VP Kamala Harris touts domestic EV initiatives in Detroit

The Vice President visited the Charles H. Wright Museum on her “Economic Opportunity Tour” to discuss U.S. autoworkers, building Black wealth and more.

Kamala Harris speaks at a podium.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about the implementation of Florida's abortion ban at an event Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Jacksonville, Fla.

With the economy a key issue in the ongoing presidential campaigns and Michigan an electoral swing state, the major party contenders and their surrogates are repeatedly touting their policy initiatives to voters in the Wolverine state.

That includes Vice President Kamala Harris, who is on what the White House calls an “Economic Opportunity Tour” of states nationwide.

Harris told a packed house at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History that the Biden Administration is increasing its investment in one of its signature goals, increasing domestic electric vehicle supply chains.

Critics like former President Donald Trump regularly complain the push for electric vehicles will cost U.S. autoworkers their jobs and force consumers into buying less-expensive EVs made by Chinese manufacturers.

But Harris says the Biden Administration is providing more than $100 million specifically to help re-tool U.S. factories and train workers in electric vehicle technology.

“This investment will help to keep our auto supply chains here in America,” Harris said. “(That) strengthens America’s economy overall and (will) keep those jobs here in Detroit.”

Related: Trump warns of decaying economy, vows to “save” auto industry at Michigan rally »

Energy Secretary and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm added that the Biden Administration has targeted infrastructure funds to help ensure there are enough charging stations for those driving an electric vehicle.

The result, Granholm predicted, will be a supply chain that delivers profits for small business owners in Michigan and avoids any reliance on China.

“We’re pulling that back. In Michigan you’re seeing all of these battery suppliers creating all of the components of that battery pack being made inside of Michigan. It’s super exciting. And that means more good-paying jobs,” Granholm said.

Related: President Biden talks electric vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show »

Harris also used her visit to the majority-African American city of Detroit to try and firm-up support in the Black community.

The Vice President told the crowd at the Wright Museum that the current White House has the backs of Black voters. She said the Biden Administration is aiding African Americans in everything from building wealth and good credit scores to forgiving student loan debt.

“Since taking office we have seen record Black small business growth,” Harris said. “We have created more than 2.5 million new jobs for black workers. And since 2019, Black wealth is up 60 percent. President Biden and I are clear: These are not only our accomplishments, they are yours.”

While Detroit remains a Democratic bastion, Michigan is still a political battleground, part of the so-called “Blue Wall” of midwestern states Biden likely needs to win to retain the White House.

Michigan is commanding attention from both major presidential contenders. Trump held a rally at an airport hangar in Saginaw County last week and is scheduled to headline a conservative organization’s upcoming convention in Detroit. Biden is set to address the Detroit branch of the NAACP on May 19.

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  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.