Harris to become Biden road warrior
Vice President Harris will be hitting the road more frequently in the coming weeks and months, sources familiar with the plans tell The Hill.
With COVID-19 cases declining across the nation, Harris will be spending more time crisscrossing the country and touting the successes of the administration, the sources say.
On the trips, the vice president will be discussing issues including infrastructure, expanded broadband access and key executive orders signed by President Biden.
Harris will travel to Louisiana on Friday, and there will likely be another domestic trip next week, according to sources familiar with the vice president’s schedule.
The sources say it’s the return to a more typical schedule for a vice president during nonpandemic times and that Harris will continue a rigorous traveling pace, particularly in the lead up to the midterm elections in November.
“While the Cabinet has been doing a good job hitting the road as much as possible, there is just no way any secretary can bring the star power and local media attention as Vice President Harris can,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale. “And as a lot of accomplishments, especially from the infrastructure bill, are starting to kick in, it is perfect timing to be sharing specific — dare I say concrete— examples in local communities of how they will be benefiting.”
The vice president will also be holding larger events at the White House and at other stops around the country, the sources say.
Up until recently, with coronavirus cases still rampant, crowds were intentionally sparse. On a trip last month to Newark, N.J., to discuss the city’s replacement of lead pipes, Harris spoke to a crowd of 140 people — the highest number at any of Harris’s events as vice president to date.
The trips could represent an opportunity for Harris, who like Biden has seen her approval ratings fall.
A CBS News poll out in January, showed Harris with an approval rating of 44 percent, which was the same as Biden’s at the time. The survey showed that “people tend to approve or disapprove of them in tandem.”
“I don’t think anyone has really gotten to know her since she’s been vice president,” one Democratic strategist said. “I know some people feel slightly disappointed in her, but I think it’s because the administration hasn’t positioned her in the right ways in the first year.
“I think this will not only be a chance for her to tout the administration’s achievements but also to show a little bit of herself to people who still wonder what role she’s playing and how effective she is.”
Supporters of Harris believe getting her on the road can help her and Biden.
Strategists say Harris— the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president — is one of the most effective voices in the administration.
“There are going to be communities and geographies where the vice president is maybe even more resonant and popular than any other member of the administration,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “For the president and Democrats overall to be successful, Vice President Harris should be a visible presence across the country and that’s why she is being deployed in this way.”
Harris traveled to Poland and Romania last week to show the administration’s solidarity with Ukraine. She met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and spoke alongside him at a press conference in Warsaw.
Since arriving back in the U.S., Harris has engaged with officials in Europe about the response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. She held separate calls on Monday with the leaders of Bulgaria and the Czech Republic and on Tuesday spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The White House had planned for Harris to travel to Africa sometime this spring, but sources familiar with the plans say it was recently postponed.
The focus in the coming weeks is expected to be domestic.
On the trip to Louisiana on Friday, Harris is expected to highlight the administration’s “investments in affordable, accessible high-speed internet,” according to a White House statement.
“These are the things we need and should continue to talk about,” one White House official said.
Morgan Chalfant contributed.
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