Vice President Kamala Harris said in a recent interview published this week that as doubts grow over President Joe Biden’s ability to continue to serve as commander-in-chief amid questions about his mental fitness, she is ready to step up and be president.
The remarks from Harris come after Special Counsel Robert Hur concluded in his criminal investigation into Biden’s handling of classified material that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,” but no criminal charges were warranted, adding that prosecutors “also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury…as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
The report said that Biden could not remember basic details about major events in his life, including when he served as vice president in the Obama administration, and he could not remember within several years when his son died, even though he talks about his son’s death often.
Biden then held a press conference to demonstrate his mental fitness for office and ended up yelling at reporters and forgetting numerous key details.
The report and the subsequent press conference ignited alarm bells among top Democrats who are privately panicking over Biden’s electability, as a recent poll found that 86% of Americans believe he is too old to be president again, and 76% have concerns about his mental fitness.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Harris was asked if voters’ concerns about Biden’s age and mental fitness meant she must convince them that she is ready to take over.
“I am ready to serve. There’s no question about that,” Harris responded. She claimed that everyone who sees her on the job “walks away fully aware of my capacity to lead.”
Jennifer Palmieri, who worked in the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, told the Journal that Hur’s report has really brought Harris’ ability to serve into the spotlight as she could be needed sooner rather than later.
“There was always going to be a lot of scrutiny and pressure on her in the 2024 campaign, and that moment’s here now,” she said. “I think that the special counsel’s report has sort of accelerated that moment.”
A recent Harvard CAPS / Harris poll found that if Biden decided not to run again, Harris would be the top choice among Democrat voters at 15%. After Harris, 8% of voters wanted Hillary Clinton, 7% wanted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 7% wanted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), 5% wanted California Governor Gavin Newsom, and the list thins out from there.
An NBC News poll from last year found that Harris was the lowest-rated vice president in the history of the survey, with a -17 rating. Other vice presidents that were rated included Dick Cheney (+23), Al Gore (+15), Biden (+1), and Pence (-4).