Vice President Harris is ready to duke it out with Trump’s running mate

Vice President Kamala Harris came out swinging against her yet-to-be-named Republican vice presidential opponent, making it clear she’s ready to duke it out on the debate stage with whoever and whenever Donald Trump chooses his 2024 running rate. 

“I’m planning on being at the CBS studios … in either July or August,” the vice president said over the weekend of the upcoming debate planned for this summer during an interview with Politico’s Playbook. “And let’s see if the other side shows up. I’m ready to make the case — whoever he picks, no matter who it is.”

Democratic strategists who spoke with theGrio praised America’s first Black and first female vice president for getting ahead of the televised vice presidential debate – which will be held on July 23 or Aug. 13 – showing her ability to play the offensive in what analysts predict will be a close and most certainly consequential race. 

Though Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has yet to announce his pick for vice presidential running mate, he reportedly launched a formal vetting process. The shortlist includes U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

While some political analysts believe Trump will pick a running mate to appeal to independent and moderate voters, Vice President Harris appeared to paint the crop of Republicans as extremists. 

“What we know is that Donald Trump wants an enabler. He doesn’t want a governing partner. He doesn’t want another Mike Pence, and I think that is clear,” said the VP. “The litmus test is, are they going to be absolutely loyal to Trump over country or their oath of office, or, frankly, the American people?”

Political commentator Reecie Colbert said the VP’s proactive onslaught of Republicans displayed a “boss energy.” The Sirius XM host of “The Reecie Colbert Show” noted the stakes are particularly high for Harris because many people are “trying to make this campaign into a referendum on Biden’s age and implicitly that Vice President Harris would step in should something happen to him.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris wave to members of the audience after speaking at a campaign rally at Girard College on May 29, 2024, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

Colbert told theGrio that while “people have spent the last four years underestimating her capabilities,” Harris proved during her 2020 vice presidential debates with former Vice President Mike Pence that she can go “toe-to-toe” with whoever is ultimately on the stage with her.

“One of her greatest moments in the campaign last cycle was the ‘I’m speaking’ interaction with Mike Pence…[it] did her a lot of favors,” she recalled. 

Democratic strategist Joel Payne similarly noted that Harris “wiped up the floor” with Pence. He noted that the vice president has been battle-tested throughout her political career and has shown herself as an effective debater and communicator. 

“Anytime she’s been asked to do a public back and forth with a Republican, even if you kind of go back to her Senate days when she was a part of those Supreme Court hearings, those are moments where she’s tended to shine,” Payne explained. “During the Democratic primary debates when she was a candidate for president herself, she performed pretty well, including, frankly, landing some points on Joe Biden.” 

Harris could potentially face off with a Black man, as Scott, Donalds and Carson are on Trump’s shortlist. During her interview with Politico, the vice president specifically called Congressman Donalds, who recently was in the hot seat for arguing that Black families were stronger during Jim Crow.

“It’s sadly yet another example of somebody out of Florida trying to erase or rewrite our true history,” Harris said, referring to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ school curriculum that argued Black people benefited from slavery. “I went to Florida last July to call out what they were trying to do to replace our history with lies. And apparently, there’s a never-ending flow of that coming out of that state.”

Colbert pointed out that the VP was “superb” when she, on a whim, traveled to Florida to deliver a fiery speech condemning Florida’s Black history curriculum. On matters of race, she said it’s a “losing issue” for Republicans. Even if the Republican Party were to choose a Black vice presidential candidate, Colbert maintained, “The contrast isn’t just being a Black man versus a Black woman. The contrast is being competent and actually being conscientious of our racist history.”

Representative Byron Lowell Donalds (R-FL) arrives to address the media outside of Manhattan Criminal Court on behalf of former President Donald Trump on May 14, 2024, in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Colbert said, ultimately, she doesn’t believe any of the Republican VP hopefuls are “equipped to measure up” in a debate with Harris. “All they have is propaganda, disinformation, and towing Trump’s line,” she said. 

Colbert said of Donalds: “We’ve seen [him] fall apart in all of the interviews he’s done around this Jim Crow situation. He especially doesn’t have the temperament to go back and forth [with Harris].” Senator Scott, she said, also tanked during the Republican presidential primary debates.

“I don’t see anybody who is as poised and as substantively prepared for this level of scrutiny compared to Vice President Harris,” she insisted.

Antjuan Seawright, a longtime Democratic strategist, described Harris as “perhaps the most consequential vice president ever to serve” and who demonstrated that she is “ready to lead on day one.”

“If engaging means fighting, she’s ready to do that. If engaging means defiling the opposition, she’s clearly prepared and ready to do that,” Seawright told theGrio. He continued, “If it means laying out and leaning into a policy agenda that she can proudly say she helped shape the mold, she’s ready to do that. Or even if she’s stepping on the world stage, representing our country, our allies, and our community, she’s ready to do that as well.”

Seawright said as a former prosecutor Harris “knows how to prosecute the case and close the case.” As a history-making Black vice president, he said Harris can also uniquely “speak directly to the needs, concerns, fears and hopes and aspirations of our community with shared values and shared experiences.”

Payne said Harris is “held in pretty high regard” in Black communities not just because of her representation as a Black woman but also because of “what she’s advocated for as a senator and as vice president.”

“She’s really stitched together a pretty clear case of issues of real salience for African-American voters,” he said. Ultimately, as a Democrat, Payne said, “I’m not concerned about Kamala Harris holding her own in a debate setting.”

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