OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The clean-up crew is in force from the White House after President Joe Biden’s press conference that left many questions.
In one part of the press conference, some people interpreted what the president said as casting doubts on the legitimacy of the 2022 midterm elections.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had to correct that on Thursday.
It started when a reporter mentioned that Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said that President Biden never called him about voting on the voting rights bills.
“You mentioned Republicans and reaching out to them. Some Republicans who may be open to major changes on voting rights — for instance, like Mitt Romney — he says he never even received a phone call from this White House. Why not?” the reporter said.
“Well, I like Mitt — look, Mitt Romney is a straight guy. He’s — and one of the things that we’re doing, I was trying to make sure we got everybody on the same page in my party on this score. And I didn’t call many Republicans at all,” the president said.
“The fact is that there — I do think that Mitt is a serious guy. I think we can get things done. I think — I predict to you they’ll get something done on the electoral reform side of this.
“But rather than judge what’s going to get done and not get done, all I can say is I’m going to continue to make the case why it’s so important to not turn the electoral process over to political persons who are set up deliberately to change the outcome of elections,” he said.
Another reporter followed that question and asked the president if he thought the results of the 2022 midterm elections would be legitimate.
“Speaking of voting rights legislation, if this isn’t passed, do you still believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate?” the reporter said.
“Well, it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election. And it’s one thing — look, maybe I’m just being too much of an optimist. Remember how we thought not that many people were going to show up to vote in the middle of a pandemic? We had the highest voter turnout in the history of the United States of America,” the president said.
“Well, I think if, in fact — no matter how hard they make it for minorities to vote, I think you’re going to see them willing to stand in line and — and defy the attempt to keep them from being able to vote. I think you’re going to see the people who they’re trying to keep from being able to show up, showing up and making the sacrifice that needs to make in order to change the law back to what it should be.
“And — but it’s going to be difficult. I make no bones about that. It’s going to be difficult. But we’re not there yet. We’ve not run out of options yet. And we’ll see how this moves,” he said.
But another reporter wanted to be certain of the president’s answer.
“I just wanted to clarify: A moment ago, you were asked whether or not you believed that we would have free and fair elections in 2022 if some of these state legislatures reformed their voting protocols. You said that it depends. Do you — do you think that they would in any way be illegitimate?” the reporter said.
“Oh, yeah, I think it easily could be — be illegitimate. Imagine — imagine if, in fact, Trump has succeeded in convincing Pence to not count the votes,” the president said before the reporter had to explain that he was referring to the 2022 midterm elections and not the 2020 election.
“Oh, 2022. I mean, imagine if those attempts to say that the count was not legit. ‘You have to recount it and we’re not going to count — we’re going to discard the following votes,’” the president said.
“I mean, sure, but — I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit. 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.
“But I don’t think you’re going to see — you’re not going to see me and I don’t think you’re going to see the Democratic Party give up on — coming back and assuming that the attempt fails today,” he said.
Does it sound like he is pre-disputing the results of the 2022 election to you?
It did to many and that is why Psaki had to attempt to fix it.
“Lets be clear: @potus was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election. He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in the face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted,” she said on Twitter.
Lets be clear: @potus was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election. He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in the face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) January 20, 2022
“He was explaining that the results would be illegitimate if states do what the former president asked them to do after the 2020 election: toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact. The Big Lie is putting our democracy at risk. We’re fighting to protect it,” she said.