As Democrats await President Joe Biden’s re-election announcement, some are questioning whether Vice President Kamala Harris has the political acumen to succeed him at the top of the ticket if he declines, a doubt that could pressure rivals into the fray .
Biden has said he intends to run for re-election in 2024 with Harris at his side, but the president has yet to make a formal decision, leaving members of his party to speculate about the woman’s prospects. succeed him
That includes Democrats who otherwise tend to embrace the race. “If Kamala Harris continues to be weak and irrelevant, she will be under significant pressure to consider running,” said a source who has been close to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) since the beginning of his political career. . “She’s never been much of an activist and has benefited from good timing and bad opposition in California in the past.”
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However, the source last year dismissed claims that the governor was keen to jump into the race.
In an interview with Boston public radio station WGBH, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stopped short of a full endorsement when asked if Harris should remain Biden’s running mate in 2024. “I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team,” Warren said moments after saying, “Yes, he should run again.”
Crediting Biden’s legislative accomplishments, the senator added, “He showed he’s willing to get into fights.”
Warren said she liked Harris and knew the vice president from his time as California attorney general. “But they need to, they need to be a team,” Warren added, “and my sense is that they are.”
Warren issued a statement after the interview clarifying her remarks, saying, “I fully support the reelection of the president and vice president together, and I never meant to imply otherwise.”
It’s not just Warren who seems skeptical about Harris’ ability to ascend as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer.
Days after the senator’s radio interview, Democratic leaders in key states raised questions about Harris’ future in a report by Cleve Wootson of the Washington Post, citing the vice president’s “disappointing” tenure as “marked by struggles.”
While a low profile vice president is not atypical, difficulties arose early in his tenure with a heavy and prominent task of stemming migration from some Central American countries to the US-Mexico border.
A simple answer to a question from NBC’s Lester Holt about Harris’ intention to visit the southern border sparked a media firestorm during his first international trip to Guatemala and Mexico. It also slowed media access to a trickle.
Other moments have drawn so much attention that they seem to overwhelm the vice president’s work.
Harris chairs the National Space Council, but a scripted segment in which the vice president appeared alongside a group of paid child actors in a space-themed YouTube Originals pilot drew attention for its contrived nature.
Also, his portfolio lacks the legislative victories that have become synonymous with the Biden White House. While Biden has touted bipartisan legislative successes on infrastructure, semiconductor manufacturing and green investments, Harris has been unable to claim a “win” on the border or on abortion and voting rights.
Harris played a leading role in the Biden administration’s efforts to highlight abortion rights after the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, a message that generated strong turnout for the party in the midterm elections. But Democrats have little recourse to restore national abortion rights after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gutted federal protections and Republicans gained control of the chamber
Harris’s voting rights push failed to clear a filibuster in the Senate last year, even as the vice president called for reform of the rule.
A slightly larger Democratic Senate majority could boost Harris heading into the 2024 election. Freed from the need to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, Harris has an opportunity to woo voters and supporters across the country and fight their potential future rivals.
Talk of Harris’ ability to clear the field isn’t new. During the 2020 Democratic nomination contest, Harris’ presidential campaign stalled before reaching his home state of California.
And Democrats have taken steps to raise their national profiles as speculation about the makeup of a future Democratic field has gathered steam.
After handily winning re-election, Newsom traveled to the US-Mexico border last month days after Biden defended his decision not to visit the area.
While Biden struggled with low approval ratings and a stalled legislative agenda last year, Newsom hammered Republican leaders in spats with governors. Ron DeSantis (FL) and Greg Abbott (TX).
Newsom’s attention-grabbing exploits have fueled speculation about his ambitions, and polls place the governor among his party’s front-runners to lead a future presidential ticket.
But while Newsom has said he has “below zero interest” in a White House bid and has repeatedly brushed off the question, his efforts have reignited questions about whether the two could collide on the road to White House
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The source close to Newsom said he would only run “if the situation calls for an opportunity,” like a weak performance by Harris.
Biden, 80, is expected to announce a run for a second term sometime after the Feb. 8 State of the Union.