Nov 29, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Kamala Harris struggles to reignite presidential campaign

Sen. Kamala Harris on the debate stage

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris' 2020 campaign is in the midst of freefall as the campaign deals with disorganization at the highest levels and a dire financial situation, The New York Times reports, citing interviews with "more than 50 current and former campaign staff members and allies."

The big picture: At the start of the campaign, Harris shot to the top of the polls, especially after she confronted former Vice President Joe Biden over his desegregation and busing policy. Flash forward to today, Harris is at the bottom of the polls in early states and is struggling to make a lasting impression on voters, the Times notes.

  • Harris' campaign is struggling to raise funds — forcing them to run fewer ads on Facebook and preventing them from airing TV ads in key early-voting states, per the Times.

Her campaign: A schism in Harris' campaign leadership has led to disorganization with campaign manager Juan Rodriguez on one side and her sister Maya Harris on the other. Campaign aides told the Washington Post it's still not clear who is in charge of the campaign, and there's no clear leadership structure.

  • Maya tries to push Harris to the left, particularly in regards to criminal justice, while her other advisers want her record to speak for itself, the Post reports.
  • Rodriguez, the campaign manager, has added to the campaign's disorganization and some say it's a result of his inexperience on presidential campaigns.
  • Kelly Mehlenbacher, a former state operations director for Harris, resigned and blasted the campaign for its poor treatment of the staff and that she no longer has confidence in the campaign's leadership, per the Times.

The Harris campaign responded to the Post that a "competitive finish in Iowa will demonstrate she is viable beyond that first contest and into later states like South Carolina and Super Tuesday, where she continues to earn endorsements and gain traction."

The bottom line: "She has proved to be an uneven campaigner who changes her message and tactics to little effect and has a staff torn into factions," the Times writes.

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