President Joe Biden tasked Vice President Kamala Harris more than 11 weeks ago with handling the ongoing border crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants swarming the U.S.-Mexico border. Though the southern border was the first major task given to her, Harris has not yet bothered to visit the region.
However, she did take off over the weekend for her first foreign trip as vice president to meet with the presidents of Guatemala and Mexico to discuss the "root causes" of the border surge.
But the trip has not garnered the positive press the administration had hoped for; instead, it has been overshadowed by controversy and flubs:
- As Harris made her way to Central America, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei reiterated his assertion that the Biden administration is to blame for the illegal immigration crisis because of its ongoing confusing messaging.
- When Harris traveled to the Guatemalan presidential palace, she was confronted by protesters who told her to "go home" and "mind your own business — as well as taunted her with "Trump won" messages.
- A purported Univision reporter gushed over Harris before asking a softball question during a press event with President Giammattei.
- Univision revealed that the reporter who addressed Harris was not actually a reporter for the outlet, which prompted security concerns about how the woman was able to gain access to the event.
- After Harris attempted to sound tough on immigration by telling would-be migrants, "Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border," left-wing progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the vice president for her "disappointing" message.
Those problems, though, pale in comparison to what really has the White House in a quandary: the infamous cringeworthy moment during an NBC News interview when Harris blundered the question of if or when she would ever visit the southern U.S. border.
When NBC's Lester Holt asked Harris the most likely and obvious question she was likely to receive about the border crisis, the vice president attempted to spin, obfuscate, and laugh off the query.
"Why not visit the border?" Holt asked. "Why not see what Americans are seeing in this crisis?"
"At some point, you know, we are going to the border," she replied, waving her arms. "We've been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We've been to the border. We've been to the border."
Holt shot back: "You haven't been to the border."
"And I haven't been to Europe!" Harris replied, laughing. "And I mean — I don't understand the point that you're making."
White House 'perplexed'
The NBC News episode has the White House "perplexed" and worried, CNN reported this week:
Vice President Kamala Harris endured a rocky first foreign trip since taking office, with sources telling CNN her two-day swing through Mexico and Guatemala left some administration officials quietly perplexed about what they perceive as her bumpy answers to questions about whether she will go to the US-Mexico border.
Several sources say there was a real hope inside the White House that Harris' first trip abroad would be a success, and worry that what looked like ill-prepared answers to that inevitable question would overshadow it.
But officials made clear they didn't view the overall outcome of the trip as driven by a single answer during a TV interview, and the goals of the trip were largely attained. However, they acknowledged it was a sound bite that would likely stick with Harris as she continues to confront the issue at the southern border.
As her flub continued to distract from her trip, Harris eventually was forced to "change her tune," CNN said, and acknowledge she would one day visit the border — though she neglected to specify when.
Despite all the negative press the trip has garnered, Harris called her brief tour a "success."