siena College poll earlier this month found Biden with only a 53 percent approval rating among black voters, a dismal statistic for a sitting Democratic president. Donald Trump’s campaign has made overtures to the electoral bloc after making gains with black male voters in 2020 and promoting black surrogates such as Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.

Several attendees at the Philadelphia event dismissed concerns about Biden’s struggles with black voters. Tony Pritchette, a pastor at Provision of Grace World Mission Church, said The Independent that he heard about concerns about black presence “only in the news, not in the community.”

“Not in the neighborhood, people will show up,” he said The Independent. “We understand the importance of this. This election, we really know what would happen if Trump comes back.”

Shabazz said Biden lacked the same “it” factor of his Democratic predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and wanted to start investing in the community earlier.

But this could be where Harris could be a secret weapon. A graduate of Howard University, she regularly toured the country visiting other historically black colleges and universities. In the past, polls have shown that many voters did not think Harris was ready to be president. But now, more voters feel confident in her ability to take on the job if Biden can’t.

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, who has known Harris since she was attorney general in California, said The Independent last month, the vice president has been a powerful force in this election cycle — especially on the key issue of abortion rights.

“Obviously one can relate to women and what they’re going through,” he said. “He has been on the front lines of protecting women’s health care, both as attorney general and as a United States senator and now as vice president.”

With abortion rights set to be a defining issue in the 2024 election and Democrats likely to depend on it to hold the Senate, Harris may have found her calling card just in time.