In a Thursday interview, Vice President Kamala Harris dodged questions about recent comments from President Joe Biden suggesting the results of the 2022 midterm elections may not be legitimate unless Democrats in Congress succeed in passing sweeping election reform measures that have little support among the GOP.
According to Fox News, Harris was “grilled” by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in an interview for Today that came just a day after President Biden sent White House officials scrambling to clarify his messaging after he told reporters he couldn’t guarantee that the 2022 midterms would be “legit.”
“I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit,” Biden said Wednesday, according to a White House transcript. “It’s — the increase and the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these — these reforms passed.”
Many took Biden’s words to mean that if Democrats in Congress can’t push their voter rights package through, the results of November’s congressional races could be tainted.
The remarks from the president even prompted a formal clarification from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “Lets [sic] be clear: @POTUS was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election,” she claimed in a statement. But it apparently wasn’t enough to quell the speculation, as Harris was pressed on the issue in her Thursday talk with NBC.
“[Biden] openly cast doubt on whether the 2022 midterm elections would be legitimate,” Guthrie reminded the VP, according to Fox. “He said it all depends, which is astonishing to hear a president question whether our elections will be legitimate. We’ve heard it before, but not from this president. Is he really concerned that we may not have fair and free elections?”
In response, Harris claimed Biden “has been consistent on this issue,” adding:
I was there last night in the chamber of the Senate, and the issue is that there are two bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, that have been the solution that has been offered to address the fact that around our country states have put in place laws that are purposely making it more difficult for the American people to vote — laws which will be felt by at least 55 million Americans regardless of their party affiliation, their race, their gender or geographic location.
It wasn’t a satisfactory answer for Guthrie, who jumped in to point out that the legislation Harris referred to didn’t pass. After some cross-talk, Guthrie pressed Harris to answer “the specific question:” “Does [Biden] think now that these bills haven’t been passed that the ’22 midterms won’t be legitimate or fair or free?”
Unsurprisingly, the vice president was happy to deflect once again. “Let’s not conflate issues,” she said, according to Breitbart. The VP went on:
What we are looking at and the topic of so much debate last night was that we as America cannot afford to allow this blatant erosion of our democracy, and in particular, the right of all Americans who are eligible to vote to have access to the ballot unfettered. That is the topic of the conversation.
And let’s not be distracted by the political gamesmanship when what is truly at stake, issues like whether Americans with disability have the opportunity to vote by mail, whether a single parent has the opportunity with three kids in the backseat to vote by dropping off their ballot in a dropbox instead of having to stand in line with those three kids for hours. These are the issues that are at stake.
Following the interview, many took to Twitter to criticize Harris, arguing that her refusal to answer Guthrie’s question suggests she supports and agrees with Biden’s comments.
“Biden said & [Harris] affirmed That because some states are ensuring only legal votes are allowed Our elections are not legitimate,” author Jim Hanson wrote in a tweet. “WOW!” Take a look at the full interview for yourself: