Since then-nominee Joe Biden selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to serve as his running mate, speculation has swirled that she would be the real driving force behind a Biden administration.
The president added fuel to those rumors this week when he interrupted himself to apologize to his vice president for using a first-person singular pronoun instead of including her in a description of his administration’s priorities.
“I expect you to support it”
As Mediaite reported, Biden retracted his remark during an event at the White House to mark the signing of an executive order related to American manufacturing and federal contractors.
Biden took a few questions from reporters, including one related to his administration’s proposed COVID-19 relief package and ongoing negotiations with lawmakers about the details of the package — specifically how and when the proposal might be passed.
In a somewhat rambling response, the president made multiple references to his prior experience in the Senate and his knowledge of how things work in Congress.
“It’s not enough for me just to come up to you and say, ‘I like this. I expect you to support it,'” Biden said at one point, according to a White House transcript.
A short time later, he apparently recognized that he failed to include Harris and her own experiences in his language and interrupted himself to offer an apology and correct the record.
“Respect and affection”
“I want to explain to you why I think it’s so important in this package that we have to provide for money for additional vaccines, why I think it’s so important why we provide for money to extend unemployment benefits, why I think it’s so important that we provide money to provide for the ability of people not to be thrown out of their apartments during this pandemic because they can’t afford their rent,” the president said.
He added: “And to make the case to you why I think and what I think the priorities within this piece — that we think the priorities are — I apologize — were within this legislation.”
Biden turned to direct his apology to Harris, which Mediaite described as a “small but telling” moment in which the president publicly displayed the “respect and affection” he has for his vice president.
Of course, other viewers of the exchange might see it as a tacit acknowledgment that Harris holds a particularly high level of influence within the fledgling administration.
Last month, Biden sparked similar concerns with a passing comment regarding his recent COVID-19 vaccination, referring to Harris as the “president-elect,” as the New York Post reported.