Kamala Harris is in a tough spot

Kamala Harris is in a tough spot
  • Kamala Harris is working to prove Biden's capability amid growing doubts.

  • Biden's weak debate performance raised questions about his ability to win and serve another term.

  • One expert argues that if Biden isn't fit for office, Harris has a constitutional duty to remove him.

Vice President Kamala Harris is in a difficult position.

As Joe Biden's number two in command, she must show her unconditional support of the president during a time when elected Democrats and voters alike are questioning his ability to both win and finish a second term.

At the same time, Harris must also prove that she is capable of taking Biden's place if it comes down to it — a possibility she has not acknowledged even though many see her as Biden's most natural successor.

Biden's disastrous debate performance last month sparked mass speculation, both nationally and globally, about his ability to serve a second term. And ever since, Harris has been working overdrive to prove that Biden is still a strong candidate capable of leading the country, and more importantly to the Democratic party, of beating Donald Trump.

"The worst thing a vice president can do at this point is to be anxious to get the president out," Elaine Kamarck, a former aide to Al Gore and electoral politics expert at the Brookings Institution, told The New York Times. "It just totally backfires. My guess is some fairly unsophisticated people are calling up Kamala Harris saying: 'Can I do this? Can I do that?' And if she's smart, she will shut that down tight."

Following Biden's debate against Trump, Harris acknowledged that Biden's performance was not his best.

But, she argued to supporters at a Las Vegas rally the next day, "This race will not be decided by one night in June," the Washington Post reported.

"I see Joe Biden when the cameras are on and when the cameras are off; in the Oval Office, negotiating bipartisan deals," Harris said at the rally, according to The New York Times. "I see him in the Situation Room, keeping our country safe; on the world stage, meeting with foreign leaders who often ask for his advice."

In the days since the debate, Harris has only ratcheted up her efforts to bolster Biden's image. She's on the Biden campaign trail all of this week, meeting with Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander voters in Las Vegas on Tuesday before heading to Dallas on Wednesday and North Carolina on Thursday, according to the Washington Post.

At every possible opportunity, Harris has reiterated her support of Biden and her belief that he can run the country for another four years. If she were to publicly, or even privately, acknowledge that she's ready to take on the presidency in his place, it could be seen as an admission that Biden isn't fit to lead.

"She's in an awkward position," civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton told The New York Times of Harris' dual roles of supporting Biden while also proving her own ability to lead. "But the job of vice president is awkward."

But, there's also a deeper tension underlying Harris's current position, a political science expert told Business Insider.

Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at Florida State University and director of nonpartisan think tank LeRoy Collins Institute, says that Harris's role supporting Biden's reelection at all costs may conflict with her 25th Amendment duty to determine if he is unfit to hold the position.

Atkeson argued that, under of the 25th Amendment, Harris "has a constitutional duty to be independent of" Biden, and to "help decide whether or not he's capable of completing his term."

"But that is complicated by the fact that she is the vice president and is also running for elective office as the vice president," Atkeson added. "So how does she fill both her constitutional role and her role as supporter of the president during an election campaign?"

Atkeson then explained that Harris' decision to support Biden despite growing doubts about his physical and mental capacity puts her in a compromising position. That's because, Atkeson said, if it were to come out that Biden is not actually fit for office, and that Harris knew all along, then she could be seen as "not fulfilling her constitutional mission."

But while some Republicans like Rep. Chip Roy of Texas and House Speaker Mike Johnson believe that Biden should be removed under the 25th Amendment, Democrats — and least of all, Harris — don't appear to be considering that option.

Read the original article on Business Insider