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Kamala Harris Hopes For Big Win In Nevada

In this Oct. 15, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in a Democratic presidential primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In this Oct. 15, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in a Democratic presidential primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

Presidential candidates on the Democratic side keep streaming into Nevada.

The state’s February caucus is third nationally, and it’s crucial to candidates hoping to win their party’s nomination to run against President Donald Trump.

Kamala Harris, a U.S. Senator from California, is among the top five out of a race of 18 candidates. While the polls show her trailing, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Harris said she is not concerned about those polls.

“If I had listened to polls, I would never have run for my first or second office,” she said, "Frankly the only poll that matters is election day."

Harris said in some ways she is still trying to introduce herself to a larger, national audience.

KNPR's State of Nevada talked to her about a number of issues facing the United States.

Gun Control

“My perspective on it is that we have had a false choice with suggesting you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away… I believe in the Second Amendment, but I also know we need reasonable gun safety laws," she said.

Harris said if elected president she wouldn't just push for universal background checks and an assault weapons ban she would use executive power to enact change.

She said she would give Congress 100 days to do something about gun violence and if they fail to act, she would step in with executive action on comprehensive background checks and a ban on the importation of assault weapons.

Harris believes assault weapons are "weapons of war" that have no place on the streets of civil society.

Affordable Housing

Harris would like to start to address the problem of a lack of affordable housing by tackling the cost of rent.

“Basically, for individuals and families that are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent plus utilities, they will get a tax credit. This will impact 21 million Americans,”  she said.

She said her proposed rent relief tax credit would impact more than 200,000 Nevadans. Harris believes addressing affordable housing would also help address homelessness around the country.

The senator believes there is a lot more the federal government could be doing to help the states in this matter.

“I have a plan to basically put and infuse federal dollars into creating incentives for affordable housing and the growth of affordable housing,” she said.

Wage Growth

Harris criticized President Trump's bragging about how well the economy is doing because of the stock market. She pointed out that the majority of stocks are owned by the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the country.

She also took issue with the administration touting low employment numbers as a sign that the economy is doing well.

“I’m traveling our country, yes – people are working, they’re working two and three jobs, and in our America, people should only have to work one job to have a rough over their head or put food on the table,” she said.

Harris said almost half of all American families wouldn't be able to afford a $400 unexpected expense. She also said that half of Americans would go bankrupt if they were given a $500 medical bill.

In addition, she said that in most counties around the country people working a full-time job for minimum wage would not be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

“I intend to deal with that in a number of ways, including the tax code. For families making less than $100,000 year, they’ll get a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year that they can take home at up to $500 a month, which will be all the difference between those families being able to get through the end of the month with dignity,” she said.

The senator said she would pay for the program by repealing the Trump administration's tax cuts.

Harris said she is focused on the issues that are keeping working families up at night like the high cost of health care and the lack of wage growth.

“Which is why so much of my focus is based on what we need to do to support working families in America, knowing the rules have been written for so long against them, at least not in favor of them,” she said.


“My plan is for that is – One – we’re going to have debt-free college. We’re going to have free community college. Equally important and this is a really important point, I’m going to make sure that we have interest-free student loans because no one should be profiting off of the desire of our future leaders, who want to get an education," she said.

She said addressing the high cost of post-secondary education and the student loan crisis is about investing in the strength of America. Harris also wants to see investment not just in college but in training for jobs that are valuable and high paying but don't necessarily need a college degree.


“The pillars of my plan include – One – investment in infrastructure, including water, renewable energies and that’s about jobs," she said, "Two – it’s about giving support and elevating, the too-long ignored communities, including our indigenous people, including folks who live in poor communities, communities of color and lifting them up to inform what we do, as opposed to, telling them what we have done to them. And then three – and this is a really important point, and maybe its because of my background as a prosecutor, but it’s going after the bad guys.”   

Harris said fossil fuel companies have known for years about the harm they've been doing to the environment and they've been profiting off that damage.

She noted that when she was attorney general of California she went after big oil companies and she plans to do the same if elected president.

Harris would like to encourage good behaviors like moving to carbon-neutral electricity by 2030 and a clean economy by 2045 but she would also like to go after bad behaviors that are holding back efforts to address climate change. 


U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Democratic candidate for president

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.