Why a Blue Dog Democrat Is Taking Aim at Harris and the White House

Posted: Jan 30, 2021 10:05 AM
Why a Blue Dog Democrat Is Taking Aim at Harris and the White House

Source: Alex Wong/Pool via AP

The Biden administration is doing everything in their power to advance their agenda, including lining up local media interviews in Arizona and West Virginia with Vice President Kamala Harris. Her focus is to push the American Rescue Plan, which would provide another $1,400 in direct cash payments to Americans as part of a bigger coronavirus relief plan. 

“To your point in West Virginia, one in seven families is describing their household as being hungry, one in six can’t pay their rent, and one in four small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it’s a big issue in West Virginia and across the country,” Harris told WSAZ-TV. “And that’s why the president and I are offering the American Rescue Plan.”

According to Harris, the American Rescue Plan is "about opening schools back up in a safe way, it’s about getting support for small businesses, getting relief for families. So many people have been unemployed for almost a year at this point."

“The president and I feel very strongly that these are the moments when we are facing a crisis of unbelievable proportion [and] that the American people deserve their leaders to step up and stand up for them," she said.

West Virginia was a state that went heavily towards President Trump. The vice president was asked why West Virginians should trust a Biden administration. 

“Because we have faith in the American people We ran as Democrats, but we are Americans and we will lead as Americans," Harris said. "We want our country to be strong, we want our country to be healthy, we want our children to thrive, and that’s the bottom line. That’s why we’re doing this. We are here to support you and the reason I am here in West Virginia talking with you is because everybody matters whether you voted for us or not. The election is over and now is the time to support the American people; to lead, to lift people up, and say, ‘Hello, neighbor!’ We are all in this together. We’re all in it together.”

Harris was also asked specifically about Biden's attack on coal miners in the Mountain State. 

“All of those skilled workers who are in the coal industry and transferring those skills to what we need to do in terms of dealing with reclaiming abandoned land mines; what we need to do around plugging leaks from oil and gas wells; and, transferring those important skills to the work that has yet to be done that needs to get done,” the vice president explained.

The problem with the White House's outreach, however, is they're bypassing members of Congress to make their case directly to the American people. It's something Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) took issue with because it shows the lack of "unity" across the board, a message that Biden has continually pushed over the last few months.

“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin told WSAZ-TV. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward. I think we need to but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together, what was done."

Manchin was likely left out of the interview because he has a different take than the administration. The White House's American Rescue Plan would give out checks to almost every American. Manchin, who doesn't always fall in line with Democrats, believe the relief efforts need to be targeted and not handed out to every single person.

"I met with [Biden's] economic team and they put out what they wanted," the senator explained. "We said, 'Just show us the figures' because people want to know. We want to help everybody that needs help but if a person is making $250,000 or $300,000, I don't think there's as much a need as a person making $40,000 or $50,000. That's all I've said. We're going to target it."

When Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked why Arizona and West Virginia were the targets of interviews, she didn't give a solid answer. 

"We want to make the case to the American people across the country. This was a way to do exactly that," Psaki said. "I think she'll do a number more regional calls and regional interviews, as will other members of the team."

It's looking as though the White House is going to focus their efforts on states that are traditionally Republican strongholds or areas where President Trump had major support.