Kamala Harris Dodges Question on Whether Joe Biden Thinks Midterms Will Be Illegitimate

Vice President Kamala Harris dodged a question about whether President Joe Biden believes the 2022 midterm elections will be legitimate after the failure of voting rights legislation in the Senate.

Harris spoke to NBC's TODAY on Thursday as the Biden presidency marked its first year on office and did not provide a direct answer when Savannah Guthrie asked about the president's view on the upcoming elections.

In remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Biden appeared to suggest that the midterms might not be fair, and he did not say clearly that he believed they would be legitimate.

Following a discussion about the administration's response to a potential Russian military incursion into Ukraine, Guthrie turned to Biden's comments about the midterms.

"He openly cast doubt on whether the 2022 midterm elections would be legitimate," Guthrie said.

"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?"

"The president has been consistent on this issue," Harris replied.

"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," the vice president said.

Harris said those laws would be felt by "at least 55 million Americans regardless of their party affiliation, their race, their gender or their geographic location" before Guthrie cut in.

"To the point though because those bills were debated—the bills were debated and they didn't pass," Guthrie said as Harris continued speaking.

Both those bills were passed by the House of Representatives and brought before the Senate as consolidated legislation, but will not pass as Democrats failed to change filibuster rules on Wednesday.

"If I may finish," Harris said.

"Of course," Guthrie replied. "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?"

"Let's not conflate issues," Harris said and referred to the voting rights legislation again.

"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," she said.

The vice president said people shouldn't be distracted by "political gamesmanship" and discussed voting rights further but did not say directly whether Biden believed the midterms would be legitimate or not.

On Wednesday, Biden was asked if he believed "the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate."

"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," the president said.

Biden referenced voter turnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Well, I think if, in fact, no matter how hard they make it for minorities to vote, I think you are going see them willing to stand in line and defy the attempt to keep them from being able to vote," he said.

"I think you are going to see the people who they are attempting to keep from being able to show up, showing up and making the sacrifice that needs to be made in order to change the law back to what it should be. But it is going to be difficult. I make no bones about that," the president added.

Kamala Harris Delivers Remarks in Maryland
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the Prince George’s County Brandywine Maintenance Facility on December 13, 2021 in Brandywine, Maryland. Harris did not provide a direct answer when she was asked if President Joe Biden thought the 2022 midterm elections will be legitimate. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images