Vice President Kamala Harris reportedly left White House officials “perplexed” by her response to a question about visiting the southern border and fear it will overshadow her trip to Mexico and Guatemala.
In March, President Joe Biden tapped Harris to lead U.S. efforts to work with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries to address the flow of migrants to the U.S. southern border. The vice president has faced criticism from Republicans for failing to visit the border.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond revealed during the network’s program, “New Day,” Harris is receiving criticism from more than just Republicans.
“The vice president saw this trip as an opportunity to burnish her foreign policy credentials after entering office with very little foreign policy experience,” Diamond said, adding, “She also hoped to make real progress on the root causes on migration from Central America.”
Acknowledging there “was certainly progress,” Diamond explained, “But there are now concerns that some of that progress may have been overshadowed by her answers to some of these questions that her team knew that she would be facing.”
He continued, “It’s left some of the administration officials perplexed, and the vice president’s team frustrated.”
Diamond reported that the officials were specifically perplexed by a question she got from Lester Holt about visiting the border.
“There was hope the trip would be a success, and in the end, they feel it may have been overshadowed by some of her answers to these questions,” Diamond said.
As CNN also reports, “Several sources say there was a real hope inside the White House that Harris’ first trip abroad would be a success, and worry that what looked like ill-prepared answers to that inevitable question would overshadow it. But officials made clear they didn’t view the overall outcome of the trip as driven by a single answer during a TV interview, and the goals of the trip were largely attained.”
When reminded by Holt she has not been to the border, Harris replied during the interview, “I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t – I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border. Listen, I care about what’s happening at the border.”
In case you missed it:
“We have to deal with what's happening at the border.”@VP Kamala Harris spoke exclusively with @LesterHoltNBC on her first trip overseas, how the administration is addressing the immigration crisis, and if she plans to visit the southern border herself. pic.twitter.com/sA4We7peeR
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 8, 2021
Harris also received criticism for telling migrants, “Do not come.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement, “This unconventional approach is nothing more than a cynical political decision to ensure the blame doesn’t fall on her shoulders by distancing herself from Biden’s border crisis.”
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, defended Harris, saying, “I understood her saying ‘do not come’ as a compassionate, humanitarian plea because of the dangers of taking the long trek up north, and I have this under the perspective of having spoken with her personally on the matter.”
Harris spoke about her trip while speaking to reporters in Mexico City.
“Do I declare this trip a success? Yes, I do. It is success in terms of a pathway that is about progress. We have been successful in making progress,” she said on Tuesday.
According to her staff, Harris was expected to direct her attention toward economic development, climate and food insecurity, and women and young people during her trip, as CNN reports.
She also told reporters on Tuesday that she has “been to the border before. I’ll go again.”
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