Vice President Kamala Harris has a reputation of being a divisive partisan who isn’t afraid to take devastating shots at her ideological opponents and rivals, a persona that likely hearkens back to her career as a prosecutor.
However, Harris surprisingly refrained from launching any partisan attacks against a chief rival of her administration, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), during a visit to the Sunshine State on Monday, even as a local reporter attempted to goad her into doing so, Breitbart reported.
Local reporter Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union attempted to provoke a critical response from the vice president regarding the Florida governor on at least three occasions during a one-on-one interview, to no avail.
Specifically, Monroe repeatedly drew distinctions between the coronavirus pandemic policies of the Biden administration and Gov. DeSantis, such as restrictive lockdowns, mandatory mask-wearing and vaccine distribution.
According to Politico‘s Florida Playbook, however, Harris sidestepped the obvious set-ups and avoided directly critiquing DeSantis, instead actually praising him for doing a “good thing” by allowing all Florida residents age 50 and up to receive a coronavirus vaccination shot.
“We want to make sure everyone has access,” she said.
In fact, it would appear the closest Harris got to openly criticizing DeSantis was by simply stating that “masks work” without delving into the gulf that separates the Biden administration’s desire for mask mandates in all states versus DeSantis’ clear aversion to forcing otherwise healthy and free Americans to wear masks at all times.
Messaging outweighs partisan attacks
There may have been a decided element of strategy and ulterior motives in Harris’ display of restraint.
According to The New York Times, Harris traveled to Jacksonville, Florida on Monday to tout the benefits Floridians would receive from the recently passed American Rescue Plan “relief” and “stimulus” package, as well as to encourage more Sunshine State residents to receive a vaccination.
The federal vaccination center set up in Jacksonville was chosen specifically for Harris to visit due to it being vastly underutilized as well as there being a prevalence of hesitancy about the vaccinations more generally in that area of the state, according to the Bradenton Herald.
Obviously, those messages — bolstering support for the stimulus package and receiving vaccinations — would have been overshadowed if Harris had gone to Florida and picked a political fight with one of the nation’s most popular governors.
Another possible consideration regarding Harris’ reluctance to attack DeSantis is that she was strategically conserving her rhetorical ammunition in light of the fact that there is a chance that Harris and DeSantis could square off as their respective party’s nominees in the 2024 presidential race.