The prospect of a Kamala Harris presidency gives me pause

By Nolan Rappaport, opinion contributor

Joe Biden has chosen U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) to be his running mate. She should strengthen his candidacy. She is a black woman who is the daughter of immigrants, and California has more electoral votes than any other state.

But would she be a good president?

This is an important question because many people don’t expect Biden to finish a four-year term in office if he is elected.

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of likely voters believe it’s likely that Biden’s running mate will have to take over as the president before the end of Biden’s four-year term if he wins this fall. Only 35 percent consider it unlikely.

If Biden is elected, he will be 78 years old when he takes the oath of office. We have never had a president who was that old when he started his first term. It's fair to note that Trump — currently the oldest president ever elected — would be just shy of 75 on inauguration day 2021.

Ronald Reagan was only 69, and his age was an issue from the start of his presidential career.

There are a host of issues that come with aging — from difficulty dealing with stress to higher risk from COVID-19 to decreased mental acuity and dementia. I’m not predicting any of this for Biden: My point is simply that his age makes the possibility of him not finishing his full term more likely.

Two concerns about Harris being president

First, if we are going to put a Democratic senator in the White House, I would like it to be someone with good legislative skills who can work with the Republicans. You don’t have to look beyond the current deadlock over a coronavirus relief bill and the failure to pass bipartisan immigration reform legislation to know why this is important.

It’s a practical matter for governing well, regardless party affiliation — and arguably, the country needs good government as much or more than ever.

Harris hasn’t had much experience in Congress. She was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2017, which was only three and a half years ago, and her record does not demonstrate much aptitude for working with the opposition.

The GovTrack 2019 Report Card ranks Harris as being the most liberal of the Senate’s 100 senators, which must make it difficult for her to find common ground for negotiations with the Republicans and more moderate democrats. It concludes further that she joined bipartisan bills less frequently than other Democratic senators.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1 or at