Vice President Harris didn’t seem to have an answer to questions about a possible visit to the US-Mexico border – and critics are wondering why.
Harris’ first international trip as VP to Guatemala and Mexico came with criticism for telling migrants “do not come” to the US.
But a CNN panel Sunday focused on some awkward exchanges with members of the press when asked about if she planned to visit the border.
“It’s just a little cringeworthy,” host Abby Phillip said on “Inside Politics Sunday.”
“And I know that her allies in the White House and elsewhere are watching it and just kind of wondering, ‘what is going on?’”
The panel was reacting to two specific clips, the first which was an attention-grabbing interview when CNN’s Lester Holt noted she hadn’t been to the border.
“And I haven’t been to Europe,” she said, then laughed.
“I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
Harris — the Biden administration’s point person on the border issue — was also asked about a visit amid the migrant crisis during a Univision interview on Thursday. The VP responded she was going before reporter Ilia Calderón jumped in and asked for specifics.
“When are you going to the border, Vice President?” Calderón asked.
“I’m not finished,” Harris replied before going on that the administration was focusing on root causes of the problem.
On the Sunday panel, Olivier Knox of the Washington Post said there’s an argument if a visit would have had any “meaningful policy purpose” – but either way, Harris should’ve known the questions were coming.
“To be clear she was going to be asked this question and the fact that they didn’t have something better than ‘I haven’t been to Europe’ is fairly notable,” Knox said.
“Republicans have been pounding away at this issue for weeks and for months.”
Panelist Laura Barron-Lopez said the trip “certainly didn’t go the way the White House wanted it to” but added she didn’t believe it would have long-term effects if Harris seeks election in 2024 or 2028.
But other panelists argued the vice president was being hammered about immigration, in part, because she is a black woman.
“Race is the No. 1 issue for Republicans right now,” panelist John Harwood said.
“This is a white party that’s rallying white, aggrieved white Americans who feel they’re losing control of their country.”
There have been more than 929,000 people apprehended at the border since Oct. 1, the Post previously reported based on data from Customs and Border Protection. The US is on pace for the most people stopped at the US’s southern border since 2000, when 1.64 million apprehensions were made.