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Vice President Harris praises Kaul's abortion rights lawsuit, meets Latinos, during Milwaukee visit

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks Thursday in Milwaukee to the Democratic Attorneys General Association. Only reporters chosen to be part of a media pool were allowed to attend.

Democrats and Republicans are stepping up their competition for Wisconsin votes. Thursday, as the November elections near, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee.

The vice president reached out to women, Latinos and college students.

Harris's first stop was at a downtown Milwaukee convention of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, where she urged the nearly two dozen members to help protect the rights of individuals. Harris said that includes women's reproductive rights.

Harris said after the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning Roe vs. Wade this year, attorneys general in several states have filed lawsuits to challenge new or re-emerged state restrictions on abortion.

"Like right here in Wisconsin, where our host Josh Kaul is working with Gov. [Tony] Evers, to challenge an abortion ban. Listen to this, with the limited resources every attorney general has, our friend here, has to use his resources to fight a ban that was passed in 1849. Before women even had a right to vote ! And somebody's trying to push the legitimacy of that law, and he has to fight against it. Josh, our administration has your back!" Harris exclaimed, to cheers.

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Chuck Quirmbach
Wisconsin GOP Chairman Paul Farrow, who is also Waukesha County Executive, speaks to the news media Thursday. Republican attorney general candidate Eric Toney is at right.

Republicans held a Milwaukee news conference ahead of the Harris visit. State GOP Chairman Paul Farrow said Wisconsin Attorney General Kaul should instead put more resources into fighting crime.

"Instead of making sure the DA's across the state are really impacting, and are taking to task the people that are out there causing our crimes, he wants to fall back and do this. He wants to fall back on an issue that most people aren't even worrying about right now," Farrow contended.

But a recent Marquette poll put it this way: only about 40% of Republicans and independents say abortion is a top issue for them. But 60% of Democrats feel that way.

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Chuck Quirmbach
Vice-President Kamala Harris speaks to a political science class at UW-Milwaukee Thursday.

Harris also traveled to the UW-Milwaukee campus. There, she spoke with local Latino leaders. The White House only allowed a few reporters to hear a couple minutes of that conversation. But afterwards, one of the participants, Darryl Morin, answered media questions about meeting with Harris.

Morin is national president of the group Forward Latino. "What we found with this administration is that they're very open and very transparent, and really, how shall I say, want to solve problems," Morin said.

Morin said part of the discussion with the vice president was about extremist rhetoric that has led to acts of hate against the Latino community. He also says, without going into specifics, that part of the chat was about the large number of people trying to come into the U.S. at the Mexican border.

"Well, everybody knows where the majority of migrants are coming from, and that work needs to be done there so that they don't leave those areas and can find employment there. We also know there are some dictatorships people are fleeing from. I would like to hear all these people who cry freedom, and the importance of freedom, and the ability to have a democracy, welcome those who are seeking freedom and fleeing dictatorships, change their rhetoric," Morin said.

Morin said Harris has a high understanding of what the real issues are at the border.

Republicans contend otherwise. At their news conference, Farrow said the vice president needs to go back to the border to get a better idea of the amount of the illegal drug fentanyl coming into the U.S. and harming people in states like Wisconsin.

"We know what's going on, we know how to solve it, and we have no leadership that's doing that," Farrow claimed.

The U.S. Justice Department says federal agents have been seizing more fentanyl but that there also needs to be more education about the dangers of the drug, and other prevention efforts.

Harris also spoke briefly to a political science class at UW-Milwaukee. She talked a bit about democracy, and the need to address climate change.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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