US President Joe Biden says he intends to run for re-election in 2024. But not all Democrats believe him. Nor are they convinced his No. 2 would be the clear heir if he did choose to opt out, Politico reported.
As Vice President Kamala Harris grapples with a portfolio of seemingly intractable issues and responsibilities that have drawn her away from the national spotlight -- she Zoomed into the infrastructure Cabinet meeting from Paris on Friday -- other Democrats have raised their own national profiles, the report said.
All of it adds a new level of electoral uncertainty that the Democratic Party and Harris in particular face as they remain dependent on Biden's success and unclear about his future.
Biden has also said he wants to be a bridge to the next generation, which has fed routine speculation that he could bow out to make way for a younger Democratic candidate, the report said.
Typically, the person at the other side of that bridge would be the vice president. But less than a year into her time in the executive branch, more than a dozen Democratic officials -- some affiliated with potential candidates -- say that Harris is currently not scaring any prospective opponents, the report said.
"She's definitely not going to clear the field," said one veteran New Hampshire operative, the report added.
Harris' office is keenly aware of these sentiments and the landscape ahead of her. They continue to insist that she is only focused on being "Joe Biden's Joe Biden" -- a strategy that could endear her to both Biden and his political network and potentially pay off with a Biden endorsement, should the time come.
Harris' two main agenda items are voting rights and migration stemming from the Northern Triangle countries in Central America. Both are thorny topics with few easy solutions. And because of the absence of clear progress on both, Harris has become the subject of criticism from both the right and the left. Indeed, there are other potential candidates who have been making national splashes on both those fronts, the report said.
Meanwhile, Harris' "do not come" warning to migrants earlier this year, while the official stance of the administration, has earned the ire of some Latino circles.
Famed journalist Jorge Ramos penned a furious column after her remarks, with the question: "What would have happened if a US politician had told Harris' Indian mother or her Jamaican father not to come to the US to study?"
Charles Burson, who served as former Vice President Al Gore's White House chief of staff during his presidential run, says Harris still has time to take on a big portfolio item that isn't "impossible" and could allow her to "(elevate her) profile where the party and the nation looks to you as the leader".
For now, Harris is operating in a media environment where "there's this assumption that a vice president's going to clear the field," said Joel K. Goldstein, author of "The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden."
Harris' vice presidency is more of a senior adviser role. It has given her proximity to the president but also placed her political future in the backseat as she toes the administration line.
Allies note that voters don't see Harris in many of her roles or hear the advice she provides to Biden in the Oval Office -- putting her at the whims of public perception and media coverage of the role she's playing, the report added.