When Harris became an administration point person on abortion this month, many operatives in both parties viewed it as yet another example of President Biden’s saddling her with a thankless task on an explosive subject he was eager to avoid handling. Biden had already assigned Harris to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, amid a chaotic influx at the southern border, and to take the lead on voting rights, as Republican-led states began passing restrictive voting laws.
All are volatile social issues that many politicians would see as offering little benefit as policy assignments. But behind the scenes, Harris has been quietly seizing the opportunity to build a liberal national network of dedicated activists that is convinced she embraces its causes.
If Harris has a path to the presidency, it is likely to run through an energized liberal base — not, as it did for Biden, through blocs of centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans.