It’s been four months since Kamala Harris began serving as Vice President, and finding her footing in the role has reportedly presented some challenges. “I don’t think it’s been as seamless as it appears,” a Democrat who spoke to White House aides told The Hill. “There have been some growing pains and learning curves across the board.”
Harris, who has been credited with helping bolster voter turnout for Joe Biden during the November election, is balancing a portfolio of work that keeps changing while figuring out what her political path and legacy.
Harris has taken the helm of the border crisis that emerged following executive orders Biden signed at the beginning of his term, reversing Trump-era immigration policies. She’s also used her platform to support efforts to ease vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans and is leading the White House’s charge to bring equity to its coronavirus response.
She’s frequently, if not always, at the president’s side while he’s making announcements and hit the road to promote the American Jobs Plan. Earlier this month, the White House announced Harris would be leading the National Space Council in addition to her ongoing projects.
Some Democrats are looking for Harris to forge her own path in her role as VP.
“It feels more like she’s an extension of staff, like a chief of staff,” a White House strategist told the outlet. “It seems like they go back and forth on whether they want that to be the case. It’s clear that they kind of don’t know what to do with her.”
Harris is reportedly a favorite to be her party’s presidential nominee in 2024 or 2028, though Biden said he plans to run. The situation places Harris in a peculiar position since Biden would still be eligible to run in 2024, but at 78, his age has continuously come into question about another term.
Some say Harris is sticking to the traditions of the VP role and letting the president shine.
“She is in that support role to the president,” Anita McBride, former assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to former First Lady Laura Bush, told The Hill. “She is not stepping out of line. It appears clear to me she knows who is No. 1 and as most vice presidents who know what their lot is when they take this position –– it’s the president first and you’re there to do what the president wants to do.”
A senior administration official told the outlet that Harris is a “key adviser on every issue that is confronting this administration.” Harris, the official said, is “in all the meetings, she’s focused on all the issues. She is at the table involved.”
Harris’ staff is getting ready for her first international trip to Mexico and Guatemala, scheduled for June 7 and 8. All eyes remain on her and the legacy she leaves in her role as VP.
“She’s got to figure out what kind of VP she wants to be,” a Democrat close to the White House told The Hill. “But let’s get this going here. She’s the future of the party, and people want to see what she’s going to do.”
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