It doesn’t appear that the president is going to remove Kamala Harris from the ticket, and one columnist has suggested something else: leaning into the vice president, and all but conceding that she could be the next president.
Kamala Harris: Can She Be Saved?
As President Biden ramps up his presidential re-election campaign for 2024, he’s facing low approval ratings, while those of his vice president, Kamala Harris, are even lower. But at the same time, Biden is 80 years old, and there remains the unspoken possibility that Harris could succeed him at any time – a possibility that becomes more acute if Biden is elected to a second term.
Harris will remain on the ticket, as Biden’s re-election announcement included references throughout to the Biden-Harris Administration, although the New York Post noted that Harris was “muzzled” in the campaign announcement video, since only Biden spoke in it, although the vice president did appear throughout the video.
There have also been indications that Republicans are planning to run against Harris in 2024.
“He announced that he’s running again in 2024, and I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden, you really are counting on a President Harris because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely,” presidential candidate Nikki Haley said last week, in a Fox News interview.
“Look, I just think that Vice President Harris hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves,” Biden told Stephanie Ruhle in the interview. “She was an attorney general of the state of California. She has been a United States senator, she is really very, very good. And with everything going on, she hasn’t gotten the attention she deserves.”
Axios reported at the end of April that the White House is “rushing to the aid of Vice President Kamala Harris to try to shore up her underwhelming poll numbers heading into 2024.” White House official and Obama veteran Anita Dunn has been tasked, the report said, has pushed to “help schedule events with Harris promoting popular Democratic causes such as infrastructure spending and abortion rights.”
How to Fix Kamala Harris?
In a column this week in the Washington Post, Matt Bai suggested another strategy: Leaning into the possibility that Harris could be president.
“If I were giving Biden advice he surely doesn’t want, I’d tell him to steer into the storm rather than away from it, and run with Harris almost as if he expected her to take over. I’d make her a constant fixture at Biden’s side in public events and in the kind of extended interviews she’s mostly avoided doing. I’d turn the campaign into what Hollywood calls a “two-hander” — a show with two protagonists,” Bai wrote.
“Because this is the lot Biden chose, inevitably, when he elevated Harris nearly three years ago. He knew the stakes. He must have believed then that she had the ability to win over voters and lead the nation if it came to that — and it’s hard to believe she could have come this far if she didn’t. There’s really no choice now but to find out.”
This was something of the opposite of what was suggested in an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this year by Obama-era White House Counsel Greg Craig. In it, Craig suggested that Biden do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in 1944, and essentially open up the choice of his vice presidential nominee to the Democratic National Convention next summer.
“He should take a page from Roosevelt’s book by telling his party that he will not dictate who will be his running mate but instead leave it up to the delegates to pick the person who is best equipped to take on that task,” Craig said of Biden.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.