Little over a week on from the sad demise of the Kamala Harris presidential campaign, the California senator is the bookies’ favorite to be the Democratic vice presidential candidate.
Yes, despite her candidacy’s high-point coming at the expense of Joe Biden in the first debate — shivving the front-runner for holding a stance on busing remarkably similar to her own — there have been rumblings about her being the right woman to balance his ticket.
In most presidential elections, the vice presidential candidates do not matter — arguably the only one to move the needle in the past 50 years was Sarah Palin, and not in a good way. But 2020 could be different, especially if Joe Biden ends up as the Democratic nominee. Despite denials from his campaign, Politico are reporting the 77-year-old has indicated to aides that he would only serve a single term. Therefore, whoever Biden selects could find themselves perfectly poised to claim the White House in 2024, once enough botched anecdotes have whistled their way past his wooden teeth.
The former vice president himself said ‘of course’ when asked whether he’d consider Harris as a VP pick.
‘Look, Sen. Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be,’ he said. ‘I mean it sincerely. I talked to her yesterday. She’s solid, she can be president someday herself, she can be vice president, she could go on to be a Supreme Court justice, she could be attorney general. I mean she has enormous capability.’
In a press release issued today, the Biden camp claimed endorsements from ’15 California leaders’, stressing in the subheadline that they include ‘six former supporters of Sen. Kamala Harris’. It’s worth remembering that Harris’s senior senator Dianne Feinstein endorsed Biden in October.
And Biden isn’t the only contender making a cynical play for the key Harris constituency of……who, exactly? The day after she dropped out, Sen. Cory Booker said, ‘What message is that sending, that we heralded the most diverse field in our history, and now we’re seeing people like her dropping out of this campaign…it is a problem that we now have an overall campaign…that has more billionaires in it than black people.’ In an email blast the same day, Marianne 2020 campaign manager Patricia Ewing wrote, ‘Who will Kamala’s supporters now move to support? To begin, we know this: her supporters primarily live in California, are women, many of whom are also African American. Which candidate already has support from all of these groups? Yup — Marianne Williamson.’ Unfortunately for Ewing, that Marianne bump has yet to materialize in polling data.
Who will Kamala’s supporters now move to support? A bigger question is who cares? It’s true that Kamala Harris had more support in her home state of California than others — but her last poll there had her at half Biden’s support, and under a third of Warren’s or Sanders’s. Plus, are we to believe that California Democrats won’t rally behind whoever the nominee is? The African American credentials she so frequently brandished couldn’t convince most black voters to plump for her over old white men like Bernie and Biden. If you picked her as VP, who would she be bringing with her?
In fact, the failures of her campaign should serve as red flags for anyone advising a Democratic candidate on who to choose as a running mate. The way she oscillated between policy positions on topics healthcare during 2019 means she wouldn’t bring credibility on those issues to a ticket. The baggage of her prosecutorial career that she couldn’t shirk? That’s not going anywhere.
Harris leaned heavily on identitarianism, yet couldn’t make inroads with the identity groups she belongs to. It goes to show that the two leading contenders presently — white men in their late seventies — are politically incorrect and don’t think voters should make up their minds based on identity politics. Many assumed on paper that Harris would be a real contender, because she’s a woman of color and a senator. It turns out not many primary voters are picking their candidate of choice on that basis — they want someone they can trust, who seems authentic. As VP, would Kamala tick either box? Or would she be diluting the nominee’s prospects?
With her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris returned to the Washington frontlines yesterday, earning a hearty welcome back from fellow failed presidential candidate Lindsey Graham. The junior senator from California will be front-and-center for the impeachment proceedings at the start of next year, even if they end up being rather hasty. It’s worth recalling that Harris — along with Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar — effectively used the echo chamber of Kavanaugh hearings coverage to convince herself that a presidential run was a savvy move. This, we now know, was another instance of the political class duping themselves into thinking what happens in Washington sends ripples to those outside the Beltway. Ultimately, there is no one watching — let’s hope the Biden campaign recalls that when she gives another grandstanding performance for the C-Span cameras.