Vice President Kamala Harris’ newly hired communications chief is under fire for controversial comments, including when he suggested President Biden is “dazed and confused.”
Jamal Simmons, a longtime Democrat aide since the Clinton administration, was tapped to replace Ashley Etienne, who left in December after a series of negative press and staff departures in the last few months. But many in his own camp are already upset with him.
Simmons hosted a show on The Hill called “Why You Should Care” and in Aug. 2019 he aired a segment titled “Dazed & Confused” about Biden and his exaggerated or false stories he’s told the public over the years.
He also cast doubt about COVID vaccines as “janky science”:
“Trump’s fatally ill-managed Coronavirus response seems to have turned voters off to him the way Katrina destroyed Bush’s political reputation, but pushing a janky science vaccine into the public for political purposes would turn incompetent culpability into intentional harm,” he tweeted in Sept. 2020.
Simmons responded to a barrage of criticism in a statement Friday:
“As a pundit for much of my career I have tweeted a lot and spoken out on public issues. Sometimes I have been sarcastic, unclear, or just plainly missed the mark,” Simmons said along with a tweet.
“I sincerely apologize for offending those who care as much as I do about making America the best, multi-ethnic, diverse democracy it can be. I know the role I am taking on is to represent the Biden-Harris administration, and I will do so with humility, sincerity and respect.”
During the Democratic presidential primary in 2020, Simmons warned that Biden shouldn’t “get too comfortable” with support from the black community.
“I think #JoeBiden’s heart is in the right place but I just heard the perfect summation of his position,” he tweeted in May 2020. “’Black ppl are happy to have Biden at the cookout but he should remember he didn’t get the original invitation on his own. He was a plus one.’ Don’t get too comfortable.”
He also wrote that he had “bad feelings about the Harris campaign” in July 2019, which he slammed as “listless, unfocused” and garnering “lackluster fundraising totals.”
When Harris dropped out in Dec. 2019, Simmons said she didn’t know why she was running for president in the first place and had trouble getting out of “pre-planned moments.”
“When Kamala Harris goes into a room, frankly sometimes when Joe Biden goes into a room you just don’t know what will happen in that room, what they will argue,” Simmons said.
But it was his past comments on illegal immigration that caught fire from progressives, and Biden tapped his new boss to be the border czar.
“Just saw 2 undocumented folks talking on MSNBC. One Law student the other a protester. Can someone explain why ICE is not picking them up?” Simmons said in Nov. 2010.
“This is @KamalaHarris’s new Communications Director. I don’t care if it was 12 years ago. I don’t care if perhaps he holds different views now. I don’t care. This should be disqualifying,” Washington State Democratic congressional candidate Stephanie Gallardo tweeted.
“Given his response to this, ‘sorry if you were offended I was just being sarcastic or perhaps missing the mark,’ it’s probably best if @VP looks elsewhere for her spokesperson,” Daily Kos Founder Markos Moulitsas wrote.