Kamala: Next in Line
What’s Next For Kamala Harris?
Joy Reid: (MUSIC) It was only a couple of days before Joe Biden planned to announce his running mate, and Mike Memoli was waiting for the news.
Mike Memoli: So I was standing on the riverfront of the Christina River in Wilmington, Delaware, as I was doing most of those days, doing live shots constantly about the latest and what we were hearing.
Katie: Mike, just really quickly. Axios is reporting that the top two contenders for the VP slot are Susan Rice and Kamala Harris. Does that line up with your reporting?
Memoli: I don't think they've narrowed it down to two, Katie. There are some names that maybe we haven't been talking about as much of late who are still very much in the mix.
Reid: Mike's an NBC reporter who's been covering Joe Biden since 2008. In fact, he's earned a little bit of a nickname in that time.
Archival Recording: Mike, you have the distinction, I should say, of being of our NBC News Biden whisperer.
Kasie Hunt: I don't know if it's appropriate to call you the Biden whisperer, but I feel like--
Memoli: It's happening anyway, Kasie. (LAUGHTER)
Archival Recording: Mike Memoli, you are the Biden whisperer. You were with him today.
Archival Recording: Mike Memoli is our Biden whisperer. And, Mike, you've been following--
Reid: There was a limit to what even he could find out. He knew that the list of potential running mates had been shortened by Biden's announcement that he would definitely chose a female candidate.
Joe Biden: If I'm elected president, my cabinet, my administration will look like the country. And I commit that I will, in fact, pick a woman to be vice president.
Archival Recording: Mr. Vice President, if I could just follow up. Just to be clear, have you just committed here tonight that your running mate, if you get the nomination, will be a woman?
Memoli: Biden went out of his way to announce that he was going to chose a woman as his running mate which, again, became the guaranteed headline in the lead of every story that everybody wrote about the debate.
Reid: There were a few women left in contentions: Gretchen Whitmer.
Memoli: Governor Gretchen Whitmer seemed somebody who Biden personally liked. He (SIC) was one of those women he campaigned with in 2018 when she ran for governor, and he just very quickly came to like her.
Reid: Amy Klobuchar.
Memoli: They had a good chemistry as well.
Reid: And of course, Kamala Harris. Mike knew that some key members of Biden's team had their doubts about her loyalty. Her debate stage showdown had cost her.
Kamala Harris: But I also believe, and it's personal, and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that but--
Memoli: That was something that a lot of his team viewed as a deal breaker from the moment it happened. And so the fact that Senator Harris had made such a political attack in that first debate I think also gave them pause about, "Can we trust her in the White House to not be thinking four years ahead, but to be walking alongside with Biden? And doing what he needs to be done, even if it's not in her interest down the road."
Reid: Still, they shared a lot of common goals and a personal connection.
Memoli: But they also had a very deep, you know, connection, which I know is so powerful and important to the Bidens, which was her relationship with Beau Biden. As Biden himself has said over time now, you know, he got to know Kamala because of Beau.
Reid: Kamala and Beau Biden worked together when they were both AGs, she for California and he for Delaware.
Memoli: And so the vice president said how often his son would talk about her and the work they were doing together and how much he trusted and respected her.
Reid: And then, over the spring and summer, protests for racial justice swept the country and into the discussions on the selection process.
Memoli: The conversation within the party, within Congress, nationally about it only added to the push within the party for a Black woman as his running mate. He had won the nomination very clearly because of the strength of his support with African American voters.
And some of his own top surrogates, Jim Clyburn among them, were out there saying not only should he pick a woman, he should pick an African American woman. That Black women had been really the backbone of the party so much over the last decades that it was natural way of acknowledging that and representing that on the ticket.
Reid: Black women leaders met with the campaign to push for a Black woman vice presidential pick. In May, six prominent Black women offered an op-ed in The Washington Post demanding that Biden pick a Black woman VP. They were Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, author and political analyst Tiffany Cross, Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham, comedienne Amanda Seales, and Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View.
Archival Footage: Vice President Biden--
All: You need us. You owe use.
Archival Recording: Black women are miracle workers.
Archival Recording: We have been saving the Democratic Party since 1965.
Archival Recording: 2020 is no different.
Archival Recording: Your only path to victory is through Black women.
Archival Recording: The voters you need to turn out, we know how to mobilize them. Our votes must not be taken for granted.
Reid: But the decision kept getting pushed.
Archival Recording: Pressure mounting on Joe Biden to decide on his running mate, and to choose a Black woman.
Reid: And pushed.
Archival Recording: Joe Biden expected to announce his choice for a running mate any day now, any minute. Could be today, could be tomorrow. Won't be next week. What's goin' on? (LAUGHTER)
Archival Recording: Certainly has us all on pins and needles, that's for sure. We could learn Biden's choice for his running mate at any minute or day now, based on multiple sources who are familiar with--
Reid: But as Mike Memoli and the other reporters waited in Delaware, word came in that the decision was in. Kamala would be the running mate. Now, three months, a party convention, and a national campaign later, what is next in line for Kamala Harris? (MUSIC)
Reid: (MUSIC) From MSNBC and Wondery, I'm Joy Reid, and this is Kamala: Next in Line. (MUSIC) This is episode six: What's Next for Kamala Harris? Over the past five episodes, we've tracked Kamala Harris' story from her childhood in Oakland, California to her nomination as Joe Biden's running mate. Now it all comes down to the votes.
Archival Recording: In an election like no other, turn to NBC News for in-depth coverage.
Who's got the higher stakes tonight, Biden or Trump?
Reid: Joining me to talk about what comes next is NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, and NBC reporter who's been on the campaign trail this year, Ali Vitali. Thank you both for joining us today.
Ali Vitali: Thanks so much.
Kasie Hunt: Absolutely, Joy.
Reid: Ali, I know that for a lot of African American women, it wasn't enough for Joe Biden to just pick a woman. Picking a Black woman was, for a lot of voters, seen as an affirmation of the importance of Black women voters to the Democratic Party over really more than a generation, given that they are the strongest constituents voting for Democrats consistently year over your.
As you've been out on the campaign trail, what has been the reaction, particularly of Black women, of women of color? I know Kamala Harris is also the first Asian American woman to be nominated. But for Black women in particular, as you've spoken with them, what's been the reaction to Kamala being on the ticket?
Vitali: Even before Kamala Harris was selected as the vice presidential nominee, I was meeting voters of color saying, "It's important to affirm the role that we've long played in the primary."
Archival Recording: What is it about Senator Harris that draws that enthusiasm, that gets that interest that you're talking about?
Archival Recording: I think historically we've known how supportive the Black women have. They've probably the most engaged group at every level of government.
Archival Recording: Especially in the Democratic Party.
Archival Recording: Right. When it comes to voting.
Vitali: And so many of the Black women and women of color who I've met across the country saw the selection as, "Okay, Biden is listening. His team understands how important we are." But, at the same time, Kamala Harris was just simply a qualified choice.
When Biden laid out at the very beginning of this that he was going to be picking a woman regardless, you sort of take away the permission structure that would allow people to question, "Okay, are these women qualified?" And we that that's a double-edged sword when women are in the political space, especially running for president.
Hunt: I also think that they had white women in mind as well. And I think that she is somebody who is very popular among the white, suburban women, many of whom either didn't go out to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, or maybe they did actually vote for Donald Trump.
We know a lot of white women did, but particularly college-educated white women who swung the House for Democrats in 2018, who say that they are tired of the chaos and the tweets from the president of the United States. You know, I think the internal kind of polling and surveys that the Biden campaign has done, and other Democratic groups have done, have shown that Harris has a lot of appeal with those voters as well.
And that it certainly didn't hurt, you know, to have those women looking up and saying, "Hey, there is a woman that I can vote for this time on this ticket. And I'm that much more excited to get out to vote because of it."
Reid: You know, Kamala Harris, at least in terms of her record, in terms of the things that she advocated for when she herself was running for president, she is to the left of Joe Biden. She is more progressive. She was in favor of things like universal health care in the Bernie Sanders model rather than universal health care in the Joe Biden model, going into the race.
But she's also got a historically obviously as a prosecutor which held her back a bit, when she was running for president in her own right, with a lot of younger voters. How do you think that this background of being a prosecutor, of being a very progressive politician, how do you think that that's going to influence both this closing moment of the campaign, and also a potential Biden-Harris administration?
