Abrams: VP Harris refuses to clarify ‘equity’ comments

Dan Abrams Live

(NewsNation) — Vice President Kamala Harris has developed a strange habit of making public comments that bring the wrong sort of attention to the Biden administration.

The vice president appeared at the DNC-hosted Women’s Leadership Forum last Friday and was asked about hurricane relief efforts by host Priyanka Chopra. The questions were a little long but relevant to the analysis of Harris’ response.

“Can you talk just a little bit about the relief efforts, obviously, of a hurricane and what the administration has been doing to address the climate crisis in the States, but and just a little follow up? Because it’s important to me, the poorest countries are affected the most, they contribute the least and are affected the most. So how should voters in the U.S. feel about the administration’s long-term goals when it comes to being an international influencer on this topic?” Chopra said.

It’s sort of a two-part question. The vice president’s response has led to a lot of criticism.

“Our lowest income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues that are not of their own making. So we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity, understanding not everyone starts out at the same place. And if we want people to be in an equal place, sometimes we have to take into account those disparities,” Harris answered.

Now, it’s a lot of words, and I’m not even sure I know exactly what she was saying. But in response to a question about a hurricane that just hit Florida, I can’t imagine talking about a need to fight for equity, and that not everyone starts out at the same place is a good idea when so many are still suffering and displaced. Not surprisingly, conservatives jumped on it. Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace said this on Fox:

“It’s literally the definition of discrimination. Hurricanes don’t see color. Hurricanes don’t see political affiliation. Hurricanes don’t see gender. All they see is destruction along the coast where they hit, and it is incredibly racist. Can you imagine someone saying the exact opposite, that only whites and men should get hurricane resources first? I mean, that’s crazy town. And the fact that the vice president of the United States is making those kinds of comments shows a lack of leadership.”

Now, to be fair, if you actually dissect the vice president’s word salad carefully, when she spoke of disparities of equity, she probably wasn’t specifically talking about Florida; she appears to have been discussing the disproportionate impact of changing climate on the poorest citizens and nations now.

Putting aside that hot button issue for a moment, that point wasn’t clear. And part of the question was specifically about Florida. And when she had an opportunity to clear it up, she didn’t.

“Vice President, can you clarify what you meant about equity for hurricane relief?” one reporter asked.

Yeah, she didn’t stop to answer. I don’t know if it’s exactly fair to just sort of throw the question, but she hasn’t explained it. And instead, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell appeared on “Face The Nation” to clean up after the vice president.

“We’re going to support all communities. I committed that to the governor. I commit to you right here that all Floridians are going to be able to get the help that is available to them through our programs,” Criswell said.

Tragedies like a natural disaster allow political leaders an opportunity to step up to the moment. It seems both Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden have done that with regard to this hurricane, although it’s still too early to know for sure. But one thing is certain. Whatever Harris meant, she brought this latest controversy on herself, and she should be the one clearing it up.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.