Still struggling in the polls nine months after announcing her run for the White House, Sen. Kamala Harris , D-Calif., said Wednesday she still considers herself a top-tier candidate amid reports that she has restructured her campaign — laying off staff in several states and at campaign headquarters — to focus all her efforts on winning one of the Democratic Party’s top three spots in February’s Iowa caucus.
The former California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney – who gained national attention in 2018 with her cross-examination of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearings – also admitted she was concerned she might not spend enough time in Iowa before the Feb. 3 caucus if she's required to remain in Washington for a possible Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
“We are still committed to New Hampshire. I am still committed to Nevada. I am still committed to South Carolina. But we needed to make difficult decisions. That's what campaigns require at this stage of the game,” Harris told reporters at a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa.
“We have made those difficult decisions based on what we see to be our path toward victory,” she continued. “I believe that we are going to do well in Iowa, and that's why we have put the resources that we are putting here. And that's why I'm here right now. And we'll continue to be here through the end of the year and into the caucuses.”
In a memo obtained by Fox News, Harris campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said Wednesday that the candidate would dramatically restructure her campaign — cutting staff, reducing pay and renegotiating contracts – in an attempt to make to most of limited resources and stay competitive in a field of 18 candidates within the final 100 days leading up to the Iowa caucus.
Rodriguez's memo, first reported by Politico, announced that several dozen people would be laid off at the campaign's Baltimore headquarters, as would volunteers in New Hampshire, Nevada and California as part of an effort to go "all-in" in Iowa, then shift to focus on South Carolina after the caucus. It was not immediately clear how many staff members would lose their jobs. 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 caucus, the memo said.
Meanwhile, the House on Thursday is set to vote to legitimize and set the parameters for an ongoing Democratic-led impeachment probe into President Trump. The Washington Post reported that should the House drag its feet in the impeachment probe — either due to possible delays from the Trump administration or holiday scheduling — a Senate trial could be delayed until January or even early February, interfering with key campaign trail time for U.S. senators competing in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.
“I will fulfill my constitutional responsibility — there’s no question, I take it very seriously,” Harris said about appearing at the Capitol for Senate votes. “It’s [also] very important that I am in Iowa as much as I can possibly be. There is no question about that.”
“I am always concerned about limited time in Iowa. Are you kidding me?,” Harris told reporters. “Were I able to be awake for 24 hours, if I could assure that, people would talk to me for 24 hours a day, I would do it. So I am always concerned that I have enough time.”
Harris plans to spend significant time in Iowa again in November, including over Thanksgiving, her campaign said. She'll be in Iowa through this weekend and has announced a trip to New Hampshire next week. Her campaign hasn't released her schedule beyond that.
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 former Vice President Joe Biden.
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, Sam Dorman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.