Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) hedged questions over Vice President Harris’s leadership role in the Democratic party, saying she is “part of” the party’s future but that “it’s not a given” she will be the successor to President Biden.
When asked Sunday by NBC’s “Meet The Press” moderator Kristen Welker if he sees Harris as “the future of the Democratic party,” Clyburn said: “I see her as a part of that future, absolutely.”
Welker, though, pressed the South Carolina Democrat further, asking, “Is she the future, though? Is she the future of the Democratic party?”
“Oh, she could very well be. I think she is running a very good campaign,” Clyburn responded, adding that Harris’s speech at the 2023 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Phoenix Awards Dinner on Saturday was “great.”
“And I look to her as a successor to this president, but I also know the history of that as well,” Clyburn continued. “It’s not a given, you don’t automatically move up. She’ll have to compete going forward with whoever may have dreams and aspirations, and I think she will equip herself well.”
Pointing to a NBC News poll released Sunday that showed Harris’s favorability rating at 31 percent, lower than Biden’s 39 percent, Welker asked Clyburn why he thinks Harris may not be resonating with voters.
“I think when you compare the first woman of color and first woman to be vice president of the United States, and compare that to all of the history before, you will get that,” Clyburn said. “I think that during this campaign, she will demonstrate — as she did in that hall last night — that she knows exactly what she’s doing. She has the capacity and the capability to be president of the United States if called upon to do so.”
Clyburn’s comments come amid a series of columns published earlier this month suggesting Harris be replaced on Biden’s reelection ticket to both boost enthusiasm among Democrats and thwart concerns over Biden’s age.
Clyburn, who is credited with Biden’s ascent in the 2020 Democratic primary in South Carolina, spoke out against chatter regarding Harris earlier this month, definitively saying Biden should not replace her as his running mate. Speaking with CNN, Clyburn said her gender and race are playing “too much” of a role in discussions about the Biden administration.
Meanwhile, growing concerns from both sides of the aisle regarding Biden’s age have forced Harris, 58, to speak on the potential of being commander in chief if needed. At 80, Biden is the oldest U.S. president; he would be 86 at the end of a potential second term.
In an interview earlier this month with CBS News’s Margaret Brennan, Harris said she is prepared to be president “if necessary,” though she dismissed concerns over the president’s age.
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