Harris spent the bulk of her career as a prosecutor, rising to become California’s attorney general. While she served on the Intelligence Committee during her four years in the U.S. Senate, foreign affairs was not a major policy focus either during her time in Washington or her presidential campaign.
Biden wants Harris to catch up and has urged her to engage with foreign leaders directly and develop her own rapport with key U.S. partners. Another, more strategic reason for the encouragement: as the heir apparent to the Democratic Party—especially if Biden, who is 78 years old, doesn’t run for re-election—Harris needs to bulk up her foreign policy expertise, and fast.
“The interest in her from outside is really about: Is she the future of the Democratic Party?” said one Asian ambassador, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve their relationship with the new administration. “Biden in a way represents the traditional white male politician. And Vice President Harris is in many ways the future: female, blended family … But her policy views, they are still waiting to be shaped out.”