Kamala Harris could have ended Joe Biden’s political career had things gone a little differently: In this age of 24-hour news cycles and viral social media news coverage, we often forget about recent events that could have changed history.
And in U.S. domestic politics, we have, collectively as a society, a concise attention span or memory.
With this I present one fact that we nearly all forget: Joe Biden was always a long shot at winning the 2020 Democratic nomination.
I honestly thought he had zero chance, to be frank.
And, in fact, had things gone a different way, the Democrats would have had Bernie Sanders as the nominee taking on Donald Trump. Remember, at one point, he was the front-runner.
Man, that would have been one heck of a fight.
But one person who might have been impacted by such a change in history is Kamala Harris.
If Biden had dropped out, she would have gone much deeper into the nomination process.
One could make the argument that Bernie Sanders would have picked her as his running mate thanks to a nearly forgotten moment in political history: she nearly ended Joe Biden’s political career.
Kamala Harris Was Ready for Biden
We forget, Kamala Harris set a trap for Joe Biden during the 2019 Democratic Primary debates that nearly ended his chances of moving forward. And if Kamala had been more competent and handn’t destroyed her own campaign, who knows how history would have unfolded?
As she said back then in June 2019, when she debated Joe Biden:
“So on the issue of race, I couldn’t agree more that this is an issue that is still not being talked about truthfully and honestly. I — there is not a black man I know, be he a relative, a friend or a co-worker, who has not been the subject of some form of profiling or discrimination.
Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbor who told us her parents couldn’t play with us because she — because we were black. And I will say also that — that, in this campaign, we have also heard — and I’m going to now direct this at Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.
But I also believe, and it’s personal — and I was actually very — it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.
And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.
So I will tell you that, on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.”
The “that little girl was me” remark could have ended Joe Biden’s political career. But, and perhaps of greater importance, it showed that when focused, prepped, and ready for action Kamala Harris could deliver at the moment she needed to.
This makes me think that surrounded by the right staff, the right advisers, and the right and sustained focus Kamala Harris could be a political force. But she needs to find that fire in the belly, if you will.
As one 2020 Kamala Harris staffer told me: “She has the ability to do great things. She just needs to stop blaming others for her own mistakes and shortcomings. If she worked hard, and made sure she was prepared and focused, she could someday be president. But she is the only one who can make herself great. No one can do it for her. I believe she can do anything – but can she get out of her own way?”
Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive and serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar role in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of the book The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.