Vice President Kamala Harris got testy with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie during a Thursday morning interview on “The Today Show,” snapping at the host when she addressed President Joe Biden’s implication that the 2022 midterm elections might not be “legitimate.”
Biden sparked the controversy when he suggested, during his long-awaited Wednesday press conference, that the legitimacy of upcoming elections would be dependent on the passage of two sweeping federal election overhaul bills — the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, both of which failed when Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) refused to go along with a rules change that would alter or scrap the filibuster.
Joe Biden is asked by @PhilipWegmann is the 2022 election results could be illegitimate:
“I think it could easily be illegitimate” pic.twitter.com/xSlJWLNdCB
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 19, 2022
Guthrie raised the question the following morning with Harris, saying, “He openly cast doubt on whether the 2022 midterm elections would be legitimate. 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?”
Is President Biden really concerned that we may not have free and fair elections? –@SavannahGuthrie to @VP pic.twitter.com/pQmv6MLVb5
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 20, 2022
“The president has been consistent on this issue and the issue at hand, the issue — 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 —”
“Those bills were — the bills were debated and they didn’t pass —” Guthrie pressed, interrupting.
“If I may finish —” Harris shot back.
“But the specific question, if you don’t mind, does he think now that these bills haven’t been passed that the ’22 midterms won’t be legitimate or fair or free?” Guthrie continued to push for a direct answer, but instead Harris continued in her attempt to sell the bills.
“Let’s not conflate issues. 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. 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 drop box instead of having to stand in line with those three kids for hours. These are the issues that are at stake —” Harris said.
Harris then pivoted to suggest that the two election overhaul bills were necessary if the United States is to continue to be an example to the rest of the world with regard to maintaining a functioning democracy.
“I met with prime ministers and presidents from around the globe, both partners and allies of ours, they are asking what is going on with voting rights in America because they look to us as a role model of what it means to be a democracy, and they are monitoring to wonder and question whether there is an erosion of our democracy and, therefore, an erosion of one of the best role models of what a democracy does and can do,” Harris claimed.
“Wow they could have cleaned this up but Kamala makes it worse. Refuses to answer whether the next elections will be legitimate, provides word salad about voting bills,” Matt Whitlock tweeted in response to Harris’ interview.