Vitali: For Kamala Harris, I think the question is gonna be how does she reconcile these various pieces of her background? And, you know, we saw her actually struggle a little bit in the campaign to decide if she was gonna run in that more progressive vein.
Archival Recording: Senator, on health care, last night you were asked to raise your hands, the entire panel, ten of you, if you believed eliminating private insurance should be part of the Medicare-for-All proposal. You and Bernie Sanders both raised your hands. You've been asked and sort of clarified this question a couple of times over the course of the campaign. So once and for all, do you believe that private insurance should be eliminated in this country?
Archival Recording: You don't?
Harris: No, I do not--
Archival Recording: But you raised your hand last night.
Vitali: As somebody who, you know, wanted to not give Bernie Sanders an inch to criticize her in talking about Medicare for All, but at the same time having to then grapple the next day with questions about that. I mean, she's somebody who learns very fast and has accelerated in her career very fast.
And, I mean, I remember seeing that on Capitol Hill, the way that she approached learning about how to interact with reporters, how to handle herself on the committees. You know, in the beginning, she was careful to not step too far out. She spent time building relationships, she spent time watching before she stepped out herself.
And, you know, the crucible of a presidential campaign is just such an intense spotlight, you really have to do it before you can even figure that out. My question, when she launched that campaign, was how she was gonna handle that crucible, being thrown into that national spotlight right away.
And I think you saw some of those mistakes as she sort of figured out, "Okay, what is my identity gonna be?" I think that we'll have to see how the Biden team, if in fact they win, how they build out their administration. That will be the other test.
And one thing we have seen so far is discipline from the Harris camp. There was a decision made that her top staff, for the most part, were all gonna be decided by the Biden campaign, which is not unprecedented but is a bit unusual. And it cut out some of her closer advisors from formal roles in the campaign. So that gives a lot more control to Joe Biden, to Joe Biden's top advisors, and to how they kind of see the landscape.
So I think that there's clearly been some caution on the part of Harris and those around her about pushing too hard, partly because of the way the vice presidential selection process played out. That there were, you know, concerns about her. And I think that, initially, making sure that she was seen as a loyal fighter for Joe Biden was the most important thing to demonstrate publicly over and over and over again. And that's why I think it's a little bit hard to say, "Oh, we saw Kamala Harris push him this way or that way," because their whole goal has been to make sure that that is not a narrative that is part of the conversation.
Reid: And, you know, Ali, Kamala Harris brings this multiracial family, both in the ways that she grew up, and in her family now. She would be not only a brand new kind of vice president, being a woman, being a woman of color, but also having this multiracial family. How have they influenced the way that she's performed politics, and what kind of a vice president she might be?
Vitali: In every way imaginable. We hear, and you've referenced on this show, the way that Kamala Harris talks about her mother, for example, when she's out on the campaign trial. I feel like, at every event, we're having a reminder of what her mom used to tell her.
Harris: She'd say to me all the time, "Kamala, you may be the first to do many things; make sure you're not the last."
Vitali: That is central to her message. And so over the course of the campaign, she's gotten a lot more comfortable leaning into the different pieces of her identity from her family, and explaining how she got into being in that prosecutor's role. It doesn't mean that it alleviates the questions that come with her prosecutorial record.
If you think about the things that plagued her on her presidential run, she was in a crowded field. And in a crowded field, you've gotta be able to sum up these candidates fast, right? So, Biden, it was battle for the soul of the nation. Warren, it was anti-corruption. Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All.
Harris, for the people, but like what does that mean? And I never met voters who could succinctly describe what her overall message was. And I think the lack of clarity is part of what felled her as a presidential candidate in her own right this time around. But what's been fascinating to me is that problem is really solved when you join someone else's ticket.
Reid: Let's talk about Kamala Harris on the campaign trial. And, Kasie, I'll start with you. What has she brought to the table? And how has it resonated?
Vitali: Kamala Harris is vivacious.
Harris: (CROWD) Oh, what's up, Oakland? (LAUGH)
Vitali: You've seen her smile, you've seen her laugh, that draws people in. I mean, Kamala Harris comes across as absolutely somebody you definitely wanna have a glass of wine with. And she manages to be tough and direct, and also at the same time, bring that accessibility.
And I think those are some of the things that have made her someone who has had such a meteoric rise. She definitely I think thrives on the stage as opposed to in those kind of impromptu interactions with reporters where she's being pressed.
