The problem for Harris, though, is that other people are winning the game. Pete Buttigieg has leapfrogged her in the polls, with both voters and the press drawn to his accessibility and constant off-the-cuff answers; Warren has been getting attention for her nonstop release of policy proposals; and other candidates have gotten noticed by making their own impromptu news.

Harris’s resistance to jumping into the news has meant that she can disappear for days, and sometimes weeks, from the headlines about the 2020 race. She’s been focusing on smaller meetings with advocates and activists—and, most of all, on fundraising, with lots of time spent flying back to her base of donors in California. When she sent Attorney General William Barr into a state earlier this month by asking him pointed questions at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, it was a reminder for even those paying close attention to the race: Oh, right, Kamala Harris is running too.

Some of her answers to questions she gets on the trail are short and easy. She would get rid of the entire tax bill Trump signed at the end of 2017, and she doesn’t approve of any of the tariffs he’s imposed. But when she hesitates, Harris argues, she’s not holding herself back—she’s showing where she really is.