/Outrageous: Sen. Kamala Harris, Democratic nominee for vice president, tells Black leaders in Florida Trump must be removed

Outrageous: Sen. Kamala Harris, Democratic nominee for vice president, tells Black leaders in Florida Trump must be removed

Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, told a group of Black leaders of Miami-Dade County that President Donald Trump should be removed from office for failing for lead during the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic collapse.

Based on revelations in Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward’s book “Rage,” Harris blasted Trump for knowing Jan. 28 about the lethal dangers of COVID-19 and then continuing to dismiss the virus for months as a “hoax” and suggesting people don’t need to wear masks.

Harris noted that ignoring the threat resulted in more deaths and infections in South Florida, where people stand in food lines and beg for government unemployment assistance. Harris said there are many reasons for voters to replace Trump with the leadership of former Vice President Joe Biden.

“This is an individual who is not concerned about the health, safety and well-being of the American people and is frankly engaged in a reckless disregard of the lives and well-being of the people of our country,” Harris said at Florida Memorial University, a historically Black college in Miami Gardens. “I find it so outrageous.”

Trump has argued that he tried to avoid sparking a nationwide panic about the virus by playing down its risks. Trump said he secured emergency medical supplies, spurred the development of vaccines and therapeutics, and banned travel from China to hinder the spread of the virus.

Harris wore a black face mask as she met in the university gym Miami Shores Mayor Crystal Wagar; Eric Knowles of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, president of the university; Pastor Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida; and Ruban Roberts, president of the Miami-Dade chapter of NAACP.

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., introduced Harris and blasted Trump for infections and deaths in her district that she described as the apex of cases in the state. Miami-Dade County has had 162,000 cases of the virus and 2,740 deaths – the eighth-highest among counties nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

 “It doesn’t just make me angry – I am enraged,” Wilson said. “We call him a racist but we have another term now because he’s a murderer.”

US Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris arrives at Miami International Airport in Miami, on Sept. 10, 2020. Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are scheduled to meet with community leaders.

Harris traveled to the Sunshine State with her husband Doug Emhoff. Harris met with African American community leaders, to hear about the challenges they face in South Florida. Emhoff met with rabbis in Aventura, to discuss issues important to the Jewish community.

Harris was greeted by the university’s marching band, called “The Roar.” The musicians, who wore T-shirts with the school’s lion logo and masks, performed two songs: “Bravura” by Charles Duble and “Green Light” by Rod Wave.

Members of AKA sorority, which Harris joined at Howard University, cheered from the sidelines wearing pink and green. Harris thanked the students for the warm welcome.

“You truly are the future of our country, who are going to encourage and push us to be our best selves.,” Harris said. “You are the ones who are going to inspire us and fight for the ideals of our country.”

Florida is one of the key battlegrounds beyond Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin where Trump and Biden will compete for the White House. Trump narrowly won his adopted state in 2016, and Republicans control the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature.

But statewide races have been hotly contested. Biden leads Trump in an average of Florida polls by 2.7 percentage points through Sept. 10, according to the tracking site FiveThirtyEight.com.

An NBC News/Marist Poll released Tuesday found Trump and Biden tied at 48% among 766 likely voters, with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Biden plans to campaign Tuesday in Florida.

Latinos who are key to the South Florida vote remain a contested demographic, according to the Marist poll. Trump is doing well against Biden among Florida’s Latinos – 50% to 46% – after trailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 exit polls by 62% to 35%, according to the poll.

“It’s not unusual for Florida to be this close,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “If Trump loses Florida, it’s game over. If Trump wins, the story of the night will still have to be told.”

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrives at Miami International Airport, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Miami.

Harris and Emhoff stopped briefly between the airport and their events at Amaize, a Venezuelan restaurant in Doral. The couple met with political strategist Ana Navarro and Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo. Navarro, who wore a Biden-Harris T-shirt, has participated in virtual roundtables with the campaign for Latino voters in Florida and Wisconsin.

Harris and Emhoff picked up arepas to go. Harris chatted with diners and took pictures with them.

“There are so many important issues,” Harris said. “There’s so much at stake.”

A customer, Carlos Andrade Gando, 40, said he was “super excited” to see Harris. He is married to Christian Ulvert, a political adviser to the Biden campaign.

“We were without hope and Biden, is the solution for the country,” Gando said. “Many of the people who have lived for many years in this country, we are not supporting Trump.”

A Trump supporter in the parking lot held a sign and shouted slogans supporting the president as Harris and Emhoff left.

“Kamala Harris represents communism and socialism,” said the woman who identified herself as Mariela Jiménez.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband Douglas Emhoff pick up food at Amaize restaurant Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Doral, Fla.

Trump visited Jupiter, Fla., on Tuesday to extend a moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The ban was set to expire in 2022 and he extended it for 10 years.

The move won praise from Republicans and Democrats in a state heavily dependent on tourism. The biggest marine oil spill in history is still a fresh memory from BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

Biden also opposed new permits for oil and gas drilling in federal land and waters. But he assailed Trump’s environmental record for opening thousands of acres of land to new drilling.

“Trump has called the climate crisis a ‘hoax,'” Biden said Tuesday. “He has eliminated rules designed to keep our air and water clean.”

At the meeting Thursday, community leaders described for Harris how the community needed help with healthcare, with food, with jobs, with preventing evictions and with finding racial justice. 

Thomas, the pastor, said her daughter graduated from Florida A&M University and became an ICU nurse treating COVID patients. Her younger brother came out of retirement to return as a paramedic. And her nephew is a firefighter.

But Thomas recalled her daughter calling one day to say that an entire family had died from the virus, including grandparents and parents survived by an 11-year-old boy. Meanwhile, church remains unable to open for funerals and schools remain uncertain because of the risk to students.

“It’s a system that failed us as Black people,” Thomas said. “It’s a system that has failed us on every level.”

Harris urged people to vote as early as possible and overcome any obstacles in their way. She said Republicans wouldn’t fight to suppress Black voting if it weren’t to prevent their voices from being heard.

“They know when we vote things change,” Harris said. “Therein lies our power, which we should never let anyone take from us.”