Scott Jennings, a conservative commentator for CNN, on Thursday said that special counsel Robert Hur’s questioning of Joe Biden’s mental fitness has now “firmly shifted the conversation even further towards” Vice President Kamala Harris.
In his report on the president’s retention of classified documents, Hur rejected recommending criminal charges against Biden, citing the president’s “significantly limited” memory as one reason. Biden has since slammed the memory claim in a press conference.
But this means Harris is now “squarely an issue” in the 2024 presidential election, Jennings told CNN’s Abby Phillip.
“The principal question of the day is, did anything that happened today in this document or this [Biden] press conference help or hurt this number, that three-quarters of the American people before today had moderate or significant concerns about the president’s mental acuity and fitness for this office?” said Jennings, a former aide to President George W. Bush.
He argued that the number “certainly didn’t get any better” and in fact “probably got worse.” He suggested that there “aren’t too many Americans who are going to look at this and say, ‘This guy is up to serving for five more years as president of the United States.’”
Jennings added: “I think Vice President Harris became squarely an issue in this election today. She already was getting there, and now it’s even more important.”
Former President Donald Trump remains the clear Republican front-runner and likely candidate to take on Biden in November in what would be a rematch after the 2020 election, which Trump still refuses to acknowledge that he lost.
Per FiveThirtyEight, Harris’ approval rating stands at 37.5% and disapproval is around 53.5%. The same website puts Biden’s approval at 38.7% and disapproval at 55.7%.
Harris has faced years of verbal attacks from the right, questioning her ability to serve as commander in chief should anything happen to Biden.
She has previously dismissed concerns about the president’s health, but has also sought to reassure voters that she’d be more than capable of stepping up if needed.
Asked by Margaret Brennan of CBS last year about her preparedness for taking on the top role, Harris said that she was ready “if necessary” but insisted that Biden “is going to be fine.”
“Let me tell you something: I work with Joe Biden every day,” Harris added at the time. “The work that, under Joe Biden’s leadership, our administration has accomplished is transformative. I think the American people most of all want a leader who actually gets things done.”