Donna Brasil calls the alleged rivalry between Vice President Kamala Harris and Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg “gossip” and “fabricated BS”.
“With an emphasis on B and S,” added Brasil, former Democratic chief and current confidant of Harris.
Alas, Washington is a city that thrives on hypothesis, intrigue and – yes – gossip. So, no matter how many times people like Brazil try to suppress it, speculation continues.
Here’s the theory: A couple of bold names in the Biden administration are vying to be next in line to nominate the party, either in 2024 if President Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history at 79, steps aside, or 2028 if he runs again.
On Thursday, the two protagonists of this latest Ring Road drama hit the road together. Anyone hoping for a thrilling oratory battle in Charlotte, North Carolina will have to settle for potholes and rural broadband access. The theme of the day is infrastructure.
But rest assured, TV analysts will provide authoritative opinions on their body language as they tour the Charlotte Area Transit System bus and light rail garage. Someone may notice who is talking most passionately about the deteriorating condition of the bridges in the country, or who are failing to convey the excitement of the HSR lanes.
“I’m sure this will be carefully analyzed,” said Elaine Kamark, a former assistant to Vice President Al Gore, who is studying the presidential nomination process at the Brookings Institution think tank. “It remains to be seen whether this means anything.”
The Republicans have also summed up the results. “The actuarial reality of President Biden’s age, coupled with what some consider to be a vice president’s low performance, opened the way,” said Michael Steele, who served as a campaign advisor to former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and former Florida governor. Jeb Bush’s presidential primaries.
“If you think there is a possibility that the Democratic Party will demand another candidate in 2024, this is a direct comparison of the two potential top contenders,” he said of the trip Thursday.
The chatter began to pick up steam earlier this year. Some speculated that Harris would lead the next nomination process when Biden selected her as his nominee last year, but she fell in opinion polls and suffered from unflattering media coverage. Harris’ top spokesman and senior advisor, Simone Sanders, announced late Wednesday that she would be leaving the administration at the end of the year. Ashley Etienne, Harris’s director of communications, is also retiring.
Buttigieg, who went from mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to cabinet member at 39, has been portrayed by some donors and party insiders as an alternative to Harris.
Both ran for their party in 2020 and received enough notices to take top positions in the administration.
“This is your typical Ring Road view of the navel, and of course it becomes more relevant because Biden is his age,” Kamark said. “So this has been happening for a while because we didn’t have an incumbent who was that old.”
Add to that the fact that some of Harris’ allies have complained about her notoriously difficult assignments in the administration – restricting migration from Central America and passing voting bills that are stuck in the Senate. Buttidzic, by contrast, was tasked with promoting success as a test of incentives.
The anti-Harris rumble among Democrats is internal concern, given that women and black voters are the party’s two most important constituencies. Harris is a historic vice president who took office with unusually high expectations; however, her race and gender contributed to negative media portrayal and low poll rates. Getting around it with a white man who has far less experience in government may be viewed by many as part of a broader social model.
Buttigieg, a Navy veteran, will be the first candidate from open gay parties. He made history by taking parental leave after he fathered twins in August. It is unusual, however, that the transport secretary attracts so much presidential buzz that began even before his agency was tasked with spending and overseeing many projects in the administration’s $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill.
Dick Harputlian, former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and state senator, said in a recent interview that “there is definitely concern” that Harris “does not resonate” in society. But he added that it is too early to judge her, especially when he and others expect Biden to run for a second term.
“She has the skills to demonstrate who she is and what she believes in,” he said. “This is a story that has yet to be told.”
It was said in Harris and Buttigieg circles that there was nothing to watch. A White House spokesman said the Harris and Buttigieg offices began planning a joint event to promote the administration’s agenda months ago, well before the latest wave of speculation. Harris’ aide denied the trip was planned to drown out talk of rivalry, noting that the vice president traveled with other cabinet secretaries.
Their husbands, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Chastain Buttigieg, are known to be friendly, and a slew of social media posts emerged during their March walk along Capitol Hill.
Buttigieg, who was asked about talking about the rivalry with Harris on Meet the Press last month, said it had no impact on their relationship.
“We’re too busy to do,” he said. “The President has instructed us to literally take on projects and legislation that are important for generations. There is no place to get carried away with games in the living room. “