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Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff: 'We're a nation in pain'

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Madison Heights — The husband of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris told canvassers in Oakland County Sunday that "we're a nation in pain" and must "vote in massive numbers" to flip leadership in the White House.

Doug Emhoff made the remarks as part of a 10-minute speech in Madison Heights, appealing to the crowd of about 50 canvassers that he said is "sick and tired" of the Trump administration and its "failures." He urged them to turn out voters for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

"We are a nation in pain right now. We have been traumatized by this administration," said Emhoff, honing in on Trump's position on the COVID-19 crisis and its attempt in federal court to get the Affordable Care Act ruled unconstitutional.

Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, appears in Madison Heights Sunday for voter canvass ahead of Tuesday's general election

"This is the eye of the storm. We've got to win Michigan," he added. "We're going to win Michigan, we're going to win around the country. We're going to show the world that we are better than this."

Emhoff's public appearances in Madison Heights and Ann Arbor on Sunday came about a few hours after Republican President Donald Trump held a late-morning rally in Macomb County's Washington Township as part of a push here by both campaigns in the final days before Tuesday's election.

Biden and former President Barack Obama held Saturday rallies in Flint and Detroit, and Trump has two more stops on the books for Monday — a 5:30 p.m. rally in Traverse City and his final campaign stop at 10:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids. 

The president visited Waterford Township on Friday and is expected to close out his campaigning Monday with a 5:30 p.m. rally in Traverse City and his final campaign stop at 10:30 p.m. in Grand Rapids. His daughter Ivanka Trump is scheduled to campaign at 12:30 p.m. in Eaton Rapids.

Grand Rapids is where the president ended his 2016 campaign in the early hours of Election Day. He prevailed in the state over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes. 

On Sunday morning, Trump touted his efforts to aid in Michigan's economy and promised benefits for automakers and manufacturers, while slamming Biden's "extreme" policies. 

Democratic Oakland County Executive David Coulter introduced Emhoff, telling the audience that the county will "help deliver Michigan for Biden" on Tuesday. 

Trump's last-minute rallies in the state in 2016, Coulter noted, seemed to make a difference and neither candidate is taking Michigan for granted this time around.

Coulter said his county shattered the record for absentee ballots, with more than 407,000 turned in so far out of 513,000 requested. On Sunday, canvassers are hoping to connect with some of the remaining 100,000 who haven't yet returned them. 

"There's just a handful of battleground states left," Coulter said. "We're still critical. Both campaigns probably think that they need to win Michigan. I wouldn't disagree with that."

Emhoff said Biden and Harris have plans to tackle the virus outbreak, infrastructure and clean energy as well as the "crisis of injustice" in the country that he contended was fueled by Trump's refusal to fully denounce white supremacists and anti-Semitism.

Trump stirred controversy during the first presidential debate when he told the far-right group the Proud Boys to "stand down and stand by" when urged to condemn white supremacist groups for their role in violence in some American cities this summer. When asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists, the president said, "Sure." 

"We want leaders who know what they're doing, and we want unity," Emhoff said.

Liz Rowin and Jackie Victor of Huntington Woods take part Sunday in voter canvassing in Oakland County

Huntington Woods residents Liz Rowin and Jackie Victor, owner of Avalon bakery, joined the canvassing group Sunday by donning face masks that read "Dump Trump." Both said they already voted absentee and are knocking doors to ensure voters in their county turn in ballots, too. 

"The last election went to Trump by less than two votes per precinct," said Rowin, a violin professor at Oakland University. "President Trump is using division as a weapon. Who Biden is personally, that's something that he wouldn't do. He's extremely experienced. There's nothing he hasn't seen."

Emhoff made three stops in Michigan earlier this month, cautioning attendees at a backyard rally in Huntington Woods that "everything's on the line right now." He also made stops more than a week ago in Muskegon and Ottawa counties in West Michigan.

During a drive-in rally on Belle Isle on Halloween night, Obama and Biden urged voters to turn out Tuesday "to reclaim what's best," about the country and criticized Trump on multiple fronts, including for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Flint, Biden criticized Trump for having "the gall" to say, without evidence, that COVID-19 deaths were inflated because doctors could profit off of them and asked, "What in the hell is wrong with this man?"

Michigan endured a record number of new coronavirus cases in the past week. Hospitalizations for the virus also are trending upward. 

Biden, 77, told a crowd in Flint Saturday that the election could "put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation."

Trump responded on Twitter, arguing that the lead contamination of Flint's water after the city's water source was switched in 2014 happened while Obama was in office.

"Biden & Obama owe a massive apology to the People of Flint," Trump tweeted. "The water was poisoned on their watch."

Biden led Trump by about 8 percentage points in a Detroit News and WDIV-TV poll of 600 likely Michigan voters surveyed Oct. 23-25. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.