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The first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to visit the South is launching her campaign Friday in Atlanta.
The senator from the state is coming to the Atlanta Athletic Association Stadium — the same stadium where the 1996 Summer Olympics were held — to highlight racial disparities that were endemic in the city and across America.
“Black people are murdered at an alarming rate every single day, every single week,” Harris said in remarks Friday at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. “We’re losing so many black lives to violence and all around us we see the consequences of a failed educational system and an economic system that has failed.”
The former San Francisco mayor and U.S. attorney first gained national attention when she announced her bid for president Thursday, hours before a CNN town hall in Charleston, South Carolina.
The event — with Harris’s decision to skip the South’s first presidential forum — has attracted an unexpected level of scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans, who are accusing her of not living up to her potential.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, joined Harris in Atlanta, although both were joined by their wives. Klobuchar said the campaign will “make sure” the candidates “meet people,” while Harris said her team will be working with people who are historically disconnected from politics.
Klobuchar and Harris have each had their share of early criticism for skipping the South when it was the first time South Carolina voters could vote before the election. Harris’s decision has been seen as a response to the rise of the Democratic Party’s left wing, while Klobuchar has been criticized for not including the South in her presidential exploratory committee.
At Thursday’s town hall at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Harris was a no-show on stage, but a crowd of protesters heckled her on the sidelines.
The former San Francisco district attorney used her speech to speak glowingly about the former first lady and first black U.S. senator from California, and her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, and about her “diligence” as