ATLANTA — The road to the White House is through Georgia, and with President Joe Biden in the race for a second term his running mate is already on the campaign trail stumping to stay at the nation's capital.
It's Vice President Kamala Harris's third trip this year to Georgia and her first campaign appearance since President Biden announced re-election.
Harris returned to Atlanta Friday to headline the Democratic Party of Georgia's Spring Soiree fundraiser in Buckhead, kicking off her campaigning by emphasizing how important winning Georgia is to both parties.
She was greeted by a crowd of fellow democrats cheering "four more years," signaling support for her re-election.
“I have been honored to serve as Vice President of the United States of America. I am so proud to run for re-election with our President, Joe Biden!" she told the crowd.
Harris is also backing campaign efforts in Georgia, with her visit raising money for the state's Democratic Party and for the Democratic National Committee. Stumping for Biden isn't a fruitless effort. As she and her running mate zero in on 2024, they have the recent 2022 mid-terms and the 2020 election to build off. Elections that colored Georgia - a once red state - purple.
"Georgia is still a competitive state," Dr. Andra Gillespie, 11Alive political analyst and Emory University political science professor. “Both parties are going to have to have all hands on deck. Usually, vice presidential candidates don't matter as much in elections, but in an election where President Biden is in his 80s, this is actually going to be an issue. And so I expect that Vice President Harris is going to be very visible throughout the campaign."
When it comes to Harris' many appearances this year in Georgia, Gillespie says it's a message to the competition.
"I think that this is a big signal that they’re going to stay in Georgia as long as the evidence suggests that Georgia is competitive," she said.
That competition is split among Republicans, with several candidates showing interest in running for president; and Georgia Republicans are deeply divided over former president Donald Trump. However, their minds are made up when it comes to the Biden-Harris administration.
“Thanks to the disastrous failures of President Biden and Vice President Harris, America’s southern border is open, hardworking families are struggling to live paycheck to paycheck, and our nation is on the road to soaring debt and economic recession," a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp's office said. "Georgians are looking for new leadership in the White House and I look forward to making sure our state is at the forefront of that change next year.”
Republican National Committee spokesperson Rachel Lee echoed a similar statement, blaming Harris for the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border.
"Harris’s dereliction of duty is sadly nothing new: she has never taken her responsibility for the border crisis seriously," Lee wrote.
While both parties set up Georgia as another political battleground in the race for president, Harris made it known that she will likely be back.
"So let us stand every day in the fight for the right of all people to express their voice through their vote; love who they love, openly; be free from gun violence for our children to learn the full history of America. The government should not tell a woman what do to with her body," Harris said.
"We will fight for our democracy, and in Georgia, when we fight, we win."