With Vice President Kamala Harris reflecting record-low approval ratings, CNN cited “key West Wing aides” in a surprising report Sunday about “entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus” from Harris and her staff, though the effort appears to be more about throwing her staff under the bus while building Harris up as a viable 2024 presidential candidate should the scuttlebutt about 78-year-old President Joe Biden not running for reelection be true.
The reporting came as Harris returns from her overseas trip to France and drew a spirited dismissal from her staff, who referred to the effort as “gossip,” but there can be no denying of a vice-presidential resume void of any major accomplishments or the fact that Harris has been a dismal failure in the most challenging task she has been assigned — the southern border.
“Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined,” CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere and Jasmine Wright wrote. “The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically.”
“She could be just a year away from launching a presidential campaign of her own, given doubts throughout the political world that Biden will actually go through with a reelection bid in 2024, something he’s pledged to do publicly and privately. Or she’ll be a critical validator in three years for a President trying to get the country to reelect him to serve until he’s 86,” they said. “Few of the insiders who spoke with CNN think she’s being well-prepared for whichever role it will be. Harris is struggling with a rocky relationship with some parts of the White House, while long-time supporters feel abandoned and see no coherent public sense of what she’s done or been trying to do as vice president. Being the first woman, and first woman of color, in national elected office is historic but has also come with outsized scrutiny and no forgiveness for even small errors, as she’ll often point out.”
Naturally, race would be a factor in the article that was based on interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors, and outside advisers, but so too was finger-pointing, as Dovere and Wright cite “top Democrats” to blame the White House in their reporting.
“She’s perceived to be in such a weak position that top Democrats in and outside of Washington have begun to speculate privately, asking each other why the White House has allowed her to become so hobbled in the public consciousness, at least as they see it,” the article reads.
Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Harris, dismissed the reporting as “gossip,” while tying the vice president’s successes to Biden’s — such as they are.
“It is unfortunate that after a productive trip to France in which we reaffirmed our relationship with America’s oldest ally and demonstrated U.S. leadership on the world stage, and following passage of a historic, bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create jobs and strengthen our communities, some in the media are focused on gossip — not on the results that the President and the Vice President have delivered,” Sanders told the network.
Clearly, the marching orders had gone out — or a concerted CYA effort — because there was a flurry of tweets from the vice president’s staff, beginning with deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh expressing how honored she was to work for Harris.
— Sabrina Singh (@SabrinaSingh46) November 14, 2021
The tweet was soon followed by an effort from Harris’ deputy communications director Herbie Ziskend, who appeared to respond to the CNN article specifically with a rosy outlook on the administration’s accomplishments.
“Gossip, palace intrigue, and my favorite, ‘people familiar with.’ But in terms of what matters: millions of jobs created. Fastest economic growth in decades. Hundreds of millions of shots in arms. Relief to working families. The noise is the noise – we are doing the work,” Ziskend tweeted.
Gossip, palace intrigue, and my favorite, “people familiar with.”
But in terms of what matters: millions of jobs created. Fastest economic growth in decades. Hundreds of millions of shots in arms. Relief to working families.
The noise is the noise – we are doing the work.
— Herbie Ziskend (@HerbieZiskend46) November 14, 2021
At the same time, assistant press secretary Rachel Palermo chimed in: “Proud to be on team @VP every single day.”
— Rachel Palermo (@RachelPalermo46) November 14, 2021
Shortly thereafter, the vice president’s personal aide fulfilled her duties:
Madam @VP just came back from a historic trip to Paris where she reaffirmed the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to working with partners worldwide.
An honor to be on her team every single day.
— Opal Vadhan (@OpalVadhan46) November 14, 2021
Late to the party was White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who tweeted about Harris being a “vital partner” to the president.
“For anyone who needs to hear it. @VP is not only a vital partner to @POTUS but a bold leader who has taken on key, important challenges facing the country—from voting rights to addressing root causes of migration to expanding broadband,” Psaki tweeted.
For anyone who needs to hear it. @VP is not only a vital partner to @POTUS but a bold leader who has taken on key, important challenges facing the country—from voting rights to addressing root causes of migration to expanding broadband.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) November 15, 2021
Suffice it to say, Psaki had little effect in controlling the narrative… here’s a quick sampling of some of the responses from Twitter:
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) November 15, 2021
You aren’t fooling anyone
— Jacek Posobiec 🇺🇸🇵🇱 (@JackPosobiec) November 15, 2021
I read this in a fake French accent.
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) November 15, 2021
— Nathan Brand (@NathanBrandWA) November 15, 2021
Hahaha this is worse than saying nothing.
Imagine the Game of Thrones machinations that took place for this to be the compromise tweet. https://t.co/s8PGyo1V8s
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 15, 2021
WOW — the White House is so rattled by reporting on dysfunction between Biden and Harris they’re putting out defensive statements.
Love that Psaki is touting Kamala’s leadership on “root causes of immigration,” an effort that has become a punchline as the border collapsed. https://t.co/GElM0D69og
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) November 15, 2021
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