Tulsi Gabbard takes it to Kamala Harris again: Accusing Biden of racism was a "very underhanded" political ploy

A follow-up to yesterday’s post. Normally politicians are less restrained on Twitter than they are in interviews. Gabbard is the opposite: The language she uses in the clip below about Harris’s busing stunt at the debate is stronger than the language she used on social media. Harris was “very underhanded,” she says, picking a fight with Biden “to try to get herself attention, to move herself up in the polls.”

Which is surprisingly raw. Annnnnnnnnd exactly correct.

But Harris’s ploy worked!

According to a new Morning Consult poll, Joe Biden is losing black voters’ support after his performance on the debate stage.

The poll was conducted among 16,599 individuals and found that Biden’s overall support dropped by seven points. His support among black voters dropped by eight points.

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris is rising in the polls. Since the first round of debates, Harris gained eight points, surpassing Elizabeth Warren to be the third-highest polling Democrat in the race.

Harris is at 14 percent in that poll, good for third place, but in the RCP average she’s now risen all the way to second, a smidge ahead of Bernie Sanders. Her busing attack on Biden is already one of the most successful debate gambits in modern political history, potentially even more influential to this race than Chris Christie’s takedown of Marco Rubio at the New Hampshire debate in 2016 was.

It’s worth watching past the Gabbard snippet in the clip below to see CBS analyst Ed O’Keefe make one fair point and one dopey one in response. The dopey one is him attempting to correct Gabbard by reminding her that Harris didn’t call Biden a racist at the debate, that specifically said she doesn’t think he’s racist. But that’s what made the attack so underhanded, to borrow Gabbard’s word. What Harris did would be like turning to O’Keefe on air and saying, “I want you to know, Ed, that *I* don’t think you beat your wife.” To raise the subject at all is to imply that there’s a doubt about it and that opinions about it might reasonably differ. And needless to say, when Harris noted that she didn’t share the opinion that Biden was racist, that wasn’t her vouching for him because she’s a friend or whatever. That was her not wanting to go too far with her attack and risk leveling a charge which most Dems would scoff at and hold against her, potentially damaging her candidacy. Telling Biden that he’s not a racist wasn’t done for his benefit, it was done for hers. That’s Gabbard’s entire point about how sneaky the attack was. Harris didn’t even have the guts to own her accusation, preferring to insinuate it and then pretend innocence afterward.

O’Keefe’s fair point is that Harris might not be the only candidate guilty of a political ploy here. Gabbard’s decision to white-knight for Biden on this topic is surprising since, as I said yesterday, they’re not natural allies. Is she attacking Harris because she’s genuinely irked or is she working an angle of her own? A Twitter pal suggested that she’s eyeing the VP slot, which at first seemed ludicrous to me and seems less ludicrous the more I think of it. If Biden is the nominee, he’ll come under intense pressure to balance the ticket in every way. An old white centrist man needs a young minority progressive woman running mate — and there are only two people in the race who fit that bill. (Stacey Abrams isn’t in but also fits it.) I think Harris would be the heavy favorite by dint of her Senate and AG credentials, but the surprise busing attack on Biden has thrown that into doubt. I don’t think that alone has spoiled her chances of being the pick, but the further up the polls she climbs, the more tempted she’ll be to go for the throat by doubling and tripling down on “Joe’s a racist” attacks. At some point Biden will take it personally and will rule her out as a VP pick. Which will leave just one person available, assuming he decides that Abrams just doesn’t have enough experience yet to be number two on a national ticket.

And whaddaya know, here’s Gabbard proving that she’s willing and able to attack Biden’s enemies on his behalf, as any VP nominee would be expected to do. Hmmmm.

Would centrist Democratic establishmentarians really tolerate Gabbard as a running mate, though? She’s very young, just 38 (seven years younger than Abrams), has only six years in Congress, and holds foreign policy views that are way out of whack with the interventionist centrist consensus. I don’t think Biden could get away with choosing her. But she seems intent on making the matter interesting.