NEPM Header Banner
PBS. NPR. Local Perspective.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Harris and Buttigieg go to North Carolina to promote Biden's infrastructure plan

NOEL KING, HOST:

Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg hit the road yesterday. They were in Charlotte to promote the infrastructure act, and NPR's Scott Detrow went along for the trip.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Let's get the politics out of the way first. President Biden is 79. His approval ratings have sunk and stayed sunk. So there's a lot more speculation lately about whether he'd try for a second term - even though Biden says he will - and if not, whether Harris and Buttigieg would end up running against each other again. On Air Force Two, Buttigieg dismissed it all.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETE BUTTIGIEG: It's 2021, and the whole point of campaigns and elections is when they go well, you get to govern, and we are squarely focused on the job at hand.

DETROW: All the chatter comes at a time when several key Harris staffers are departing. In Charlotte, Harris didn't want to talk about whether she's trying to shake things up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Yeah. Next question (laughter).

DETROW: Instead, she focused on her task - talking up the new act's investment in mass transit. She and Buttigieg toured an electric bus.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HARRIS: Why do you love the brakes? What do you love about the breaks?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Where the brakes - right here. You just...

HARRIS: You just tap it?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You just tap it.

HARRIS: And before you had to really push it.

DETROW: She sat down behind the wheel...

(SOUNDBITE OF BUS HORN)

DETROW: ...And hit the horn. Harris said America's transit systems are too old and too slow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HARRIS: And people who use public transportation for their commute often spend much more of their time in transit, time that they could be spending with their friends and family.

DETROW: While Harris focused on the new law, Buttigieg made a point to praise Harris for helping get it passed. He talked about one key meeting with lawmakers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BUTTIGIEG: At just the right moment, the vice president spoke. And her message was about the need to think big, not to get lost in the details of the politics but to remember the unique nature of the opportunity in front of us.

DETROW: Their next opportunities? Promoting that next big spending bill still stuck in Congress and turning around the Biden administration's political fortunes.

Scott Detrow, NPR News, Charlotte.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATT JORGENSEN'S "BIG CHIEF WITH A GOLDEN CROWN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.