Amid defenses and recriminations following reports of dysfunction in the office of Vice President Kamala Harris is a concern among some Democrats that the political figure most prominently positioned to succeed Biden isn't up to the task.
A Democratic operative told Axios – which ran an explosive story that drew furious pushback Friday – that the issue isn't: "'Oh, no, our heir apparent is f***ing up, what are we gonna do?’ It's more that people think, 'Oh, she’s f***ing up, maybe she shouldn't be the heir apparent.'"
Of particular concern is whether Harris, who has struggled to control the narrative on border issues Biden put in her portfolio, would be able to reassemble the coalition that drove Biden to victory in 2020.
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Senior White House staff rushed to defend Vice President Kamala Harris amid a welter of criticism that her office was dysfunctional and complaints that staff were not valued
A new Pew analysis of the 2020 election and polling notes that Biden made gains among men, while also improved on Hillary Clinton among white voters without a college degree. Even though younger and minority voters were critical to his primary and overall win, moderate and centrist voters were also a key part of his coalition.
'White voters without a college degree were critical to Trump’s victory in 2016, when he won the group by 64% to 28%. In 2018, Democrats were able to gain some ground with these voters, earning 36% of the White, non-college vote to Republicans’ 61%,' according to Pew.
'In 2020, Biden roughly maintained Democrats’ 2018 share among the group, improving upon Clinton’s 2016 performance by receiving the votes of 33%. But Trump’s share of the vote among this group – who represented 42% of the total electorate this year – was nearly identical to his vote share in 2016 (65%).'
When asked about the reports of office dysfunction during her daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she tried not to 'speak to or engage on anonymous reports' – then came to Harris's defense
Harris, if running in effect on a second Biden turn in the event that he decides not to run, might not be well-situated to run with the same coalition, particularly having been a target in conservative media.
Biden, who has not said for sure he will run again, certainly isn't ruling out being atop the ticket again, which would make any Harris staff struggles less relevant.
Last week, Biden told Israel's President Reuven Rivlin that his only regret is that he's leaving as president – only to add: 'not me, not soon.'
He has made repeated efforts to bolster Harris, as he did Friday when he invited her onstage during an event with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hail from her home state – although as Biden noted, Harris hails from northern California and is a Giants fan.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The quip recalled yet another time Harris had to walk the tight rope, when she was photographed wearing a Dodgers cap while preparing for a presidential debate even though the Oakland-born Harris roots for the Giants.
Notably, top Democrats are not attaching their name to the grousing, and Harris has not suffered any kind of personal scandal. Biden has held up his history-making decision to put her on the ticket, and may find it hard to back away from her – although he learned in 2015 and 2016 how being vice president is no guarantee of succession.
When asked about the reports of office dysfunction during her daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she tried not to 'speak to or engage on anonymous reports' – then came to Harris's defense.
'The vice president is an incredibly important partner to the president of the United States,' she added.
'She has a challenging job, a hard job and she has a great supportive team of people around her,' Psaki said.
Criticism has focused on her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, and aides described an environment where they were treated 'like s***.'
But top White House officials mobilized to defend Harris, accusing anonymous critics of a 'whispering campaign' designed to bring her down.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Axios: 'The president's trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.'
He said her talents and determination had already made a big difference to some of the toughest challenges facing the administration.
'She’s delivering for the American people on immigration, small business, voting rights, and economic growth, he added.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain raced to the defense of Harris. 'The president's trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together,' he said.
Tina Flournoy is the vice president's chief of staff and is being blamed for creating a hostile work environment which allies of Kamala Harris say is nothing but a 'whispering campaign' designed to sabotage her
Tensions reportedly boiled over last week when the vice president finally decided to visit the border with Mexico.
The outlet cited 22 officials, former officials, aides and associates of President Biden and Harris who described low morale, a tense atmosphere, porous lines of communication and diminished trust. Much of the blame was directed at Flournoy.
'People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it's an abusive environment,' said one source.
'It's not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It's not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s**t.'
Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to Biden, dismissed the anonymous criticism, saying: 'It’s a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her.'
He said she remained in high demand for public events.
'At some point it just becomes, one person says something long enough and it becomes an urban legend,' he said.
'It doesn’t have to be credible. It doesn’t have to be real. Someone says something and it can just snowball.'
Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to Biden, dismissed the anonymous criticism as a 'whispering campaign.' He said: 'It doesn’t have to be credible. It doesn’t have to be real. Someone says something and it can just snowball'
Tensions started to boil over after Harris finally decided to visit the border last week, blindsiding staffers
Tina Flournoy, pictured, has allegedly created an environment where 'ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out'
Even so, the allegations will be treated with alarm inside an administration that knows Biden will be 81 at the time of the next election and has done much to promote Harris as the last person in the room when decisions are taken, setting her up for a possible primary run.
The sources claimed that President Biden's office was concerned about the treatment