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Harris and Buttigieg put a united front in the midst of rivalry reports

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This was the official line of the Secretary of Transport, Pete Buttigieg, on Thursday, while trying to minimize the talk about his political future, which has become increasingly intertwined with Vice President Kamala Harris, your travel companion on an infrastructure-themed trip on Thursday.

The trip came as Washington talks heated up on the possibility that Buttigieg could position himself as the future Democratic Party flagship instead of vice president, if President Joe Biden does not run for re-election in 2024. has ignited reports of a shadow rivalry between the couple planning on their joint trip to North Carolina to promote the recently passed infrastructure law and its effect on the nation’s traffic.

“The goal of the campaigns and the election is that when they come out right, they get to govern. And we’re totally focused on the job we’re doing,” Buttigieg told reporters in a half-flight group aboard the Air. Force Two.

While it is unclear whether the joint event was intended to stifle the talk of quiet competition, a White House official told CNN that the trip was planned for “a while back.” other trips by the vice presidency with cabinet secretaries, but both Harris and Buttigieg. he seemed to make a great effort to prove it all it went well with the Democratic stars breaking down barriers.

Before taking off, Buttigieg left Air Force Two to greet Harris when he landed at Andrews Joint Base. Along with Democratic Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina, he and Harris shared a quick hug that Harris initiated.

Touring a bus depot in Charlotte, Harris headed to Buttigieg before boarding a new electric bus and said, “Secretary, will you join me?” Inside, Harris joked that the vehicle “smells like that new bus,” which made the secretary laugh. And when she sat behind the wheel of the bus and blew her horn, Buttigieg was by her side.

The couple’s goodwill seemed to grow when Buttigieg devoted part of his comments to praising the hours Harris recorded to help turn the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. , recounting a moment when he spoke at “the right time” in the Oval. Office, telling lawmakers about “the need to think big, not get lost in the details of politics.”

“He was absolutely right,” he said. Harris later thanked Buttigieg for his “extraordinary work” as secretary.

Buttigieg, 39, and Harris, 57, were once rivals, along with a group of more than a dozen, when they ran for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidency. The couple, Chasten Buttigieg and Doug Emhoff, have promoted their friendship and posted on social media about their walks in the country’s capital.

“I interviewed a new babysitter today,” Chasten Buttigieg wrote on Instagram the same day his spouse’s trip, posing in a photo with Emhoff, who was pushing the stroller of the Buttigieg twins.

But Thursday’s not-so-easy broadcast of a happy relationship in front of network cameras and traveling print journalists comes as guessing games are being played over who could take Biden’s place among Democrats.

Biden has told allies in private and has publicly announced his intention to run a re-election campaign. But her calmness has not completely suffocated those in doubt, and Harris’ role as second in command, a step away from the heart of the presidency, seems to have put her in first place as the next Democratic presidential candidate. .

However, CNN reported last month that many in the vice president’s orbit have expressed frustration that Harris has not been properly prepared or positioned by the White House, on the other hand, is being marginalized.

The role of the Secretary of Transport in the future of democratic politics has been closely monitored. Harris supporters told CNN they saw an unfair standard at stake after West Wing aides provided coverage to Buttigieg when he was attacked from the right, while Harris had not received similar protection after multiple steps in. false that provoked similar criticism.

But on Thursday, Harris’ allies tried to minimize persistent tensions.

“The only people who think 2024 is the bubble of DC and Donald Trump.” a former aide told CNN. “As far as I can tell, it was a pretty good trip where two Democratic Party stars highlight a major achievement of the administration on a battlefield of 2022 and 24.”

In Air Force Two, Buttigieg did the same.

“As Transport Secretary, I have become the face of many of the investments we are making, but we would not be here without the leadership of the Vice President,” added the President and others, Buttigieg.

CNN’s Isaac Dovere and Donald Judd contributed to this report.

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