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Kamala Harris supporters mobilize to soften VP concerns by Joe Biden advisors

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.
Sen. Kamala Harris is among the finalists on Joe Biden’s vice presidential list.
(Associated Press)

Defenders of California Sen. Kamala Harris are rallying to her support over concerns that she is being viewed skeptically by the advisors vetting possible running mates for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

As Biden nears the announcement of his vice presidential choice, the top contenders and their advocates are making final appeals. The campaign hasn’t finalized a date for naming a running mate, but three people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans said a public announcement probably wouldn’t happen before the week of Aug. 10.

Harris’ allies mobilized this week after Politico reported that the co-chair of Biden’s vetting committee, former Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, was still concerned about Harris’ tough debate performance against Biden in June 2019 and that she hasn’t expressed regret.

Several California elected officials and labor leaders initiated a call with the vetting team to emphasize that Harris has strong support among labor and political leaders in her home state. The call was organized by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and included the mayors of Oakland, Long Beach and Stockton and former Gov. Gray Davis.

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Many on Biden’s team once felt he needed a running mate who’d generate excitement. Now, with his polling lead, a “do no harm” strategy gains ground. But pressure for a Black candidate mounts.

“A group of us really felt we needed to organize and speak out and correct the record because she has tremendous support,” Kounalakis said.

Beyond emphasizing their strong relationships with Harris, they also objected to the idea that Harris wouldn’t be a loyal partner.

Dodd said “very supportive” things about Harris, Kounalakis said, though she did not give specifics.

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The leading contenders include Harris, California Rep. Karen Bass and Obama national security advisor Susan Rice. The deliberations remain fluid, however, and the campaign has reviewed nearly a dozen possible running mates.

“For Joe Biden, this is crunch time. After all the vetting, all the investigations into the prospective nominees, it’s now up to Joe. It’s personal,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was vetted for vice president in 2008. “It’s now about his gut feeling.”

Representatives for Biden declined to comment for this story.


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