Joe Biden angry with Kamala Harris for ‘not taking enough off his plate’

Biden and Harris together at a basketball game - Win McNamee/Getty Images
Biden and Harris together at a basketball game - Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Joe Biden is frustrated with Kamala Harris for not “rising to the occasion” and failing to take more “off his plate” for fear of not succeeding, according to reports.

Former White House officials have suggested that Mr Biden – already the oldest-ever US president – intends to seek a second term in part out of concern that his vice president would not be able to beat Donald Trump in 2024.

“A point of tension in their relationship is that I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate [due to] a fear of messing up,” one anonymous former staffer told Reuters.

“If he did not think she was capable, he would not have picked her. But it is a question of consistently rising to the occasion,” they said.

Mr Biden has asked Ms Harris to lead on a number of portfolios, including his administration’s efforts to stem the surge of migrants across the southern border and abortion rights.

But sources close to Ms Harris reportedly told journalists from The New York Times that she was not happy being tasked with the intractable migration crisis, which is seen as a politically undesirable issue, and wanted a more “softball” foreign policy assignment.

She was criticised for failing to visit the border for months as southern US states struggled with record numbers of asylum seekers.

Ms Harris, 58, the first female and black vice president, currently sits on a 39 per cent approval rating, according to an average of polls conducted by RealClearPolitics.

The 80-year-old president, who has not officially declared a run, has reportedly said in private that he fears no 2024 Democratic hopeful, including Ms Harris, would be able to take on Mr Trump if he secures the Republican nomination for president next year.

Mr Biden previously said that he decided to run in 2020 because he felt that he was the only candidate who could stop Donald Trump.

With the former president now officially running for a third time, it is speculated that Mr Biden might feel compelled to compete once again.

In a speculative match-up between the two, a national poll from Quinnipiac University in February found that Mr Biden led Mr Trump by two points, on 48 and 46 per cent respectively.

“I think his running for re-election is less about her and more about him, but I do think that she and the Democratic bench [are] a factor,” one official told Reuters.

Despite his concerns, Mr Biden is still thought to be planning to keep Ms Harris on the ticket, if he does run.

Others in Mr Biden’s party have expressed similar, more public, concerns about Ms Harris, laying bare an apparent division between the country’s highest-profile Democrats.

Eric Adams, a centrist, took aim earlier this month at “border czar” Ms Harris for the spiralling migrant crisis, saying she has “too much in her portfolio”.

Ms Harris is setting off on a week-long trip to Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia on Saturday, becoming the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit the continent as the White House strives to deepen its outreach and counter Chinese influence there.