Doug Emhoff, the husband of Kamala Harris, has reportedly spent the first six months of his wife’s vice presidency deciding on his plans as the first second gentleman. Emhoff has spent much of that time traveling around the country to promote coronavirus vaccines and extend support to small businesses.
“He hasn’t made any mistakes that made him an issue, which in some ways is the one thing you want to avoid,” Julian Zelizer, a political history professor at Princeton University, told The Hill. “Part of the trick is doing it and not overstepping in ways that make you the focus.”
Other observers have claimed that Emhoff has shown himself as someone who can be an asset to the Joe Biden administration.
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“Even though he is a wealthy entertainment lawyer, he’s playing that down and his persona now as second spouse is, ‘I’m more of a regular guy who goes out and supports his wife’s career and teaches at a nearby law school.’ This makes him a more relatable spouse than if he was playing up his Hollywood connections at this time,” said Katherine Jellison, professor of U.S. women’s and gender history at Ohio University.
“I think it’s unleashing the power of that position,” added Katherine Sibley, director of the American studies program at St. Joseph’s University. “What a waste if he did sort of hang back like previous spouses had. I think he’s using his personality; that will be very helpful for his wife and, I think, for the administration.”
In his first interview as second gentleman last month, Emhoff praised his wife Harris as a “groundbreaker.” He also said that she is probably treated differently because she is a woman of color but added, “so what.”
“When you’re breaking barriers, there’s breaking involved, and breaking means you might get cut sometimes, but that’s OK,” Emhoff continued.
When asked what his message would be to other men, Emhoff said, “Men have to step up and step up for the people that they love, and actually show it. It’s manly to love and care about others.”