Since 1980, vice presidents have used this space as a secondary office (the one in the West Wing is closer to the president and serves as the primary work space). Harris has used it to swear in Cabinet members, do interviews and to give remarks alongside the South Korean president. But for the seven months since she was sworn in herself, Harris has mostly used the office to build a network of allies and associates that can serve two purposes: strengthen the administration’s connections with key power players and groups while building an unofficial political operation in waiting — one she could activate for a future presidential bid. The two-for-one approach gives Harris a chance to raise her profile both within the administration and for whatever comes after, as she seeks to find her footing as vice president, in a Beltway environment she is still learning to navigate. Adding to her challenges is a policy portfolio laden with politically combustible issues like immigration and voting rights, which has made her a favorite target for conservatives. Some longtime supporters told POLITICO in June they were concerned Harris had stepped too far back from politics. Now even some of her closest allies have recognized she needs help fending off the incoming fire. Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville said building a national network is a smart move for Harris — or anyone with presidential ambitions. “Any prospective candidate would be doing the same. [Whoever’s] idea it was: Her, somebody on the staff or a consultant, I think it's a good idea,” Carville added. “If I was one of her advisers, I’d vote for it.” But Harris is not just any prospective candidate, serving under a president in Joe Biden whose advanced age has left many Democrats privately wondering if he’s up to another run in 2024. That dynamic makes her wary of any moves that could be perceived as undermining the boss. Almost once a week, the fiercely loyal VP meets with advocates, activists, industry leaders and members of Congress to address her ever growing duties, which her staff calls her “Ceremonial Conversations” series. And her staff then continues to communicate and coordinate with the individuals and groups that have attended her meetings long after they leave the EEOB. The topics of the meetings have ranged across the entire Harris portfolio: slowing migration from the Northern Triangle region of Central America to the U.S. southern border; pushing back against Republican efforts to curtail voting access; encouraging Americans to get the Covid-19 vaccine; and promoting women in the workforce. While Biden has been cloistered in the White House or consumed by one crisis or another, Harris has met with dozens of interfaith leaders, advocates, members of Congress, civil rights leaders and women leaders — making her a high-level community organizer of sorts for the Biden agenda. The leaders she meets with, meanwhile, have become Harris’ eyes and ears among key Democratic constituencies. “She’s followed up with us. Our staffs work together. We continue to feed her stories,” Mary Kay Henry, the international president of the SEIU, told POLITICO. Henry was in the group of women leaders who met with the vice president in March. She and others say the gathering prompted further meetings and coordination between their organizations. “I think the vice president, bringing us together, reminded us that we needed to be in more regular communication on all of these issues, especially on the economic recovery efforts,” said Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Director’s Workers Alliance, who was . . . read the full article here.