Virus at the White House Has Washington on Edge; Kamala Harris — Favorite for VP?
Author: Greg Valliere
May 11, 2020
VIRUS AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Washington is on edge this morning, as concern grows that there’s a likelihood of more cases of Covid-19 lurking at the White House.
WE SPOKE WITH A REPORTER YESTERDAY who says that President Trump and Vice President Pence are angry about lax testing and social distancing policies at the White House, but NOT wearing a mask was considered “macho” until this past weekend, she said. Until recently, only one staffer — former Marine and Wall Street Journal reporter Matt Pettinger — wore a mask, and he was mocked for timidity.
THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT that Trump and Pence have come in contact with Katie Miller, the Pence aide who has tested positive, and her husband Stephen Miller has been a regular at all major meetings attended by Trump and Pence.
THIS RAISES A DELICATE ISSUE: Could the president himself be vulnerable? Was he exposed to the virus within the past 14 days? Undoubtedly, but this doesn’t mean he will get Covid-19. But this leads to an even more delicate issue — the succession protocol should Covid-19 strike even more aggressively in the White House.
SHOULD TRUMP SUFFER a Boris Johnson-type of illness, incapacitating him for several days, the 25th Amendment — ratified after John F. Kennedy’s assassination — could take effect, allowing Pence to take control of the presidency until Trump recovered. What if Pence also was incapacitated? The presidency would transfer to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
THE LINE OF SUCCESSION IS QUITE CLEAR: Next would be the president pro tempore of the Senate, crusty Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, 86. Then come several Cabinet members, headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
WE ARE NOT PREDICTING THIS, but we have gotten emails and calls about the line of succession. Trump, who turns 74 next month, seems to be vigorous, and one would expect his aides to take special care to keep him away from the virus. But until this past weekend, Trump seemed dismissive of a threat or the need for masks at the White House. That may change.
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JOE BIDEN SEEMINGLY CAN’T GENERATE PUBLICITY on anything other than the unproven charge that he sexually assaulted an aide nearly three decades ago. But there’s one story that will keep the press alert — his vice presidential pick. Politico reports this morning that a frontrunner has emerged: California Sen. Kamala Harris.
THE CONTEST MAY BOIL DOWN to three candidates. Biden and his inner circle apparently have forgiven Harris for her scathing attack on him in the first debate; they feel she could add a point or two to his total of the African-American vote in key states this fall. Rep. James Clyburn and other prominent black politicians would be thrilled with her.
THE OTHER TWO FINALISTS: Elizabeth Warren could capture most of the Bernie Sanders supporters, many of whom are not enthusiastic with Biden, to put it mildly. She’s a tireless campaigner, but our take is that Warren would be viewed as polarizing by centrists. The other finalist is the safest pick — Amy Klobuchar, who would guarantee Minnesota while keeping Wisconsin and Iowa in play.
BIDEN IS WOEFULLY behind on social media — Trump dominates Twitter and Facebook — and the former vice president trails badly in campaign cash on hand. So Biden needs a dynamic running mate — and the telegenic Harris, 55, who’s father is from Jamaica and late mother was from India, might fit the bill.
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