ORLANDO, Fla. — Sen. Kamala Harris, in Orlando on Monday for a campaign visit, said Central Floridians could be among the first to help elect Joe Biden president and bring about change by voting early.
What You Need To Know
- VP candidate Kamala Harris swings into Florida on 1st day of early voting
- She made campaign stops in Orlando, Jacksonville to speak to select supporters
- Florida is a critical swing state for President Donald Trump's re-election bid
"We know we need a change, and a change is coming," Harris told a group of more than 100 supporters at a drive-in rally at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, just west of downtown Orlando.
She said the economy, climate, COVID-19 response, police response, and health care all will be on the ballot in addition to Biden.
“Change is Coming” *honk honk honk*— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) October 19, 2020
Dem VP Nominee Kamala Harris holding a car rally with 100+ supporters in Orlando (her first Central FL trip) as Trump supporters near by honk, hoot, and holler too. pic.twitter.com/cuH2ewCah2
Harris said she wanted to visit Florida to help kick off early voting, which began in many counties across the state Monday, including most of Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area.
"We are powerful," Harris said in a speech that lasted less than 15 minutes. "We are strong. We stand together.... We know when we vote and we use our voices, we will win."
The comments generated honks and cheers from the cars of the Biden-Harris supporters.
Supporters said they are ready to elect Harris the next vice president of the U.S.
Jennifer Coleman of Orlando was among those supporters who got to see Harris in person.
"I so hope this blue wave comes," Coleman said. "...I'm just happy for the first time in four years."
For supporters like Sarah Giuliani of Orlando, this year's election is about voting for Biden and Harris and to an end to the divisive language of Trump.
“I think degrading other human beings by things you say is important, and I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that kind of behavior is all right,” Giuliani said.
Edhraim Laidley of Poinciana said with the nation also facing widespread civil unrest, he believes Biden-Harris will help the nation turn the next page.
“I know she’s an advocate for freedom for all people,” Laidley said. "and bringing back the sanity of the justice system, and for a long time, it’s been tainted.”
While Harris's stop was designed to help Democrats boost voter turnout, Trump supporters were pushing not to be overlooked.
David Schumaker of Altamonte Springs said if Biden and Harris are elected, "“Everything we had going for us is going to be gone.”
Schumaker said he thinks Trump losing the election will put rights at risk and an economy further behind.
“They just don’t have a plan that’s good for America,” he said.
Rep. Val Demings of Orlando addressed the crowd enthusiastically before Harris took the stage.
This was Harris’s first trip to Central Florida — a critical swing region in a critical swing state — this year. Biden, the former vice president during Barack Obama's presidency, has only made one trip to the area himself.
Democratic Vice President nominee Sen. Kamala is in Orlando for a “closed” car rally with supporters, as Trump supporters across the street from rally chant “Four more years!”. pic.twitter.com/5rvHofp9GF— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) October 19, 2020
Senator Kamala Harris will be in Orlando (and Jacksonville) today to kick off the first day of Early Voting.— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) October 19, 2020
This is Senator Harris’ first trip to Central Florida. is “closed” to public and media. https://t.co/tiN54SetML
Now: Biden/Harris supporters are pulling in. Senator Kamala Harris will hold a car rally shortly trying to drive up in person voting. This is Harris’ first trip to Central FL this year.— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) October 19, 2020
Harris will be greeted by crowd of Trump supporters when she arrives. @MyNews13 @bn9 https://t.co/uEJ3axbYD9 pic.twitter.com/zfJyo13op2
That contrasts with a dozen trips to Florida from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
ON THE ROAD: Democratic VP Nominee Kamala Harris in Orlando today, her first Central Florida stop this year.— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) October 19, 2020
VP Mike Pence planning stops in Tallahassee and Jacksonville on Saturday.@MyNews13 @BN9 pic.twitter.com/MGDA4YcAHo
Central Florida is an area that some argue Harris and Biden have overlooked in some respects and are heavily relying on the grassroots troops of supporters to get out the messaging and get out the vote.
Later Monday in Jacksonville, Harris continued her push for early voting during a rainy voter mobilization event. Speaking to a line of cars from under an umbrella, Harris excoriated President Donald Trump for his repeated attacks on the voting system.
"They're trying to confuse folks about your power to vote," Harris said of Trump and other Republicans's attempts to undermine confidence in the voting system, adding: "They know our power. They know when we vote, we win."
"This is the difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden," Harris said. "We know that the strength of our democracy is the strength within our people."
After telling attendees with a laugh to get in their cars away from the rain — "I'll talk louder," Harris promised — the vice presidential candidate wrapped her speech by declaring justice is on the ballot come November.
"We know what we have at stake and we know our power, and that's why we will vote every day until election day and get this thing done," she concluded.
With only a few weeks to go until the 2020 general election, Florida can expect to see a few more rounds of principal candidates making stops in the Sunshine State.
Biden was in South Florida last week, marking his third trip to Florida this year. Biden so far has made only one trip to Central Florida this year, with a stop in Kissimmee on September 15.
Trump held a pair of Central Florida rallies last week, one in Sanford on Monday and another on Friday in Ocala.
Rachel Tillman of Spectrum News contributed to this article.