Why a vote for Biden is a vote for ‘President’ Kamala Harris

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS)
Her run for the US Vice President in 2020 galvanised Indian-Americans to turn out to vote, with about 49 per cent of respondents indicating that Kamala Harris’ nomination made them more enthusiastic about Joe Biden’s candidacy.
For nearly six times, Biden has referred to his 2024 running mate and second-in-command as “President”, accidentally though, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Harris is set to play a more prominent role in a second coming to the White House.
She was featured 13 times in Biden’s recent campaign launch video, and already leading from the front on most potent issues like abortion, voting rights, gun control — signaling that the 58 year-old is positioning herself as the potential heir-apparent to the octogenarian US President.
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis of California told The New York Times that Harris would be able to showcase more of her skills on the campaign trail this time than in Pandemic-hit 2020.
“Connecting with real people on the campaign trail is very natural for her, and where she truly thrives,” Kounalakis said.
As she hits the campaign trail afresh, Harris is reportedly expected to travel across the length and breadth of the country to gain support from black voters and consolidate her position, by connecting with the next generation of Democrats and increase her visibility.
Stepping into the Biden administration with an undefined portfolio, the Californian born to immigrant parents from Jamaica and India, has gained a firm footing by establishing herself as an advocate of police reform, abortion rights and stricter gun control measures as the vice president, The Times said.
In recent weeks, Harris has travelled to help further Biden’s calls for stricter gun control measures amid a series of mass shootings
While according to The Telegraph, the Indian-American’s pivotal role in the election campaign will put her in a favourable position to lead the party in 2028, critics have gone a step further to say that a vote for Biden is really a vote for President Harris.
Corroborating this stance, Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley recently said: “If you vote for Joe Biden, you really are counting on President Harris… Because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old — the age Biden would be at the end of a second term — is not something that I think is likely.”
The national opinion polls of America’s first woman, Black and Indian American Vice President do not look very promising though with 53 per cent of registered voters viewing her negatively.
Her net favourability is negative, not just five points lower than Biden’s but also lower than her predecessors Mike Pence, Dick Cheney and Al Gore.
Between February 14 and 20, a poll conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Government Studies and The Los Angeles Times found that 59 per cent of registered voters were hesitant about Harris seeking the country’s highest office.
What was more shocking was that the majority of these voters were from California — a Democrat bastion and Harris’ home state.
But then Biden hasn’t exactly set Harris up for success, according to Bloomberg’s Francis Wilkinson.
Critics argue that Biden is running for 2024 as he does not believe Harris would have as good a chance of beating Trump.
In response, Nadia Brown, chair of the women’s and gender studies program at Georgetown University, told Bloomberg that “it’s hard not to conclude that voters just have higher expectations for women and non-White politicians”.

(Meenakshi Iyer can be reached at meenakshi.i@ians.in)

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