Kamala Harris allies frustrated by lack of clear role in Biden White House ahead of 2024, CNN reports

Vice president is unprepared for 2024 role as candidate or running mate, insiders claim

John Bowden
Sunday 14 November 2021 18:40 EST
Kamala Harris arrives in Paris to ease France-US tensions

Vice President Kamala Harris’s allies are worried that the White House is not doing enough to prepare for the reality of the 2024 reelection campaign and in particular Ms Harris’s role in that election, according to an extensive new report published on Sunday by CNN.

The report, which interviewed dozens of figures close to the vice president in various roles, paints a picture of a White House rattled by recent political battles and unsure of the future.

President Joe Biden is reportedly both privately and publicly committed to a 2024 run for president, but would be 82 at the time of the election and 86 when he left office in 2028 — the oldest US president in history.

That has left many Democratic analysts including some persons close to Mr Biden’s own vice president skeptical of whether Mr Biden will actually run in 2024, and keenly aware that Ms Harris will be an expected candidate to take his place at the top of the ticket should that occur.

CNN reports that those close to Ms Harris are concerned that either way, the vice president will be unprepared for her role in 2024 either as candidate for president or top surrogate for Mr Biden’s campaign. The vice president’s own 2020 presidential campaign did not win a single state, and since taking office in January she has become the top punching bag for Republicans on the issue of immigration after being put in charge of managing the administration’s response to an influx of migrants at the border, a politically-charged issue with no easy solutions given total congressional inaction on the topic.

“It is natural that those of us who know her know how much more helpful she can be than she is currently being asked to be," said California’s lieutenant governor and longtime Harris ally Ellen Kounalakis in an interview with CNN. "That's where the frustration is coming from."

An unnamed person described by CNN as a “top donor” to Mr Biden and the Democratic Party was more blunt in their assessment: "Kamala Harris is a leader but is not being put in positions to lead. That doesn't make sense. We need to be thinking long term, and we need to be doing what's best for the party.

"You should be putting her in positions to succeed, as opposed to putting weights on her,” they continued.

Another added, clearly referring to the immigration conundrum, that the vice president has been “taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn't want to take themselves”.

CNN’s reporting comes as Ms Harris’s poll numbers have sunk lower than even Mr Biden’s own, which are underwater after a bruising fight over his infrastructure bills and other taxing issues including criticism over his handling of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

A statement from the vice president’s spokeswoman, Symone Sanders, attacked what she said were some in the media “focused on gossip - not on the results that the President and the Vice President have delivered” for the American people.

A startling poll from USA Today/Suffolk University found the US’s first Black vice president with just 28 per cent approval from voters, while 51 per cent said they disapproved of her job performance and 21 per cent were undecided. Both Mr Biden’s approval and disapproval numbers were higher.

Before Democrats can focus on 2024, the party faces one other major hurdle: the 2022 midterm elections, in which the party is determined to hold on to control of at least one house of Congress.

Signs of a resurgent Republican Party are abound after favourable results for the GOP occurred in two state elections this month. The party took control of the governor’s mansion and the state House of Delegates in Virginia whiled nearly ousting Democratic Gov Phil Murphy in New Jersey.

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