Kamala Harris appears to be publicly distancing herself from Joe Biden in order to remain clear of any fallout ahead of a potential White House run in 2024 as the US president continues to flail in the polls.
The frequency of meetings, both private and public, between Mr Biden and Ms Harris has declined dramatically, especially since the president’s popularity began plummeting after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August.
An almost complete lack of joint public appearances since then appeared to confirm a previous report by The Telegraph that White House strategists deliberately decided to shield Ms Harris from political contamination.
Mr Biden’s approval rating has now fallen faster in his first nine months than any president since the Second World War, and he faces a multitude of crises including rising inflation and supply chain issues.
There was also said to be concern in Ms Harris’s camp that she has not been given what one former adviser called an “all star portfolio,” having instead been asked to take on the highly contentious issues of border security and voting rights.
In what was initially billed as the “Biden-Harris” administration the president repeatedly vowed Ms Harris would be “the last person in the room” when he made big decisions.
They had 38 joint events in February, their first full month in office, and another 38 together in March.
But that has gradually fallen, especially after August.
They had just eight events together in September, and seven so far in October.
The vast majority of those were in private, with only two joint appearances in public in the last two months. Mr Biden and Ms Harris appeared together publicly at the Pentagon to mark the anniversary of 9/11, and for the 10th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in October.
The apparent froideur was a reminder that Mr Biden and Ms Harris do not have a long personal or political history, and clashed strongly in a debate during the contest for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2020.
Some Democrat officials involved in the vetting process for selecting Mr Biden’s running mate voiced concern at the time over the level of trust between the two politicians.
Many of their joint events have been the usual private weekly lunch a president traditionally has with their vice president.
Others have been listening to the President’s Daily Brief, the intelligence assessment delivered to Mr Biden each morning.
Ms Harris was involved in the intelligence briefing 15 times in February, and 17 times in March, but only twice so far in October.
According to an exhaustive analysis of her schedule by the Los Angeles Times Ms Harris has held a total of 485 events in 278 days in office.
Insiders previously told The Daily Telegraph efforts were made to put some distance between Ms Harris and Mr Biden in the wake of the Afghanistan debacle.
“It’s the best thing he [Mr Biden] can do, keep the VP away from it as much as possible,” one insider said.
White House officials and representatives for Ms Harris deny that the dramatic drop in joint events between the President and Vice President signifies any change in their relationship.
They suggest that with the lifting of pandemic restrictions Ms Harris is travelling more, and being sent to different parts of the country to promote Mr Biden’s agenda while he attempts to force it through Congress in Washington.
They have also indicated there are private meetings and phone calls between them which are not on the public schedule of either.
However, not appearing in public with Mr Biden appears to be having a beneficial effect for Ms Harris.
One poll last month showed her approval rating had risen to 49 per cent from the low 40s.
Meanwhile, according to Gallup, Mr Biden’s average approval rating has fallen by 11.3 points to 44.7 per cent in his first nine months, a bigger fall than any of the previous 10 presidents.
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