It was all hush-hush, the lead-up to a Denver visit from Vice President Kamala Harris this weekend. The Mile High City was prepared and preening with delight for this second visit in a matter of three short months. On the VP’s agenda was a subject near and dear to Colorado’s citizenry: green energy. And Harris was ready to tout the Biden administration’s successes in the climate arena.
First up, Harris delivered a short version of the oft-repeated campaign stump speech, specifically celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act, which allocated $370 billion for climate investments. She reminded the audience about a two-year effort to create a clean energy economy. But Harris had a twist: Her chosen audience was a group of kids and teenagers on the cusp of being eligible to vote.
Perhaps Harris has a new advisor around – maybe those highfalutin gals from EMILY’s List – but the strategy she has adopted of late seems to fit the vice president. And honestly, high school students may be on the same level of communication skills as the VP. Regardless, she was a hit at the Northfield High School auditorium.
Caden O’Kellylee and Oscar Park, two elementary schoolers, opened the ceremony that featured snippets of climate messages from Gov. Jared Polis, US Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), US Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Park climbed atop a step stool to reach the microphone and eloquently stated: “We can be part of the solution.” The optics were pure gold: Uniformed Girl Scouts in sashes with achievement badges, AmeriCorps, representatives from the National Education Association, and, of course, Colorado Climate Core. Kids aside, the audience was packed with Democratic officials and activists.
“You are the leaders in this climate movement,” Harris said, acknowledging those assembled, estimated at around 600 plus. “It is our young leaders who understand clearly; the clock is not just ticking, it is banging.”
Denver Public Schools (DPS) was one of the first educational districts in the nation not only to create but adopt a climate action plan. East High graduates Mariah Rosensweig and Gabriel Nagel, who drafted the climate plan and who are co-leaders of DPS Students for Climate Action, introduced Harris at the event.
“In the face of a global crisis, they took action,” Harris praised Rosensweig and Nagel. “This work and this achievement is a model for young leaders across our nation, and that’s why I wanted to come here today.” The DPS plan focuses on reducing the “school district’s greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and preparing students for a green economy.” “Follow the model that was developed right here in Denver to make your voices heard,” was Harris’ call to action. “Our nation is counting on you all, and President Biden and I will be with you every step along the way.” Well, at the very least for 18 more months or so.
And then, it was time for the grown-ups to have a party.
Harris With Her Hand Out
After some selfies and meet-and-greet with future voters and the common man, Harris headed to Cherry Hills Village, according to Bloomberg, the fourth wealthiest neighborhood in the US. It was, of course, a fundraising event for the re-election of Joe Biden. Another test drive for the current vice president to wow and cement being an asset, not an albatross, for the 2024 presidential ticket.
Judith “Judi” Wagner was the hostess. Wagner is a powerhouse and a trailblazer in women’s empowerment in Colorado. She is one of the founders of the Women’s Bank of Denver, opening in 1978, where she hired the first woman President and CEO of a bank in Colorado. “Historically, 80% of bank employees were women, and less than 3% were in management,” reads her bio on the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame website.
Another secretive event for those not on the guest list, and only Harris knows if her time in Denver was, indeed, a success. It could be a few years before that Park kid can register to vote. Her brief stay concluded as she and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff boarded the fossil-fuel-propelled Air Force Two and headed to a weekend in California. Happy Vapor Trails to Harris and husband.
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