Kamala Harris Should Be Considered But Not Automatically Nominated If Biden Steps Aside

President Biden Hosts Fourth Of July Celebration At White House

President Biden’s recent debate performance and subsequent missteps have sparked widespread speculation about the best path forward for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Some advisors are urging Biden to weather the storm, while others are calling for him to step down and appoint a stronger candidate. Vice President Kamala Harris has emerged as a potential replacement nominee. 

Some have even argued that it would be disrespectful to “pass over” Harris for the presidential nomination if Biden were to withdraw. They suggest that Harris has earned the position due to her role as Vice President, a position often described as thankless. Hubert Humphrey once complained that the job implied a political marriage with the president, requiring strict loyalty. Harris has demonstrated that loyalty, in addition to her successful careers as a US Senator, Attorney General, and District Attorney for California.

However, history shows that the Vice Presidency does not guarantee a path to the presidency. Voters do not select candidates solely based on their political titles. Examining the performance of previous vice presidents in presidential elections may lead some to reconsider the assumption that one individual deserves automatic promotion. 

Despite prior political party support and the advantage of having held national office, the Vice Presidential credential is not a guaranteed career path unless the president resigns or dies in office. Of the vice presidents in our nation’s history, have made a bid for the presidency. have been nominated to represent their party. Only vice presidents, including Joe Biden, have obtained enough votes from the electoral college to be named president. 

Prior to the Twelfth Amendment of 1804, each member of the Electoral College cast two votes with no distinction between president and vice president. The candidate with the most votes won the presidency. The candidate with the second most was given the vice presidency. Aaron Burr came in second to Thomas Jefferson and became vice president.

While Vice President Harris could be the next best option in place of President Biden, the American people, and the delegates who will represent them in the Democratic National Convention, deserve to hear the platform of a Harris for President campaign as well as other qualified would-be candidates such as:

  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, 
  • Governor Jay Pritzker of Illinois
  • Governor Gavin Newsom of California, 
  • Governor Wes Moore of Maryland, 
  • Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, 
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg 
  • Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky.

on the strength of Harris’s own presidential campaign. A found Trump leading Harris by 2 percentage points – 47 percent to 45. RealClear Polling data shows Trump leading Harris in negative net favorability ratings – at -11.4 versus at -16.3.

An open convention or “rapid primary” would undoubtedly prove disruptive to the Democratic Party during a critical moment in our nation’s history. However, Democratic leadership anointing a candidate would likely be equally disruptive. It would be monumental in its own right – as the first modern presidential election where voters of a major party were not provided an opportunity to nominate their preferred candidate.

As President Biden has run down the clock in his flailing effort to prove his fitness for office, he erodes the Democratic Party’s needed time to showcase its portfolio of vibrant leaders as skilled contenders for defeating Donald Trump. IBM’s visionary Tom Watson Jr. once told me, “I get as much pride in the success of my successors as I do from the triumphant transformation of IBM under my own watch.” Biden could enjoy this same parallel pride if he opens the pathway for succession.