Eight months before the 2020 election, when Joe Biden was looking for a running mate who would solidify his coalition, the Democratic strategist Karen Finney and a small group of prominent Black political savants (Minyon Moore and Leah Daughtry, among others) pushed him to choose a Black female running mate. One month later, they specifically made the case for his one-time foe, Kamala Harris.
Finney, who is also a CNN commentator, remains a friend of Harris and a member of her kitchen cabinet. She reliably defends the vice president in the wake of stories about turnover in her office, say, or other political challenges. She’s also among a group of powerful female strategists who have met in D.C. to deeply ponder how to rewrite the narrative that Harris is underperforming in her historic role.
As Biden prepares to embark on a re-election campaign, Harris will enter uncharted territory: She’s on the bottom of the ticket, sure, but she will also be understudying the oldest commander-in-chief in history. Unlike in 2020, she’ll be very much in the political foreground, the subject of scrutiny within her party and brutal attacks from her opponents. I spoke to Finney about the Harris narrative, and how it might be revised before Biden hits the stump.