This morning Politico reported on a recent surge in people calling into Spanish language radio programs in Florida and going on the attack against VP Kamala Harris. From the sound of it, we’re not talking about hundreds of calls, just a few. But it’s enough that Democratic operatives are nervous that the 2024 campaign against Harris has already started:
The fears spilled out into the open when a Miami-based Democratic pollster took to social media to warn that he’s been hearing arguments against the vice president from talk-show callers that he felt appeared scripted.
“The fact that I’m having to raise this alarm, that it’s not coming directly from a Democratic organization or even the folks out of Washington, I think is a sign of concern,” said Fernand Amandi, a political strategist who helped Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and 2012.
Amandi said he changed the channel to another station and heard another caller “talking about Kamala Harris, and they [said] the same thing. ‘This is the woman who’s done nothing.’ It was a different person than was on the other [station]. And I was like, ‘Oh God, they got a phone bank.’”
Naturally, Democrats suspect these are AstroTurf attacks being organized by Republicans. There’s no proof of that at this point but Politico recorded some of the callers and said the calls sounded a bit disjointed. They also spoke to at least one Florida operative (who has worked for both sides of the aisle) who said these kind of “seminar callers” have been used in the state before to generate a message. Now the concern is it might be working and Democrats aren’t responding.
“They’re starting early. ‘We must begin to attack her now and make her look like a demon.’ And the problem with that is that the Democratic Party doesn’t realize that this narrative is being born in Miami-Dade County, and it will spread to other Hispanics across the U.S,” said Sasha Tirador, a Democratic operative in Florida.
Tirador said if the party doesn’t start to knock down the narrative as it swells, it’s going to be nearly impossible to “convince all these elderly folks and your typical Hispanics that just listen to AM radio that what they’ve been listening to that ‘Kamala is bad’ is not true in three months, which is what Democrats like to do. They like to swoop in at the last moment and campaign, and that’s why it doesn’t work.”
Honestly, if this is some sort of GOP operation, it’s pretty smart politics. The GOP made gains with Hispanic voters in 2020. It makes sense to try to continue to press for more. And, frankly, if the main critique being offered is that Harris isn’t ready to be president and hasn’t accomplished anything as VP, well…that seems like an easy sell. What has she done that hasn’t turned into a disaster?
Her handling of the border crisis hasn’t gone very well. Her trip to Guatemala to stem the tide of migrants was a mess. And her attempt to clear up the mess in interviews didn’t go well. Her attempt to be an inspirational figure for kids was staged and cringey. Her response to another kid who accused Israel of genocide was tone-deaf. People have been leaving her staff and the LA Times has reported there is “open panic” about her chances in 2024. Her favorability rating, according to Five Thirty Eight, is right about where Biden’s is, i.e. 41% and 9 points underwater.
So, I don’t know. Are we sure these can’t be real callers? Even if they are part of a GOP phone bank, it seems that what these callers are saying in public isn’t that different from what many Democrats are probably saying in private. Harris has not done well with anything she’s been given. If Democrats need a 2024 candidate with gravitas, VP Harris is the opposite. She has an air of frivolity that doesn’t seem like an obvious fit for the job of president.
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