VP Kamala Harris Faces Plummeting Ratings Amid Intense Scrutiny as ‘Second-In-Command’
Kamala Harris, who made history as the first Black, South Asian and female Vice-President, has increasingly been the subject of speculation as someone next in line to President Joe Biden, 79, America’s oldest POTUS.
Nearly a year into her vice-presidency, Kamala Harris
is under scrutiny as her performance is being sized up against her predecessors in the role.
Harris’s portfolio embraces such politically thorny assignments as dealing with the migrant crisis at the US border, voting rights, and advocating President Biden’s big-ticket social policy bill among others.
However, since taking office, Harris’ personal approval numbers have plummeted alongside Biden’s, triggering reports that Democrats might be mulling alternatives should Biden not run for re-election in 2024.
The VP has been targeted by Conservative critics and a plethora of activists over sluggish progress on the above-mentioned issues. The allegedly “toxic and dysfunctional” work environment her management style has generated has also come under attack. Reports suggested that long-time aide Symone Sanders and communications director Ashley Etienne had both quit the VP’s team due to her “soul-destroying” approach.
25 December 2021, 12:46 GMT
Kamala Harris has also faced heat from critics for her procrastination over visiting the US-Mexico border after President Biden tapped her as the border czar to address the “root causes” of the migrant crisis. When she did venture out, Republicans slammed her for confining her trip to places least affected by the surging number of migrants.
Plummeting Ratings, Rumours and Speculations
Towards the end of the year, Kamala Harris has been caught up in a whirlwind of domestic trips, roundtables and interviews to underscore the work of her office and the administration.
Recently, when interviewed by CBS’ Margaret Brennan for Sunday’s edition of “Face The Nation”, Kamala Harris revealed that her “biggest concern” was finding herself in a “bubble” when it comes to being in touch with people’s needs. She emphasised her hope of “getting out of DC more”, as her approval rating slipped to 28 percent in recent polls.
Harris' net favourability
is lower than that of former Vice President Mike Pence at this point in tenure, as well as that of three previous vice presidents: Joe Biden, Dick Cheney and Al Gore.
As of 21 December, 40% of registered voters had a favourable opinion of Harris and 52% had an unfavourable opinion, according to a Times average.
Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of being summoned to cast a tie-breaking vote in the evenly-split Senate have put the brakes on travel for Harris to a degree.
On recent trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, to tout Biden’s infrastructure law, Harris, who was accompanied by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, faced a barrage of questions from reporters about 2024. The purported shadow rivalry between her and Buttigieg and reports of a “staff exodus” in the vice-president’s office also came up.
7 December 2021, 10:14 GMT
In November, a Politico report alleged that White House aides were discussing Buttigieg "as a natural Democratic presidential nominee in 2028 — or 2024 if the president opts not to run”.
It was added that such chatter was "very open" and "nobody in the West Wing shuts that down,” which has ostensibly "frustrated some staffers of colour who see it as disrespectful to Kamala Harris". Buttigieg, 39, and Harris, 57, were rivals when they competed for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
The Vice President recently told
The Wall Street Journal that she and Biden had never discussed running together again in 2024.
“I don’t think about it, nor have we talked about it,’ she stated, despite White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clarifying at a press briefing that Biden would be running with Harris in 2024.
Joe Biden has also announced publicly that it is his intention to mount a reelection campaign in 2024. But faced with a 79-year old POTUS
, known for slip-ups and blunders
, and even on occasion referring to his VP as ‘President’, her role as the second-in-command sets Kamala Harris in the spotlight of rumours and speculations, where her perceived missteps are invariably afforded scrutiny.