The misunderstood first 100 days of Kamala Harris

The confidante put the defining ethos in the Vice President’s office like this: “Make sure everyone in this White House complex knows that I have only one priority and that this covers Joe Biden’s back.”

Harris’s efforts to win Biden’s trust are, to some extent, a by-product of the role the vice president has played in American governance. The influence that comes with the post largely depends on how much the president grants him. But it also has to do with how Harris – the first black, Asian and female vice president – is still trying to define her own place as leader of the Democratic Party, having emerged as a U.S. Senator and on the national scene five years ago she failed to catch fire in her own run for the President.

In many ways, the dynamic between Biden and Harris began months before they took office together when she was interviewed to become his Vice President. At the time, close advisers and allies of Biden feared Harris would outshine him or put their own priorities before his, and their belief was reinforced by some of their critics in California, who urged his campaign to go in a different direction.

Harris said to people near her at the time that she knew that she had to win the trust of Biden-Welt. She tried to do so privately, avoiding the public lobbying efforts that others vied for the post. After conducting a leaky campaign, she closed her ranks around a small circle of aides. And as Vice President, she chose to just keep a few people around her updated. As a result, Insider Cores revealing the depth of their trust in Biden have been tightly or tightly managed by the staff.

But for Harris, that is also intended. If she goes to the trouble of publicly engaging in telegraphic debates in which she influenced Biden’s final decision, it would defeat the purpose of her attempt to improve her image as a confidante and behind-the-scenes adviser. Their aides point out that Harris and Biden developed a “real like” for each other, with one comparing them to “Barney and Fred going to the factory.”

Because of Covid there was very little travel, especially in the first part, “Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff, told POLITICO.”[So] They spend a lot of time together, more than their public schedule is likely to reveal or indicate. Both come to the same place every day and spend hours together, which would not have happened in a normal hundred days. “

Flournoy said the relationship and trust are growing and that “at almost every meeting” the President seeks advice and advice from President Harris: “He will go to the Vice President and say,” What do you think? Does that sound right to you? Am I missing something here? ‘”

But also as Harris’ aides talk about their commitment and focus, while others in their orbit worry about their longer-term political stance. Some allies insist that it needs to do more to engage donors in need. One suggests that former Vice President Mike Pence was manned by astute political activists and was able to maintain a political committee to raise money. Harris has no comparable committee.

“Pence took care of his political support garden. She does a lot of it herself, ”said another close ally. “How big your political team is to expand a universe beyond the Hamptons and the Vineyard, I can’t tell you.”

The Ally also wondered if the center of the party itself will have gotten past Harris by 2024 or 2028, as a new generation of executives paves the way as they work to build a brand for themselves that will at least share some of theirs Boss is different.

But while Harris could lose a step with the ideological left, the national stature and proximity to Biden also brings political advantages. Should she run for the presidency, she would still be a historic candidate. Her race and gender continue to generate massive media hype and have dramatically increased expectations of her to find a lead for the president’s future. But the aides push back, saying Harris bowed his head and focused on being “Joe Biden’s Joe Biden” and recalls the relationship the current president had with his former boss Barack Obama.

“Everything Joe Biden asked of her, she has and will do. And people should understand that this is not always public. You won’t always see Joe Biden pointing at you and “Kamala, this is yours!” Gets, said another Harris aide in an interview.

While not always announced, aides and allies see Harris’ hand in several developments at the White House, including a recent phone call to Biden and Harris and the family of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man murdered by a police officer. Biden discussed the case at length with Harris, who had served decades as a prosecutor, and they said his remarks to the family were known to anyone who heard them speak about victims and their families.

Harris also accepted a politically tense mandate that looked at the causes of migration with Northern Triangle countries – one that has made them a target on the right.

“It’s part of the game: let someone like the Vice President face a very delicate challenge,” said Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, CIA director and White House chief of staff. “In a way, that’s how you prove yourself.”

Republicans and right-wing media have worked to tie Harris to the problems on the southern border, which the White House is quick to point out that this is not their job. On Facebook, the GOP Senate fundraising arm ran ads that specifically raised Harris and left out Biden. “The fake news wants you to believe Kamala Harris has more support than President Trump,” was one of the ads while House Republicans posted Harris’ picture and picture The word “missing” in a prop milk carton means she is is not present at the border.

Aides admit that the government’s launch of their mandate could have been “smoother”, but note that Harris has begun to do more on the matter, including meeting with a variety of people and groups from the presidents of Mexico and Guatemala’s cabinet secretaries, foundations and religious leaders ahead of a scheduled trip to the region in June.

“She understands the level of the challenge and beyond [the] Given the number of migrants from Central America, there is incredible pressure to perform, ”said a consultant familiar with her thoughts on the subject. “What’s different about what she does is that she asked a lot about Biden’s approach. So she said, “What did he do well that we can accept? What was incomplete? What were some of the challenges we faced? What can we do better? ‘”

Harris’ portfolio, the “dreaded P-word” as a senior administrator put it (probably because the portfolio was so focused in the first 100 days), has expanded over time. One focus is on efforts to address the hesitation of Covid-19 vaccines, the impact of the recession on black-owned companies, the return of women to the workforce, and chairing the recently announced union-friendly task force. On Wednesday, during his joint session before Congress, Biden added something to her plate: she led the drive to improve broadband internet across the country.

She has paired her public engagement with relentless news hits on news. The notable exception could be an interview she did with media in West Virginia that upset Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), A major swing vote, who believed he was targeted. However, those hiccups had more to do with back-channeling and scheduling than Harris’ actual performance.

All of this is part of a win-biden approach to the job. And it’s one that historians say could pay off for Harris in the long run.

“There is a tension between wanting to become president and serving as vice president,” said Joel Goldstein, author of the “White House Vice Presidency.” “When everything you do as a Vice President is seen through the lens, that he or she is doing it out of concern for your own political future, it tends to undermine your relationship with the others in the President’s inner circle, and perhaps even with the others President himself. ”

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