Press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden, answering a question during a marathon news conference, was raising concerns about states taking steps former President Donald Trump had encouraged that could affect the elections’ results.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
“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,” Psaki went on.
It was the second clarifying statement from Psaki about something Biden said during his nearly two-hour press conference. She issued a statement Wednesday evening after Biden said a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine would trigger a discussion among NATO allies at how to respond.
On Wednesday, Biden was asked whether the failure of voting rights legislation in Congress would render this year’s elections illegitimate.
“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,” Biden said.
He added later: “I’m not saying it’s going to be legit, as the increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is a direct proportion to us not being able to get these reforms passed.”
Hours after he spoke, Democrats failed to secure enough votes to change Senate rules that would allow pending voting rights legislation to advance.
Biden has strongly advocated for the measures, saying they are necessary to protect voters from new state laws that he says make it more difficult to vote.
In a round of television interviews Thursday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris also issued calls for new voter protections.
She dismissed Biden’s comments about the legitimacy of the midterm elections as “political gamesmanship.”
“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,” she said on NBC.