Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris is considered a potential running mate for Joe Biden. But unlike other possible contenders, she has avoided making a public pitch for the ticket.
Six years ago, when President Barack Obama had to replace his departing attorney general, he offered the job to Harris, who led the California Justice Department — the first woman to occupy that role in its history.
Harris declined the promotion for several reasons, according to advisers from the time. She had not served a full term. She had her sights set on a higher profile in the Senate or as governor of California. Some envisioned a future presidential run. In that view, the job was a political dead end for a motivated and barrier-breaking figure. It also highlighted a personal trait: She would not be pressured into a position she did not want.
Today, Harris —a senator from California who ran for president last year — finds herself at another political crossroads and is approaching it with similar caution. Though she is among the favorites to become Joe Biden’s vice-presidential nominee, joining him on the Democratic ticket, she has kept a noticeably lower profile than other possible contenders.
In several interviews, Harris has said she would be honored to serve with Biden, but there is no public campaign similar to that carried out by Stacey Abrams, the former candidate for governor in Georgia. There is no surrogate lobbying effort like the one for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, which includes direct polling presentations. Instead, even people close to Biden — often bombarded with pleas from those vying to be his running mate — have remarked about how little they have heard from Harris and her allies.
Allies of Harris said she was taking the conventional, low-key route to being considered for vice president, rather than appearing to deliberately audition, hoping that this approach more closely suits a traditionalist like Biden.
Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, who endorsed Harris in the Democratic primary race, said Harris’ Washington backers believe that the running mate will not be selected by public audition and that her presidential campaign and executive qualifications will speak for themselves.
This does not mean she isn’t privately maneuvering, according to more than a dozen people familiar with her activities or with Biden’s search for a vice president. Harris has dedicated the five months since she ended her campaign to housecleaning, steps meant to position her better for what comes next: whether it is a vice-presidential bid, a longer career in the Senate, a run for governor or a position like attorney general in a Biden administration.