Eight prominent female Democratic strategists reportedly met for dinner in July to discuss how they could best support a flailing Vice President Kamala Harris, who some worry could harm the party’s chances in 2022 and beyond.
The dinner was hosted by former Clinton adviser Kiki McLean and included former Obama White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri, former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile and Obama campaign alum Stephanie Cutter, Axios reported Thursday. Harris’ polling is underwater following a series of gaffes and missteps, and former aides have alleged an abusive work environment. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Ridiculed For Comment On Why Rural America Has A Hard Time With Voter ID)
A source familiar with the dinner told Axios the strategists wanted to emphasize that Harris is being treated unfairly because of her race and gender.
“Many of us lived through the Clinton campaign, and want to help curb some of the gendered dynamics in press coverage that impacted HRC,” the source said. “It was like, ‘we’ve seen this before.’ It’s subtle. But when things aren’t going well for a male politician, we ask very different questions, and they’re not held to account the way a woman leader is.”
Harris’ favorability was five percentage points higher among men than women in a recent Morning Consult poll.
President Joe Biden has given Harris a high profile as vice president, and officially refers to his administration as the “Biden-Harris” administration. However, White House aides were reportedly “perplexed” by her performance first foreign policy trip, during which she met with Central and South American presidents to discuss immigration issues.
Harris handed out cookies bearing her likeness to passengers on Air Force 2 during the flight, and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei criticized the U.S. response to the migrant surge. (RELATED: Kamala Harris’ Team Reportedly Panicked After Biden Gave Her Immigration Assignment)
Former staffers have also alleged that Harris’ office is mismanaged, and that senior aides are abusive.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” a source with knowledge of office dynamics told Politico. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like shit.”
Top Harris aide Symone Sanders pushed back on the Politico report in remarks to Axios, which included interviews from 22 current and former administration officials and associates.
“There’s not consternation among aides. That is not true,” she told Axios.
“She’s delivering for the American people on immigration, small business, voting rights, and economic growth,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Axios in a statement. “The results speak for themselves.”
Should Biden not run for reelection in 2024, Harris would be the likely Democratic Party nominee.