During a deadly vetting process to nominate his 2020 vice presidential running mate, Joe Biden questioned whether Kamala Harris advisers were behind the flood of negative media coverage that engulfed some of his well-placed rivals.
As the candidates expect to face intense scrutiny, the authors of a forthcoming book wrote that ‘something about it seemed more deliberate, even targeted’ as Biden and his advisers seek a No. 2 reliable that would not hurt his chances in a general election.
The attack targeted “all the most formidable black women under study,” wrote Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of the New York Times. “[E]except for Kamala Harris.
Harris’s team was known for circulating searing opposition research on other candidates in the primary contest, raising suspicions at the top that they were behind attempts to sabotage the California senator’s rivals, according to Martin and Burns in This Won’t Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future.
KAMALA HARRIS’ CHIEF OF STAFF LEFT A TUMUOUS PERIOD FOR HIS OFFICE
California Rep. Karen Bass was pressed to respond to her warm remembrance of Fidel Castro and her praise for the Church of Scientology as statements and videos circulated in news articles and on social media. Aides to Susan Rice, White House national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, learned of a dossier that criticized her tough management style in detail.
The deluge hit many as a tactical move. According to Martin and Burns, “Even Joe Biden wondered aloud: Was Harris’ team behind this?”
Bass had won strong support from California Democrats and their allies in Washington, including former Connecticut senator Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s vice-presidential search committee.
And when the gloves fell off for Harris, the Democratic presidential nominee was alarmed.
“Biden was surprised by some of the intrastate factional attacks on Harris by fellow Democrats, including members of the state’s large congressional delegation,” the authors wrote in the book, which is due for release on March 3. may.
Prominent California Democrats and political operatives had vouched for Bass when her name began circulating, with some “explicitly” recommending her as an alternative to Harris.
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David Crane, a top adviser to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was a powerful voice pushing for the Golden State representative, who at the time chaired the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Unlike Kamala Harris,” Crane told Biden advisers, “Karen cares about something bigger than herself.”
But Crane’s stinging dismissal didn’t hold. Harris had a well-placed supporter, Biden’s close adviser Ron Klain, backing her from the start, believing she was the best person for the job.