AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, began her three-city Texas swing Friday at 12:45 p.m. in Fort Worth.
At an outdoor, socially-distanced event at a church, Harris encouraged people to cast a ballot after acknowledging the record turnout in Texas. The state reported Friday that more than 9 million people have already voted so far, surpassing the total vote count from the last presidential election in 2016.
“Today is the last day of early voting in Texas, and y’all have been doing your thing,” she said while standing in front of a large Texas flag.
Harris also brought up familiar themes from the campaign, criticizing President Trump for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and slamming his administration for working to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. She said the law currently protects “10 million Texans with pre-existing conditions.”
After speaking for more than 30 minutes in Fort Worth, she’ll next head to McAllen for a stop at 4:25 p.m., then round out the day in Houston at 7:35 p.m.
Harris will be joined by U.S. Senate challenger MJ Hegar at all three stops. In McAllen, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro are scheduled to appear.
“Texas is the biggest battleground state,” said Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party. “Kamala Harris visiting this close to the election is a game-changer and exactly what Texas Democrats need to get us over the top.”
Early voting in Texas lasts through Friday, and everything culminates on Election Day on Nov. 3.
The Cook Political Report, a leading forecaster of presidential and congressional elections, changed its rating for Texas from “Lean Republican” to “toss-up” on Wednesday. Months of statewide polls have placed Joe Biden and President Trump in a dead heat.
Trump will not visit Texas again before Election Day, according to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Perry said Trump will devote his time to “true” battleground states.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chairs Trump’s re-election campaign in Texas, told KXAN on Tuesday that he predicts the president will win in Texas by 4-to-8 or 4-to-9 points, after saying for months that Trump would exceed his 2016 winning margin of nine points.
“It could be tighter, only because you have so many more voters out,” Patrick told KXAN. “Remember, there are a lot of those Republican voters coming out, too.”