Democrats reportedly fear that Vice President Kamala Harris, the presumptive 2024 Democratic presidential nominee if President Joe Biden does not seek re-election, cannot beat any Republican challenger.
What is the background?
Harris has become the focus of scrutiny in recent weeks over a series of blunders that have left Democrats questioning her presidential aptitude.
Not only did it take Harris three months to visit the U.S.-Mexico border after Biden tasked Harris with leading the administration's response to the border crisis — yet only visiting El Paso, which is nowhere close to the epicenter of the migrant crisis — but several reports have indicated that Harris' West Wing office is in shambles.
"Harris' team is experiencing low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust among aides and senior officials," Politico reported. "In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times dour office atmosphere."
What are Democrats saying now?
According to Axios, Democrats are privately voicing concerns that Harris will be unable to defeat any Republican candidate in 2024 if Biden does not seek re-election and she secures the Democratic nomination.
Harris would be the presumptive nominee if Biden didn't run. Administration sources believe it would be nearly impossible to unseat the first Black woman vice president. Yet many Democrats, including some current senior administration officials, are concerned she could not defeat whomever the Republican Party puts up — even if it were Donald Trump.
Some Democrats close to the White House are increasingly concerned about Harris's handling of high-profile issues and political tone deafness, and question her ability to maintain the coalition that Biden rode to the White House.
In fact, one Democratic operative told Axios that some Democrats are questioning even if Harris should succeed Biden as the Democratic leader.
"'Oh, no, our heir apparent is f***ing up, what are we gonna do?' It's more that people think, 'Oh, she's f***ing up, maybe she shouldn't be the heir apparent,'" the operative said.
What is the WH saying?
Publicly, top White House officials are dismissing criticism of Harris or her office.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Axios, "The President's trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together."
Meanwhile, senior Biden adviser Cedric Richmond blasted the reports about Harris' office. "It's a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her," Richmond told Axios.
"At some point it just becomes, one person says something long enough and it becomes an urban legend. It doesn't have to be credible. It doesn't have to be real. Someone says something and it can just snowball," he added. "Not one named person. That's what bothers me most. We're in a day where the stakes are high. You'd just hope if there's a legitimate criticism they'd put their name next to it."