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Kamala Harris Addresses Latino Concerns, Stresses Economic Opportunities in Western Tour

Fresh from a tour across Western states, Vice President Kamala Harris shared insights with NBC News, highlighting reasons for optimism among Latino voters regarding the economy and job market, despite lingering challenges.

Harris’ recent visits to Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado were strategically aimed at reinforcing President Joe Biden’s State of the Union message among Latino voters while bolstering their support. In a phone interview on Wednesday, Harris underscored positive economic indicators, noting that wage growth has outpaced inflation and emphasizing a downward trend in inflation rates. She also highlighted the creation of millions of jobs and low unemployment rates, particularly among Hispanic communities.

Acknowledging that the tangible benefits of these achievements may take time to manifest, Harris emphasized the Biden administration’s policies aimed at aiding Latino families. These include measures such as capping prescription drug costs for seniors and insulin prices, initiatives with direct impacts on Latino communities, where diabetes diagnosis rates are significantly higher than among non-Hispanic whites.

Additionally, Harris pointed to the administration’s efforts in student loan debt forgiveness, which has particularly benefited first-generation students, including Latinos. Moreover, increased investment in community banks has facilitated greater lending opportunities for Latino small businesses.

Despite these initiatives, Harris acknowledged the uphill battle in reassuring Latino voters about improvements in economic conditions. Recent years have seen many Latino and Black households grappling with higher shares of household budgets spent on goods, particularly in areas such as food and rent, where inflation rates have been highest. These challenges followed years of job losses and income disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recent polls reflect these concerns, with Biden’s approval rating among Latino registered voters standing at just 35%, according to an NBC News poll conducted in late January. In a potential rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump, the two candidates were tied among Latino voters.

Looking ahead to the 2024 election cycle, the economy remains a top concern for Latino voters, with significant numbers expressing a desire for continued progress. Additionally, immigration issues loom large, with Harris highlighting the stark differences between candidates’ approaches to immigration policy.

Harris emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to addressing immigration challenges, including proposing a bill with a pathway to citizenship for eligible immigrants. In contrast, she criticized opponents for capitalizing on immigration issues without offering viable solutions.

Despite challenges, Harris remains optimistic about garnering Latino support on various fronts, including reproductive rights. Citing statistics indicating broad support for legal access to abortion among Latinos, she highlighted the importance of addressing reproductive health concerns within the community.

As Harris continues to engage with voters across diverse demographics, her focus remains on addressing pressing issues and rallying support for the administration’s agenda.