Kamala Harris: The Forefront Choice to Replace Biden in 2024 Presidential Race

Vice President Kamala Harris has emerged as the top candidate to succeed U.S. President Joe Biden should he decide to withdraw from the 2024 election race. This development comes amidst growing concerns within the Democratic Party about Biden’s viability as a candidate following a lackluster debate performance. Sources close to the Biden campaign, the White House, and the Democratic National Committee have indicated that Harris is considered the most viable alternative, given her prominent role and extensive experience.

Biden’s Debate Performance: Catalyst for Change

The discussion about potential successors intensified after President Biden’s debate against former President Donald Trump, which was widely criticized for his inconsistent and at times incoherent responses. This performance sparked fears among Democrats about Biden’s fitness for a second term, leading to calls for significant changes within his campaign team.

Exploring Alternatives: Why Kamala Harris?

While other potential candidates like California Governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro have been mentioned, insiders assert that bypassing Harris would be nearly impossible. Harris, as Vice President, is already a well-known figure with the highest name recognition and polling numbers among Democrats. Additionally, she would inherit the Biden campaign’s infrastructure and financial resources, streamlining the transition process.

Polling Insights: Harris vs. Trump

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Harris trails Trump by just one percentage point, a difference within the poll’s margin of error. This performance is statistically comparable to Biden’s, suggesting that Harris could be a formidable contender against Trump. Her previous vetting for national office and resilience against Republican scrutiny further solidify her candidacy.

Party Support and Strategic Positioning

Key figures within the Democratic Party, such as U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, a pivotal player in Biden’s 2020 victory, have voiced their support for Harris. Democratic strategist Michael Trujillo highlights the difficulty of any candidate winning the nomination over the current Vice President, emphasizing her widespread support across the nation. This sentiment is echoed by Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, who affirms Harris as the logical successor should Biden step aside.

Biden-Harris Ticket: A Unified Front

Despite the speculation, the Biden campaign remains steadfast in its commitment to a Biden-Harris ticket for the upcoming election. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attributed Biden’s debate performance to an off night and reiterated the President’s intention to continue his re-election campaign. Harris’s office also dismissed rumors of an alternative ticket, stating her eagerness to serve a second term alongside Biden.

The Importance of Delegate Support

Biden’s campaign has secured nearly 3,900 delegates, with only a few remaining uncommitted. These delegates are not only aligned with Biden but also support Harris, bolstering her position within the party. Trujillo notes that Harris’s delegate support across all 50 states provides her with a robust foundation for a potential campaign.

Potential Backlash and Voter Dynamics

Replacing Harris with another candidate could lead to significant backlash, particularly from Black and female voters who are crucial to any Democratic victory. Several Democratic strategists argue that overlooking Harris would alienate these key demographics and undermine the party’s efforts to maintain a unified front.

Challenges and Criticisms Faced by Harris

Despite her strategic position, Harris has faced skepticism from some party members who doubt her ability to win against Trump. The U.S. has never elected a female president, and Harris has struggled to carve out a distinct role as Vice President. Although she has found her stride on issues like abortion rights, her approval ratings remain below 40%. The persistent attacks from Republicans and conservative media, often perceived as sexist and racist, have also complicated her tenure.

Donor Perspectives and Market Realities

Even some Democratic donors, who had been advocating for Biden to step down, now acknowledge the difficulty of bypassing Harris. These donors had considered alternatives like Whitmer and Newsom but recognize the practical challenges of side-lining the first Black woman Vice President. One donor, expressing reluctance, admitted that it would be “nearly impossible” to ignore Harris, while another echoed the sentiment, highlighting the internal party dynamics that make her a central figure in the discussion.

Democratic Unity: Avoiding Internal Conflict

Despite the internal debate, the Biden campaign is determined to stay the course, reinforced by Biden’s improved performance in subsequent speeches. Stephanie Cutter, a former deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama, warned against fueling internal conflicts that could jeopardize the party’s prospects against Trump. She affirmed Biden’s status as the nominee and cautioned against any actions that might fracture party unity.

The Path Ahead for Harris and the Democrats

As the Democratic Party navigates the complexities of the upcoming election, Vice President Kamala Harris stands out as the leading candidate to step in if President Biden opts out. Her extensive experience, broad support base, and significant role in the current administration position her as a formidable contender. The party’s ability to maintain unity and rally behind a single candidate will be crucial in the face of a challenging political landscape.

(With inputs from agencies)

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