Kamala Harris on Sunday declared herself ready to assume the presidency if it ever behooved her to do so – but she also made it a point to dismiss opponents’ political attacks that Joe Biden is too old to seek out a second term in the Oval Office.
Asked on CBS’s Face the Nation whether she was prepared to serve as commander-in-chief in case Biden became unable to carry out his duties, Harris said: “Yes, I am, if necessary.”
“But Joe Biden is going to be fine,” Harris said. “And let me tell you something: I work with Joe Biden every day.”
Harris, who would become the first woman to serve as US president if Biden could not complete an elected term, went on to tell Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan that it would not be a novel experience for her to make history in such a fashion.
She alluded to how she was the first woman elected as district attorney of San Francisco and as attorney general of California. As a US senator for California, “I represented one in eight Americans,” before becoming the country’s first ever female vice-president.
“Listen, this is not new,” Harris said. “There’s nothing new about that.”
Harris’s defense of her qualifications and of Biden’s vitality come as Republicans attack the incumbent 80-year-old Democratic president’s age. If he wins another term during the 2024 election, Biden – already the oldest president ever – would be 86 upon leaving office.
Public opinion polling shows that more than two-thirds of the American public think Biden is too old to effectively serve a second term. And, seizing on those findings, Republicans have sought to portray the prospect of Harris being one heartbeat away from the presidency as a scary prospect.
“I pray every night for Joe Biden’s good health – not only because he’s our president, but because of who our vice-president is,” Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie said on a clip played by Brennan on Sunday.
Brennan played another clip in which Christie’s fellow Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis insulted Harris as Biden’s “impeachment insurance”.
“People know if she were president – Katy, bar the door,” DeSantis said on the clip, invoking an American colloquialism meaning that there’s trouble incoming. “As bad as Biden did, it would get worse.”
Both Christie and DeSantis substantially trail the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination: Biden’s White House predecessor, Donald Trump. Trump maintains his polling edge over his Republican competition despite facing 91 pending criminal charges across four separate indictments for his 2020 election subversion, his retention of classified documents after his defeat to Biden forced him out of the Oval Office and hush-money payments to the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Harris on Sunday parried the Republican verbal volleys against the Biden administration by referring to lower crime rates, falling inflation and relatively quieter times at the US-Mexico border more than halfway through the Democratic incumbents’ third year in office.
“They feel the need to attack because they’re scared that we will win based on the merit of the work that Joe Biden and I, and our administration, has done,” Harris said.
In her interview with Brennan, Harris also said that Congress needed to strive to restore the federal abortion rights which had been established by Roe v Wade but then repealed last year by the US supreme court’s conservatives. Most Americans believe abortion should be legal to some degree, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy, according to polling.
Harris dismissed Republican claims that Democrats support abortion up until birth as “ridiculous” and a “mischaracterization”.