But that personality also comes through I think in interactions with voters in personal ways. I mean, she's one of those politicians who is very good about remembering. You know, she always asks me how my son is because she knows that I just had a baby. You know, she's like that with others as well.
I mean, I'm one of dozens of reporters who have covered and interviewed her over the years, but that's sort of how she operates. And a lot of politicians are like that, but not all of them are. And I think that personal touch is something that shines through.
On the flip side, you know, the places where she has slipped up is very much still, because she is relatively new to it, she's learning on her feet. And she's extremely sharp, she has good instincts. But sometimes they lead her in a direction that she decides the next day she didn't actually wanna go in.
I remember when I interviewed her once, before she decided she was gonna announce she was running for president. And the question was about whether to abolish ICE or not. And she said in that interview, "Yes, that's the direction that I would wanna go." And the next couple of days, there were sort of caveats added to that, as it was clear that there was backlash that was being generated by it.
Reid: And, Ali, learning on her feet. A lotta the time, those feet are in Chuck Taylors.
Archival Recording: And now, of course, last month, you get off the plane, a silhouette that everyone wears every single day for years, but it garnered so much attention. Why do you think that was? The Converse Chuck Taylor.
Harris: I love my Chucks. I love my Chucks even though I think it's maybe people don't expect it. But I think it's also a statement about who we really are. Like, everybody's got their inner kinda Chuck look, right? (LAUGHTER) And I think it just has to do with the fact that we all wanna go back to some basic stuff about who we are as a country, right? I mean, Chucks, it's like we all, whatever your background, whatever language your grandmother spoke, you know, we all at some point had our Chucks, right? (LAUGH)
Archival Recording: Absolutely.
Reid: Kamala Harris has drawn a lot of notice for her casual style. How has she played with what we're calling this year the attack of the wine moms? The wine moms are an important constituency out there. How is she playing with those voters that are leaning Biden and going to those rallies?
Vitali: Okay, but we joke about the wine moms, but they're real. They exist. And they're so powerful. I mean, I have met so many of these women who maybe sat on the sidelines after 2016 or they voted for Hillary but they weren't that involved. And they saw, in 2016, the power of a vote and the power of organizing.
But now that they're in this space, in the pandemic, I've seen no group of more creative organizers, in an unofficial capacity, try to figure out how to keep the message out there that this election is so important. But for Kamala Harris, there is the appeal of culturally the Chuck Taylors and the casual vibe, and we saw her walking off the plane wearing Timberlands.
All of those things speak to the cultural zeitgeist right now of kinda the cool factor that the Obama/Biden administration had. It's evocative of that. However, there is that line that you have to toe with female candidates; are we getting too distracted by the way that they look and the way that they're dressing?
Style is critical in politics, but at the same time, you sort of have to check yourself like, "Are we overly focused on Chuck Taylors and not enough so on climate?" And so that's kind of a push and pull that I think I've been seeing over the course of our coverage.
On the reporter front though, I will say, it took her weeks into being the nominee to start taking regular questions from her press corps. Now we're seeing, as she's out with her traveling press pool of, you know, ten or 11 reporters every day, she'll stop at the base of a plane, similar to how Joe Biden does it, and take a few questions. But it took a few weeks to get to that point. There were several weeks there, after she was named the nominee, where we were not hearing nary a question nor an answer from Kamala Harris out on the campaign trail.
Reid: Well, let's talk about the other person on the campaign trail, Joe Biden.
Biden: My name's Joe Biden. I'm Jill Biden's husband, and I am Kamala's running mate. (CHEERS) (LAUGH) Y'all think I'm kiddin', don't ya?
Reid: Kasie, how do ya think Kamala Harris has influenced, or has she influenced Joe Biden's style out on the trail?
Hunt: It's clear that Kamala Harris has a strong personal relationship with Joe Biden, and that personal relationship is just absolutely critical in terms of having influence. You know, the difference between being in the room and not being in the room when Joe Biden is making a decision is everything. And whether or not you're in the room depends on the personal relationship that you have with him.
Archival Footage: What kind of role do you think you would play in a Biden administration?
Harris: Joe Biden's partner. One of the first things he said was, "I want you to be the first person in the room and the last person in the room."
