Biden and Harris push abortion rights in election battle with Trump

Washington DC - President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will push the fight for abortion rights this week, highlighting what Democrats believe is political kryptonite for Donald Trump in November's election.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are highlighting abortion rights on the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are highlighting abortion rights on the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  © Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Harris is being promoted by the Biden campaign as the face of the reproductive rights issue, delivering a message that if Republican former president Trump makes a comeback, he will seek to impose further restrictions on abortion.

Harris travels to Wisconsin to launch a nationwide tour on the issue on Monday, the 51st anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade court decision legalizing abortion. A conservative-leaning Supreme Court featuring three Trump-appointed judges struck that ruling down in 2022.

Harris and Biden will then make their first joint appearance on the 2024 campaign trail with a major rally on the issue in Virginia on Tuesday, along with First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Harris' husband.

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Biden's campaign increasingly sees the issue as a vote winner after Trump repeatedly bragged that he should be given credit for the top US court's decision to overturn the federally protected right to abortion.

Since the court's decision, 14 US states have imposed outright bans on abortion, while seven others have imposed time limits, according to a tracker in the New York Times.

"If Donald Trump is reelected, he’ll try to gut abortion care in every state across the country, and he has the plans to do it," Harris said in a statement on Friday ahead of her event.

Biden and the other speakers on Tuesday will "underscore what is at stake for reproductive freedom in 2024 – including the threat of a MAGA Republican-led national abortion ban," the Biden-Harris campaign said.

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President Joe Biden plans to make abortion rights central to his 2024 reelection pitch to voters.
President Joe Biden plans to make abortion rights central to his 2024 reelection pitch to voters.  © REUTERS

The Biden campaign is also launching television and social media ads targeting swing voters in battleground states, focusing on the "personal impact that Trump’s abortion bans have on women and providers."

The issue remains a seismic fault line in US politics and society. Thousands of anti-abortion activists rallied in the snow Friday in Washington for an annual "March for Life."

Democrats have particularly seized on the issue after Republicans lost a series of votes centered on abortion rights in off-year elections last year in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia.

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Polls repeatedly show a clear majority of Americans support continued access to safe abortion, even as conservative groups push to limit the procedure – or ban it outright.

Democrat campaigners likely would target areas where abortion rights are under threat, as it is not as "broad brush" an issue as migration or crime, Melissa DeRosa, a Democratic strategist, told AFP.

"Reproductive freedom is going to be an issue that matters in places where it's not already secure," she said. "This is going to be something that's going to be strategically deployed in areas where it matters."

Harris' appearances are also part of a Biden campaign strategy to get the vice president out in front of a public with whom she has, according to opinion polls, struggled to connect.

Republicans have made her a particular target, criticizing her as being unprepared as next-in-line to the president should anything happen to 81-year-old Biden.

But the campaign believes her voice could be crucial in swaying women, minority, and young voters – and she won praise last week for her abortion messaging from an unlikely quarter.

"What Kamala is doing, right or wrong, is very powerful among young women," Trump's former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told conservative Fox News.

Cover photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

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