Democrats Rally Around Kamala Harris as Biden’s Campaign Falters: Discussions of Potential Running Mate Intensify

Feature and Cover Democrats Rally Around Kamala Harris as Biden's Campaign Falters Discussions of Potential Running Mate Intensify

In the wake of Joe Biden’s debate performance, many Democratic insiders are now discussing who Kamala Harris might choose as her running mate. A growing number of party officials, operatives, and donors are doubtful that Biden’s campaign can recover, based on CNN’s interviews with two dozen Democratic politicians and operatives.

Biden often says to compare him to the alternative, not the almighty, which is what more Democrats are doing with Harris. Harris and her team have largely ignored the influx of calls and texts, maintaining a firm stance on their support for Biden. However, Harris did make some adjustments, like joining Biden for the Fourth of July picnic and fireworks, a first for her.

Despite her support, the Democratic landscape is shifting around Harris, with former President Donald Trump’s campaign already targeting her. Officials have begun advising donors to back Harris, arguing that a unified party support is essential. Some plans are in motion to convince Biden to endorse Harris immediately, release his Democratic delegates, and request their support for her. This strategy aims to prevent a contentious primary fight.

If the race opens, Democrats hope Harris’ running mate will be a prominent governor. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear are frequently mentioned, along with Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro, Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, and Minnesota’s Tim Walz. However, this could complicate matters by not allowing Harris to select her own running mate, a privilege typically given to presidential nominees.

A Democratic senator compared the situation to a football game, with Biden as a star quarterback who might need to be replaced by his backup, Harris. “The backup knows our team, the backup knows the plays, the backup has played in the NFL,” the senator said, highlighting Harris’ familiarity with the political landscape.

Some Democrats fear losing their seats with Harris at the top of the ticket, but others have changed their views, preferring her over Biden. The leader of one major Democratic group said, “Are you kidding?” when asked about preferring Harris, emphasizing that while Biden is in bad shape, Harris could unify the party if she becomes the nominee.

A document titled “Unburdened by What Has Been: The Case for Kamala,” written by senior Democratic operatives, is circulating among donors and coalition groups. It argues that Harris is the only viable candidate to win, stating, “Kamala Harris has the strongest claim to Democratic legitimacy. She is the only candidate who can take the reins right now… She has significant and widely underplayed electoral advantages. She can win.”

Rep. Nanette Barragán, who supported Harris in 2019, noted the shift in conversations about Harris. “It’s nice to see that people are finally recognizing the value of her work and what she brings to the partnership,” she said.

Biden’s sparse public schedule post-debate has increased doubts about him and bolstered Harris’ case. Mini Timmaraju, president of Reproductive Freedom for All, said Harris already has more credibility than Biden on key issues like abortion rights, and emphasized, “You can’t win this election without Kamala.”

Harris loyalists are frustrated by discussions of Biden replacements not centering on her and angered by donors questioning her chances. Recent polls showing a tight race between her and Trump have only heightened their frustrations. Ezra Levin, co-founder of Indivisible, emphasized the need for voters to have confidence in Harris, stating, “It’s foolish and counterproductive to defend Biden by tearing down Harris.”

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has mostly supported Biden, but members indicate they would quickly back Harris if Biden steps aside. Rep. Gregory Meeks said, “I actually don’t think that anybody else other than her would beat Trump because of what you’d lose in the base,” stressing the importance of Black voter turnout.

Harris has contemplated a Trump challenge before. In 2018, her aides asked how she’d handle a town hall debate with Trump. Her response: “Why are you being so weird?” This showcases her readiness to confront Trump head-on.

Despite her reputation for verbal gaffes, Harris has been on an upswing with voters. After Biden’s debate, she spontaneously told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that a bad 90 minutes shouldn’t overshadow Biden’s three and a half years as president. This line was so effective that it was repeated by Jill Biden and multiple campaign aides.

Harris has focused on Trump for months, planning to target his running mate by highlighting their alignment with Trump’s extremist agenda. Brian Fallon, Harris’ campaign communications director, reaffirmed, “The president is and will remain our party’s nominee, and Vice President Harris is proud to be his running mate and looks forward to serving at his side for four more years.”

The running mate conversation often includes Cooper and Beshear, both former state attorneys general with bipartisan support. Cooper has a long-standing relationship with Harris, calling her “whip smart” and stating, “I think she’s ready to do this job.” Beshear, popular in Kentucky and nationally recognized for his communication skills, has also been invited to speak at Democratic events across the country.

The Democratic party is grappling with Biden’s faltering campaign and looking to Harris as a potential successor. While the transition is fraught with challenges and uncertainties, many believe that Harris, with the right support, can lead the party to victory.

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