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Potential 2024 rivals Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg in joint trip to NC

Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will make a joint trip to North Carolina this week amid reports on their allies clashing in anticipation of a 2024 Democratic primary face-off.

Harris, 57, and Buttigieg, 39, will visit Charlotte on Thursday to promote President Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, the White House said Monday.

The travel pairing could serve to douse the impression of a growing rift among the Democrats, but it also risks worsening the simmering discord between their camps, especially if the politicians fail to put on a convincing show of unity.

Political journalists noted the curious matchup. “A White House response to Beltway chatter about a Pete v. Kamala dynamic?” tweeted Blake Hounshell, editor of the New York Times’ On Politics newsletter.

“Ha! This is the WH version of ‘play nice back there you two,’ ” tweeted Nick Trainor, who was former President Donald Trump’s White House director of regional political operations.

Although Biden says he intends to seek a second term in 2024, he’s already the oldest-ever president at age 79 and Democrats are bracing for a possible primary between Harris and Buttigieg.

The joint trip comes amid speculation that Buttigieg and Harris could be presidential primary rivals in 2024 if President Biden doesn’t run.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

An ally of the VP recently told CNN that many Harris supporters are upset that the West Wing gave less support to Harris, who is of African and Indian ancestry, than to Buttigieg, whose ancestry is European, when they were criticized in the press.

The former Harris aide told CNN, “It’s hard to miss the specific energy that the White House brings to defend a white man, knowing that Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn’t want to take themselves.”

Harris’ staff reportedly are frustrated that Biden handed her tough assignments, such as reducing illegal immigration from Central America, and a recent Business Insider report said that Harris allies consider it likely that she would face a challenge from Buttigieg.

“I have no doubt that he’s going to run and he’s not going to need much persuading,” prominent Harris fundraiser Steve Phillips told Business Insider, adding, “The K-Hive is a very energetic and fiercely loyal constituency.” 

Harris' polling numbers have dropped recently.
Harris’ polling numbers have dropped recently.
Oliver Contreras/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While Harris drew significant heat this year over her work on the migrant crisis, including her initial reluctance to visit the US-Mexico border, Buttigieg recently drew criticism for taking paternity leave amid a mounting supply-chain crisis at ports.

Harris would be the first female president and the first chief executive of partial Asian descent, but a recent poll by USA Today and Suffolk University found her with a 28 percent approval rating — 10 points below Biden’s —making her vulnerable to a challenge. Other polls have her favorability rating higher. Buttigieg, meanwhile, would be the first gay president since at least the Civil War.

The eventual Democratic nominee in 2024 may face off against former President Donald Trump, who is openly teasing a potential bid for a second, non-consecutive term.



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