On Monday, the White House made a concerted effort to defend Vice President Harris from criticism from the media, saying she is an important part of the team and noting that she will play a role in promoting the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The rejection came after a CNN report that cast doubt on the vice president’s position in the Biden administration and said there were divisions within the Biden-Harris operation.
It’s one of the few pieces that have appeared in recent weeks that have taken a critical look at Harris or raised questions about his prospects as a possible successor to Biden as early as 2024 if he changes his public position and refuses to run for office. reelection. . Last week a Los Angeles Times column headline read: “Kamala harrisKamala HarrisUS and Israel Announce Joint Task Force on Cybersecurity Meet the Governor of the Red State Democrats should nominate in 2024 instead of Biden or Harris Biden expresses ‘grave concern’ over the Belarus-Poland border crisis MORE, the incredible missing vice president. ”
Officials declined to speak of a breakup as “gossip,” and several faces at Biden World offered official statements or tweets defending the vice president and pouring cold water at any suggestion that she feels limited.
The White House announced that Harris will visit Columbus, Ohio, the capital of an undecided state, on Friday to promote the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. And the White House press secretary Jen psakiJen PsakiWhite House tries to change messages on the economy States get ahead of the feds on boosters At the White House, frustration over who can ask questions MORE Harris called “a valued member of our team.”
“The president trusts the advice of the vice president,” Psaki said after pressured on news reports that suggested Harris was unhappy with her position. “She is someone who is not only taking on problems that are challenging, she is not looking for a comfortable role here. No vice president. No president is. ”
“The president chose the vice president to be his running mate because he felt that she was exactly the person he wanted to have by his side to govern the country,” he added.
Outside advisers also dismissed the barrage of negative coverage, saying Harris’s main goal is to advance Biden’s agenda.
“While it is difficult to stop the endless pounding, past grievances, or the guessing team within the beltway, it is vital that Vice President Harris continue to take meaningful action to help President BidenJoe Biden US Bishops To Consider Whether Biden Should Receive Communion Barrels Of Congress Towards Year-End Clash Biden Turns On Former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu To Lead Infrastructure MORE deliver for the American people, ”said the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. Donna brazileDonna Lease Brazile Debt Cap Games Threaten US Fiscal Credibility (Again, Obesity Treatment Can Save Thousands) If Medicare Decides To Fund It Time To Face Our Mistakes And Look To The Future In Afghanistan MORE.
“It is untenable for modern vice presidents to succeed in their No. 2 role. Therefore, their number one goal must continue to be to support the president of the United States,” Brazile said.
On Monday, publicly at least, Harris and Biden seemed as close as ever.
They went out together to the signing ceremony of the infrastructure law at the White House. Harris made comments alongside Biden, praising his leadership. Biden thanked the vice president and others for their work and noted that Harris would be among those promoting the bill.
Harris has seen his own approval ratings drop as Biden’s have plunged.
A USA Today-Suffolk University poll conducted last week showed Harris with an approval rating of 28 percent, lower than Biden’s 38 percent.
And supporters say media stories about the fight between the vice president and Biden or his sides are doing no one any favors.
“These stories do not help anyone. And they don’t matter. All they do is embarrass the vice president, embarrass the president and hurt the party, ”said a former Harris staff member who requested anonymity to speak frankly.
The former staff member said it didn’t matter who was doing the sniping, but suggested it could have been former employees or donors who are upset that they don’t have the same level of access to Harris.
The source also noted that much of Harris’s staff are Biden people or were chosen by Biden’s aides, which could also contribute to some of the feelings of dysfunction.
“People can get frustrated all they want, but it’s not helpful,” said the former staff member. “It doesn’t help anyone, and it certainly doesn’t promote the vice president’s political position. It makes her look weak. “
Harris has just completed what was generally considered a successful overseas trip to France to help strengthen ties between Washington and Paris after the fallout earlier this year over a submarine deal with Australia. And his aides tried to downplay the CNN report as Beltway talk.
“It is unfortunate that after a productive trip to France in which we reaffirmed our relationship with America’s oldest ally and demonstrated America’s leadership on the world stage, and following the passage of a landmark infrastructure bill bipartisan that will create jobs and strengthen our communities, some in the media focus on gossip – not the results that the “resident and vice president have delivered,” said Harris’ senior spokesperson and senior adviser Symone sandersSymone SandersHillicon Valley – Justice Department Faces Uber Harris, Macron Reveals New Initiatives On Space And Cybersecurity After Meeting With Biden Talks With Macron, Harris To Meet French President In Paris MORE tweeted.
Harris is presiding over a difficult and expansive policy portfolio that includes immigration and voting rights.
He also directs the National Space Council and meets with foreign leaders. While he’s been less visible in Biden’s effort to pass the infrastructure bill, officials insist he’s still playing a significant role. Harris was among a group that made calls along with Biden earlier this month when the White House was trying to get the legislation to cross the finish line in the House.
As vice president, she would be considered one of the first to wear the party mantle if Biden opted not to run again in 2024. But others are also seen as positioning themselves for that race, including the Secretary of Transportation. Pete buttigiegPete Buttigieg Meet the Governor of the Red State Democrats should nominate in 2024 instead of Biden or Harris How Biden should sell his infrastructure bill At the White House, frustration over who can ask questions MORE.
“There is skepticism among the Democratic establishment that Kamala could be the party’s standard-bearer, and I’m not sure she has done much to dispel that in the last year,” said the former Harris staff member.
At the same time, some Harris allies complained that the White House must continue to do more to help position her, especially if she is Biden’s heir apparent should he decide not to run for reelection in 2024.
“Simply put, I think people expected her to have a higher profile,” said an ally. “What if you run in 2024? They don’t help things. “
At the briefing on Monday, Psaki put it this way: “I have no prediction if he will run, when he will run. I leave it to her and they do not reflect her point of view on our experience with the vice president. “
Brett Samuels contributed.