President Joe Biden, 80, announced this week that he would be seeking re-election. While the president suggested that he seeks another four years to "finish the job," there is significant doubt that he can and even some confusion at the White House whether he intends to.
The president's admission in October that he could "drop dead tomorrow" likely did little to bolster the confidence of voters, especially those wary of what tragedies such a tragedy may in turn beget.
Haunted by both the prospect of succession and Vice President Kamala Harris' abysmal approval numbers, White House officials are now scrambling to address Harris' unlikability.
According to RealClearPolitics, Harris' average job approval rating is 38%, with an average of 54% of respondents giving her an unfavorable assessment.
White House officials have indicated that Biden might also give Harris a low job approval rating, complaining of her not "rising to the occasion," her inability to take "things off his plate," and her propensity for "word salads."
A number of Democrats reportedly spoke to the Washington Post earlier this year on the condition of anonymity, noting that many rank-and-file party members are also "unpersuaded that she has the force, charisma and skill to mount a winning presidential campaign."
Erick Allen, chair of the Cobb County Democrats, said of Harris continuing in her role: "There are some people in our party who are saying, 'We already have hurdles. Let’s not create more.'"
Despite her unpopularity inside and outside the Oval Office, senior Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told Reuters there is no way Harris will soon be replaced.
Seeking to make good with bad, the Biden campaign has attempted to boost Harris' profile, featuring her 13 times in his launch video.
The Telegraph reported that the video might be a "pre-emptive strike against expected assertions by Republicans that [Biden] does not back her."
In addition to enjoying prominence in the launch video, Harris is also featured on the homepage of Biden's updated website.
Axios noted that senior White House adviser Anita Dunn, who the New York Times claimed is at the center of "Biden's inner circle," has directed the White House political and engagement teams to get Harris more airtime promoting abortion and other Democratic causes.
Harris will, for instance, spend ample time pressing the issue of abortion in South Carolina, which Biden supported to be the first state in the Democratic primary contest.
In addition to giving Harris assignments besides tackling the border crisis, the White House has endeavored to to emphasize her working relationship with Biden.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates told Axios that "after winning the most votes of any ticket" in 2020, "you've seen the results of the strong, consistent partnership between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their teams."
Fox News Digital reported that if the two enjoy a consistent partnership, it is likely at a distance.
When Harris caught COVID-19 in April 2022, Biden was reportedly not listed among her close contacts, which indicates they hadn't seen one another in person for well over a week.
Harris spokeswoman Kirsten Allen suggested that "our teams have been focused on lifting up the priorities of President Biden and Vice President Harris as they build a future where every person in our nation can thrive, and will continue to remain focused on this work together."
Greater visibility for Harris may prove counterproductive where the Biden campaign is concerned, given that her various gaffes and so-called "word salads" have provided Republicans with plenty of fodder. Consider, for instance, this video, captioned "What is Kamala Harris talking about?" and shared by the Republican National Committee:
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