Harris Takes Customary Role Of President by Calling Several Heads of State
Vice President Kamala Harris has recently called multiple heads of state, a task that is normally done by the president.
Harris spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, the White House said.
Harris “expressed her commitment to strengthening bilateral ties between the United States and France and to revitalizing the transatlantic alliance,” a readout said. She and Macron “agreed on the need for close bilateral and multilateral cooperation to address COVID-19, climate change, and support democracy at home and around the world.”
“They also discussed numerous regional challenges, including those in the Middle East and Africa, and the need to confront them together,” according to the readout.
There was no mention of President Joe Biden.
“We discussed COVID-19, climate change, supporting democracy at home and around the world, and regional challenges. @POTUS and I look forward to working with President Macron to build a better future for our two countries,” Harris wrote in a tweet.
Biden spoke to Macron on Jan. 24.
Harris shared a call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this month. The White House said it was her first call to a foreign leader as vice president.
“The Prime Minister congratulated the Vice President on her historic election, and she recalled fondly her years spent in Montréal,” a readout from Trudeau’s office said, adding that they discussed other matters, including fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We discussed our commitment to work closely on several issues, including combating COVID-19, addressing climate change, and expanding our economic partnership in ways that advance the recovery and create jobs in both countries,” Harris said in a statement after the call.
Biden and Trudeau spoke on Jan. 22. It was the first call Biden made after being sworn into office two days prior.
Vice presidents rarely call heads of state. The last vice president, Mike Pence, did not share calls with Trudeau or Macron, though he visited in person with heads of state on a number of occasions.
The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Harris’ calls drew notice from conservatives, with criticism lobbed by the National Pulse, an upstart outlet started by Raheem Kassam, former adviser to Britain’s Nigel Farage.
“It is bizarre for a Vice President to be making contact with key world leaders just weeks into a new administration,” the outlet said.
The calls could be a sign that Harris will have an elevated position when compared to past vice presidents, particularly in matters of foreign policy.
Biden, 78, became the oldest person to enter the White House last month. Speculation was rampant during the 2020 campaign about him potentially only serving one term in office. But Biden has said he is open to vying for a second term.
“I think it’s a legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old whether or not they’re fit and whether they’re ready,” he told ABC last year. “But … [the] only thing I can say to the American people, it’s a legitimate question to ask anybody, watch me.”
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