White House insiders have been “stunned” by some of the twists and turns on Kamala Harris’s first foreign trip — where the vice president urged migrants not to come, dismissed a border trip as a “grand gesture” and then said she was there. would make one.
Harris undertook the trip as a demonstration of her new role, focusing on the “root causes” of migration, and met the presidents of two countries to discuss poverty, migration and vaccines.
But she made a series of seemingly contradictory statements on a subject that was sure to surface: her decision not to visit the border at the beginning of the administration.
Government officials are ‘stunned’ at some conflicting statements by Vice President Kamala Harris during her first overseas trip in office
Near the end of her trip, during a press conference in Mexico City with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Harris said she would go.
“Listen, I’ve been to the border before and I’m going again,” she said.
CNN reported that officials were concerned within the administration that Harris’ progress from leader to leader might have been undermined by her conflicting responses and PR missteps.
“Some officials are baffled and the vice president’s team frustrated,” the network said. reported Wednesday.
“There was hope that the trip would be a success, and in the end they feel it may have been overshadowed by some of her answers to these questions,” the network reported.
She also snapped a few times at reporters when questioned about a border visit. Among those who asked was a CNN correspondent. Fox News correspondents have been chasing the White House on the topic for weeks, so her team was unlikely to be surprised.
At the same press conference where she said she was going to the border, Harris also shrugged off the idea.
Harris visited Mexico and Guatemala on her first trip outside the country as VP
She said at a news conference in Mexico City she would visit the border, after previously commenting on “grand gestures”
Vice President Kamala Harris (R) participates in a roundtable with Guatemalan community and civil society leaders to continue discussions on how to best address root causes of migration at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in Guatemala City on June 7, 2021
Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard as she steps off the plane upon arrival at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, for her first international trip as Vice President to Guatemala and Mexico, in Mexico June 7, 2021
“I think it’s short-sighted, for any of us involved in problem-solving, to suggest that we’re just going to act on the reaction rather than address the root cause,” she said.
It echoed her earlier comments in Guatemala, where she characterized such a visit as a show.
“I came here to be here on the scene, to talk to the leader of this nation about what we can do in a way that is important, tangible and has real results,” she said.
“And I’ll continue to focus on that kind of work rather than grand gestures.”
There’s an element of showmanship in any trip abroad — and Harris wasn’t shy about calling her own first outing abroad a win.
‘Do I declare this trip a success? Yes, I do,’ she said.
She also got heat on the trip when she snapped back at NBC anchor Lester Holt when he asked her about visiting the border.
“At some point, you know, we’re going to the border,” she said. “We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing over the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border,’ she repeated.
“You didn’t get to the border,” Holt pushed back.
“And I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris snapped, quickly changing it into her signature laugh.
“And I mean, I don’t get the point you’re making,” she told Holt. “I’m not ignoring the importance of the border.”
She also began her journey with a blunt message to migrants: “Don’t come,” an admonition that New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called “disappointing.”
In another strange moment, a case of mistaken identity at Harris’s press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday caused a woman mistakenly identified as a Univision reporter of a similar name to ask the vice president a fawning question.
The woman, who was introduced as “Univision’s Maria Fernanda” by Harris’ press secretary Symone Sanders, was one of only five people invited to the event in Mexico City for questions.
She asked a soft question, which Harris called “great.” Tuesday late, Fox news revealed that the woman was, in fact, a San Francisco Bay-area entrepreneur named Maria Fernanda Reyes. Univision released a statement saying the woman was not their reporter.