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US President Joe Biden • Vice President Kamala Harris
Two former White House officials said President Biden is frustrated with Vice President Kamala Harris' performance — even if he remains committed to keeping her as his running mate in the 2024 election, a new report reveals.

The 80-year-old Biden, who has gone out of his way to praise Harris in recent public remarks, reportedly has griped about his No. 2's reluctance to take on risky assignments.

One former White House official told Reuters:
"A point of tension in their relationship is that I don't think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate" due to a "fear of messing up. If he did not think she was capable, he would not have picked her. But it is a question of consistently rising to the occasion. I think his running for re-election is less about her and more about him, but I do think that she and the Democratic bench [are] a factor."
Another former White House official told the wire service that Biden, already the oldest-ever president, intends to seek a second term in part because he's concerned that Harris may not be able to beat former President Donald Trump, who is seeking the GOP nomination.
© AP/Alex Brandon
President Biden • VP Harris
Former official: Biden doesn't believe Harris is 'rising to the occasion'

A third former White House official defended Harris, however, and pointed to her role in advocating for legal access to abortion after the Supreme Court last year ended federally guaranteed access as something Harris took off Biden's plate.

Comment: They came up with one thing?

Biden has made a point of praising Harris recently — after prior reports that he's been frustrated with her apparent reluctance to embrace an assignment to reduce record-breaking illegal immigration.

Biden told Harris on Wednesday evening at a Women's History Month event:
"You know, our outstanding vice president, you've shattered so many barriers and did it mostly on your own. You know, San Francisco, first woman district attorney. California's first woman attorney general. Doug, you have had such an incredible partner in this historic progress."
On Thursday, Biden said at an event celebrating the 13th anniversary of former President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, "Kamala, I want to thank you for everything you've done to defend this law as vice president," without specifying what that was.

Earlier reports hinted at the tension between Biden and Harris, whom Reuters sources confirmed are all but certain to remain on the top of the Democratic ticket next year.

Author Chris Whipple, an expert on West Wing staffing, wrote in his book The Fight of His Life, released in January, that Biden considered Harris to be a "work in progress."

The president vented to a friend about Harris in 2021 after he got word that her husband, Douglas Emhoff, was complaining about the tasks assigned to her, including mitigating migration and pushing for a federal voting-rights law, Whipple wrote:
"Biden was annoyed. He hadn't asked Harris to do anything he hadn't done as vice president — and she'd begged him for the voting rights assignment."
Biden selected Harris, the first female and second non-white VP, as his running mate in 2020 despite an acrimonious primary in which she blasted him for opposing federally mandated desegregation through busing students to different school districts.

"That little girl was me!" Harris told Biden during a 2019 debate.

First lady Jill Biden reportedly was so angry about the exchange that she told supporters afterward that Harris should "go f-k" herself.