Vice President Kamala Harris asked Black female leaders for creative ways to connect with ordinary Americans during a meeting on Monday as she tries to fight back from plunging poll ratings and the fallout from key advisers quitting.
They told her to be more open about her work and offered to serve as ambassadors for her, according to Politico.
The meeting came after weeks of torrid headlines about how President Joe Biden had isolated his vice president and that her management style was alienating top staff.
Attendees said Harris had asked them to give it to her straight and wanted to know what people were saying about her.
‘She was asking for clarity on how to best touch the everyday American rank and file who may or may not be living Beltway life like we do,’ said Shavon Arline-Bradley, president of D4 in Action.
‘She said “I want the message to resonate with the Beltway and beyond, outside of Washington, D.C. How do I get that message out?”‘
Vice President Kamala Harris has been under intense pressure amid staff resignations and plunging poll numbers. On Monday she asked Black leaders to tell her what people are saying about her as she tries to build back
Last month, President Biden made a point of arriving at a White House function with his vice president amid reports that she was being frozen out by his team
The vice president’s office has been hit by a string of resignations. Chief spokesperson Symone Sanders (l) announced she is leaving by the end of the year, part of an exodus that includes communications chief Ashley Etienne
Ebonie Riley of National Action Network said Harris was receptive to the idea of a town hall-style meeting in order to talk more about her role and her work
Attendees told Politico that Harris seemed receptive to holding town halls on her areas of responsibility – from voting rights to other issues affecting Black people – and said she would check the calendar for events where she could appear.
It suggests the embattled vice president is preparing to hit back against a growing perception that her office is in crisis.
Her chief spokesperson Symone Sanders has announced she is leaving by the end of the year, following her communications director out of the door.
Two other officials charged with shaping Harris’s image are also reported to be leaving. And they follow two more junior members of her staff who quit during the summer.
The exodus is part of a pattern for those who worked for her in the past.
‘Such tales of chaos have a familiar ring to longtime Harris watchers in California,’ wrote Democratic strategist Gil Duran in a column for the San Francisco Examiner.
‘As a former Harris staffer who quit after five months in 2013, I’m not surprised.
‘Still, it’s sad to see her repeat the same old destructive patterns under the harsh gaze of the Washington press corps.’
The White House pushed back on the reports.
‘I would point you to the Vice President’s office, but I work with a number of people in the Vice President’s office who certainly are looking forward to continuing their jobs,’ Psaki said.
Her status as the Democrats’ de facto 2024 presidential frontrunner – if Biden steps aside – is in doubt.
A rolling average of polls maintained by the statistics website FiveThirtyEight, puts her approval at 40.6 percent while 52.8 percent of voters disapprove.
Harris unveiled plans to improve maternal health on Tuesday at a White House event. But her popularity has plunged in recent weeks amid reports of dysfunction
‘Her failing is not an option,’ said Arline-Bradley.
‘One thing we talked about is ensuring that she has ambassadors that can actually speak to this. Kind of connecting to her personally, who is Kamala?
‘The entire person, the politician, the leader, the wife, the mother.’
The meeting was described as half strategic and half cathartic, with many of those attending expressing how they wanted to better support the vice president.
Aides have said Harris is also hampered by the fact she has to be available to break tied votes in the Senate, keeping her close to Washington.
Ebonie Riley, senior vice president of Policy & Strategic Partnerships at National Action Network, said: ‘We offered a town hall. Have her come and answer some of the questions for our community and that could range from Black women and young Black people, and the community as a whole.
‘And that way, she’s not put in a position to kind of have it come through the administration.’
Riley said she was open to that idea.
On Tuesday, Harris appeared at the White House to unveil plans to improve maternal health across the country.
‘This challenge is urgent, and it is important and it will take all of us. And to put it simply, here’s how I feel about this: in the United States of America, in the 21st century, being pregnant and giving birth should not carry such great risk,’ she said.
‘Women in our nation are dying before, during and after childbirth.’