White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday didn’t hesitate to say “yes” when asked whether Vice President Kamala Harris was receiving more criticism because she is the first woman and woman of color to hold the office.
“I think there’s no question that the type of attacks — the attacks on her that certainly, being the first she is many times over, is part of that,” Psaki said in an interview with POLITICO’s senior editor for standards and ethics, Anita Kumar, as part of its inaugural Women Rule Exchange.
Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, has "a lot" on her shoulders, Psaki insists. But Harris seeks to be seen as a "talented," "experienced," and a "substantive policy person" partner to President Joe Biden, she stated.
Harris has received unflattering coverage recently, with CNN reporting over the weekend that the vice president is “struggling with a rocky relationship with some parts of the White House,” and that there’s “entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus” in her office. There was negative press during her third foreign trip, to Paris, with a Los Angeles Times column over the weekend calling her “the incredible disappearing vice president” — criticizing her absence from Washington as Congress passed the administration's infrastructure bill.
Harris has also been criticized by members of her own team as well as by key Biden aides inside the White House, according to reports. Some, for example, were irked by her comments regarding the border and last-minute decision to visit El Paso, Texas. Her polling is dismal as well — a USA Today /Suffolk University survey conducted this month shows her job approval was 28% . A majority of respondents disapproved of her job performance, while 1 in 5 were undecided.
Psaki confirmed in Wednesday's interview that she would step down as the White House's top spokeswoman "sometime next year," but failed to clarify whether that would be before or after the 2022 midterm elections.
"I am Irish. There are times when I get a little hot. I try not to," she spoke of the briefing room.