The Corner

Politics & Policy

Why Kamala Harris’s Speech Fell Flat

While watching Kamala Harris’s vice-presidential nomination speech last night, I thought her two biggest problems were that she was upstaged by Barack Obama’s strong performance and that the staging for her own speech just didn’t work. Two teleprompters flanking the podium were visible to TV viewers in the early part of the speech, and Harris awkwardly turned from side to side to use them; that’s normal when addressing a live audience but seemed strange when addressing a mostly empty room with a few dozen reporters scattered throughout. She would have been better off in a smaller room looking directly at the camera, as the Obamas did in their speeches.

But after reading the transcript, it seems the bigger problem was the text of the speech itself: Harris neither effectively tore Trump down nor built Biden up. The latter problem was probably exacerbated by the fact that after the Democratic primary, everyone knows Harris doesn’t really believe Biden is great. Harris was never strong on the stump during the Democratic primary, but she might fare better in her debate against Vice President Pence.

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