Nancy Pelosi says VP doesn’t ‘do that much’ as she dodges question on Kamala Harris

Harris’s popularity has worried Democratic insiders already fearing 2024 election

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 14 September 2023 17:13
SNL re-creates Kamala Harris' speech

Nancy Pelosi offered a rather blunt assessment of the vice presidency this week as she was badgered by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about whether Ms Harris was the “best” running mate for Joe Biden in 2024.

Facing questions from Cooper, the former speaker of the House touted Ms Harris’s political acumen and ability to win others to her side, with the unique perspective of having watched the now-vice president as she came up through California’s Democratic political machine.

But Cooper, eager to press concerns about Ms Harris that have largely been kept alive by other journalists, kept asking the congresswoman whether she personally thought Mr Biden should run with his vice president for re-election in 2024. Ms Pelosi responded with a realist’s view of the modern state of the vice presidency.

“But do you think she is the best running mate, though?” Cooper pressed.

“She’s the vice president of the United States. And people say to me, ‘Well why isn’t she doing this or that?’ I say, ‘Because she’s the vice president.’ That’s the job description. You don’t do that much!”

The congresswoman continued, adding that Ms Harris had performed the job’s limited duties, including representing America on the world stage and providing a “source of strength” in the administration.

Obviously, the vice president does have other, real duties as well. As president of the Senate, Ms Harris can cast tiebreaking votes in the chamber and also presides over the body during the certification of the presidential election results — a responsibility curbed by Congress after Vice President Mike Pence was lobbied by Donald Trump and his legal team to interfere in the process in 2020, nearly sparking a constitutional crisis.

The concerns regarding Ms Harris and her popularity in election polling are largely brought up for one reason: The age of her running mate, Joe Biden. Despite the president’s insistence that he will run and serve another four years in office, Mr Biden’s advanced age (80) has many openly speculating that Ms Harris could end up taking over the reins before the next presidential election cycle in 2028.

Questions about the issue, including the ones pressed by Cooper in his interview with the vice president, have however tended to ignore a number of realities about America’s political system. Commentators and journalists who continue to press the issue of Mr Biden’s 2024 candidacy largely avoid mentioning the fact that filing deadlines for the 2024 primary are fast approaching, making a late entrance into the Democratic primary at this point all but impossible, were Ms Harris going to take over as the head of the Democratic ticket.

Were Mr Biden to essentially “fire” Ms Harris, he would be setting himself up for a general election battle with a new, fresh depiction of his administration in chaos, and with more questions than ever regarding whether he would actually serve all four years in the top spot.

The White House has largely deflected questions on the issue by noting that Mr Biden has repeatedly stated his plans to run again, and given no suggestion otherwise.

“I'm just not going to get ahead of the President. That's something for him to decide,” Karine Jean-Pierre, Mr Biden’s press secretary, said in April when asked if he’d serve another full term. “I'm just not going to get ahead of it.”

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