The White House on Monday continued its defense of Vice President Kamala Harris amid reports of a deepening rift between her and President Joe Biden.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Harris “a valuable member of our team,” The Hill reported, a day after a late-night tweet on the same subject following a CNN report suggesting dysfunction and unhappiness.
“The president relies on the vice president for her advice, for her counsel,” Psaki told reporters on Monday after being pressed about the reported discord between the two leaders. “She is somebody who is not only taking on issues that are challenging, she is not looking for a cushy role here. No vice president. No president is.
“The president selected the vice president to serve as his running mate because he felt she was exactly the person he wanted to have by his side to govern the country,” Psaki said.
It’s not just CNN that’s noticed Harris’ apparent shrinking role. A recent Los Angeles Times column was titled “Kamala Harris, the incredible disappearing vice president,” The Hill noted.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile added her support, telling The Hill, “While it’s difficult to stop the endless swipes, past gripes or the inside the beltway second-guessing squad, it’s vital that Vice President Harris continue to take meaningful action in helping President Biden deliver for the American people.”
She added: “It’s untenable for modern vice presidents to succeed in their role as being No. 2. Thus, her number one goal must remain to support the president of the United States.”
Though Biden and Harris appeared together Monday at the infrastructure signing ceremony, with Harris given speaking time, the New York Post was unconvinced of any goodwill between the two, describing the event’s camaraderie as forced.
“President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attempted a less-than-convincing display of unity Monday, one day after a report describing Harris as increasingly isolated inside the White House,” the Post wrote in its coverage.
“Biden and Harris briefly put an arm around each other’s shoulders as they walked across the South Lawn to the stage. However, a noticeable gap emerged after a few seconds as Harris appeared to veer slightly away from the president in view of approximately 800 lawmakers and invited guests, as well as the White House press corps,” the report continued.
Harris has been a frequent target of political critics on many fronts; one frequent assertion is that while Biden has assigned her to be his administration’s point person on troubles at the southern border, she has seemed to take little action and made no visit to the site of surging illegal crossings.
She has also drawn fire for a general lack of visibility despite her milestone status as the first woman and person of color to serve as the nation’s vice president.
Just last week, USA Today ran a story headlined: “Progressives saw Kamala Harris as a unique champion. Lately, they’re disappointed.” It said activists have voiced frustration over slow progress on many causes dear to them — causes Biden added to her portfolio as vice president. These include immigration, voting rights and abortion.