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In North Las Vegas, Vice President Kamala Harris looks to woo young voters

Harris hammered issues including abortion, climate change and gun violence as she sought to shore up lagging youth support for Biden.
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
Election 2024

Amid an early presidential re-election contest that has tested an unpopular Biden White House, Vice President Kamala Harris had a simple message she repeated five times to a crowd of college students in North Las Vegas on Thursday: “Elections matter.” 

Young voters, she said, delivered the White House for Joe Biden. But, she added, abortion, gun violence and climate change are still on the ballot in 2024.

“You are the generation that has only known the climate crisis,” Harris said. “You are a generation that saw George Floyd be murdered. You are a generation that … will have fewer rights than your mothers or grandmothers.”

Harris’ visit to the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) comes as part of a nationwide “Fight for our Freedoms College Tour,” a series of campus events aimed at young voters and concentrated so far in a handful swing states — including Nevada, Arizona and Georgia — and states with elections this year, such as Virginia. 

Those visits have also been tailored to heavily Black and Hispanic public institutions. 

On Thursday, Harris again directly credited young voters with Joe Biden’s victory — drawing whoops and applause when she jokingly repeated a line that is now a meme: “We did it Joe.” 

Amid “an intentional and full-on attack against so many hard-fought, hard-won fundamental freedoms and rights, I also want to remind you, it doesn't have to be this way,” she said. “And when you all start voting in your numbers, I know it won't be.”

But Biden’s approval rating with young voters has remained especially volatile over the last year. A YouGov tracking poll, for instance, found that support peaked among respondents younger than 30 in May at 65 percent before cratering to 45 percent in September. 

More broadly, the electorate has split on a likely rematch of Biden and former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election, with early polls showing the pair well within the margin of error as Democrats have ratcheted up internal concerns over the president’s age. That includes a Nevada poll released this week by CNN/SSRS that found Biden leading Trump 46 percent to 45 percent. 

At CSN’s Horn Theater, the several hundred students inside — many of them women and students of color — had the energy of a rally, including raucous opening performances from a West African dance and step team and a championship-winning mariachi band. Some students had small paper pom-poms they waved throughout the program, which also included several breaks for the crowd to get up and dance. 

Harris’ message also came with indirect criticism of Republicans. She decried “powerful forces” making it more difficult for people to vote, in part by restricting early and absentee voting in other states. She hammered Republicans — without ever naming the party — on gun violence, abortion and LGBTQ+ issues. 

“I asked my team to make a Venn diagram — from which states are we seeing attacks on LGBTQ rights, attacks on voting rights and attacks on reproductive freedom?” Harris said. “There was a significant overlap.”

She also touted the administration’s investment in climate initiatives and railed against efforts to undermine diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives more broadly. 

But Harris' visit also comes as the Biden administration’s efforts to ease the cost of college for student borrowers have hit roadblocks. The Supreme Court in June rejected a sweeping student debt cancellation plan, a move that pushed the White House to instead pursue a federal regulatory process that would allow the secretary of education to cancel certain student loans. 

Meanwhile, a yearslong student loan repayment pause triggered by the pandemic is set to end this month, with interest already accruing on those loans as of September. 

Harris touted the administration’s original move — aimed at forgiving debt for low-income Pell Grant recipients — but acknowledged that “we still have more to do there.”


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