Kamala Harris says another Trump term would mean ‘more suffering, less freedom’ as six-week Florida abortion ban goes into effect

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida on Wednesday just hours after a controversial ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy goes into effect in the state, as the Biden campaign ratchets up its strategy of blaming former President Donald Trump for abortion restrictions being adopted across the country.

Harris, who has been leading the charge for the Biden White House and campaign on the issue of reproductive rights, needled Trump repeatedly during her remarks at a campaign event in Jacksonville, mentioning the former president 21 times and setting into stark terms what a second Trump administration would mean for women across the country: “More bans, more suffering, less freedom.”

“But we are not going to let that happen,” Harris said. “Because we trust women. We trust women to know what is in their own best interest. And women trust all of us to fight to protect their most fundamental freedom.”

The vice president explicitly blamed Trump for the Supreme Court’s historic overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 and for a slew of abortion bans that some states have adopted since.

It was the most times she had mentioned Trump at an event so far this year, according to a Biden campaign official.

“As of this morning, 4 million women in this state woke up with fewer reproductive freedoms than they had last night,” Harris said. “Starting this morning, women in Florida became subject to an abortion ban so extreme it applies before many women even know they are pregnant.”

“Which, by the way, tells us the extremists who wrote this ban either don’t know how a women’s body works, or they simply don’t care,” Harris added.

She also mentioned how abortion bans like the one going into effect in Florida on Wednesday threaten medical providers with criminal prosecution.

Harris also addressed Trump’s recently published comments to Time magazine, in which he did not object when asked whether he was “comfortable” with states punishing women who undergo abortions where it is banned.

“I don’t have to be comfortable or uncomfortable,” Trump said. “The states are going to make that decision. The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me.”

She said in response: “So Florida, the contrast in this election could not be more clear: Basically under Donald Trump, it would be fair game for women to be monitored and punished by the government, whereas Joe Biden and I have a different view. We believe the government should never come between a woman and her doctor.”

Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell told CNN at the Jacksonville event that women in Florida woke up Wednesday morning with “fewer rights than their mothers and their grandmothers had.”

“We advocated as hard as we could against the six-week ban, because most women don’t even know that they’re pregnant,” Driskell said. “So, this is as close to an outright ban as you can get, and it’s not just that the state of Florida has fallen, this actually has broad implications for women all throughout the southeast who have come to Florida seeking abortion care.”

The vice president’s trek to Florida comes just one week after President Joe Biden visited Tampa – also to shine a spotlight on the state’s six-week abortion ban.

During remarks to supporters Wednesday, Biden called the Florida abortion ban one of the “most extreme” in the country and squarely pinned the blame on his GOP rival.

“The most extreme abortion bans in the country, one of them,” Biden said, according to the pool. “It’s only one person, one person responsible for it: Donald Trump.”

Biden advisers are hoping the political saliency of the reproductive rights issue can help galvanize voters ahead of Election Day and make Florida – a state that Trump won in 2016 and 2020 – more competitive. In addition to ringing the alarm bell on the six-week abortion ban, Democrats are also seizing on the fact that a constitutional amendment that would codify abortion protections in the state will be on the ballot in the fall, hoping that measure can help drive turnout.

The campaign has been keeping close tabs on Jacksonville, the fast-growing, most populous city in Florida. No Democratic presidential candidate had won Duval County – home to Jacksonville – since Jimmy Carter in 1976; Biden broke the losing streak in 2020 by defeating Trump there.

National Democrats hope that some of the key dynamics that delivered Duval County for Biden in 2020, including a boost in Black voter turnout and the rejection of Trump by suburban women, can be replicated in swing areas across the country.

“Donald Trump may think he can take Florida for granted,” Harris said. “It is your power that will send Joe Biden and me back to the White House.”

A key role for Harris

The vice president has emerged as the Biden campaign’s most prominent messenger on abortion rights since the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade. In remarks last month from Tucson, Arizona, she issued a blistering rebuke of the state’s Civil War-era ban while warning a second Trump term could see a possible federal abortion ban.

“What has happened here in Arizona is a new inflection point – it has demonstrated once and for all that overturning Roe was … just the opening act of a larger strategy to take women’s rights and freedoms,” she said at the time. “Part of a full-on attack, state by state, on reproductive freedom – and we all must understand who is to blame. Former President Donald Trump did this.”

While Trump has spent the bulk of the last month in a New York courtroom over alleged hush money payments, Harris and Biden have kept a far busier campaign schedule. In April alone, the vice president made stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Georgia – all states that may prove crucial to delivering Biden a reelection victory in November.

In a memo last month, campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez called Florida “winnable,” specifically pointing to the issue of abortion as “mobilizing a diverse and growing segment of voters to help buoy Democrats up and down the ballot.”

As the ban is set to take effect Wednesday, the national Democratic Party purchased billboards in Spanish and English tying Trump to abortion bans and targeting high-traffic areas in Gainesville, Miami, Tampa and Orlando.

The DNC on Wednesday afternoon also launched a sky banner over Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach that reads: “Trump’s Plan: Ban Abortion, Punish Women.”

Capturing the level of alarm that national Democrats are raising, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried warned Tuesday in a call with reporters that the Florida law’s implementation would mean “access to reproductive care is now effectively eliminated.”

“The Democratic Party is really energized by the fact that the attention that we are receiving from the administration, and they understand that if you want to protect democracy and freedom across the entire country, that you have to come to the belly of the beast, which is here in the state of Florida,” Fried said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Sam Fossum contributed to this report.

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