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Crisis? What crisis? Kamala Harris jets to Singapore amid condemnation of silence over Afghanistan


Kamala Harris on Friday night flew to Singapore to begin an Asia trip that will see her away from Washington DC for a week, in the midst of the biggest crisis to hit the Biden presidency so far. 

As she left the city for her second international trip as vice president, Harris, 56, insisted that the administration remained focused on Afghanistan, despite criticism over her absence from public view all week. 

‘We couldn’t have a higher priority right now,’ she said.

‘And a particular high priority is making sure that we safely evacuate American citizens, Afghans who worked for them, Afghans at risk – including women and children. 

‘And that is one of our highest, if not the highest, priority right now. 

‘And it’s a big area of focus for me in the past days and weeks, and will continue to be.’

Kamala Harris spoke to reporters on Friday night as she prepared to board her plane and depart Washington DC for Singapore. She insisted that the Biden administration had ‘no higher priority’ than the evacuations from Afghanistan and her office said she will continue to work on the issue from Asia – but her trip will fuel criticism of her as being ineffective as vice president

The vice president waves as she prepares to board her plane for the flight to Singapore

The vice president waves as she prepares to board her plane for the flight to Singapore

Officials said she will continue to work on Afghanistan while in Asia. 

Yet her visit comes at an intensely difficult time for the Biden administration, amid widespread condemnation of their handling of the fall of Kabul.

She is not even returning directly to Washington DC: on Friday, she will detour en route home to California, to campaign on behalf of Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election on  

Harris herself has also been criticized for failing to address the issue, while other senior figures like the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, National Security Adviser and Biden himself have been forced to defend their actions in repeated interviews and remarks.

‘On our way to Southeast Asia to visit Singapore and Vietnam,’ she tweeted on Friday night. 

Her departure at a time of crisis will fuel criticism of her as an ineffective and inconsequential vice president. 

Last week, when likely voters were asked in a Rasmussen Reports poll released Thursday if Harris is ready to be U.S. president, 47 per cent said she is ‘not at all qualified’ while 8 per cent said she’s ‘not qualified.’

A new poll shows 55 per cent of likely voters believe Vice President Kamala Harris is 'not qualified' or 'not at all qualified' to run the nation. There was a 6 per cent drop in those who feel she is qualified from April to August

A new poll shows 55 per cent of likely voters believe Vice President Kamala Harris is ‘not qualified’ or ‘not at all qualified’ to run the nation. There was a 6 per cent drop in those who feel she is qualified from April to August

Only 14 per cent of the 1,000 polled between August 12-15 said she is ‘qualified’ and another 29 per cent said she is ‘very qualified’ to run the nation.

The latest is down from her April standing, when 49 per cent of respondents said the vice president was qualified to become president. 

Officials said that Harris’s long-planned trip to Singapore and Vietnam will show that the United States is in the region ‘to stay,’ as Washington seeks to bolster international support to counter China’s growing global influence.

Harris will be the most senior U.S. official to visit the region since President Joe Biden took office in January promising to shore up alliances, which the United States considers key to checking Chinese expansion.

Harris's Asia trip is the second foreign visit of her vice presidency. In June she visited Guatemala and Mexico

Harris’s Asia trip is the second foreign visit of her vice presidency. In June she visited Guatemala and Mexico

A senior White House official told Reuters earlier this month that the vice president’s focus would be on defending international rules in the South China Sea, strengthening U.S. regional leadership and expanding security cooperation in the region.

Harris to campaign for Governor Gavin Newsom

Kamala Harris will stop off in California on Friday, on her way back from Vietnam, to campaign for Governor Gavin Newsom.

Harris was attorney general of California from 2011-17, and was district attorney for San Francisco from 2004-11 – while Newsom was mayor. 

Newsom is facing a recall election on September 14, amid a surprisingly strong Republican challenge from talk radio host Larry Elder, in a strongly Democrat state.

Senior Democrats have expressed alarm at ‘Trump Republicans’ making strides in the state.

Nathan Click, who served as a communications director for both Harris and now Newsom, told voters in a tweet: ‘Voting NO is the only way ensure we don’t have a Trump Republican as Governor in one month’s time.’ 

‘The administration is making clear that we have an enduring commitment to this region, that we’re part of the Indo-Pacific and in the region to stay,’ the official said.

‘It’s been an overwhelming focus and priority of the whole team including the vice president … at the same time, it is also true that Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific are really important. And that’s why she’s going,’ the official added.

Harris is due in Singapore on Sunday. 

She will be the first U.S. vice president to visit Vietnam, and arrives in the country on Tuesday and departs on Thursday.

During her trip, Harris will meet Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and deliver remarks on a U.S. combat ship visiting Singapore. 

As per tradition, she will have an orchid named in her honor, to be unveiled in a ceremony at the presidential palace, the Istana.

Biden had an orchid named after him during his 2013 visit. 

Harris will also hold a meeting to discuss supply chain issues with representatives from the private sector and government. 

In Hanoi, Vietnam, Harris will meet with leaders including President Ngyuen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Ming Chinh and lead the U.S. delegation in launching a regional office for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The visit to Southeast Asia will be Harris’ second foreign trip as vice president. 

In June, she went to Guatemala and Mexico for meetings on the ‘root causes’ of the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border – a trip which was overshadowed by repeated questions as to why she was yet to visit the border herself.

Under pressure, she did several weeks later. 



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