Harris Allies Furious Gavin Newsom Is Stealing Kamala’s Spotlight: ‘Disrespectful’
Three summers ago, when then-Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the job as Joe Biden’s running mate, she doubtlessly had visions dancing in her head of running for president in 2024.
Biden being what he was, after all — a geriatric placeholder — there seemed to be little doubt that Harris wasn’t just the administration’s No. 2 but No. 1. If all went smoothly, Kamala could send Biden back home to Delaware, so he could spend more time churning out “paintings” and signing Hunter’s name to them. Madame Vice President, the Oval Office is yours for the taking, so long as we can all safely assume you can hold your own and send Joe back to his basement for a nice, long nap.
Things have not gone smoothly, however — although there is a California Democrat openly campaigning for the White House this summer. His name is Gavin Newsom, and from reports inside the Kamala camp, he’s making Harris furious.
Newsom may not be running in 2024, but anyone with a TV and a brain knows the guy is getting a five-year jump on 2028, particularly with a plan to debate Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis (you know, an actual presidential candidate) about the relative merits of how each is governing their own states — which have become the archetypes for liberal vs. conservative policy outcomes, respectively.
According to NBC News, however, the California governor “is increasingly being viewed as a nuisance to some of President Joe Biden’s political advisers, according to four people familiar with the matter.”
“Though Biden’s camp no longer sees Newsom as a wannabe challenger — and some in Biden’s orbit praise him for acting as a top campaign surrogate — Newsom’s plan to debate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on television carries more risk than potential reward, these people say,” the Sunday report continued. “That has caused consternation within Biden’s operation and among Vice President Kamala Harris’ allies.”
That last part should be underlined and bolded, since NBC News reported that “Harris allies take particular umbrage at what they see as Newsom’s attempt to position himself for the 2028 Democratic presidential primarily at her expense.”
“It’s disrespectful,” one of Harris’ outside advisers said. “Joe Biden is running with Kamala Harris. That’s the Democratic ticket.”
Part of the problem is that Harris and Newsom have been having this feud since Barack Obama was still president and before Hillary Clinton tweeted a picture of herself with the caption “Happy birthday to this future president” in 2016. Neither would be president soon — and, in all likelihood, only one of the two Californians will have a chance to be any time soon, either.
The fact that the two Bay Area politicians were clearly on collision courses for high positions that only one could occupy has been evident since as early as 2014, when SFGate noted that they were the only two notable California politicians with rising profiles on the national radar.
“Both Newsom, 47, and Harris, 50, are A-list candidates for high office. No other Democrats are as well known in California, and Republicans, who lag 13 points behind on voter registration, are all but out of the picture for statewide office for the foreseeable future,” the outlet reported at the time.
“But Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor, and Harris, the former San Francisco district attorney, share many of the same supporters and donors — one reason Democrats worry about a demolition derby on their next political lap.”
That lap came in 2015, when Sen. Barbara Boxer unexpectedly announced her retirement. According to BuzzFeed News, while both Newsom and Harris emerged as front-runners to replace the retiring Sen. Boxer, Newsom decided his candidacy wasn’t feasible; after a discussion between the two, according to the Sacramento Bee, Harris jumped into a race that essentially became a coronation. Two years later, Newsom would win the governorship.
By all accounts, then, Harris should have the inside track to winning the quiet rivalry between the two Golden State Democrats. There are a number of reasons that’s not happening.
The first — and primary — reason is what Basil Fawlty might have called “the bleeding obvious”: Harris polls about as well as salmonella, even in comparison to her unpopular boss. And the low numbers aren’t unwarranted.
Arguably the biggest California-centric bust since the San Diego Chargers picked Ryan Leaf second in the 1998 NFL Draft, the 58-year-old Harris has sometimes seemed more cognitively lost than her addled octogenarian superior and has developed a one-dimensional personality that seems summed up by an ever-present phony cackle. She’s been assigned to multiple high-priority administration roles and has succeeded at none of them. She goes through staff quicker than a Kardashian goes through significant others.
As of Monday, Biden’s aggregate ratings in the RealClearPolitics polling average sits at 42.1 percent approval and 53.4 percent disapproval — an 11 percent gap. Harris — who was supposed to be taking the yoke right about now if all went according to what felt like the unspoken plan — is at 37.1 percent approval and 53.0 percent disapproval. That’s just shy of a 16-point differential — and much worse than Biden, who comes across as more likable by shuffling around like a zombie, apparently.
In short, the guy who locked down the entire Golden State like it was Wuhan and has overseen the rapid transformation of his state’s metropolises into tent cities where the only growth industry is shoplifting still comes across as a more credible presidential candidate. Sure, he’s failed at most everything he’s tried, but he sounds and looks coherent and is confident while doing it. Kamala, meanwhile…
Kamala Harris on left-wing protests over the Willow Project:
“I think that the concerns are based on what we should all be concerned about, but the solutions have to be, and include, what we are doing in terms of going forward in terms of investments.” pic.twitter.com/QZLU7OXIsO
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 16, 2023
Cringe. Kamala Harris doesn’t get it.
Holt: “Do you have any plans to visit the border?”
Harris: “We’ve been to the border. We’ve been the border.”
Holt: “YOU haven’t been to the border.”
Harris: “…..and I haven’t been to Europe. I don’t understand the point you’re making.” pic.twitter.com/fFXMf8X0b6
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) June 8, 2021
Beyond that, Newsom has been campaigning like, well, a presidential candidate would.
He showed up in Florida to protest DeSantis’ education overhaul. He’s been touring red states to boost Democrats there this cycle, according to the Associated Press. And then there’s the potential debate with DeSantis.
These are all things that Kamala Harris would be doing if she were the unquestioned next in line. She isn’t, and the only people who are really raising a stink about it are the ones close to Harris inside the White House.
Mind you, Newsom isn’t the only one openly campaigning for 2028 despite the fact that Harris would usually be given some level of presumptive front-runner status as the vice president. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg hasn’t done a lot for our nation’s transportation system, but the 2020 Democratic nomination-process overperformer has certainly done a good job raising his profile in all the right places.
And, in an interview earlier this month with The Hill, former Bill Clinton campaign adviser James Carville implied the field was wide open in 2028 due to a breadth of talent.
“You find me somebody more talented than a [Pennsylvania Gov.] Josh Shapiro or [Georgia Sen. Raphael] Warnock or [Maryland Gov.] Wes Moore or [Kentucky Gov.] Andy Beshear or [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer, Mitch Landrieu, [North Carolina Gov.] Roy Cooper, I ain’t seen them,” he said.
Notably, he didn’t mention either Newsom or Harris — but the fact anyone this politically connected is mentioning anybody but Harris, much less over a half-dozen names, is telling.
So, yeah, of course Harris’ people think this is “disrespectful.” That’s because they still don’t understand the depth of the problem. It isn’t just that she’s not the front-runner for 2028 anymore. Her job now is to convince Democrats she’s a better choice than scads of other challengers who don’t carry her considerable baggage — including her “disrespectful” Californian rival.
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