Democrats Running Kamala Harris ‘One Way or Another’: Ex-Obama Adviser

In a candid assessment of the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential prospects, Van Jones, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, suggested that Vice President Kamala Harris is effectively being positioned as the party’s de facto nominee, regardless of President Joe Biden’s official status in the race.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union with host Dana Bash, Jones shared his concerns over Biden’s recent debate performance and its potential impact on the campaign. “We knew that debate had to turn things around. It did turn things around in the negative direction,” Jones said, highlighting the growing unease within Democratic circles about Biden’s ability to secure a second term.

The political commentator emphasized the deep affection many Democrats hold for Biden, describing him as “beloved” within the party. However, Jones also pointed out the stark reality facing the Democrats: “Nobody believes Joe Biden is going to be president in four years.”

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris wave to members of the audience after speaking at a campaign rally at Girard College on May 29, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Political commentator Van…

This sentiment echoes broader concerns about Biden’s age and stamina, which have been persistent themes in discussions about his candidacy. At 81, Biden is already the oldest serving president in U.S. history, and questions about his fitness for another four-year term have intensified following recent public appearances.

Jones argued that the current situation puts the party in “the worst possible world,” with Harris unable to fully defend herself while being obligated to defend Biden. This dynamic, he suggests, creates a challenging environment for both the Vice President and the party at large.

Newsweek contacted the Biden-Harris campaign for comment via email on Sunday.

“We’re running Kamala Harris as a president right now,” Jones declared, framing the Vice President’s role in stark terms. He advocated for a more direct approach, suggesting that if Harris is effectively being positioned as the future of the party, she should be given the opportunity to campaign openly in that capacity.

“If we’re basically ready for Kamala anyway, well let’s run Kamala and let her get out there and defend herself,” Jones said. This strategy, he argued, would allow Harris to build her own case for the presidency rather than operating in Biden’s shadow.

The former adviser’s comments come at a time of increasing speculation about the Democratic ticket for 2024. While Biden has consistently stated his intention to run for re-election, with Harris as his running mate, some within the party have privately expressed concerns about this strategy.

However, not all Democratic voices align with Jones’ perspective. Attorney and political commentator Bakari Sellers, also speaking on the same CNN program, offered a contrasting view, stressing the party’s current reality and commitment to Biden’s candidacy.

“The fact is, that’s just not where we are, and that we are in a position right now where Joe Biden is the president of the United States, and Joe Biden is running for re-election. Everything else is conjecture,” Sellers stated, pushing back against speculation about potential changes to the Democratic ticket.

Sellers highlighted recent experiences that underscored enthusiasm for both Biden and Harris among Democratic voters. “I was at Essence (Festival) this weekend with Kamala Harris. I was with her a couple of weeks ago. The vibes were high, enthusiastic, not just about the vice president, but about Biden,” he reported.

Sellers, a former Democratic lawmaker in South Carolina, also addressed the broader implications of supporting the Biden-Harris ticket, framing it as a vote for ideals and policy outcomes rather than just individuals. “For many of us who find our communities in a place of survival so often, you’re not voting for the man. You’re voting for the ideal, you’re voting for the administration, you’re voting for the things they can push forward,” Sellers explained.

Harris, 59, has faced her own challenges since assuming the vice presidency. Critics have questioned her effectiveness in handling key assignments, such as addressing the root causes of migration at the southern border. However, supporters argue that she brings vital diversity and energy to the ticket, potentially appealing to younger voters and communities of color.

The debate over the Democratic ticket reflects broader anxieties within the party about its ability to retain the White House in 2024. With former President Donald Trump leading the Republican field despite his legal troubles, Democrats are grappling with how best to position themselves for a highly competitive race.

Jones’ remarks suggest a growing willingness among some Democratic figures to openly discuss alternatives to a Biden-led ticket. However, it remains unclear how widespread this sentiment is within the party’s leadership or among its rank-and-file members.