The Kamala Calculus

kamala harris
Kamala Harris has endured the national and global spotlight for years now, and would be a much safer plug-in option than any of the Democratic governors who think they’ve been playing in the major leagues but actually haven’t. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Peter Hamby
July 8, 2024

Back in March, I hopped a flight to Phoenix to interview Vice President Kamala Harris for my Snapchat show, Good Luck America, after she headlined an abortion rights rally in the swing state. It was the first time I’d been with Harris up close since her listless presidential campaign in 2020 and, like many people, my impressions of her had been shaped by the sometimes Veep-like viral clips and memes that came to define her during those first years as Joe Biden’s number two. She was cautious, mistake-prone, a little goofy, and tripped up by issues like immigration that were outside her comfort zone. Her struggles were magnified by the fact that the vice presidency is a thankless job. The press only covers a V.P. when they screw up, not when they cut a ribbon in Raleigh. 

I’d written about Harris’s struggles, both as a political figure who never seemed to live up to the sky-high expectations placed upon her, and as a merciless boss with a roster of aggrieved former staffers in California and Washington. But in Arizona, I encountered a more impressive figure than the Selina Meyer caricature on social media. Harris had grown. How could she not? Three years of media glare, a relentless onslaught of speeches and policy briefings, meetings with over 150 world leaders—she was bound to improve.