Senator Kamala Harris of California generated applause at the Democratic presidential debate in Ohio on Tuesday with her impassioned plea for her fellow candidates to focus on women’s access to reproductive health care.
“This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle,” she said. “And not nearly one word, with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to reproductive health care, which is under full-on attack in America today. And it’s outrageous.”
Entering the debate, Ms. Harris was polling within the bottom rung of Democratic candidates in national surveys. Many supporters and donors were hoping that she would recapture the magic of June’s debate, when she flattened former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. over his opposition to school busing in the 1970s and opened up about her own story.
Though these words did not generate that kind of response, it was evidently a strong moment for Ms. Harris early in the debate.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say women will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies,” she said.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey responded by adding that it was also the job of men to fight for women’s reproductive rights.
“God bless Kamala,” he said. “But you know what? Women should not be the only ones taking up this cause and this fight. It’s not just because women are our daughters and our friends and our wives. It’s because women are people.”
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