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Kamala Harris refuses to kneel with Joe Biden in awkward photo op moment

By Sarah May
|
January 19, 2023

During a White House ceremony recognizing the Golden State Warriors' 2022 NBA championship on Tuesday, a bizarre scene in which President Joe Biden knelt in front of the team prompted Vice President Kamala Harris to audibly refuse to act in similar fashion, as the Daily Mail reports.

Though it was not immediately clear what Biden was attempting to convey with his unexpected gesture, it was evident that Harris wanted no part of dropping to her knees before a large group of professional athletes.

Harris says no

The uncomfortable scenario unfolded toward the end of the event, when the team gathered for a group photo opportunity with the president and vice president, both of whom appeared unsure as to where to stand.

That is when Biden was heard to say, “I'll tell you what” before going down on one knee to the sound of gasps from the assembled crowd.

Players near the front appeared baffled by the president's conduct, stretching out their arms to provide assistance when it looked as though he was about to fall.

Biden then struck a grinning, confident pose, Harris declared, “I'm not doing that, no,” while some of the Warriors helped ease her into a spot where she could stand alongside them. WATCH:

Deeper meaning?

Known for his sometimes-erratic behavior when on stage, it remained something of a mystery whether Biden was attempting to pay homage to the trend of professional athletes protesting racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during pre-game performances of the National Anthem in recent years, or if it was simply an awkward reaction to the crowded platform.

However, team standout Steph Curry, who famously declined to attend similar White House ceremonies while former President Donald Trump was in office, appeared to assume the former.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Curry opinion that the image of Biden kneeling in front of the players was “iconic,” as Newsweek noted.

Speaking of the president's decision, Curry said that it is “[v]ery symbolic. I think it was an iconic moment in the sense of what that image means. But the fact that he would do it there, I don't know how he'd put words to it, but he's just a humble server, man.”

“That's how you want anybody to approach the position that he's in. That picture is going to be one to keep,” Curry added.

Kamala rising?

The vice president's bold refusal to join in Biden's antics Tuesday comes as some media pundits have suggested that she is in the midst of something of an image relaunch.

According to Politico, the vice president is feeling optimistic about her ability to put two years of startling turnover of high-level staffers, ongoing criticism of her job performance, and searingly bad headlines and is generally in what allies describe as “a better place.”

With Biden apparently poised to announce a re-election bid in the coming weeks, sources suggest that Harris is no longer operating under the same microscope as when she was still viewed as a possible candidate for her party's nomination in 2024.

“Now that it looks like he's running, she's really being treated like what I would call a 'normal vice president,'” an unnamed former aide explained, adding, “[t]here's just less attention, which I think actually frees her up to focus on excelling and not having to worry about the relentless scrutiny.”

Another Harris ally contended that her bumpy experience to date was the fault of others, saying, “One of the challenges that this administration had is I don't think that the White House writ large fully understood what it meant to have a historic first vice president. You have to put her out front more on some things because it looks different and it is different, right?”

Whether Harris' disinterest in following Biden's lead and kneeling before the NBA champions was emblematic of her newfound confidence is up for debate, but all eyes will certainly be watching to see if Kamala 2.0 embodies the substantive shift her supporters claim, or if it is simply wishful thinking on their part.