Vitali: So from that perspective, it's also difficult to know, in some ways, what Harris is telling Biden that she wants him to do, or that she would advise him to do, because so much of it does place behind closed doors.
Reid: Let's talk a little bit about the viral elephant in the room, Ali. How has the pandemic influenced the campaign? And how has Kamala reacted to it?
Vitali: It's influenced this campaign in every way possible. I mean, they're not doing the standard jump from state to state, five or six stops in a day that we would typically be doing over the course of the last week of the campaign. It has also though allowed the policy conversation that takes place to be far more about what Biden's message was ever since the very beginning of this race.
Biden: Donald Trump has given up. Over the weekend, his chief of staff of the White House said, I quote, "We're not going to control the pandemic."
Crowd: Yeah. Boo.
Biden: He said, "It's gonna go away. We're learnin' to live with it." I told him, "We're not learning to live with it. You're asking people to learn to die with it, and it's wrong." (CHEERS)
Vitali: If you're a voter, frankly, you probably could have listened to the last week of the Democratic primary, taken a break over the entire summer, tuned in just now right before people started voting, and the message has been exactly the same from the entire Biden-Harris ticket which is, "We need someone to get control of the pandemic. And until we get control of the pandemic, we're not gonna get anywhere on economic recovery or any of the other issues that we wanna tackle."
In her Democratic National Convention speech, the really striking thing was that's not a speech that she would have been able to give in a raucous room full of thousands of delegates and conventiongoers.
Harris: Donald Trump's failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods. If you're a parent struggling with your child's remote learning, or you're a teacher struggling on the other side of that screen, you know what we're doing right now is not working. And we are a nation that is grieving.
Vitali: She was able to give a really sober speech about the state of America right now and her place in it because of the pandemic. And they found ways to use it to their advantage.
Reid: Ali, let's talk about turnout. We're seeing record voter turnout.
Archival Recording: Even with three- to four-hour waits in some early voting lines in New York, this morning, many say, "We already have a winner: the voters."
Reid: There's a lot of talk of this election setting a record going back to 1908 in terms of the voter turnout. Talk about who you're seeing turn out, and particularly whether or not Kamala Harris on the ticket is helping make that happen, at least on the Biden side.
Vitali: In terms of the way that they've used Kamala Harris, we don't actually know how she'll do. She dropped out before ballots were able to be cast for her. And I remember a conversation talking to Jim Clyburn around the time of the fish fry in South Carolina. Yeah, he endorsed Biden eventually, but at this point, he was still hanging back in the shadows, not endorsing.
And he expressed a little bit of confusion to me about why Kamala Harris wasn't doing better polling-wise there among Black voters in South Carolina. They liked Kamala Harris, but they liked her as a vice presidential contender. And so we don't necessarily know how she's gonna do when she's on the ballot.
But, at the same time, we also know that there's a lot of enthusiasm from this group of voters. And they are a critical group of voters for Democrats. Where if Black voters and voters of color can turn out, yeah, nationally, but especially in these states that matter like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, this could look like a very different electoral map. And, frankly, that's kind of what the Biden ticket is banking on when you see the way that they've been traveling in this last stretch of the election.
Hunt: I can tell you that, when I was out traveling around during the primary, the ticket that the majority of people, white, Black, and otherwise, but particularly older African Americans would say they wanted, and this was consistent and it was in every state, North and South, was Biden-Harris. That's what people were asking for, even when Biden wasn't polling well. So it's interesting that that is exactly the way it turned out.
Reid: Okay, let's talk a little bit of history, ladies. We had, for the first time in U.S. history, I believe it is a first, the vice presidential nominee actually participate in a vote on a Supreme Court nomination that was made within weeks of Election Day.
Donald Trump: Today it is my honor to nominate one of our nation's most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Reid: Kasie, I'll go to you first on this. What's the significance of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court nomination? And how is that influencing voters?
Vitali: Well, it's huge. And in many ways, it may be the most history-defining thing that's happened in the final stretch of this campaign. And if Kamala Harris wins with the Biden ticket on Tuesday, the last vote that she will have taken as just a senator, not vice president-elect, will be a no vote on that Amy Coney Barrett nomination.
When you think about it, it's a bit striking. And you're right that we've never seen, in modern times, a nomination move so quickly before an election. So I think, from a political perspective, the jury is still out on how it will impact things.
