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In Denver, Vice President Kamala Harris promises to fight for “assault” weapons ban and abortion access

Vice President Kamala Harris told supporters in Denver on Tuesday that she would fight to ban “assault” weapons, raise the federal minimum wage and protect abortion rights if she and President Joe Biden win reelection in November.

“In memory of Columbine, Aurora, Uvalde and Club Q, we continue — and we all continue — to fight for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and red-flag laws,” Harris said in a 15-minute speech as she was met with cheers from more than 250 attendees. All of those mass shootings, except for the Uvalde school incident, happened in Colorado.

She took the stage at ReelWorks Denver, an event hall in the River North Art District, as part of a multi-state swing by Harris and Biden to tout progress on multiple fronts and amplify other messages from last week’s State of the Union address. The visit comes as both she and Biden face low approval ratings heading into a likely rematch with former President Donald Trump in the November election.

Harris said the Biden administration would invest in low-cost childcare, paid family leave and affordable housing if American voters grant them four more years in office. She also made a pledge to secure a pathway to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, and their families.

“Colorado is so important, and you will be part of deciding the future of our country,” Harris said.

Four years ago, Biden won Colorado with 55% of the vote. That makes him the favorite to win the state this year, but, nationally, the race is expected to be tight. As of Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages put Harris at a 36% approval rating and Biden at 37%.

Harris targeted specific populations in her speech, telling teachers: “Y’all don’t make enough money.” She also focused on Latino voters, at one point emphasizing the importance of gun reform by pointing out that “Latinos are twice as likely to be the victims of gun violence.”

More broadly, she cited White House accomplishments that included lowering health care costs — including the price of insulin — for older people, canceling about $138 billion in student loan debt through executive actions and passing the first major gun-safety law in three decades.

Prominent Colorado Democrats were on hand, including Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, state Rep. Tim Hernández, and Denver City Councilwoman Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Councilman Chris Hinds.

Ahead of Harris’ visit, Colorado Republican Party Chair Dave Williams told The Denver Post that the state’s GOP was looking forward “to restoring balance to this state come November.” He added that Coloradans were “tired of the failed agenda of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that has resulted in higher prices for goods, lower wages, increased crime and more illegal immigration that is robbing citizens of their tax dollars and government services.”

Standing in the crowd Tuesday, Angalen Bland, 23, said she was still undecided in her vote, but leaned toward Biden.

“Getting people out to vote, especially in minority communities, is important,” she said, adding that Harris’ lively gathering “encourages that and makes it a safer, more welcoming space than your typical campaign event.”

Wearing a Biden-Harris button, Thomas Gilhooly expressed hope that the event would inspire others to engage in social justice work, while bringing attention to Denver’s migrant crisis and the city’s need for more funding.

Outside the event center, about 65 pro-Palestinian demonstrators — most of them younger people — gathered across the street ahead of Harris’ arrival, waving the flag of Palestine and holding signs critical of the administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, launched in October in response to Hamas’ deadly terror attacks in Israel, have killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed many buildings across the territory.

“All of us here do not approve of the U.S.’s actions in funding the genocide against the Palestinian people,” said Hannah Sims, a demonstrator who stood behind the yellow police tape.

The message she wanted to get across to Harris: “We hold her accountable as a woman of color, standing in power, for taking the wrong side,” Sims said. When asked who she would vote for in November, she described her stance as uncommitted.

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