Kamala Harris reportedly continues to communicate on her own with world leaders, perhaps engaging in foreign policy diplomacy normally handled by the president.
On Tuesday, Harris spoke with Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg, one of at least six high-level heads of state that she has chatted with without Joe Biden on the line.
Harris has reportedly also spoken one-on-one with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emanuel Macron, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several others. The Washington Post described these conversations as “an unusually large number for a new vice president.”
The calls to Trudeau and Macron occurred soon after Biden spoke with them himself.
During the course of an administration, especially in the early days, some of these calls tend to be merely ceremonial or get-acquainted sessions, such as apparently the one with the Norway leader, during which Harris reaffirmed the close ties between the two countries on several issues. Other interactions obviously have greater ramifications.
According to one European official, the international community perceives Harris as “a potential president in waiting,” Fox News reported. Harris dropped out of the Democrat presidential primary contest in December 2019, when she was merely registering about three percent in national polls, and around the same lackluster rating in Iowa and New Hampshire.
For what it’s worth, in late December 2020, Biden himself referred to his running mate as “President-elect Harris.” On a prior occasion, he made reference to a “Biden-Harris” administration.
Listen: Joe Biden’s already calling Kamala Harris ‘President-Elect’ https://t.co/iwos5UjZAF pic.twitter.com/DEP3gPiQU5
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 30, 2020
Harris’ apparently larger role or profile in foreign policy as compared with prior VPs could be a form of high-stakes, on-the-job training, especially as questions about Biden’s mental acuity continue to persist.
The latest example occurred on Monday, when Biden seemed to forget the name of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, referring to him as “the guy who runs that outfit over there.”
Biden struggles to recall name of DoD chief: ‘The guy who runs that outfit over there’ https://t.co/QfE2pCA3l6 pic.twitter.com/8obp9cBh05
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 9, 2021
“Less than two months into the new administration, Harris’ frequent solo calls with world leaders signal that she’ll engage deeply even in foreign policy, though her experience has been almost entirely in the domestic realm. Leaders around the world could view the vice president as Biden’s heir-apparent and be eager to build a relationship,” Fox News added. “Under President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence occasionally spoke with foreign leaders directly by phone, but the president preferred to call them himself. ”
“It’s too early to say whether the president will formally entrust Harris with a specific national security portfolio…But the skills, knowledge and relationships she is building as vice president could serve her well if Biden…bows out after one term, leaving the former California senator his designated heir,” the Washington Post similarly noted.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has publicly questioned who is actually in charge at the White House. “You have to wonder whether or not the transition to Harris has already begun. Joe Biden’s had more nap time than he’s had questions from reporters…Joe Biden has had more attacks on Syria than he’s had press conferences…”
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