Biden allies have “not been shy” about arguing that replacing Vice President Kamala Harris with Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom would be racist, NBC reported Tuesday.
As speculation grows that Newsom will make a White House bid in 2024 if President Joe Biden is unable to do so, some Biden allies have said the move would be seen as a problematic attempt to prevent Harris from becoming the first black female president, per the outlet.
“When you had people who were trying to test the waters” for a presidential bid, “the party rose up and made it clear to those individuals — who were mostly white men — that to disrespect the vice president would not be well received by women and people of color within the party,” said Karen Finney, a longtime Democratic strategist quoted in NBC’s story about Democrats’ struggle to get voters excited about Biden. “They got a little bit of a smack in the face.”
Harris got the lowest vice-presidential favorability rating in NBC News history in a poll released in June. The poll found that 32 percent of respondents had a positive opinion of the vice president, while 49 percent had a negative view. She has also faced critical media reports, tepid endorsements from fellow Democrats and an exodus of staffers.
This is hilarious.
— Vince Coglianese (@VinceCoglianese) September 5, 2023
Amid the record-low numbers, the Biden campaign has tried to shore up approval for the vice president by putting her front and center on the reelection campaign website and having her focus on more popular administration topics like abortion and infrastructure.
Democrats have painted any criticism of the first black woman vice president as racist or sexist throughout what they commonly call the “Biden-Harris administration.” Left-leaning outlets have run op-eds pointing to Harris’ race as reason behind her low approval rating, while former Biden officials have used accusations of racism and sexism to thwart questions about her performance. (RELATED: Where Is Kamala Harris? VP Has Spent Nearly One Month Away Since 2024 Campaign Launch)
“Jealousy, envy, misogyny, and racism come to mind,” journalist William Spivey offered as reasons for opposition to Harris in an article headlined “The Fear of A Second Black President.”
In late August, Atlantic writer Jemele Hill accused former United Nations ambassador and 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley of racism after she said she does not want Harris to be president.
“So part of the reason racism is such a terrible sickness in this country is because politicians like this know they can rally a certain base with the fear of OH MY GOD A BLACK WOMAN MIGHT BE PRESIDENT IF YOU DON’T VOTE FOR ME. Then we want to act all surprised when the most hateful part of the base decides they need to act out on their feelings of hatred,” Hill tweeted.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said in April that Harris is criticized due to her race and gender and that she hasn’t been properly recognized for her track record.
“Well, I do think sexism and racism are part of the problem, no question about it. I think she was not as well known in national politics before she became vice-president. And I think that she hasn’t gotten the credit for all that she’s done,” Klain said.
Former Biden-Harris campaign senior staffer Ashley Allison also pointed to Harris’ race and gender when defending her against widespread disapproval.
“I’ll just say, I think that this is happening for a couple of reasons: Most people don’t know what vice presidents do and now she is a history-maker. She is a woman. She is a black woman. And it’s the easy thing to do to say, ‘She’s the attack dog, go after her,'” Allison said.