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'Georgia is so important' | Harris arrives in Atlanta as Biden campaign targets Peach State

The California senator arrived on Friday in her first visit to Georgia of the campaign.

ATLANTA — Sen. Kamala Harris arrived in Atlanta on Friday, marking the first major advance into Georgia for the Biden campaign in the run-up to the presidential election in 11 days.

While President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both made multiple personal appearances around the Atlanta area this year, the visit by Sen. Harris Friday is the first from either her or former Vice President Joe Biden, who are atop the Democratic ticket.

The Democrats have made more of a push in recent weeks, with Dr. Jill Biden, the former vice president's wife, and Harris' husband Douglas Emhoff making campaign stops in Atlanta.

Georgia is increasingly seen as a battleground state this year. Democrats are eyeing a chance to flip its electoral votes for president as well as two competitive Senate seats, while Republicans work to keep hold a long-reliable conservative stronghold. 

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Stepping off the plane in Atlanta, the Democratic nominee for vice president told reporters, "the whole state of Georgia is so important."

"It's important in terms of, you know, the people of Georgia deserve to have a president who sees them and cares about them," Harris said. "Georgia has been so hard hit by the pandemic you're looking at, you know, almost half, nationally, almost half of Black businesses will be permanently closed because of the failure of this administration to address the pandemic."

The California senator noted how the coronavirus pandemic has acutely impacted Atlanta, one of the nation's largest Black-majority cities.

"We’re looking at Atlanta, which has a very significant Black community, and one in 1000 Black people in America have died because of this pandemic. It is predicted that as many as one in 500 by the end of the year," she said. "So we're here just to talk about what Joe and I are prepared to do. We have a plan that's about national testing, contact tracing. We have a plan that's about supporting small businesses and supporting working families. And the American people deserve to have a president who actually has a plan that's about saving lives, saving businesses and helping our economy.”

Harris is scheduled to appear at an event around 5 p.m. at an as-yet-still-undisclosed location. According to the Biden campaign, she's in Atlanta to "urge voters to cast their ballots early ahead of Mandatory Saturday voting in the Peach State." 

Her visit to make a push for early voting comes amid a major surge at the polls during the advance voting period in Georgia. According to figures from the Secretary of State's Office, more than 2.3 million votes have been cast through early in-person voting or through mail-in voting so far.

That's up more than 120% from this same time in 2016, and represents about 30% of Georgia's electorate of 7.5 million voters.