Throughout the 2020 campaign season and into the presidential transition period, there was widespread speculation, especially on the right, that President Joe Biden wouldn’t last in the job for long.
Rumors that the 78-year-old commander-in-chief will soon be replaced in the Oval Office by his vice president were only fueled again this week when Biden misspoke and named Kamala Harris as the person in charge, as Fox News reported.
The latest blunder from Biden occurred Thursday while he delivered a speech to tout his administration’s achievements in terms of distributing vaccines for COVID-19.
At one point during his talk, the president referred to his VP as “President Harris.”
“Now, when President Harris and I took a virtual tour of a vaccination center in Arizona not long ago, one of the nurses on that — on that tour, injecting people, giving vaccinations, said that each shot was like administering a dose of hope. ‘A dose of hope.’ That’s how she phrased it,” Biden said, according to a transcript from the White House.
A repeated gaffe
As Fox noted, it certainly wasn’t the first time Biden had referred to Harris as the commander-in-chief. During a speech in December as the duo received their own inoculations for the coronavirus, Biden made the same gaffe.
“I took it to instill public confidence in the vaccine. President-elect Harris took hers today for the same reason,” Biden said, according to Fox.
Harris even seemed to label herself as the head of the administration on at least one occasion when, during a virtual roundtable discussion in September, the then-vice presidential candidate spoke of what would be on the agenda for “a Harris administration,” before quickly correcting herself to say “the Biden–Harris administration,” Fox reported.
To be sure, Biden hasn’t given any formal indication that he plans to soon step down from his role and make way for Harris to lead the country. But he certainly isn’t shying away from giving her the kind of on-the-job training that would be useful if she ran for the highest office in the nation herself in 2024.
Indeed, The Hill reported in early February that Harris has been a near-constant presence by Biden’s side, including during White House events, speeches, signing ceremonies, and meetings with officials.
What’s more, a report from Politico in late February described Harris as receiving something of a “crash course” in foreign policy as she takes a leading role on the issue in the Biden administration.
While Biden’s team can claim that all of this is merely evidence of the pair being “partners in governing,” as The Hill was told, to many, it looks a lot like he’s getting his understudy ready to step into the spotlight all on her own. But only time will tell.