Vice President Kamala Harris spent a short time on Oahu Thursday, meeting with soldiers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
But Harris, who was returning from a diplomatic trip to Singapore and Vietnam, did not deliver public remarks, as had been scheduled.
That’s because of the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, where suicide bombers killed more than a dozen service members and injured even more. More than 60 Afghans were killed and at least 140 wounded.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks outside the Kabul airport. President Joe Biden, speaking to the nation Thursday, said, “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
The attacks came as the U.S. is in the chaotic process of evacuating Americans and their allies from the country, which is again controlled by the Taliban after a 20-year hiatus.
Harris also dropped her plans to campaign Friday for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, where the incumbent and fellow Democrat is facing a recall vote next month. Instead, after leaving Oahu Thursday afternoon, the vice president headed back to Washington, D.C.
Her husband, Doug Emhoff, also traveled to Oahu Thursday from a separate overseas trip to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. His meeting with a community group was also called off.
In a statement released by her office, Harris said, “Doug and I grieve for the Americans we lost, we pray for the Americans injured in the attack, and our hearts go out to their loved ones. We also grieve for the Afghan civilians killed and injured.”
While at the base, the vice president addressed 25 members of the military representing the six active duty service branches and National Guard, thanking them for their service. She and Emhoff then talked individually with each service member.
Harris is the first female, Asian American and Black vice president. She is a former U.S. senator from California who previously served as that state’s attorney general.
During her trip to Asia, Harris strongly criticized China for what she characterized as coercive behavior in the South China Sea.
The vice president and her husband departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Air Force Two late Thursday afternoon.
At the direction of the president, Hawaii Gov. David Ige ordered that the U.S. flag and the Hawaii state flag be flown at half-staff at the State Capitol and all state offices and agencies until sunset Monday.
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