White House tries to bolster case for VP Harris being Biden’s 2024 heir apparent

Amid all of the speculation about whether or not President Joe Biden will run again in 2024 are equally pertinent questions about whether or not Vice President Kamala Harris should be considered as the heir apparent to the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in case of Biden’s absence.

The White House has now reportedly ramped up its efforts to boost Harris’ national profile and claim to be her party’s next nominee in waiting ahead of the 2024 election cycle, according to The Washington Times.

Currently, that means taking the lead on a major international trip to the Indo-Pacific region to bolster her foreign policy credentials, which followed her domestic efforts to support Democratic candidates in the recently held midterm elections.

The effort comes after a rough first year or so in which Harris failed to achieve much progress on the handful of issues she’d been assigned, was plagued with near-constant staff turnover, and suffered from approval and favorability ratings that were even worse than the dismal numbers for her boss, President Biden.

Not a popular or well-liked politician

“They are trying to send a message to other potential [2024 Democratic] candidates that they need to cool their heels because Harris is very much in the on-deck circle,” left-leaning D.C.-based Democracy Institute Director Patrick Basham told the Times of the White House efforts.

“If they want to make Harris look like a statesman and boost her commander-in-chief profile, the more they will give her the foreign stuff,” Basham added. “It’s very hard to compete with a vice president who is acting presidential.”

Not everyone is convinced that the effort will work, though, such as GOP strategist Jimmy Keady, who told the Times, “The administration keeps trying to make Kamala Harris the presidential front-runner, but she’s very unlikeable,” and added, “Her numbers are lower than Biden’s and she completely failed as a border czar.”

Indeed, according to FiveThirtyEight, VP Harris currently has an average approval of 39.5 percent and disapproval of 50.7 percent, for a negative spread of -11.2 points. For comparison, the RealClearPolitics average of polls currently peg President Biden at 42.1 percent approve and 54.5 percent disapprove, for a negative spread of his own of -12.4 points.

Position in the polls is tenuous

To be sure, most of the hypothetical polls and rankings of prospective Democratic presidential candidates for 2024, should President Biden be unwilling or unable to run for a second term, typically have VP Harris at or near the top of the list.

The Hill‘s recent post-midterm rankings placed Harris as second only to Biden as being the most likely to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, though that status didn’t make her untouchable. “I think if she ran, she would be challenged by other Democrats,” and unnamed Democratic strategist said. “There are lots of people who still think she wouldn’t beat a Trump or DeSantis.”

The Washington Post‘s pre-midterm mid-October prospective candidate ranking had Harris in third place behind Biden and Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, and it was highlighted that her support in the polls is weak and she has no prior primary run track records to run on, as she had dropped out of the 2020 race before any votes had even been cast.

The White House can do its best to try and highlight Harris’ purported strengths and give her ample opportunity to gain the necessary experience, but there is relatively little they can do to make her less unlikeable or to make her speeches sound less like a bloviating student’s report on an unread book.

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