If not Kamala Harris, then who will replace Biden to take on Trump

The problem with President Joe Biden, according to reports, is that he forgets. The problem with Vice-President Kamala Harris is that most people don’t seem to remember what she has done.

The poor performance of Biden in the first presidential debate, who at 81 is the oldest president of the US, sparked concerns within the Democratic Party about his fitness to serve a second term. As calls for him to step aside grow, Vice-President Kamala Harris has emerged as the top alternative to replace Biden. However, Harris is not the only name being floated as a potential candidate.

Some influential Democrats have floated alternatives to Biden besides Harris, including popular Cabinet members and Democratic governors like Gavin Newsom from California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania.

These candidates have publicly backed Biden but are being mentioned as potential replacements in top Democratic Party circles.

If Kamala Harris replaces Biden and wins the presidential election, she will make history as the first woman of colour elected as President of the United States.

The Democrats need to decide first, and time is running out fast. It is only 124 days to the election on November 5, 2024.

FIRST DEBATE NOT A DEFEAT, BUT DEBACLE FOR BIDEN

During the first presidential debate hosted by CNN on June 27 in Atlanta, Georgia, Donald Trump was declared the winner according to a CNN poll and The New York Times.

More than a defeat, the first debate was a debacle for Biden.

Criticism intensified as observers noted moments where Biden appeared to lose focus, with some even suggesting he “fell asleep on stage”.

This has also led to increased calls for Biden’s replacement, despite his explanation to donors at a fundraiser on Tuesday that his rigorous travel schedule contributed to his fatigue. Biden emphasised that this was not an excuse, but an explanation, reported the New York Times.

However, Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden is “fit for office”.

This statement came after a meeting with the president aimed at addressing concerns about Biden’s capability to lead and face Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election, CNN reported.

“Yes, fit for office,” Walz replied to a reporter’s question following the private meeting, which included President Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and most Democratic governors in the country.

“None of us are denying that Thursday night was a poor performance. It was a setback, if you will, but it doesn’t change my belief: He’s delivering,” Walz was quoted as saying by CNN.

As the potential candidate after Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, an Indian-American, is seen as the natural choice to take over the fight against Donald Trump.

The White House also declared Vice President Kamala Harris as “the future of the Democratic Party” on Wednesday. This statement comes as leading Democrats and their allies prepare to step in as potential replacements for President Biden should the 81-year-old choose not to run again.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred to Harris as Biden’s political successor and even called her “president” at one point when questioned about Biden’s previous comment about being a “transitional” candidate, according to the New York Post.

WHY KAMALA HARRIS COULD BE A NATURAL CHOICE

California Delegate Areva Martin, in an interview with American sports journalist Stephen A Smith, warned that replacing President Joe Biden with anyone other than Vice-President Kamala Harris for the presidential election would lead black women to “blow up” the Democratic Party.

Harris is the only potential candidate who could directly assume the Biden campaign’s $240 million in funds since their campaign account was registered with the Federal Election Commission in the name of both candidates, as she’s his running mate, according to the Associated Press.

Anyone else would face significant challenges in taking over that money, with only months to go before the election which is going to be held on November 5.

In a CNN poll, Harris and Trump are nearly tied, with 47% of registered voters supporting Trump and 45% backing Harris. This result is within the margin of error, indicating no clear leader in such a scenario.

Kamala Harris has already withstood rigorous scrutiny and has the backing of influential figures like US Representative Jim Clyburn, a pivotal player in Biden’s 2020 victory.

However, Americans have never elected a woman, that too of colour, as President. More than that, American voters don’t seem to remember what exactly Harris has done as the Vice-President. There are doubts on her ability to take on a heavyweight candidate like Trump.

Therefore, if Biden opts out or is replaced as the Democratic candidate to take on Donald Trump, it will be interesting to watch if Democrats go with Harris or seek a fresh face. The crucial Democratic National Convention starts on August 19.

OTHER DEMOCRATS WHO COULD REPLACE BIDEN

A notable group of Democratic governors, who did not run in the 2020 primaries, stand out as potential candidates. This group includes Gavin Newsom from California, Gretchen Whitmer from Michigan, JB Pritzker from Illinois, Josh Shapiro from Pennsylvania, and Wes Moore from Maryland, according to Politico.

These candidates have publicly backed Biden but are being mentioned as potential replacements.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has been a strong advocate for several national Democratic issues, such as women’s rights, immigration, and the economy. He notably survived a recall election last year.

“In the Ipsos poll, Newsom fared 39% to Trump’s 42% and in the CNN poll he received 43% to the former president’s 48%,” according to ABC News.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, re-elected in 2022, is considered a potential Democratic candidate for the 2028 presidential race. She has frequently countered Republican critics, including Trump, especially those who opposed her pandemic policies.

In a hypothetical 2024 race, an Ipsos poll showed Whitmer trailing Trump 36% to 41%, while a CNN poll had her at 42% compared to Trump’s 47%, reported ABC News.

Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania governor, has been mentioned as a potential candidate, though less prominently than Newsom and Whitmer.

WILL KAMALA HARRIS DRIVE AWAY SWING VOTERS?

Despite Harris being the leading alternative, some Democrats have doubts about her ability to defeat Trump. There are also concerns that switching to Harris could drive away crucial undecided voters.

Tech mogul Reid Hoffman’s top political adviser, Dmitri Mehlhorn, expressed these concerns, stating, “Kamala Harris is more threatening to those swing voters than a dead Joe Biden or a comatose Joe Biden,” reported The New York Times.

Additionally, lawyer John Morgan warned that a scramble for a Plan B “could cause more infighting and do more harm than good”, according to The New York Times.

As the debate fallout continues to resonate within the Democratic Party, Kamala Harris remains the top choice to replace Joe Biden if he decides not to continue his re-election campaign. However, other candidates like Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and Josh Shapiro are also being considered.

With just 124 days remaining until the 2024 presidential election, the Democratic Party must navigate these options carefully and ensure they don’t fight among themselves, and focus on fighting Trump.

Published By:

Girish Kumar Anshul

Published On:

Jul 4, 2024

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