WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden has mistakenly referred to her more than once in recent weeks as “President Harris”. Going by political commentariat in the US, vice-president Kamala Harris’ political star is fading rapidly, to the extent that she’s being written out of the 2024 election, even as a vice-presidential candidate. Some pundits have gone to the extent of suggesting that Democrats should persuade Hillary Clinton to run again, as Biden’s running mate if not top of the ticket, in order to galvanise the party. Responding to alarming accounts that her political fortunes are in the decline, Harris is rejigging her team and reorienting her messaging in what one report said was an effort to “boost her public image and reset her political prospects, after a first year in office that even some of her allies say has fallen short of expectations”. From hiring a new communications head to making more high profile appearances with the president, Harris is on a mission to resurrect a career that was briefly expected to culminate in the Oval Office but has since faltered. On Thursday, Harris clapped back at reports of her political demise vis-a-vis 2024, characterising them as “high class gossip” and asserting that she was only thinking about the present. “This is part of the punditry and the gossip around places like Washington, DC. Let me just tell you something. We’re focused on the things in front of us. We’re focused on what we need to do to address issues like affordable childcare,” she told NBC channel. Pressed about whether she’d be on the 2024 Democratic ticket, Harris retorted, “American people sent us here to do a job. And right now there’s a lot of work to be done. And that’s my focus. Sincerely.” Suggestions and speculation that Harris could be or should be bumped off the 2024 Democratic ticket has come from across the media spectrum. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman, invoking the unity efforts in Israel, pitched for a Joe Biden-Liz Cheney or Joe Biden-Lisa Murkowski ticket (both Cheney and Murkowski are moderate Republicans leery of Trump), although he also threw in a Kamala Harris- Mitt Romney possibility into the mix. “This is the democratic way of defeating a threat to democracy. Not doing it is how democracies die,” he wrote, proffering advice to Democrats on countering the Trump threat. In a Wall Street Journal oped, political consultants Douglas Schoen and Andrew Stein bluntly wrote that both Biden and Harris have become unpopular and it may be time for Democrats to effect drastic changes. “A perfect storm in Democratic Party is making a once-unfathomable scenario plausible: a political comeback for Hillary Clinton in 2024. Several circumstances – Biden’s low approval rating, doubts over his capacity to run for re-election at 82, Kamala Harris’s unpopularity, and the absence of another strong Democrat to lead the ticket in 2024 – have created a leadership vacuum, which Mrs. Clinton viably could fill,” they wrote. Projecting that Democrats will likely lose control of Congress in 2022, they anticipated Clinton will begin shortly after the midterms to position herself as an experienced candidate capable of leading the party on new and more successful path. Not so fast, say Harris defenders, who insist that she has been dealt a raw hand rooted in racism and sexism from a male-dominated establishment unaccustomed to seeing a woman in power. Harris has reportedly told allies privately that she has been set up to fail. Earlier this week, Harris was back centrestage with Biden, canvassing support for voting rights bill. “Years from now, our children and our grandchildren, they will ask us about this moment,” she said. Days later, two (white) senators from her own party torpedoed prospects of the legislation – and Harris’ political future.

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