2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging

2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging

Democratic presidential hopefuls on Monday seized Martin Luther King Jr. Day to promote their respective campaign messages even as the 2020 field continues to broaden.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRon Johnson: 'I may not be the best candidate' for 2022 midterms Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE (D-Calif.) kicked off the holiday by announcing her candidacy, while Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Canceling K in student debt could 'transform an entire generation' 10 books that take readers inside the lives of American leaders Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance Overnight Defense: Military justice overhaul included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review security of 'nuclear football' | Pentagon carries out first air strike in Somalia under Biden Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage MORE (D-N.Y.) and other potential front-runners made public appearances tying their messages to the civil rights leader.

Appearing Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Harris declared her bid and said she was honored to do so on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


"Today, the day we celebrate Dr. King, is a very special day for all of us as Americans, and I'm honored to be able to make my announcement on the day that we commemorate him," she said.

In announcing her bid, Harris became the latest of several Democratic senators to enter the field.

Another senator who is officially exploring a run, Warren, on Monday equated her message of corporate reform to King's messages during the civil rights era.

"Racial hatred was a critical part of keeping the powerful on top. Dr. King understood what was behind the old 'divide and conquer' strategy, turning working people against other working people," Warren said during Boston's annual MLK Memorial Breakfast, according to WGBH.

"The path to economic security is steep and rocky for millions of working people in America, and it is steeper and rockier for black and brown Americans," Warren added. "When we ignore that fact, then we don't move this nation toward greater equality."

Gillibrand, another Democratic senator who has entered the race, gave her own remarks Monday, speaking in New York at the National Action Network's annual event to commemorate King.

During her speech, Gillibrand called on white women like herself to "amplify your voices" and said she has drawn inspiration from King, according to Politico.

“As a person of deep faith who has been called to public service, I look at Dr. King for inspiration, because his call to action was personal,” she said.

“I am going to run for president of the United States because as a person of faith and as a mother, I cannot sit idly by and not fight for your children as hard as I fight for my own in a time such as this," she added. 

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (D), another 2020 hopeful, was in San Antonio — where he used to be mayor — to celebrate MLK Day.

Castro, who also announced his White House bid earlier this month, participated in an annual MLK march, where he said called on people to "heed" King's teachings and recognize the "enormous progress" still needed in the U.S. 

"It's wonderful to see so many people from different parts of the community to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and to mark all of the wonderful progress that we've made since his passing, but also to heed his teachings and understand the enormous progress that we still have to make in the country," Castro told Texas Public Radio.

Sanders linked his calls for a "political revolution" to King's calls for racial justice and equality, according to NBC News.

"King had a revolutionary spirit. Yes, he was a revolutionary," Sanders said. "Combating racial equality must be central to combating economic inequality."

Booker, meanwhile, said the U.S. is still a "nation where too many do not experience the greatness in the dream," according to the Post and Courier.

“We are all our ancestors’ wildest dreams. We’re the physical manifestations of their struggles and sacrifice, but we’re still in a nation where too many do not experience the greatness in the dream,” Booker said.

“We need folks who are going to mend up wounds and bind us back together,” he continued. “Let us swear the oath that America will be the land of liberty and justice for all.”