Trump allies want to link Harris to Biden’s health, border baggage

Kamala Harris is not the Democratic presidential candidate.

But Donald Trump’s campaign already provides a foretaste of how it would be counterproductive Should the vice president suddenly become the nominee after President Biden’s weak debate performance, as some Democratic officials and strategists have begun to demand.

Trump and his Allies are escalating the attack lines against Harris, seeking to portray her as further to the left than Biden and blaming the vice president for the border crisis. They are also introducing new messages accusing her of covering up Biden’s health.

Trump who previously mocked Harris’ first name and spread false accusations that the California-born Harris was a foreigner who was ineligible for office Harris is personally excited about the prospect of running against her, a person familiar with his comments said. He posted a video Wednesday calling her “pathetic” and “so f—ing bad.” The campaign points to polls showing Harris running similarly to Biden against Trump, potentially weaker with white, non-college-educated men who could be key to winning Midwestern battleground states.

“I think the bottom falls for Democrats with working-class people in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan with Kamala Harris,” said senior Trump adviser Jason Miller, who on Friday released years-old clips of Harris saying she would ban plastic straws and urging people to donate to a bail fund that helps people accused of violent crimes. “She’s seen as a radical Californian.”

Still, some advisers and allies acknowledged that Harris, 59, could turn the race around as a more energetic campaigner with the potential to energize young voters and women. And they said her chance to pick a new running mate could further alter the dynamics of the matchup, particularly if she adds a Midwestern governor like Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.) or Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) to the ticket.

“The policy debate doesn’t change, the candidate’s capabilities don’t change — all the problems that come with a declining Biden, both physically and mentally, go away,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally. “If she picks a governor from Pennsylvania or Michigan, that changes the game.”

The White House and Biden campaign have rebuffed questions about Biden’s health and pressure to withdraw, but private advisers acknowledged they have a limited window of time to reassure his panicked party. Harris spokeswoman Rhyan Lake said: “Vice President Harris is proud to be President Biden’s running mate. No matter what spurious attacks Trump and his extreme allies throw at her, she will continue to defend the Biden-Harris record and prosecute the case against Donald Trump.”

Democrats argued that Harris, as a former prosecutor, could be an effective messenger against Trump, who was convicted of 34 crimes in May. They also said she has shown leadership on abortion rights, an issue that has driven Democratic victories in recent elections.

Donna Brazile, a former acting chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said Harris has already weathered years of withering attacks from Republicans. She noted that Trump has similarly insulted other black women, including New York Attorney General Letitia James and Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani T. Willis, and she warned that Trump’s barrage against the first woman and first black vice president could backfire.

“They’ve been throwing paint, rocks, mud, and just about every other metaphor I could think of since the day she was inaugurated… I feel like I want to say where have you been?” Brazile said. “This is not the time for their team to be attacking women,” she added of Trump, referring to his conviction for paying hush money to a porn actress and the jury’s verdict finding him liable for sexual assault.

In 2020, Trump spread a baseless conspiracy theory falsely suggesting that Harris might not be eligible to run for office, echoing his false allegations about President Barack Obama’s citizenship. Harris’ parents immigrated from India and Jamaica, and she was born in Oakland, California. Trump also pretended to mispronounce Harris’ name.

Trump on Thursday debuted a new nickname for Harris — “Laffin’ Harris” — mocking the way she laughs. The campaign has also run an ad mocking Harris’ laugh, and a statement from top aides on Tuesday called her Biden’s “Cackling Copilot.”

Trump’s team is reiterating longstanding criticism of Harris, focusing on her 2021 nomination to lead the administration’s response to a surge in border crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. The MAGA Inc. super PAC on Wednesday dubbed Harris the “Invasion Czar,” a reference to Biden’s nomination to oversee his administration’s handling of the wave of migrants at the border. Trump has described the wave of attempted border crossings as an “invasion,” using baseless claims and inflammatory language to dehumanize and smear migrants.

“Kamala Harris is the less likable and more chaotic face of the Biden-Harris regime,” said PAC CEO Taylor Budowich. “She would not only broaden the presidential ticket, but would be the nail in the coffin for Democrats’ hopes of keeping the Senate and winning back the House.”

Some close to Trump have worried that Harris would take a different approach to Israel’s war in Gaza, which has caused a damaging rift in the Democratic coalition.

While Harris’ elevation would ease voters’ concerns about Biden’s ability to serve another four years, Republicans have signaled they will keep the issue alive, accusing her and other Democrats of covering up his condition and misleading the public. They will also argue that if Biden decides he is unfit to run and concedes to Harris, he too should immediately resign as president.

On Thursday, former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller called on Harris to testify before Congress about her knowledge of Biden’s health. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) told Fox News on Friday that Harris should be subpoenaed and could be impeached for “lying to the American people” about Biden’s mental state and failing to invoke the 25th Amendment, which provides for a transfer of power in the event the president is unable to perform his duties.

“No one played a greater role in the cover-up than Kamala Harris,” the Republican National Committee said in an email Friday, citing 16 times Harris advocated for Biden’s eligibility.

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