The postmortems on the Kamala Harris campaign have already begun, despite the candidate’s pledge to go “all in” in Iowa to try and resurrect her chances.
That hasn’t worked. After claiming to make a big push in Iowa, staffers still don’t know what the plan is, how much money is available, and what strategy they will be employing.
Mr. Rodriguez offered general, tentative answers that didn’t satisfy the room, according to two campaign officials directly familiar with the conversation. Some Harris aides sitting at the table could barely suppress their fury about what they saw as the undoing of a once-promising campaign. Their feelings were reflected days later by Kelly Mehlenbacher, the state operations director, in a blistering resignation letter obtained by The Times.
“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” Ms. Mehlenbacher wrote, assailing Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Harris’s sister, Maya, the campaign chairwoman, for laying off aides with no notice. “With less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win.”
It seems that the campaign of Kamala Harris never got off the ground. And the millions she spent on staff and ads have gone to waste.
But Harris’s faltering is another candidate’s bonanza. Michael Bloomberg has just hired the aforementioned Kelly Mehlenbacher as deputy chief operating officer.
Mehlenbacher was among a group of staffers who tendered their resignations amid the latest round of layoffs, which hit the operations team hard. The staff reductions and subsequent shifts have focused renewed attention on deep and long-standing dysfunction among the campaign’s top leaders.
Harris is trying to lift her candidacy from the low-single digits with a tenacious schedule that has her campaigning with family — and cooking — on Thanksgiving in Iowa. She has worked to navigate the internal dissension and improve her standing by correcting for mistakes that dogged her for much of the year, such as moving from defensive crouches to going on offense against her opponents on health care and her criminal justice record.
Yet while Harris has strung together a series of strong outings in recent weeks — from a well-received speech at the big Democratic dinner in Iowa to a solid debate performance — she has yet to see upward movement in polls. Meanwhile, she released a 50-second ad online that quickly went viral, generating 1.6 million views on Twitter, but has said she needs to raise money to put it on TV in Iowa where some leading candidates have been on the air for weeks.
Bloomberg is likely to continue poaching staff as campaigns streamline their operations to try and make an impact in Iowa or New Hampshire. For most of them, the writing is on the wall. Except for Biden, Sanders, and Warren, they were all long shots with only Pete Buttigieg able to overcome the numerous hurdles placed in his way.
None of those campaigns showed as much early promise and generated such positive buzz as that of Kamala Harris. Hers was a media-driven campaign based on her sex and her race. In the end, it was the media that destroyed her.