VP material: Nikki Haley and Kamala Harris

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the Oval Office of the White House in October 2017. (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford)

NEW YORK – It’s not just incredible but a huge credit to the highly accomplished and hardworking Indian American community, that while they represent only around 1% of the population in the United States, two women from the community, one from the Democratic party, and the other from the Republican fold, are in contention at present to be in the White House, if not as President, then as Vice President.

Her fortunes have dipped considerably since she began her campaign for President, with poor fundraising contributing to her losing clout in a crowded race, but California Sen. Kamala Harris is fighting to her last dollar for the Democratic nomination.

Poll signs are mounting that Harris’ campaign for the top job may be on the verge of being rendered irrelevant, but no political strategist in his right mind would discount her chances to be a running mate for the eventual Dem pick.

With her mix of Asian and African heritage, and extensive record as a lawyer and lawmaker, Harris is a strong contender for a VP pick. Not to mention the fact that in the brief minutes she has got on stage in the debates so far, Harris has not minced her words in vigorously lambasting President Trump. One gets the sense there’s a tough street fighter in Harris, and it’s just waiting to be unleashed.

The latest Quinnipiac poll of New Hampshire shows the extent to which Harris has lost her footing in the race to attract dollars to sustain a strong campaign.

The poll finds Harris posting her worst result of 2019 in New Hampshire a couple of weeks after the California senator fired her campaign staff and closed campaign offices in the state in order to redirect her diminishing resources to Iowa. The RealClearPolitics average of New Hampshire polls shows a tight race: Biden and Warren are tied at 19.7 percent, Sanders is at 19 percent, and Buttigieg is at 11.3 percent. Harris is at 3%, reported the National Review.

Ironically, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is showing a pulse at 6 percent in the Quinnipiac poll. After Gabbard attacked Harris’s record on criminal justice at the July Democratic debate, Harris memorably boasted that she was, unlike Gabbard, a “top-tier candidate.”

Senator Kamala Harris gives a thumbs down as she speaks during the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Data compiled by The New York Times shows Harris spent at least $1.7 million on Facebook ads since March. Throughout the summer, most of those ads have been targeting Iowa and South Carolina, which will hold its primary February 29.

“I think they are certainly ramping up strategies that they believe will pay off and digital is part of it,” said Dita Bhargava, a fundraiser for Harris and chief operating officer of a Connecticut-based software company, reported CNBC, on Harris’s strategy going forward.

Harris’ fundraising efforts have also been behind most of the other top contenders, despite having the backing of many wealthy financiers on Wall Street and in the film industry. In the second quarter, she brought in $12 million and in the third quarter raised $11.6 million. Harris had $10 million on hand going into the pivotal fourth quarter, the CNBC report pointed out.

On the other side of the political aisle, after a brief sabbatical from the limelight, Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina and United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is back with a bang, trending almost daily for her newly released memoir and her categorical defense of the embattled Trump.

Haley is one of those rare Trump administration officials who managed to get along well with Trump, without getting fired or humiliated to the point of quitting her job. Despite criticizing Trump on a few occasions, the President himself treated her with respect and admiration (after the Republican primaries, that is), and this week tweeted to his fans and supporters to buy Haley’s memoir, ‘With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace’.

In the memoir, Haley brings to life some deep conspiracy theories, including arguing that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to convince her to join them to foil Trump’s agenda. Haley wrote: They “tried to recruit me and said they were trying to save the country.”

J.T. Young, who served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department, writing in The Hill, noted how Harris is worming herself into pole position with Trump like she did only a brief while ago.

“Her memoir is really her manifesto. It declares her loyal attachment to Trump against the internal party establishment opposition that sought to undermine his presidency. And its release comes at the opportune moment of impending impeachment — a similar undermining effort from Trump’s external opposition,” wrote Young.

Former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, speaking on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’, on Tuesday, said what by now is strongly felt by a lot of political pundits: that Haley is timing to perfecting upstaging Vice President Mike Pence. She wants his job.

“She wants to be vice president,” Schmidt said. “She wants to be vice president on the Republican ticket in 2020. And I think there’s an overwhelming chance that Trump will dump Pence to put Nikki Haley on the picket. Because he has an enormous problem with women. Suburban women, particularly. He’s entirely transactional. Loyalty is a one-way street. And so she is clearly angling for the job and when you look at the politics of it, she would serve his immediate political interests in a way that Pence can’t. So I would suggest that he’s going to be gone and she’ll be in. And I think this book’s about that.”

Long story short: there are two Brown women fighting to be in the White House, as the Deputy. Who’s your pick to be VP?

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)




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