Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team has responded to a report that claims that she questioned the political instincts of Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Members of Congress, Democratic strategists, and other major party figures all said she had not made herself into a formidable leader,” The New York Times reported of the vice president on Monday.
The Times said that two Democrats it spoke to on the condition of anonymity said they had private conversations with Clinton, where she said that Harris lacked “the political instincts to clear a primary field”.
A spokesperson for Clinton did not deny that the former secretary of state had said those things about the vice president, but did say that the two women have “built and maintained a strong bond” about being a woman in a position of power and said that she is supportive of Harris.
The report on Clinton comes just after another report by The Washington Post that said some top Democrats are concerned about the vice president’s political prospects.
“Such concerns about Harris’s political strength were repeated often by more than a dozen Democratic leaders in key states interviewed for this story”, it said. “Harris’s tenure has been underwhelming, they said, marked by struggles as a communicator and at times near-invisibility, leaving many rank-and-file Democrats unpersuaded that she has the force, charisma, and skill to mount a winning presidential campaign”.
“People are poised to pounce on anything — any misstep, any gaffe, anything she says — and so she’s probably not getting the benefit of the doubt,” Jacquelyn Bettadapur, the leader of the Cobb County Democrats in Georgia said. She said that people “don’t know enough about what she’s doing” and “it doesn’t help that she’s not [that] adept as a communicator”.
“Every fiber in my body wants her to be president; everything I’ve ever fought for is for someone like her to be president,” a South Carolina Democratic strategist said on the condition of anonymity. “I think she’s a good person with a good heart who can lead the country. But I don’t know that the people who have to make that happen to feel that way right now. I don’t know that she has what it takes to get over the hump in our present environment.
Even Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said she supports President Joe Biden seeking re-election, did not commit to supporting Harris as vice president on the ticket.
“I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team,” she said non-Boston Public Radio last month. “I’ve known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was an attorney general and I was still teaching and we worked on the housing crisis together, so we go way back. But they need — they have to be a team, and my sense is they are — I don’t mean that by suggesting I think there are any problems. I think they are”.
But on Sunday she said that “I fully support the president’s and vice president’s re-election together, and never intended to imply otherwise”.
The president’s age, he would be 86 years old at the end of a possible next term in the White House, makes the selection of a vice president more important than it had been in the past.
And some Democrats are concerned that Vice President Harris does not have the political skills to be a leader on her own.
“I think many Democrats have changed from a 2008 sentiment, or even the feeling in 2012 and 2016, which were about voting for aspiration”, Brady Quirk-Garvan, former chair of the Charleston County Democratic Party, said.
“Democrats at the moment — I don’t hear a lot of chatter about aspiration. I hear about what’s going to guarantee a win, what’s a certainty, what feels safe”.
“Now with Mr. Biden appearing all but certain to run again, the concern over Ms. Harris has shifted to whether she will be a political liability for the ticket. Given that Mr. Biden at 80 is already the oldest president in American history, Republicans would most likely make Ms. Harris, who is 58, a prime attack line, arguing that a vote for Mr. Biden may in fact be a vote to put her in the Oval Office”, The Times said.
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