I think there was a hope among Republicans that doing it quickly would galvanize regular Republican voters, perhaps those that were turned off by Donald Trump, and remind them why they were Republicans, and get them out to the polls. That's a little bit of what happened in 2018 in Senate races, particularly in states like Missouri, for example. And they felt like Democrats went too far on that, and they were politically rewarded for it.
But it doesn't seem necessarily that that turned out to be the case. And now I hear more people raising questions about the fact that, okay, now this is filled, right? President Trump cemented a conservative majority on the Court. He did it. If you're an evangelical voter who has questions about President Trump's character, is the motivation that got you out to the polls last time, is that still there? Is it still as urgent? Or are you more likely to stay home?
Reid: So talk a little bit about what we could expect, in theory, from a Kamala Harris who's got this history as a prosecutor, who's been on the front lines of really important issues and really contentious issues, like the death penalty, in her own career. And what advice we might expect her to be giving the very amenable and usually very bipartisan Joe Biden if she's vice president and he's the president, and she's the last person in the room?
Vitali: I'm really interested in seeing how a bipartisan Biden presidency actually works in a DC that has only become more gridlocked since he left it. Kamala Harris actually has more recent experience in dealing with the partisanship on the Hill, frankly, on a day-to-day basis, on a granular basis to get things done, than Joe Biden has in years. And so that's clearly going to be important when you talk about them getting a legislative agenda through Congress.
In terms of the courts, look, they loom over everything. It's why you saw the Democratic ticket, and frankly, Democrats broadly in these hearings, not necessarily trying to score points dunking on Amy Coney Barrett with incendiary lines of questioning. But instead, you saw people like Kamala Harris using that time to ask questions--
Harris: So, Judge Barrett, in Shelby County, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, quote, "Voting discrimination still exists. No one doubts that." And my question to you is do you agree with Justice Roberts' statement?
Amy Coney Barrett: Senator Harris, I wanna just make sure that I understand--
Vitali: Let's remind people that the decisions you'll make as a Supreme Court justice will impact health care, they'll impact immigration, they'll impact climate change, they'll impact voting rights, all of these key issues. The key for the Democratic ticket was remind voters what's at stake from an issue perspective because otherwise I think, frankly, it might just become a little bit too overwhelming for them to see Republicans just ramming this nominee through the entire Senate.
Reid: You know, I do believe that voters tend more to vote out of anger and to punish people than they do to say, "Thanks for giving me what I wanted." Has the steam now gone out of the Republican playbook for this election because they've already served up a 6-3 Court for the next 40 years for the voters that they need to turn out?
Vitali: I think that's entirely possible. The anger is coming from Democrats.
Chuck Schumer: Don't forget it, America. Don't forget what's happening here. Because it's a travesty. A travesty. A travesty for the Senate, a travesty for the country. And it will be an inerasable stain on this Republican majority forevermore.
Hunt: The emotion is coming from Democrats right now, not from Republicans who are interested in cheering for what happened, even though they may be. And they certainly I think, you know, approve of the selection. And Amy Coney Barrett conducted herself in a very professional manner in her hearings and didn't give, you know, any extra reason to oppose her in the hearings that, you know, didn't already exist before those hearings started. But, you know, I think that you're right that, especially in recent history, we've seen the voters who were angrier about the status quo were the ones who ultimately chose the president.
Reid: And let's talk a little bit about that influence of having a Kamala Harris beside him in power, and having a Black woman, an Asian American woman, just a woman in general, being the first and last person in the room. And, Ali, you know, there's a lotta potential here for Joe Biden to be one of the three name presidents, to be an F.D.R., because he's gonna have to do huge things and face down a hostile Supreme Court.
That's what F.D.R. dealt with. It's why he attempted to add seats to the Supreme Court, or threatened to do it, and that actually helped him pass a lot of the New Deal legislation that the country needed at the time. He could be an L.B.J. and really go big on civil rights and on immigrant rights and on all of the changes that really made the 20th century the century when Black people were placed in a position to eventually elect a Barack Obama.
He could be a Barack Obama and try to be a conciliator, even in the face of a hostile, Tea Party-like, angry movement that now includes lots and lots of guns. Like, there's lots of places that a Biden-Harris administration could go. What do you see as the role of this woman of color vice president if, in fact, she does get that role because Biden ultimately wins the election?
