The fortunes of candidates in our interminably long presidential primary process can often change rather quickly. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had more momentum than any of her opponents coming out of the first round of debates in June. That probably seems like a lifetime ago to her campaign now.
Harris went after the guy at the top in Round 1 and scored a couple of strong blows. Almost all of the favorable post-debate media chatter was about her. Her standout performance was immediately reflected in the polls and it seemed as if she would permanently plant herself among the frontrunners.
Harris’s second debate performance could be described as “clunky” at best. She found her record as the attorney general of California under attack and didn’t handle it very gracefully. After the debate — when she shouldn’t have been crowing about anything — Harris referred to herself as a “top-tier candidate” in her dismissal of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Harris could still be considered “top-tier” if the remaining Democratic field were split into two tiers. True, Harris is in fourth place in most of the polls, but she is consistently trailing third place by double digits. It would be more accurate to say that she is at the top of the middle tier.
That may not even last long now.
Sen. Kamala Harris’ debate performance on Thursday failed to impress many of her party’s big-money donors who were on the fence about her candidacy.
Going into the Democratic primary debate in Houston, Harris’ closest supporters privately acknowledged that if the senator from California did not come out swinging against her opponents and clearly define her policies, wealthy donors could shy away from her campaign.Many of them were hoping for a repeat of the aggressive tactics she used in the first debate, when she took on former Vice President Joe Biden for his willingness to work with segregationists as a senator in the 1970s.
Now these sources say that these uncommitted contributors are still not convinced they can dedicate their expansive networks to her cause alone.
Harris’s performance on Thursday was neither good nor bad. It was something much worse: forgettable.
She attempted a cumbersome zing of President Trump in her opening statement that got some media play, but only because the MSM hates the president. As I wrote in Friday’s post-debate Morning Briefing, one might think that she left the stage immediately after that, given the little amount of coverage she’s received since.
Harris hasn’t blundered her way out of contention just yet, but she is definitely showing that she may have the capacity for doing so sooner rather than later.