FACT CHECK: Kamala Harris Claims There Is 'No Question' About Her Ability To Lead (When Biden's Brain Fails)

Historically unpopular vice president tells Wall Street Journal: 'I am ready to serve'

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
February 12, 2024

Claim: Vice President Kamala Harris said there is "no question" about her readiness to serve as president in the likely event that Joe Biden, 81, is deemed unfit for office. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Vice President Kamala Harris was detailing her priorities for the campaign during a flight on Air Force Two early last week when she was asked a delicate question hanging over the Democratic ticket: Do voters' concerns about President Biden's age mean she must convince them she is ready to serve?

"I am ready to serve. There's no question about that," Harris responded bluntly. Everyone who sees her on the job, Harris said, "walks away fully aware of my capacity to lead."

Context: In a bombshell report published last week, Special Counsel Robert Hur described Biden as an "elderly man with a poor memory" who should not face charges for mishandling classified information because no jury would ever vote to convict such an old and cognitively impaired defendant.

Hur's account of Biden's mental challenges merely confirmed what most Americans have already seen with their own eyes. Just 28 percent of Americans said Biden had "the mental sharpness it takes to effectively serve as president," according to an ABC News poll released earlier this year.

The fact that someone with an official title was willing to put it in writing, however, caused Democrats to panic—mostly because it reminded them that Biden's vice president (Harris) is one of the most unpopular politicians in the country and no one really wants to see her get promoted.

Analysis: There are many questions about Harris's readiness to serve as commander in chief. If there weren't, it's very likely she would be the Democratic nominee in 2024. It is certainly not the case that everyone who sees Harris on the job comes away thinking she would make a great president. In fact, many of the people who work for Harris come away thinking they would rather work for someone else.

Less than six months after Harris was sworn in, Politico reported that her office was "an abusive environment" where "people often feel mistreated." Former Harris staffers have described feeling terrified that "she could become the most powerful person on the planet." One former aide who had mostly positive things to say about Harris conceded that members of her staff were often "so stressed out that they were making themselves sick."

Harris's many critics are often unwilling to criticize her publicly for fear of being denounced as racist misogynists. Last year, for example, an anonymous House Democrat told a Politico reporter to turn off his recording device before admitting that Harris could not be president; another suggested "no white [Democratic lawmaker] is going" to express concerns on the record.

Even the people whose job it is to express support for Harris in public are often unable to do so in convincing fashion. During an October 2023 interview with the Atlantic, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients "started chuckling in what seemed to be discomfort" when asked if he was confident in Harris's ability to serve as president. He also struggled to think of an example when asked to "recall a moment when Biden had noticeably leaned on Harris for guidance." Zients promised to think of one and follow up with the reporter after the interview, but that never happened.

At the very least, one could argue that Joe Biden is confident in Harris's ability to serve as president because he appears to think "President Harris" has been running the country for several years. Alas, the American people tend to side with Harris's critics. Just 28 percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of the vice president, according to an NBC News poll released in January. Harris was on the receiving end of one of the most humiliating fact checks in history last August after she claimed that "there are polls that also say I have great approval ratings." (There are not.)

Verdict: We rate this claim 4 Flaming Clintons.