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Vice President Harris Touts Biden Administration Accomplishments In Baltimore

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech in Baltimore on Thursday afternoon.
Courtesy of the White House
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech in Baltimore on Thursday afternoon.

Vice President Kamala Harris touted the Biden administration’s successes on her 100th day in office at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium Thursday afternoon.

“I would say today is a good day, Baltimore,” the Democrat said, during remarks that echoed President Biden’s Wednesday night speech before Congress.

Governor Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott greeted the vice president and Dr. Anthony Fauci when they arrived at the stadium, where they were given a tour of the state mass vaccination site before her address.

Hogan said at a news conference Wednesday that the stadium was picked for Harris’ visit because “it’s a perfect example of a very well-run vaccination center.”

“It’s part of our equity effort in Baltimore City and we’re cranking out a lot of vaccinations there,” the Republican said. “We’re going to be proud to show it off to her.”

According to pool reports, Harris spoke during her tour about the importance of getting vaccinated.

"Getting the shot is about not only taking care of ourselves, it's about loving our neighbor. It's about being responsible to our community. It's about lifting up the whole, and that's what you all are doing,” she reportedly said. “And so I'm here to visit because here in Baltimore you guys are doing some amazing work, all the health care workers have been working around the clock.”

Rep. John Sarbanes, and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, all Democrats, spoke before Harris’ speech. Melissa Wesby, a Baltimorean who works as a pulmonary nurse at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, introduced the Vice President.

Wesby recalled the hours she’s spent caring for patients suffering from severe COVID-19. “My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly, y’all,” she said. “We’ve had to learn and work and live our lives very differently from what we are used to.”

Wesby, who lives in the Patterson Park neighborhood, praised the Biden administration’s grasp on the coronavirus pandemic, citing the vaccination of more than half of all U.S. adults with at least one dose and the relaxed restrictions that have followed.

“Families can visit their loved ones in visiting rooms now. It’s been so hard, people can’t touch and feel their loved ones,” she said. “And now we’re able to have visitors come in and just rub feet and rub hands, it’s so beautiful.”

Harris called Wesby an “angel” and thanked her and her fellow healthcare workers. She also thanked Mayor Scott and the congressional delegation for their leadership.

“It is wonderful to be back in Baltimore, and especially on this 100th day of our administration,” she said.

Harris has a connection to Baltimore — she based her 2020 presidential campaign out of Stadium Square, a development nestled between Federal Hill and the M&T Bank Stadium.

She highlighted several of the new administration’s most prominent initiatives, including stimulus checks sent to more than 160 million Americans, as well as the recent American Rescue Plan Act, which will send $670 million in relief money to Baltimore.

“That, folks, is what I call American aspiration,” she said. “And we have also delivered support directly to small businesses because, of course, small businesses are part of the fabric and the culture of a community. Baltimore knows that well.”

The warmth with which Harris spoke of Baltimore stands in stark contrast to remarks from former President Trump, who criticized the city and its historically Democratic leadership several times while in office. In 2019, he called Baltimore a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

Mayor Brandon Scott, then City Council President, was quick to condemn Trump. Today, Harris took a moment to praise the Mayor, a Democrat who campaigned for her and President Biden.

“Mayor, look at what you're doing here,” she said, gesturing to the walls of the stadium.“People can walk right into the stadium and get vaccinated. And this is happening around the country.”

The Vice President boarded Marine 2 shortly after her speech, concluding the first visit to Baltimore by her or Biden since their inauguration in January.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.