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Kamala Harris Has A New Problem

Kamala Harris
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Kamala Harris has a new problem: Elizabeth Warren? These two progressives should be tight. I’m talking about Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Yes, they were competitors as White House hopefuls in 2020, but it would seem that the pair of liberal Democrats should be close buddies and fellow travelers. But their relationship has taken a turn for the worse and Harris reportedly will not take Warren’s calls. Warren is trying to apologize for some questionable comments she made about the vice president’s political future. Let’s take a look at what caused this trouble in paradise.

What Did Warren Say?

It started inauspiciously. Warren was giving a low-pressure interview to WGBH News in Boston. Warren was asked a question about whether Harris would remain on the ticket during President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. But Warren did not give an enthusiastic answer and appeared to waffle about Harris’ future. 

“I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team,” Warren answered. “I’ve known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was attorney general and I was still teaching, and we worked on the housing crisis together. So, we go way back. But they have to be a team, and my sense is, they are. I don’t mean that by suggesting there are any problems. I think they are [a team].” 

Harris Wasn’t Happy With the Remarks

Harris took this as a slight – probably for what Warren did not say rather than her actual words. Kamala Harris likely expected a rousing endorsement, but that is not what she received from Warren. The Massachusetts senator appeared to raise questions about whether the president and vice president are indeed a strong team or whether they are a team at all.

It’s Not a Good Time for the VP

Harris is sensitive these days because there has been much speculation about Biden replacing her on the ticket. She often struggles in public when making statements that some consider to be unintelligible “word salads.” Her approval numbers are sometimes lower than Biden’s. And she has yet to find a clear and comfortable role in the administration.

But Really, I’m Sorry

Warren has tried to apologize to Harris for the transgression and lack of enthusiasm in her comments. The senator attempted at least two phone calls to the vice president, but Harris has not been available and has refused to call back, according to CNN.

How About a Do-over?

As often happens in politics after a gaffe, Warren tried to reword her statement with more clarity. “I fully support the President’s and Vice President’s re-election together, and never intended to imply otherwise. They’re a terrific team with a strong record of delivering for working families,” she said in a do-over statement to WGBH.

They Used to Get Along Great

That’s what she wished she had said in the first place, but the damage has been done. Warren and Harris should not have a rift based on their personal history of successfully working together.

Plus, Warren endorsed Harris when the vice president first ran for office. Warren was the first senator to give Harris advice about what it was like to serve in Washington. During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Warren and Harris were allies fighting the fallout from the burst in the housing bubble. Warren was also a strong supporter of Harris for vice president when Biden selected the Californian as his running mate.

“It’s been a back and forth, woman to woman, helping each other as we moved into new roles,” Warren said.

But those in Harris’ camp considered Warren’s first statement about the Biden team to be insulting and the pair may not mend the rift anytime soon. Warren likely feels that she has lost a friend. Harris probably thinks that she is becoming more isolated in her job.

Re-election Is No Lay-up 

Conservatives are taking pleasure in Harris’ troubles with other progressives. Liberals may be worrying. Biden’s re-election campaign will be tough no matter who the Republican nominee is. His approval ratings have not been great – they often languish in the low 40s. Both struggle during basic communication on the stump. Despite low unemployment, there is stubborn inflation and high interest rates that have hurt the affordability of home purchases and destabilized prices for existing homeowners.

Party Unity Is Needed

That’s why it would be better if all elected Democrats are fully on board with the Biden-Harris ticket. The internal division could be damaging. Even liberal media outlets are reporting on Harris’ relationships and her thin skin. Perhaps Biden should step in and give Kamala Harris a ringing endorsement that she will remain in her job and perform an important role in the Democrat’s re-election campaign. Harris could use some wind in her sails.

Author Expertise and Experience

Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

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