It could almost be a plot line out of the TV comedy Veep.
Newly installed female vice president finds her feet don’t touch the floor from the man-sized chairs in her new office.
That’s roughly the situation that Kamala Harris inherited when she became the country’s first female vice president in 2021, prompting her staff to order new chairs for her desk to better fit her five foot, two inch stature.
A former aide said that the furniture had only ever previously had to cope with the ‘average male height.’
‘She forces us to recalibrate our assumptions,’ said Jamal Simmons, who recently stepped down as her communications director, as he defended the vice president to the New York Times.
When Kamala Harris moved into the vice president’s office she inherited furniture used by Mike Pence. Aides said swapped the desk chairs for something that fitted her small frame
Within months she also revealed a new desk, built from timber reclaimed from USS Constitution warship. Launched in 1797, she is the oldest ship still afloat
Eagle-eyed observers will have spotted a change in the desk too.
When she first took office, Harris released photographs showing her sitting at the same desk as her predecessor Mike Pence.
Two months later she revealed she had switched to a new desk, built from timber reclaimed from USS Constitution warship. Launched in 1797, she is the oldest ship still afloat.
The nugget about the chairs was revealed as aides tried to defend the VP, pointing out how she had achieved a series of historic first, amid grumbling in the Democratic Party that she could be the weak link in President Joe Biden’s 2024 plans.
A string of key figures said they had lost hope in her turning around her performance as vice president.
Her approval rating is lower than even Biden’s own weak standing in the eyes of voters.
And some of the backers who helped lift her to the 2024 ticket say she has failed to use her historic firsts — first female, first African-American, first Asian vice president — as a stepping stone to future leader.
Even Biden has expressed his doubts. He is quoted calling her a ‘work in progress’ in a new book by Chris Whipple, ‘The Fight of His Life.’
A string of Democrats are raising doubts about Vice President Kamala Harris’s performances amid fears that she could be the weak link in President Joe Biden’s reelection plans
Harris has a lower approval rating than Biden, which means she could act as a drag on his reelection chances, according to rolling averages of poll results
Last week, when appearing together at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Philadelphia, they presented a united front.
‘She’s a great vice president,’ said Biden.
But questions remain, and take on greater importance as Biden prepares to announce his 2024 run.
For many, the concern is that Biden’s age — he would be 82 at his second inauguration and 86 by end of a full term — means Republicans will be able to attack 58-year-old Harris and her suitability to take over the Oval Office.
‘That will be in my opinion one of the most hard-hitting arguments against Biden,’ John Morgan, a prominent fund-raiser for Democrats, including Biden, told the New York Times.
‘It doesn’t take a genius to say, “Look, with his age, we have to really think about this.”‘
Her record in office, he added, did not help.
‘I can’t think of one thing she’s done except stay out of the way and stand beside him at certain ceremonies,’ he said.
In fact, the most memorable aspects of her time in office have been the missteps, such as a Lester Holt interview when she made a mess of explaining the administration’s plan to secure the border.
The newspaper said dozens of other Democrats from Capitol Hill and the White House to all around the country expressed similar sentiments in private.
Others have made their doubts clear from what they haven’t said in public.
Biden and Harris at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting last week in Philadelphia. But even the president has called his VP a ‘work in progress’
When former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently told Boston Public Radio that she was enthusiastically endorsing Biden for a second term she was then asked about Harris.
Although she explained they went ‘way back,’ she said: ‘I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team.’
Her supporters say Harris has had to reshape assumptions since day one in the job.
Aides say they politely decline meetings with foreign first ladies on international trips because Harris is not visiting as a spouse, but as the deputy head of state.
At the same time, Harris has resisted taking on roles that reflect the symbolic nature of her vice-presidency. She declined being at Washington Dulles International Airport to welcome an early shipment of baby formula during shortages last year, according to the report, and Jill Biden went instead.
Harris acknowledged her reservations.
Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren enthusiastically endorsed Joe Biden to run again for president , but wouldn’t say the same about Kamala Harris
‘My bias has always been to speak factually, to speak accurately, to speak precisely about issues and matters that have potentially great consequence,’ she told the New York Times during an interview in Japan.
‘I find it off-putting to just engage in platitudes. I much prefer to deconstruct an issue and speak of it in a way that hopefully elevates public discourse and educates the public.’
Her performance was also defended by Ron Klain, Biden’s departing chief of staff who also served in the same role for two vice presidents. He said holders of the office often took a battering before going on ‘to prove skeptics wrong.’
He singled out her international trips and support for women’s reproductive rights.
‘She has done all that operating under high expectations,’ he said.
‘She carries these expectations not as a burden but with grace and an understanding of how much her history-making role inspires others.’