Allies of Vice President Kamala Harris held a “crisis dinner” in Washington DC last month to strategize on how to defend the veep from a “torrent of bad press,” Axios reports.
The dinner was hosted by Kiki McLean, a Democratic operative and adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The guests included Harris confidant Minyon Moore, two former Democratic National Committee officials, Biden adviser Stephanie Cutter, former Obama adviser Jen Palmieri, and Democratic strategists Adrienne Elrod and Karen Finney, though no one from Harris’ office attended.
The dinner focused on negative media reports surrounding Harris and her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy.
The attendees discussed leaks coming from administration officials raising questions about Harris’ judgment and alleging dysfunction in her office.
The dinner guests discussed “how to fight back against negative perceptions” and “how to help Harris boost her national media footing,” according to Axios.
Allies rally support:
"The point of it was how can this group be supportive from the outside," a source familiar with the dinner told the outlet.
"It was less about how do you sort out the infrastructure [of Harris' operation], and it was more how can this group contribute to make sure that not only is her team making the most of this moment — as the first woman of color in the White House — but how can we help from the outside?” the person said.
The attendees discussed how they could better tout Harris’ record as a prosecutor, former California attorney general, and US senator, particularly on questions of the border crisis, which President Joe Biden has tapped her to lead his administration’s response to.
Another source said that attendees believed the reports had “sexist overtones” and talked about how they could "make sure the press knows this."
Comparisons to Hillary:
"Many of us lived through the Clinton campaign, and want to help curb some of the gendered dynamics in press coverage that impacted HRC," a source familiar with the dinner told Axios. "It was like: 'We’ve seen this before.' It’s subtle. But when things aren't going well for a male politician, we ask very different questions, and they’re not held to account the way a woman leader is.”
The Biden administration has tried to push back on the reports. White House chief of staff Ron Klain issued a statement dismissing any questions about Harris’ leadership.
Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond has called it a “whisper campaign designed to sabotage" the vice president.