Election 2020

Trump Will Be Running Against the VP Nominee and All Signs Are Pointing to Kamala Harris

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Joe Cunningham at RedState had an interesting observation. There seems to be a link between the updates to an individual’s Wikipedia page and the selection of a nominee for vice president. In his analysis, Senator Kamala Harris is the current frontrunner to join Joe Biden on the ticket.

Shortly after Harris endorsed Biden and appeared with him in Detroit, commentator Scott Adams also noted a few things. The senator has a new haircut, a new wardrobe, and has clearly gotten some professional coaching in public speaking. The annoying cackle is absent, and she seemed more measured. His bet at the time was Harris is the one. Adams’s ability to read the environment is usually pretty spot on.

Harris is certainly on the shortlist. And despite the fact Senator Elizabeth Warren is popular with Democrat voters and the media, Democrat donors are warning against her. And as Cunningham notes, Warren’s Wikipedia updates parallel Stacey Abrams’. Harris’ have all been made by a single account and seem to pump up her progressive credibility. While Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been mentioned, she seems a tenuous choice with the current backlash against her lockdown orders. Amy Klobuchar has also been mentioned, however, despite her protestations, she’s pretty boring. Unless you bring her a salad and forget a fork.

No one seriously believes Biden will be running the country. The presumptive nominee referred to himself as a transition candidate during a virtual fundraiser. A better word might be “placeholder.” His obvious confusion and often unintelligible word salads leave very little doubt who will be running the country from the minute he is sworn in: the vice president and members of the cabinet. In effect, President Trump’s record will be going up against that of the vice presidential nominee every bit as much as Biden’s. I’m guessing that contest will play out directly on Twitter.

So, Harris may be the best choice Trump supporters could hope for. She brings nothing to the Electoral College. California is a foregone conclusion with ballot harvesting and some of the most easily gamed election laws in the country. She is also a first-term senator. Shades of President Obama anyone? Her national debut was also during the Kavanaugh hearings, which did not sit well with independent voters at all.

Harris is also toxic to a few key constituencies. First, she never resonated with African-American voters.

Harris has placed no higher than third among black voters in POLITICO/Morning Consult polls since August, behind Biden and Bernie Sanders, and she trailed Elizabeth Warren in fourth in more recent surveys, including a Quinnipiac poll out of South Carolina.

The reasons for this, based on surveys following her exit from the primary, could be damaging if she is positioned by Republicans as the de facto leader. It is becoming increasingly evident that Harris will be running with an ineffective Biden, so these concerns may come to the fore.

A review of public polling and interviews with black strategists, activists and Democratic officials explains why African American voters have largely gotten behind non-black candidates: a medley of concerns about Harris’ and Booker’s electability, their authenticity and their campaign styles, all of which prevented them from effectively challenging Biden’s enduring — and, to some, surprising — strength among African Americans.

Another problem for Harris is her record as a prosecutor. Representative Tulsi Gabbard hit her hard with her past during an early debate. Harris was caught flat-heeled and responded poorly. Her polls took a sharp dive following the exchange. Further, it is anathema to some voters:

Harris’ record as a prosecutor — which she pitched as a strength in a potential matchup with Donald Trump in the general election, but swung back and forth between emphasizing and deemphasizing as her campaign went on — also bothered some black voters, especially black men.

Recently, Harris created another problem for herself. Because she is auditioning for the VP slot, she dismissed Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual assault against Biden. This is despite being one of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s most ardent supporters.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., another former 2020 candidate and rumored vice presidential contender for the Biden ticket, said in a San Francisco Chronicle podcast interview that she can “only speak to the Joe Biden I know.”

“The Joe Biden I know is somebody who really has fought for women and empowerment of women and for women’s equality and rights,” she said.

Harris also said she would be “honored” to be Biden’s running mate.

The juxtaposition of her positions is likely to upset some of the #MeToo movement. They are already quite vexed that Biden is at the top of the ticket. It is also quite easily positioned as cravenly political, showing Harris is out for herself and will change her viewpoint to achieve her personal career goals. No one even needs to mention Willie Brown.

President Trump has several key accomplishments he can hold up if Harris is the obvious choice to run the country since Biden is not capable of leading. While he is a law and order president in areas like border control, he also signed a significant criminal justice reform bill. He appears to take authentic pride in changing the lives of people like Alice Marie Johnson, who was released as a result.

His administration has also taken steps to restore due process in sexual assault allegations, especially at the university level. Trump’s positions on Kavanaugh and Biden are also consistent with the president actually showing sympathy for Biden during a recent interview. The due process emphasis will play well with independents horrified by the Kavanaugh hearings. The more militant #MeToo supporters have not found a political home.

In terms of education policy, Harris championed harsh truancy laws that penalized parents. The Trump administration champions school choice, which is extremely popular among minority and younger voters. As education has been disrupted during the pandemic, new options may emerge that will likely be supported by the current DOE. Harris is hopelessly tied to the ineffective teachers’ unions.

Even Van Jones, a noted progressive and former Obama advisor, has noted the Trump administration’s successful policies for African-American voters, like funding for historically black colleges, opportunity zones, and historically low unemployment rates across the board. The question Trump can ask this cycle is which candidate minority voters trust to restore the booming economy that was showing real wage gains for workers in the bottom half of the pay scale.

Biden’s team is proposing programs to create “equity.” The president can tout programs and polices capable of creating personal and family success. Biden is speaking to liberal white guilt, a cohort both he and Harris share. Trump is speaking about opportunity for every American and has a record to prove it.

Running a shadow campaign against Harris has the potential to be a winning strategy. She does not handle criticism well, and whatever coaching she has received will likely not change that fact. She is already perceived as inauthentic. And to combat criticism from the Trump camp, she will absolutely have to run from her own record. As a first-term senator with no significant accomplishments in Congress other than grandstanding during hearings, what will she have left?