WSJ: Biden re-elect effort to lean heavily on ... Kamala?

Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP

This settles a couple of questions, no? In fact, it might settle a few questions that Joe Biden and the Democrats didn’t want anyone asking. According to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, Vice President Kamala Harris has begun planning an “extensive” support campaign for Biden’s re-election, even while other Democrats think she might do better by staying home.

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For that matter, so might Biden. But just who’s making this decision?

Vice President Kamala Harris is preparing to campaign extensively when President Biden launches his much-anticipated re-election bid, despite concerns in the Democratic Party that her performance in office, criticized by some as uneven, has made her a liability.

Ms. Harris plans to visit urban centers of swing states to persuade Black voters, young people and other liberal constituencies to re-elect Mr. Biden, according to people familiar with discussions about her campaign efforts. She will lead the administration’s advocacy for abortion rights, tout the administration’s climate investments and echo Mr. Biden’s pledge to protect Medicare and Social Security.

Note well the nuance in this reporting, and what it says about the sourcing. WSJ reporter Tarini Parti doesn’t claim that Biden is planning to have Harris extensively campaign. It doesn’t even say that Biden or his team find Harris particularly valuable in any effort to “persuade Black voters, young people and other liberal constituencies to re-elect Mr. Biden.” Parti’s report only reports that Harris is preparing to conduct that campaign — not that anyone asked her to do so.

This smells like a media strategy from Camp Kamala. That impression deepens when parsing through those who commented on the record, too: Jamal Simmons and Kirsten Allen work for Harris, and Maxine Waters is … well, Maxine Waters. The only significant non-Team Harris voices quoted in this article are two chairs of municipal Democrat Party orgs, Philadelphia and Miami-Dade, the latter of which just got done losing a deep-blue territory to Ron DeSantis last November. Notably absent: any state chair or any of Harris’ former Senate colleagues.

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Parti must have either been handed the two city chairs as contacts, or she went deep into her Rolodex to find any party official of significance to backstop Harris. This has the hallmarks of a media offensive, and not a terribly subtle one.

But for what purpose? Parti more or less tells that story too:

Some top Democratic lawmakers and donors have been questioning Ms. Harris’s future behind closed doors for months, saying they don’t think the vice president has used her platform effectively, according to attendees at these events.

At one recent Zoom event organized by a former speechwriter for Mr. Biden, one of the Democrats aired frustrations with Ms. Harris, questioning whether she would be a liability to the 2024 ticket, according to people familiar with the call. Former California Sen. Barbara Boxer responded saying they could share concerns with Mr. Biden if they wanted. CNN earlier reported the event. The exchange during the call spurred further private discussion on the topic among some who had attended, those people said.

Missteps in high-profile interviews have also raised concerns that she doesn’t perform consistently when speaking in public.

Now this story is already well known. Harris keeps making it worse with her public appearances too, which is why this “leak” of her plans is rather transparently self-serving. Harris and her team want to posture as Biden’s loyal lieutenants as well as his only connection to “Black voters, young people and other liberal constituencies,” a claim that is all but hilarious. Biden won those voters in 2019 and 2020 without Harris, and Harris barely ended up above statistical noise with them in her head-to-head against Biden.

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This smells like a brushback pitch to Democrats who keep talking sotto voce about replacing Harris on the ticket, a prospect that is unlikely anyway, and perhaps to Biden and his team in case they are considering it. That’s why this “leak” includes this shot across Biden’s bow:

Her backers said Ms. Harris, the first woman to hold her position and the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, is being held to a different standard from past vice presidents, including Mr. Biden.

Is she, though? Barack Obama didn’t rely on Biden to get elected or re-elected, and for good reason. Obama may not have kept Biden on as short a leash, but Biden wasn’t exactly a front man for the administration either. And while Biden has always been a gaffemaster, at least his were much more occasional than Harris’ constant stream of mistakes, rhetorical pomposities, vapid responses, and inappropriate giggles.

In cinematic terms, this media gambit by Team Harris is the equivalent of Fredo’s rant about respect in Godfather Part Two. Rather than speak through analogies, however, let’s let Kamala Harris speak for herself, courtesy of the Free Beacon’s latest episode of their running series, “Veep Thoughts with Kamala Harris.” She’s smaaaht! She’s smaaaht, not like some people say! Stop exasperating the problems, you haters!

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Jazz Shaw 12:01 PM | April 15, 2024
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