A day after President Donald Trump darkly tweeted warnings of a suburban “invasion,” and bragged that only he could protect “the suburban housewife” from its impact, four Democratic women offered a forceful rebuttal, describing him as a relic of an America that, if it existed in the first place, was the relic of an “Ozzie and Harriet” past.
That rebuttal came in the form of a Thursday morning Zoom conference, organized by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign, underlining the importance of women, and their political impact, in a battleground state.
It also came amid ongoing efforts by the Trump campaign and its allies to undermine the credibility of Biden’s new running-mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“I look at Kamala Harris, and I see the women I work with,” U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, said. “The average American woman goes to work. Most households have two people going to work, as opposed to some 1950s, Ozzie and Harriet version of the world that just doesn’t exist.”
Scanlon was referring to the 1950s sitcom, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” starring the entertainer Ozzie Nelson and his wife, Harriet Nelson, that is often held up as a mythical archetype of mid-20th century suburbia.
Critics pounced on Trump Wednesday for his tweet, where he boasted that “The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!”
The “suburban housewife” will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge! @foxandfriends @MariaBartiromo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2020
Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, a frequent Trump critic, tweeted in response that “the morning after Joe Biden selects a Black, Asian woman as his VP, the only thing Trump brings is an explicit appeal to racism,” USA Today reported.
On Thursday’s call, Scanlon, along with U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, and Democratic auditor general candidate Nina Ahmad, sought to draw bright-line contrasts between the Biden-Harris ticket and the current administration.
They pointed to such issues as maternal mortality protections, paid family leave, and equal pay that Harris would not only elevate, but would, with the aid of a Democratic House and, perhaps even a Democratic U.S. Senate, usher into law.
Houlahan, an Air Force veteran, also highlighted Harris’s expertise on national security issues. The former California attorney general serves on the Senate Homeland Security and Intelligence committees. After nearly four years of American withdrawal from the world stage and strained relations with overseas allies, Houlahan said she was hopeful that Harris could help rebuild those bridges.
“We need to restore faith in our allies in the global community,” Houlahan said. ” … As a veteran, I’m very grateful to see Sen. Harris, who will bring that breadth of knowledge.”
Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor and immigrant from Bangladesh, said she and her family overseas saw their own experience reflected in Harris, who is half-Asian, and the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants.
“My family across the ocean is so excited,” Ahmad said. “Putting our standing back in the world is critical. We are the beacon, we send the message in how we treat people. This is about Joe Biden listening to half the country saying they want diversity, that they want a woman on the ticket. Her lived experience is going to be reflected in how she and President Biden will govern.”
Dean and Scanlon both serve on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and each played a central role in impeachment proceedings earlier this year. After four years of Twitter intimidation, Dean said she looked forward to Biden restoring “decency, compassion and empathy,” to the national dialogue.
“Can you feel and hear the contrast?” she asked.
Trump won Pennsylvania by a little more than 44,000 votes in 2016, or just about a percentage point, turning the Keystone State Republican red in a presidential year for the first time since 1988. Recent polls, including one Wednesday by Emerson College in Boston, have shown Biden leading in a must-win state.
“The road to the White House runs through Philadelphia, through the suburbs, we’re the engine that will make the happen,” Scanlon said Thursday.