Harris calls critics 'scared,' Tim Scott says he'll introduce girlfriend and more campaign trail tidbits

Nikki Haley said a new poll shows voters want "a new generational leader."

September 10, 2023, 5:31 PM

Vice President Kamala Harris is responding to attacks from Republicans, casting barbs against her as evidence of what she called the GOP's fear of running against President Joe Biden next year.

Meanwhile, her California colleague Gov. Gavin Newsom egged on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over a debate they've been teasing -- but which hasn't yet come to fruition -- while DeSantis runs in the Republican primary.

That and more tidbits from the campaign trail, below.

Harris shakes it off

Harris on Sunday said the reason Republican presidential candidates are zeroing in on her in their pitches to voters is because they are "scared" that she and Biden will win.

"This is not new," Harris said. "They feel the need to attack because they're scared that we will win based on the merit of the work that Joe Biden and I, and our administration, has done."

The pushback, made during an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," comes as several GOP presidential hopefuls contend that Harris, who like Biden is plagued by low approval ratings, could assume the Oval Office in a second term.

Among the most brazen has been former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has said a vote for Biden is essentially a vote to have Harris serve as president, suggesting the 80-year-old incumbent won't survive a second four-year term (which the White House vigorously disputes).

West Coast vs. East Coast

Newsom appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday for a wide-ranging interview that included his latest barbs at DeSantis, a longtime foe and ideological foil.

The dueling governors have said they plan on debating, with Fox News' Sean Hannity serving as moderator, but logistics have held up the tete-a-tete.

When asked if the proposed debate will happen, Newsom said, "I hope, we'll see."

"It might ... to be determined," he said. "Figuring out the time and date. There was a venue issue, they wanted thousands of people and make it a performance. Wasn't interested in that. We were pretty clear on that. And so, I think we're getting closer."

Should the two face off, it would surely feature clashes on culture war issues, like education, and COVID-19. But it would also mark a battle between someone viewed as a future Democratic presidential contender and a current GOP presidential candidate who could run for president again in 2028 if he doesn't clinch the 2024 nomination.

PHOTO: California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California on May 2, 2023.
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California on May 2, 2023.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Haley makes her case

In her own appearance on the Sunday show circuit, Haley insisted on CNN that she is the best candidate Republicans can put up against Biden, citing a poll from last week showing her running 6 points ahead of the president -- another positive data point after a survey in the wake of the first GOP primary debate showed her notably improve in the eyes of likely voters.

"I think the majority of Americans know we need a new generational leader, that we need to leave the negativity of the past behind us," Haley said on "State of the Union," echoing her veiled criticism of the ages of the current 2024 front-runners.

"The majority of Americans don't want to see a rematch between [Donald] Trump and Biden. That's been very clear. And the majority of Americans think that we need to go with younger faces, younger voices, and we have got some work to do," Haley continued.

While polls show her gaining some momentum, Haley remains in the single digits nationally while trailing Trump by double digits in key early voting states, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Haley conceded that her campaign has significant ground to make up to catch the former president.

"We're just getting started. Debate season is what kicks off the primary. ... We have got quite a bit to go before we get to January [when voting begins]. I'm going to work hard to earn every person's vote, whether it's Iowa, whether it's New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada or across this country," she said.

Scott teases an introduction

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, another candidate in the GOP presidential primary, said Saturday that he would soon introduce an important person in his life -- his girlfriend.

Scott, who has never been married, brushed aside chatter about his personal life as highlighted in a recent article by the website Axios, for example.

"I have a wonderful girlfriend, and we have a wonderful relationship," Scott said on Fox News. "The good news is that God has blessed me with a smart, Christian woman. That's great news, but more importantly is, why are the headlines there? The headlines are there because as I rise in the polls, as people show up at night in my town halls, it scares even my opponents."

He said that the public will meet his girlfriend "at some point."

ABC News' Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Fritz Farrow and Nicholas Kerr contributed to this report.