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Biden grooms Harris as top surrogate with public displays of togetherness

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Washington Examiner, March 2021

When President Biden meets Asian American families in Atlanta Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris will be at his side—just as she was throughout Thursday in the Oval Office to receive the president’s daily intelligence briefing, followed by an update on the COVID-19 response, the weekly economic briefing, and then standing behind the commander in chief as he delivered a speech to the nation on vaccination delivery.

It makes for a very public display of togetherness from an administration that styles itself Biden-Harris at every opportunity. And in doing so, historians see an effort by a leader modeling the relationship on his own time as vice president and setting up his deputy to be his most important and visible surrogate. “He’s making a very public show of this,” said Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University professor and a leading expert on the vice presidency. “That’s important to credentialize her, to send the message that she is important.”

“That provides the foundation so she can perform as an important surrogate for Biden and really expand his capacity by meeting with foreign leaders and so forth,” he added.

On Wednesday, she met virtually with the Irish prime minister and, earlier in the week, traveled west—to California, Nevada, and Colorado—to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. A day later, the president slipped and referred to her as the commander in chief.

“This is really important,” Biden said of the country’s immunization effort. “Because we believe in speed and efficiency must be matched with fairness and equity. Now when President Harris took a virtual tour of a vaccination center in Arizona not long ago, one of the nurses on that tour – injecting people, giving vaccinations said that each shot was like administering a dose of hope.”

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