Vice President Kamala Harris is grumbling behind the scenes about negative news coverage and low morale in the White House, where she believes she’s being treated differently due to her race and gender, according to a report.
Harris, the first woman and first person of color to hold the nation’s second-highest office, has “privately” told allies she believes she’d get better media coverage if she were white and male like her 48 predecessors, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Harris has even turned to prominent political names like Hillary Clinton — the first female Democratic presidential nominee — to determine her next moves, according to the report.
“There is a double standard; it’s sadly alive and well,” Clinton told the newspaper. “A lot of what is being used to judge her, just like it was to judge me, or the women who ran in 2020, or everybody else, is really colored by that.”
Clinton, who speaks to Harris every few months on the phone, visited the vice president in her West Wing office in November, the Times reported.
Outgoing Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said the White House should have mounted a better public defense of Harris amid criticism from conservative news outlets and others on issues like voting rights and the border crisis.
“I know, and we all knew, that she would have a difficult time because anytime you’re a ‘first,’ you do,” Bass told the Times. “And to be the first woman vice president, to be the first black, Asian woman, that’s a triple. So we knew it was going to be rough, but it has been relentless, and I think extremely unfair.”
The Times stated that Harris and President Biden have an affable relationship “by all accounts,” a contrast to a CNN report from last month that described the two as being in an “exhausted stalemate.” However, the report says the vice president’s allies are worried she’s sometimes seen as an afterthought.
“The vice president has diligently worked alongside the president coordinating with partners, allies and Democratic members of the House and Senate to advance the goals of this administration,” said Sabrina Singh, the vice president’s deputy press secretary. Harris declined multiple requests from the paper to comment.
The CNN report cited nearly three dozen insiders who said Harris felt isolated and not supported in the same way as other members of the administration.
“It’s hard to miss the specific energy that the White House brings to defend a white man, knowing that Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn’t want to take themselves,” a former Harris aide told the outlet.
The aide was referring to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who was allowed to take paternity leave during the supply chain crisis. The pair previously ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and are widely expected to run again.
“I think it’s no secret that the different things she has been asked to take on are incredibly demanding, not always well understood publicly and take a lot of work as well as a lot of skill,” Buttigieg told the Times. “You have to do everything except one thing, which is take credit.”
The most pressing and immediate challenge for Harris, however, is the upcoming midterm elections and the threat of Republicans taking back the House, Bass said. As for the question of who succeeds Biden as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer, the lawmaker thinks Harris has a bright future despite the reports of discord at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
“I think she is the front-runner,” Bass said. “I think she’ll be the front-runner.”