The Kamala Question & Biden’s Political Challenge

Now that Biden’s re-election campaign looks inevitable, how will the dynamic between himself and Kamala Harris change?
Now that Biden’s re-election campaign looks inevitable, how will the dynamic with Kamala Harris change? Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Despite recent gains in jobs, positive signs from Jerome Powell and indicators of declining inflation, polls show that Americans aren’t feeling great about the state of the country. Puck’s Tara Palmeri and Peter Hamby discuss Biden’s upcoming battles, the role Kamala Harris needs to play in his re-election, Trump’s downward trendline, and other key details that Washington insiders are talking about.

Tara: This State of the Union is a big moment for Biden: He’s now really making the pitch for re-election, and yet the premise of that pitch—the notion that he’s amassed a number of significant legislative accomplishments—isn’t actually translating into daily touchpoints for many Americans. How does Biden get ahead of the G.O.P. with a counter-narrative?

Peter Hamby: Biden’s main advantage is that there isn’t really a G.O.P. counter-narrative at all, or at least one that has some kind of appeal to the voting public. That was the verdict of the midterms after all, wasn’t it? That Democrats aren’t great, but geez, do Republicans have anything better to offer? Since taking over the lower chamber, Kevin McCarthy’s barely-there House majority has passed only a handful of messaging bills—on issues like abortion, Covid, and “denouncing the horrors of socialism”—which are really only designed to get members on the record and generate content for future campaign ads back in their districts. McCarthy barely scraped together the votes to kick Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Republicans have no coherent policy agenda and they have no interest in working with Biden or Democrats in the Senate. This isn’t totally a knock against them, by the way. When Democrats captured the House, in 2018, their only goal was to stiff-arm Trump and Republicans in the upper chamber.