Written by Ashton Snyder on
 July 9, 2024

The White House Faulted on Kamala Harris Preparation as Biden Faces Growing Opposition

According to Daily Mail, the administration's previous lack of focus on Harris's development creates substantial obstacles as Democrats search for an alternative to President Joe Biden after his poor debate.

Amid the uproar following President Biden's poor showing at the CNN debate on June 27, Democrats are scrambling to find a viable alternative to the 81-year-old leader. Several prominent figures in the party, including Representative James Clyburn and Senator Laphonza Butler, have suggested Harris should take on former President Donald Trump if Biden decides to step aside.

Administration's Missed Opportunities With Harris

Former congressman Tim Ryan has echoed calls for immediate action, urging the administration to "rip the Bandaid off" and allow Harris to take a leading role. However, the administration's failure over the past four years to adequately promote Harris as a future leader has made this transition fraught with complex challenges.

In March 2020, during his campaign, Biden presented Harris, Cory Booker, and Gretchen Whitmer as the next generation of Democratic leaders. Biden described himself as a "transition candidate" and promised to pave the way for the future of the party. His endorsement of Harris at that time was strong, calling her a "fearless fighter for the little guy" and one of the nation's finest public servants.

Despite these initial promises, Biden's administration has done little to cultivate Harris’s image as a potential successor. Biden's team often met Questions regarding her readiness with hesitance or deflection, including a significant admission by former chief of staff Ron Klain that promoting a vice president is "always hard."

Calls for Biden to Fulfill Transition Promise

Jeff Zients, the current chief of staff, faced difficulty citing specific instances where Biden had relied on Harris's input. This has given critics like Tim Ryan further reason to argue that the administration’s lack of support has hindered Harris’s political prospects.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is among those pushing for Biden to fulfill his commitment to being a transitional figure. He has emphasized the importance of Biden stepping down to allow a "stronger Democrat candidate" to challenge Trump, warning that "time is running out."

Biden's allies have been quick to defend his intentions and leadership. Nonetheless, the president’s insistence on continuing his campaign, bolstered by support from First Lady Jill Biden, does little to quell the deepening fractures within the Democratic party.

Harris Attempts To Assuage Concerns

The issues surrounding Harris’s preparation are manifold. Her first year in office saw significant staff turnover and the daunting task of addressing immigration concerns. Critics, including Tim Ryan, argue that the administration has failed to back her adequately on immigration, resulting in the Democratic party losing ground to Republicans on this issue.

Harris has notably gained traction among abortion rights activists, which spurred her favorability before the 2022 midterms. Since the June debate, she has been actively defending Biden and working to alleviate concerns among donors. According to a former adviser, Harris's efforts have intensified in light of Biden's performance, making her visible on "the front lines of the campaign."

However, at least ten Democrats, including Castro, have called for Biden to step down, expressing concerns that voter enthusiasm for Biden is waning. Professor Anthony Fowler suggested that Biden's team might doubt Harris's ability to secure a victory against Trump, which complicates the decision to promote her candidacy. He also observed that voter excitement to support Biden has diminished since he declared himself a one-term "bridge."

Republicans Already Preparing for Matchup

The Republican party is also preparing for the potential of a Harris-Trump showdown, with ads targeting Harris already in motion. Fowler emphasized that if there had been greater voter enthusiasm for Biden, the demand for new leadership might not have been as pronounced, even with Biden's earlier statements about transitioning power.

In conclusion, the Democratic party's internal turmoil is centered on Biden's debate performance and the subsequent push for Harris to take the lead. The administration's oversight in Harris’s grooming for leadership continues to haunt them. Prominent Democrats urge Biden to step down as Republicans prepare for a potential Harris-Trump contest. Biden's decision to stay in the race clings to his support from key figures within the party, highlighting persistent divisions within the Democrats.

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