'Do We Have to Choose One Who Attacked Joe?’ Jill Biden Reportedly Frowned On Pick of VP Harris
09:58 GMT 23.03.2022 (Updated: 10:01 GMT 23.03.2022)
© JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris shake hands during a ceremony to sign the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act", on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2021
© JONATHAN ERNST
Several titillating excerpts from the book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future, by the New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns have already been reported, offering a behind-the-scenes story of the 2020 election and Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Jill Biden criticised her husband’s choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate and later his vice president, according to excerpts from the book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future, by the New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, set to come out on 3 May.
“There are millions of people in the United States. Why … do we have to choose the one who attacked Joe? queried the now First Lady, “speaking in confidence with a close adviser to her husband’s campaign”, according to a passage in the book, cited by Politico.
At the time, Sen. Kamala D. Harris had gone after Joe Biden during presidential candidate debate in Miami in June 2019 during the Democratic primary. She had criticised his opposition to busing in the 1970s.
Biden, in his early days as a senator representing Delaware, opposed forced busing as a tool to integrate public schools, calling it an "asinine concept" in a 1975 interview.
“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with,” Biden said in the interview.
Kamala Harris, born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, during her student days in California in the 1970s was bused to school in a predominantly white area. At the Democratic debate she challenged Biden to say he was wrong to oppose busing.
“The Supreme Court in 1954 ruled to desegregate public schools in Brown v. Board of Education, but segregated schools were still a fact of life in the 1970s,” Harris said, adding that the government had to step in, and “sometimes that meant forced busing.”
"I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed," responded Biden.
Harris, who had sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, withdrew from the race prior to the primaries. Biden selected her as his running mate in August 2020 and ultimately the first woman of colour to be vice-president.
When asked for a comment, Jill Biden’s spokesman, Michael Larosa, told Politico:
“Many books will be written on the 2020 campaign, with countless retellings of events – some accurate, some inaccurate. The first lady and her team do not plan to comment on any of them.”
‘Slow-Rolling Greek Tragedy’
The new book by Martin and Burns, covering the period from the 2020 election to the first year of the Biden presidency, has also promised to give an in-depth account of Harris’s struggles as vice-president.
According to the book, Harris allies had complained in the course of the first year of the administration that the VP had been handed an “impossible portfolio.”
Furthermore, Harris reportedly told White House aides “in frank terms that she did not want to be restricted to a few subjects mainly associated with women and Black Americans.”
Kamala Harris is described as displaying frustration that was “up in the stratosphere” by an unnamed senator who “lamented that Harris’s political decline was a ‘slow-rolling Greek tragedy’.
Joe Biden’s communications director, Kate Bedingfield, reportedly weary of fending off criticism that the White House was “mismanaging” Kamala Harris had faulted the VP herself at the time.
“In private, Bedingfield had taken to noting that the vice presidency was not the first time in Harris’s political career that she had fallen short of sky-high expectations: Her Senate office had been messy and her presidential campaign had been a fiasco. Perhaps, she suggested, the problem was not the vice president’s staff,” write the authors of the book.
As for the relationship between Biden and Harris, the new tell-all suggests they are “friendly but not close,” and their weekly lunches “lacked a real depth of personal and political intimacy.”
Furthermore, the POTUS purportedly grew frustrated with leaks about Harris, at some point warning aides that if “he found that any of them was stirring up negative stories about the vice-president … they would quickly be former staff”.
© REUTERS / CARLOS BARRIAUS President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver remarks after a meeting with Asian-American leaders to discuss "the ongoing attacks and threats against the community," during a stop at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, US, March 19, 2021
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver remarks after a meeting with Asian-American leaders to discuss "the ongoing attacks and threats against the community," during a stop at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, US, March 19, 2021
© REUTERS / CARLOS BARRIA
In response to the cited excerpt, Bedingfield wrote in an email to the outlet:
“The fact that no one working on this book bothered to call to fact check this unattributed claim tells you what you need to know… Vice President Harris is a force in this administration and I have the utmost respect for the work she does every day to move the country forward.”