Vitali: It's the reason that representation matters. It's not just so that little girls sitting in front of their TV sets can see something that they can aspire to because finally someone in those positions looks like them. That's critically important. But it also matters from a policy perspective.
Having a different lived experience means that the way you look at policy is just fundamentally different. And so the fact that she comes at this as a woman of color, as a woman period, it brings a different perspective on its own. And then of course the fact you look back at her own policy past, she ran for president. We do sort of know the direction that she would take a lot of these policies in.
And so I think, if they're elected, there's gonna be a really interesting behind-the-scenes thing playing out where what does it mean to be the last person in the room? For Kamala Harris, what does that mean when they're actually in the White House and they have all of these different things to tackle?
They've done a really good job of sort of trying to make sure that she doesn't outshine Biden. That's something that a lot of president and vice presidential tickets have to grapple with, what the dichotomy is gonna be between both parts of the ticket. But once they're in office, I'm really interested in seeing what that actually looks like.
Reid: Let's fast forward four years or eight years down the road. Win or lose, whatever happens tomorrow in this election, do you expect to be covering a Kamala Harris for President campaign again?
Vitali: I do. I think she's absolutely gonna run for president again. I mean, barring obviously some 2020-style, out-of-the-blue asteroid hitting the Earth kind of situation (LAUGHTER) which I feel like we can no longer rule out--
Reid: Don't jinx us.
Hunt: --on a regular.
Reid: Yeah, don't jinx us. (LAUGH)
Hunt: So setting that major--
Vitali: Don't say that too loud. (LAUGH)
Hunt: --big picture caveat aside, I do. I think she has a very long future at the forefront of our politics. I think she's had to balance that, how fast her star was rising, and how sweeping her ambitions are, and with good reason, with gaining the experience and getting her feet under her.
But I think that she's clearly shown that she can do that very quickly. I mean, she's very young by political standards and has figured it out fast, and has one presidential campaign under her belt. It really does help to do that. There's nothing else like it. No matter how much you think that you know what you're getting into when you run for president, you don't until you do it. And she'll benefit from having done it before if she decides to do it again. And I would be incredibly surprised if she doesn't.
Reid: And, Ali, I'll throw the same question to you, and you can feel free to also comment on the prospect of a giant asteroid hitting the Earth because I think people also wanna know that as well.
Vitali: I don't know about the giant asteroid. But given the way 2020 has been going, man, who (LAUGH) knows? In terms of a Kamala Harris presidency, I think we're definitely gonna see a Kamala Harris presidency again. I think we're gonna be covering her.
Right now, Biden has set her up as potentially the future of the Democratic Party, sometimes to the chagrin of progressives who were hoping that the party would go in a much more leftward direction; others who are just looking to see the party start looking a little bit more like the coalition that has long made up its voting base.
And so I think, Kamala Harris, at this point, the floor is yours. What she does with it, if she gets the chance to be the first female vice president and beyond, I mean, I guess we'll see. But I definitely think that this is only the beginning of the national status for Kamala Harris.
Reid: Kasie Hunt, Ali Vitali, I think you're both absolutely right. I think the future of the Democratic Party is women of color because the party has depended so much on Black women, on brown women, on Asian American women, on women in general to hold it up.
And I think that that's the ballast that they're gonna carry going forward. And I still remember people saying, when Kamala Harris first appeared on the scene, "Oh, okay. That's gonna be the first Black woman president." I think that that is highly likely. Kasie and Ali, thanks so much for joining me.
Hunt: Thanks so much, Joy.
Vitali: Thanks, Joy.
Reid: That was NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, and Ali Vitali, an NBC reporter who's been on the campaign trail this year. From NBC and Wondery, this is episode six of six, of Kamala: Next in Line. This is a six-part series about the making of Kamala Harris.
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Production and research help from Carrie Dann, Julie Tsirkin, and Deepa Shivaram. Production assistance from Hank Butler. Music supervisor, Scott Velasquez. Managing producer, Lata Pandya. Sound design by Lindsay Graham with assistance from Derek Behrens. Executive produced for MSNBC by Steve Lickteig. Executive produced by George Lavender, Marshall Lewy, and Hernan Lopez for Wondery.