When a group of high-powered and monied lady Democrats get together to help a sister, namely the catcher of all crises in the new administration, something is up. Less than a year in, Vice President Kamala Harris was recently summoned to the home of Kiki McLean. On the agenda was a good old-fashioned girls’ night out to chew the fat, consume lettuce sandwiches, and flesh out how to shield, preserve, and protect their party’s number-one gal.
Isn’t it a little too early for that kind of thing, though? The vice president is the best tool Biden has to distract folks from every way he has earned the moniker Gaffer in Chief. What it looks like is an early meeting to strategize for a presidential run in 2024. What it sounds like is a solid Junior League effort to fix the coming-undone-under-pressure Harris. It’s a 2024 campaign duck fluffing.
She’s Come Undone
Kiki McLean is an operative extraordinaire. As an experienced doyen and public affairs professional, she navigated the waters for both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the early 1990s. It was a time when cigars penetrated every political conversation, and Hillary declared: “I’m not sitting here – some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.” Americans elected Bill twice: Kiki is that good. And she called up a few friends:
- Donna Brazile and Leah Daughtry, a pair of former DNC officials.
- Stephanie Cutter: Biden adviser and leader outside the West Wing.
- Harris confidant Minyon Moore.
- Former Hillary Clinton spokeswomen and Democratic Party strategists Adrienne Elrod and Karen Finney.
- Jennifer Palmieri, former White House communications director under Obama.
This is the group that invited Harris and her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, to stop on in (translated: get your hiney over here, now.)
Insiders say the talk was about how to improve Harris as the number two. But who needs a strong number two? No one remembers the next in succession unless there is, God forbid, an assassination followed by an ascension. Does anyone remember Lyndon Johnson’s running mate? Or Richard Nixon’s ticket placeholder. The four to eight years spent with the elected president is all anyone should need to continue the planned political agenda.
Most Democratic politicos know there is an elephant in the room and try to squeeze around – and not alarm – the White House. But Kamala and Kiki may have just named the pachyderm Madam President 2024.
Granted, Ms. Harris needs a bit of help from the public relations department to control the nervous guffaws. She could benefit from reintroduction to media relations, though she’ll need to be ready to answer a tricky question without sounding like a mean girl – or going against her party’s platform. However, the role of V.P. has changed some of late: There’s more face time, more handling of issues. Of course, that’s all added to the rigorous schedule in representing the nation at state funerals. Vice President Mike Pence was chosen to lead the battle against COVID-19 in part as a calm spokesman on behalf of the Trump administration – and likely because the president had a tough time delivering a message without ticking people off and causing a blowback reaction.
Harris was tagged for the unenviable position as the border Czar to clean up and control the immigration crisis and give the impression Biden is taking care of business. So far, her role has dealt a one-two punch and bloodied the president’s nose. Not a big deal for a run in 2028 – voters forget and circle back to their registration card. But it’s a very big deal if the Democratic Party has eyes for 2024.
Joe Biden will be 81 in 2024. Though he has hinted at his willingness to serve until he’s the age of Methuselah, serious grooming of Harris is taking place under the watchful eye of Kiki and company. How to remove or respin a disastrous career in California, downplay cruel immigration remarks, and rework unpolished displays of humor are all on the docket for Ms. Harris.
As such, expect to see Kamala 2.0 emerge over the next few months: a toned-down version with a coy smile, fewer toothy outbursts, and heavily scripted to avoid one-on-one contact with the press. Consider the emerging Kamala a sort of Biden-lite – controlled, but with enough cognitive function to not lick the windows or read aloud the teleprompter prompts.
Maybe someone should tell Joe he’s had a good run and to step down so Harris can run as the incumbent? “Um, Mr. President? A Kiki McLean is on line one.”
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.
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