Vice President Kamala Harris again attempted to duck questions about a possible shakeup of the Democratic presidential ticket in 2024 — this time by calling speculation that she and President Biden will part ways “gossip.”
Harris also claimed she had not read a recent New York Times column that suggested Biden drop her from the ticket in favor of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).
“Are we going to see the same Democratic ticket in 2024?” NBC reporter Craig Melvin asked Harris in an interview that aired Thursday on the “Today” show.
“I’m sorry, we are thinking about today,” Harris replied after a pause. “I mean, honestly, I know why you’re asking the question because this is part of the punditry and the gossip around places like Washington, DC.
“Let me just tell you something. We’re focused on the things in front of us. We’re focused on what we need to do to address issues like affordable childcare, what we need to do to ensure that —”
“So there have been no conversations about 2024?” Melvin interrupted.
“The American people sent us here to do a job and right now there’s a lot of work to be done,” Harris said. “And that’s my focus, sincerely.”
“There’s been some talk about a Biden-Cheney ticket, perhaps, in 2024. Did you read that article?” Melvin asked.
“I did not. No, I did not. And I really could care less about the high-class gossip on these issues,” Harris insisted.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested this week that Biden replace Harris with Cheney, which generated significant mockery on social media. Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and is the vice chair of the House select committee that’s investigating the Capitol riot.
Cheney is a bitter foe of former President Donald Trump, who says he may run again in 2024.
“We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys,” Trump said in a speech shortly before the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump vetoed a $740 billion defense bill in his final month as president after Cheney attached restrictions to removing troops from Afghanistan, Germany and South Korea.
Thursday was not the first time Harris awkwardly tried to avoid discussing the 2024 election. Last month, the veep told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that she and Biden have not discussed whether they are running together for re-election. She also said that she was unaware of whether Biden, 79, is running for a second term.
“I will tell you this without any ambiguity: We do not talk about nor have we talked about re-election, because we haven’t completed our first year and we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
Asked specifically if she believes Biden will run again, Harris told the paper, “I’ll be very honest: I don’t think about it, nor have we talked about it.”
Biden says he intends to run again, despite the fact that he would be 86 if he completes a second term.
“If I’m in the health I’m in now — I’m in good health — then, in fact, I would run again,” Biden said last month.
If the incumbent opts not to seek a second term, Harris would be a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2024.
A December poll by Politico and Morning Consult found Harris would have the backing of 31 percent of Democratic primary voters, trailed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg with 11 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with 8 percent. A poll released in November by The Hill and HarrisX found Harris with just 13 percent support, followed by former first lady Michelle Obama at 10 percent. All other candidates were below 5 percent in that poll.
Harris’ relatively low approval rating — she’s averaging just 39.1 percent versus 41.8 percent for Biden — also spurred chatter this month about a possible 2024 bid by Hillary Clinton, the unsuccessful 2016 Democratic nominee.
Harris experienced a recent staff exodus amid reports that she is a difficult boss. Her allies, meanwhile, have griped about Biden handing her tough assignments, such as reducing illegal immigration from Central America and pushing for election reform legislation that’s unlikely to pass due to opposition from Senate centrists to reducing the usual 60-vote requirement for bills to 50 votes.