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Harris previews 2024 messaging with attacks on Donald Trump and support for reproductive rights

By Nikki Carvajal, CNN

(CNN) — Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday previewed one of the first big Biden-Harris campaign pushes of 2024, speaking strongly in support of reproductive rights and offering harsh words for former President Donald Trump.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Harris said she would present a “split screen” between Democrats and Republicans when she begins her “reproductive freedoms tour” in January, on the 51st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

“I will be meeting with folks around the country of all types of background, by the way, and political party affiliation to talk about the fact that one – most of us agree – that one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held belief to believe that the government should not be telling her what to do with her body,” Harris said.

President Joe Biden is heading into 2024 with low approval ratings, and he’s trailing Trump in hypothetical match-ups in several key battleground states. But Democrats are hoping abortion — which has been an energizing force for voters in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe last year — will again help them at the ballot box next year.

“In our country right now, there are women having miscarriages in toilets,” Harris said. “There are women who cannot afford to go to a state that will allow them access to the health care they need, who are suffering.”

Harris cast next year’s elections as a crucial moment for the fate of reproductive rights. “And so this is an issue that, yes, I do believe will be resolved in November of next year, because I do know that the American people fight for freedom and believe in the woman’s right to make decisions about her own body,” the vice president said.

She called it a “binary decision” between “the folks who are standing, such as President Joe Biden and me, saying we trust women to be able to make a decision about what is in their best interests, and women can trust us to protect their fundamental freedoms … and, on the other hand, you’re going to have folks who want a national ban and have the gall to tell women who are even survivors of rape or incest that they don’t have the right to make decisions about what happens to their body next.”

Biden campaign officials view abortion as a key issue for general election voters heading into 2024 – and one where they have the upper hand, pointing to the high turnout and enthusiasm among Democratic voters in recent elections.

Harris also sought to underscore a contrast with Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination. The daughter of immigrants, she responded to his recent comments about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country” by saying she was “raised knowing that there will be some people who will use their voice in a way that is meant to dehumanize.”

“It is language that is meant to divide us. It is language that I think people have rightly found similar to the language of Hitler. And I think it’s just critically important that we remind each other, including our children, that the true measure of the strength of a leader is based not on who they beat down, but who they lift up,” Harris said.

“And, sadly, I think that there is something perverse that has happened in our country over the last many years, which is to suggest that strength looks like a bully, when, in fact, the real character of a leader is someone who has empathy, who has some level of concern and care for the suffering of other people, and then does something to alleviate that suffering.”

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