Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief spokesperson and senior advisor, Symone Sanders, is leaving at the end of the year as Harris continues to struggle with her image in public opinion polls.
Her departure was confirmed by a White House official and by Sanders, but she declined to comment. The 31-year-old has been a high-profile riser in Democratic circles, serving as national spokesperson for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and then as a senior advisor in President Biden’s 2020 campaign.
The roles, along with her position with Harris over the last year, have made her a recognizable face on cable news. Sanders was one of Harris’ most trusted advisors and has frequently traveled with the vice president. It is unknown whether she will take another job in the Biden administration; she had been seen initially as a candidate for White House press secretary, the job that is now occupied by Jen Psaki.
A White House official said Biden and Harris “are grateful for Symone’s service and advocacy,” calling her “a valued member of the” White House “who will be missed.”
Sanders is the second senior member of Harris’ communications team to announce her departure at year’s end. Ashley Etienne, Harris’ communications director, is also stepping down.
As the first woman and the first Black and Asian American person to serve as vice president, Harris came into office with unusually high expectations and scrutiny, with many Americans viewing her as the heir to Biden, who at 79 is the oldest president in history.
But many Democrats have voiced concern over perceived gaffes and unforgiving media coverage of Harris, even as they see at least some of the scrutiny as unfair.
Harris is viewed favorably by 41% of voters, compared with 51% who view her unfavorably, according to The Times polling average. Those numbers are only slightly worse than Biden’s, whose standing with voters has also fallen amid inflation and the unrelenting pandemic.