Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris will cut staff, limit pay as campaign falters

Harris arrives to talk to reporters after the conclusion of a Democratic election debate.
Harris arrives to talk to reporters after the conclusion of a Democratic election debate.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Short on cash and falling in the polls, Kamala Harris plans to cut staff in her Baltimore headquarters and reduce pay for advisers in an effort to keep her presidential campaign afloat.

Campaign manager Juan Rodriguez outlined the restructuring in a memo, citing an "incredibly competitive resources environment" and a need to reduce spending to maximize prospects in Iowa.

He said he would "take a pay cut along with all consultants."

The changes include redeploying staff from key early states of New Hampshire, Nevada and her home state of California to Iowa, where Harris is making a make-or-break bet.

Her operation in South Carolina, another important early state, won't change, the memo said.

The decision to cut staff is Harris' second course correction, coming six weeks after her campaign said she would place a premium on Iowa and campaign heavily there.

Harris has taken a nosedive in national surveys of Democrats, falling to a distant fifth place behind Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

She enjoyed a brief spike in the polls after confronting Biden in the first debate late June, rising as high as second in some surveys, but has gradually slipped as she struggles to define herself in a crowded field.

Harris may be strapped for money but she's not alone. The Californian reported more cash on hand, with US$10.5 million (S$14.3 million), than Biden's US$9 million at the end of September.

Rodriquez compared the move to successful presidential campaigns in the past that had to change course midstream due to unexpected problems.

Rodriguez said a victory will require "strategic decisions and make clear priorities, not threaten to drop out or deploy gimmicks. 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."