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Tipsheet

Is Biden Going to Campaign for Warnock or Not? KJP Refuses to Answer Multiple Questions.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The Georgia runoff election is now just a little over a week away, yet the White House is still mum on whether President Joe Biden's plans to campaign for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) against his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker. 

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During Monday's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had been asked by a reporter if there were "any plans for the president to go to Georgia in the final days of the Senate runoff." Again, that election is just eight days away, so it is indeed "the final days."

Jean-Pierre was unable and unwilling to give an answer, which she claimed that she had to be careful about a potential Hatch Act violation, given that Warnock is running in "an exciting race."

Instead, she repeated a previous response. "But what I can say, and I’ve said this before: The President is willing to do whatever is needed of him by Senator Warnock. I don’t have anything else to preview from here."

It's worth emphasizing, though, that the reporter did not ask Jean-Pierre her thoughts on the race or the candidates, but merely about the president's plans.

The press secretary even got a bit testy when pushing back against the reporter who had asked for follow-up, pointing to the White House's habits in other midterm races that took place earlier this month. "I really--I just--I don’t want to dive into request or asks. That’s something that we didn’t do during the midterms the past several months. We’re certainly not going to start now," she offered.

The most substance that Jean-Pierre could offer appeared to entail that "the president is willing to do whatever is asked of him."

This follows after Vice President Kamala Harris likewise wouldn't say when asked last week during her trip to Asia if she would campaign for Warnock. 

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The Hatch Act wasn't the only excuse as to why Jean-Pierre didn't answer several questions, and from more than one reporter. 

Jean-Pierre also couldn't speak to a question as to whether or not Iowa should lose its first-in-the nation status in the primary season, with Iowa having a caucus, though there has been much criticism over chaos and confusion surrounding the process, especially for Democrats.

The press secretary also would not speak to Biden seeking congressional involvement on the looming railway strike, as Spencer highlighted earlier on Monday. "I’m not going to legislate from here," Jean-Pierre declared, as she emphasized she didn't have anything to announce or preview. 

Jean-Pierre, however, was all too happy to speak to other legislative priorities, in this case to do with trying to ban so-called "assault weapons," with the president having made particularly chilling remarks over the holiday weekend.

"I'm so glad you asked the question," Jean-Pierre gushed, barely able to contain her enthusiasm. Biden, the press secretary claimed, brought the issue up himself in an Oval Office meeting, and "wanted to be very clear, and he said that, you know, he believes that it’s important to keep this issue--in banning assault weapons--at the front of minds of Americans."

Jean-Pierre expanded by explaining Biden "believes that it is--it is--it is also up to him, as President of the United States, to make the case for why it is critical to move forward with assault--assault weapons ban" and that "he understands what's at stake" and "wants the American people to continue to understand what’s at stake." 

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In other words, we can likely expect Biden to keep hammering away at this issue. 

"But again, look, we understand it’s an uphill battle," Jean-Pierre claimed. "We understand that this is not easy. He gets that. But it doesn’t mean that he’s going to stop fighting for it or that he’s going to stop talking about it."

When it comes to understanding the nature of that "uphill battle," it appears Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is one who actually does understand, though Jean-Pierre did not bring him up in her response. 

Murphy has been more practical on the likelihood of such legislation passing the Senate during the lame duck session, with the reporter mentioning that same specific timeline before a new Congress begins and Republicans will control the House. When asked during CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday if there were 60 votes at this time, Murphy responded "probably not." 

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