Republicans Are Already Running Against Kamala Harris

A new ad released by Republicans today ends with a demand: “Vote Republican. Stop Kamala.”

A stack of three 1970s-era televisions with manual dials. On them are three video screengrabs from a Republican-affiliated account on X featuring Vice President Kamala Harris. The screengrab at the top reads "This is who we want to be president?" The screengrab on the lower left reads "Kamala is Biden's enabler in chief." And the screengrab on the bottom right reads "This November: Vote Republican. Stop Kamala."

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Despite insistence from the White House that President Biden has no plans to drop out of the general election after his disastrous debate performance last week, Republicans seem to be already running against Vice President Kamala Harris.

A new ad released on Wednesday by the National Republican Congressional Committee calls Harris Biden’s “enabler in chief” and “architect of the border crisis.” The ad, titled “Careful for what you wish for,” depicts Harris as conniving, as her remarks championing the president play against images of Biden stumbling on stairs and appearing to fall asleep. It ends with a demand—“This November: Vote Republican. Stop Kamala”—as ominous music plays in the background over footage of Democrats chanting “four more years!” at Biden’s State of the Union while Harris smiles and claps in the background.

The Trump War Room account on X, run by the campaign, also posted a four-minute long video featuring various clips of Harris repeating the phrase, “What can be, unburdened by what has been.” The apparent aim of the video was to try to cast the phrase in a conspiratorial light. “Here are four straight minutes of Kamala Harris being ‘unburdened,” the account wrote. Other prominent figures on the right also appeared confident that Harris would soon be replacing Biden. “They’re gonna put in Kamala,” conservative commentator Meghan McCain posted on X. Turning Point CEO Charlie Kirk, meanwhile, breathlessly posted what he claimed was a “scoop” that “leftist [get out the vote] groups…are lining up the switch to Kamala.”

Of course, Republican attacks against Harris and suggestions that the VP—not Biden—is the real threat conservatives should be worried about are not new. Former South Carolina governor and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, for example, frequently targeted Harris with that theory during her failed presidential bid. More generally, Harris has long been the subject of sexist and racist attacks.

The difference this time, though, is that what once seemed like nothing more than a far-fetched Republican scare tactic—peddling the prospect of a Harris presidency as a result of a feeble Biden—is now a real possibility being openly discussed by some Democrats as more of them voice their concerns about Biden’s ability to beat Trump following their first debate of this election cycle. Reuters reported today that Harris is being floated as the top choice to replace Biden if he drops out of the race, citing “seven senior sources at the Biden campaign, the White House and the Democratic National Committee with knowledge of current discussions on the topic.”

While other Democrats with national ambitions, including Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), have also been floated as possibilities to replace Biden as the Democrats’ nominee, Harris is the only candidate who could actually absorb Biden’s war chest for use in the general election, according to campaign finance law. She also has stronger name recognition than the other alternatives, Reuters notes. And a new CNN poll out yesterday suggests Harris could pose a real threat to Trump, attracting 45 percent of voters, compared to 47 percent who would support Trump in a hypothetical rematch. That’s a slimmer margin than Biden’s six-point lag behind Trump, in part due to Harris’s stronger support from women voters and independents compared to Biden, according to the CNN poll. (It also showed Harris polling higher against Trump than Newsom, Whitmer, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg would.)

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Mother Jones on Wednesday. But messaging from the White House suggests that Biden does not intend to bow out anytime soon. According to Politico, the president said on a campaign call today: “Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running…no one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win.” Still, don’t expect the right-wing attacks on Harris to stop anytime soon.

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