Longshot Biden primary foe forced to clarify remark about VP Harris not being ‘right’ for POTUS role
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips tried to clarify recent remarks about Vice President Kamala Harris after coming under fire for saying she was not right for the job as president.
The Minnesota Democrat became the target of his colleagues’ wrath after seemingly dissing the VP, telling The Atlantic in an interview that Harris does not have the “right competencies” to take on the role of president.
But the long-shot 2024 presidential candidate attempted to douse the fire on “CNN NewsNight” Tuesday, clarifying that he had not actually said what he was being accused of saying.
“I hear from others who know her a lot better than I do that many think she’s not well positioned,” Phillips said of Harris in the Atlantic interview that was published Tuesday. “She is not well prepared, doesn’t have the right disposition and the right competencies to execute that office.”
“It’s pretty clear that she’s not somebody people have faith in,” he added, sparking criticism from many in his party.
“He better keep the VP’s name out of his mouth and apologize. No one will support him so he’s going to torch his entire reputation on the way out,” Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) wrote on X.
Phillips tried to calm the outrage as he responded to the backlash on X and later followed on CNN with some impressive backpedaling, saying he did not “recall” using the alleged words.
“You said in this interview that other people have told you this about Vice President Kamala Harris that she is not well-prepared, doesn’t have the right disposition and the right competencies to execute that office,” CNN anchor Abby Phillip said. “You’ve actually been around her. Do you agree?”
“No. In fact, what I said in that report, I hope, you just articulated, is that that’s what people have told me,” the Democrat responded.
“So why repeat what other people told you if you have firsthand experience?” Phillip asked.
“I did not articulate that distinctly. That was asked of me. Others have said that to the reporter in question,” the congressman responded. “What I’ve said is when I’ve been around her, I’ve been impressed. She’s been kind; she’s been thoughtful and decent.”
“But what I’m trying to explain to Americans, whether it’s relative to the president’s age or the standing of Vice President Harris amongst Americans, if Democrats wish to beat Donald Trump, Abby, if Democrats want to beat Donald Trump, this is not about protecting people, it’s about protecting the principle of democracy,” he continued.
“And I’m saying that Americans are saying — if you look at their approval numbers, Americans are saying they do not want this ticket,” he added. “But I think she’s a good person.”
But the CNN host was not satisfied with his answer and pressed the Democrat.
“Your comments in this interview is that you are saying that this is what other people have told you, but you said those words to the reporter and people are looking at that and saying you’re hiding behind other people to articulate criticisms of the vice president,” she said.
“You are happy to criticize Donald Trump and Netanyahu and even President Biden. If you have critiques —,” she continued before Phillips interrupted.
“I’m the one who says the quiet part out loud. I think that’s pretty well-documented,” he said.
“I guess the question is why repeat these comments?” she attempted again.
“Abby, I do not recall saying those words. I recall those words being shared with me and saying that’s what people have been saying,” he insisted.
“I don’t recall saying those words. Let me say this though. I’m defending the vice president because I think she’s a good person. I think she is well-prepared. But I’m telling you the country has a different opinion, and that’s exactly what I said there,” Phillips declared, going on to note how he respects President Joe Biden as well but that the “country is saying they do not want him to be the next president.”
CNN’s Phillip asked, “are you tacitly saying that you don’t think that she ought to be a successor to President Biden?”
The candidate then stressed that he would “would actually say to [Harris] if she was right next to me, run.”
“So, Vice President Harris, yes, you know what? It’s probably hard because you’re the vice president right now, but you know what? Jump in. Jump in,” he said.
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