Kamala Harris has many firsts, and age on her side, but little to show

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Washington, April 29

US Vice President Kamala Harris hasnt had a very notable tenure so far, partly because of her own failure to rise to the job and partly because she was given hard-to-win assignments.

Importantly for Harris, however, she is still on the ticket, the first American woman, the only Indian-American as well as the only Asian American to get this high in US politics.

She stands to carry all these first, and some more perhaps, to the presidency if President Joe Biden does not complete his second term.

Questions related to the President's age have, since his announcement, moved from should he run to whether he will complete the second term.

Harris is 58 and Biden is 80 -- the oldest President in American history.

He is battling persistent queasiness about his age, including with the Democratic Party.

Harris brings down the average age of the ticket. She has featured prominently in Biden's announcement video and on the campaign homepage.

And, according to reports, the White House is going all out to shore up her numbers that are even worse than the President's.

About time, Harris's supporters believe she was never admitted into Biden's inner circle and, in fact, she was not trusted. Sniping between unidentified members of her team and the West Wing (the President's office in the White House) through leaks may have exacerbated matters more.

Relations between the two teams, which were barely cordial and smooth, became especially tense in the aftermath of revelations in a book by two reporters of The New York Times that Kate Bedingfield, the former White House communications director, had privately criticised the Vice President.

Bedingfield denied the incident publicly but sought a meeting with Harris to apologise to her, according to Axios news site.

But Harris made her wait two weeks for an appointment.

The news site also reported that relations between the two improved subsequently.

Biden himself has been publicly indulgent of his Vice President. She is in the frame for every photo-op-worthy moment of the Biden-Harris administration, and featured prominently in the video announcement and on the revamped homepage of the campaign.

But Biden also assigned Harris the most intractable of American problems to handle -- immigration, which has defied solution for decades.

It is one of America's most divisive issues that is driven in parts by factors outside of the control of the US.

She could not make a difference obviously, and runs the danger now of being the target of attacks by Republicans who released earlier this month a legislation that seeks to restrict asylum, allow family detention of those crossing over illegally and a crackdown on employing undocumented immigrants.

--IANS

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