News and Commentary

Kamala Harris Gets ‘Real’ About Why She’s Not A Frontrunner
Kamala Harris speaks during a town hall at the Eastern State Penitentiary
Mark Makela/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) suggested on Thursday morning that two of the main reasons she is not polling as a top-tier contender in the Democratic primary is because she has less name recognition than the frontrunners and is struggling to bring in enough money to promote her campaign, which she blamed on the need for campaign finance reform.

“So moving forward strategically for your campaign, what are the challenges? How do we get the debate stage down to two or three candidates and how do you make sure Kamala Harris is one of them?” MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Harris during an appearance on “Morning Joe.”

“The reality, you know — I’m just into real talk at that point — I mean, the reality is that the top of the, you know, the top of the field many have been on the stage for decades,” Harris responded. “They’re familiar, they’re known, and they have name I.D. for that reason. And so my challenge is to up my name I.D. and introduce myself to people.”

“You know, a large part of it is the fundraising piece. I need to raise the money to be on TV in Iowa, you know, as soon as possible. That’s just a crude fact of running for president,” she continued. “And until we have campaign finance reform, which will be one of my first areas of focus when elected, until that happens, that’s a part of the process.”

Harris’ campaign, which has been described recently as hemorrhaging cash, has been dramatically restructuring its staff nationwide, including both layoffs as well as redeployments, according to a memo obtained by Politico. The California lawmaker laid off all of her New Hampshire field organizers and is closing all three field offices in the state as she has been struggling to gain traction. The campaign tried to tamp down alarm bells of an impending end to her presidential run, stating that the move is simply “a strategic decision to realign resources and go all-in on Iowa.”

While Harris’ campaign pivots to focus on winning Iowa, the presidential hopeful has slipped into sixth place in the latest poll coming out of the Hawkeye state. Harris is tied with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, financier Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) at 3%, according to a poll conducted by the Des Moines Register/CNN in mid-November.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been consistently leading the field nationwide. Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appear to have significantly pulled away from the rest of the pack in both nationwide and early state polls.

This is not the first time that Harris has made an excuse for her struggling campaign. She suggested earlier in November that the ability for Americans to elect her as president of the United States may ultimately be hindered by her race and her gender, not her politics or personality. The California lawmaker put forth that the “elephant in the room about her campaign” is her electability, which she argued “is America ready for a woman, and a woman of color, to be president of the United States?”

However, polling has shown neither race nor gender to be a significant factor in Democrats’ electability during the 2020 election.

As of publication, Harris sits at just under 5% support among Democratic primary voters nationwide, according to the Real Clear Politics national polling average. She has not hit double digits in the polls since August 2019.