Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa on August 12, 2019. (Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images)

2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa on August 12, 2019. (Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images)

That Kamala Harris Even Considered Skipping CNN Forum, Say Youth Campaigners, Is 'Why We Absolutely Need' Mandatory Climate Debate

Senator's reversal comes after progressives rebuked 2020 candidate for choosing to attend high-priced fundraiser over forum focused on planetary crisis

Jon Queally, staff writer

Following intense backlash among progressives after it was reported she would attend a series of high-dollar fundraisers instead of attending a televised CNN forum focused on the planetary climate emergency, 2020 Democratic candidate Kamala Harris on Tuesday reversed course.

Sources for the campaign confirmed to the New York Times reporter Astead Wesley and others that Harris had changed her schedule so she could attend the forum.

"We were happy to change our schedule to accommodate such a critical conversation," Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams told CNN. "As Senator Harris has said, this is a climate crisis and is one of the most urgent reasons we need a new president."

Climate campaigners applauded the reversal by the U.S. Senator from California but said the fact that Harris had seen the CNN event as optional illustrates why a climate-only debate sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee is still needed this primary season.

"We're glad she listened to young people and made the right choice here. Choosing big donors over our futures is what got us into this mess. We need a leader ready to change course," said Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, which has pushed hard for 2020 candidates to take strong climate positions and be a leading organization behind the demand for a #ClimateDebate

"The uncertainty over whether Senator Harris would attend goes to show why we absolutely need a standalone climate debate sponsored by the Democratic Party that every candidate feels is mandatory," added Prakash. "A climate debate would show which politicians are ready to take this crisis seriously and give millions of young people a sense of hope and possibility unlike anything we've felt in years."  

In a tweeted video on Monday, Prakash explained why she and her group of youth climate activists was so disappointed when they learned Harris was not attending:

A major meeting of the DNC meeting is set for the end of this week to determine, among other things, they will endorse a climate-focused debate. Prakash said her group plans to attend to press its case so that party members know "our generation's survival is worth more than the few minutes of soundbites we've gotten in previous debates."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Progressives, Big Tech Critics Celebrate Confirmation of Lina Khan as FTC Chair

"Her presence on the FTC marks the beginning of the end of an era of lawlessness for powerful corporations that they've enjoyed at the expense of workers, smaller businesses, and democracy."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


'Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance': Calls Grow for Justice Breyer to Retire

"Democrats could lose our razor-thin majority in the Senate at any moment," warns Rep. Mondaire Jones. "It would be irresponsible to leave the future of our democracy up to chance."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Share of Fossil Fuels in Global Energy Mix 'Has Not Moved by an Inch' in a Decade

"We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past 10 years have mostly been empty words," said the executive director of REN21, which released the new report.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Latest Nina Turner Ad in Ohio Highlights Working-Class Need for Medicare for All

"Wealth should never dictate whether you are able to see a doctor or live a healthy life."

Jenna McGuire, staff writer ·


Biden Admin Urged to 'Prevent a Historic Wave of Evictions' by Extending CDC Moratorium, Speeding Up Aid

"Far too many renters are struggling to access emergency rental assistance programs and are at risk of losing their homes when the moratorium expires," said the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·