Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is dramatically restructuring her presidential campaign — cutting staff, reducing pay and renegotiating contracts — in an attempt to focus limited resources on Iowa and South Carolina.
“In a field of 18 candidates, we face an incredibly competitive resource environment,” campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a campaign memo obtained by Fox News. “To effectively compete with the top campaigns and make the necessary investments in the critical final 100 days to the [Iowa] caucus, we need to reduce expenditures elsewhere and realign resources.”
The memo, first reported by Politico, came as Harris’ 2020 campaign struggles to regain traction. The senator’s stand-out moment in the race came during the first Democratic debate in June when she challenged former Vice President Joe Biden over comments he made about segregationist U.S. senators and school busing. However, Harris struggled in the second debate after Biden and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, challenged her record as California’s attorney general and has struggled to shine in subsequent debates.
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Rodriguez’s memo announced that several dozen people would be laid off at the campaign’s Baltimore headquarters, while volunteers from New Hampshire, Nevada, and California as part of an effort to go “all-in” in Iowa. It was not immediately clear how many staff members would lose their jobs.
“These moves will increase the number of field organizers and staff we have on the ground in the first contest and give our campaign the organizational muscle needed to compete in every precinct,” said Rodriguez, who added that he and campaign consultants would take a pay cut, though he did not say by how much.
“Plenty of winning primary campaigns, like John Kerry’s in 2004 and John McCain’s in 2008, have had to make tough choices on their way to the nomination, and this is no different,” he added.
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The campaign, which has not yet run any television advertising, hopes to spend at least $1 million on a media campaign in the weeks before the Feb. 3 caucus, the memo said.
A Fox News poll of national Democratic primary voters earlier this month showed Harris polling in fourth place at 5 percent, 12 percentage points behind third-place Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and 27 percentage points behind Biden.
Politico reported that donors Harris’ decline was months in the making, pointing to how she fell behind other candidates in fundraising. “She’s from f—–g California. The idea that you don’t have support of high-dollar donors doesn’t make any sense,” a Harris donor told Politico. “I blame her.”
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Harris plans to spend significant time in Iowa again in November, including over Thanksgiving, her campaign said. She’s in Iowa through this weekend and has announced a trip to New Hampshire next week. Her campaign hasn’t released her schedule beyond that.
The senator had already pledged to go all-in on Iowa, joking she was moving there, and earlier Wednesday her campaign touted the 15 days she spent in the state this month as the “October Hustle.” It was more than any of her competitors spent there in October, but she’s still polling behind competitors such as Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares and The Associated Press contributed to this report.