Harris, White House tout Democrats’ strong election performance, try to link to Biden

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(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Kamala Harris and the White House on Wednesday took a victory lap following Democrats’ strong showing in Tuesday night’s elections, especially around the issue of abortion rights, attempting to link the wins to President Joe Biden, who continues to face a flurry of negative poll numbers.

“Last night, I think the American people made clear that they are prepared to stand for freedom and for the individual freedoms and the promise of freedom in America and by extension, was a good night for democracy,” Harris told reporters after coming out to speak briefly in the White House driveway.

“I think that if you look at from the midterms to last night, from California to Kansas, Ohio to Virginia, the voters said, ‘look, the government should not be telling a woman what to do with her body,"” Harris added, referencing the Ohio referendum guaranteeing abortion rights that passed overwhelmingly Tuesday.

Abortion has proven to be a salient issue for Democrats in off-year elections, with voters voting in large numbers against efforts to strictly limit access. In Ohio on Tuesday, 57% voted to add abortion protections to the state’s constitution, and prevent bans on abortion before a fetus is viable or for the mother’s health.

“I think voters have been clear, regardless of whether they’re in a so called red or blue state, that one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling a woman what to do with her body,” the vice president continued.

Biden did not come before the cameras to tout the election results even though he had no public events on his schedule.

As Harris addressed reporters outside the West Wing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was boasting about Democratic success at the daily press briefing inside.

“President Biden’s values and agenda won big across the country last night,” Jean-Pierre said, putting emphasis, like Harris, on the issue of abortion. “In Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and in Virginia, voters once again sided with President Biden’s agenda to stand up for fundamental freedoms and build an economy for the middle class and protect democracy.”

While Biden not speak Wednesday, Harris and Biden’s aides try to the sell Democrats’ performance in the election as a foreshadowing of the president’s strong position one year away from the 2024 vote.

Jean-Pierre said “he’ll certainly speak to this tomorrow” when he travels to Illinois on Thursday for engagements with the United Auto Workers union.

Another big moment for Democrats was Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s successful reelection campaign in a ruby red state. Biden’s campaign and the White House have sought to tie the president to Beshear, though the governor distanced himself throughout the race.

Jean-Pierre argued that the connection to Beshear was fair by saying the governor ran on Biden’s policies — the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Beshear also notably attacked his state’s abortion ban.

ABC News’ Elizabeth Schulze pressed Jean-Pierre why Democrats’ victories were incongruent with Biden’s dismal polling.

“You have to take these things with a grain of salt,” Jean-Pierre said, later adding, “We don’t put much stock in polls.

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll out Sunday found that Biden was struggling to sell his policies to the American people, with 76% of Americans believing the country is heading in the wrong direction. Additionally only 33% viewed the president favorably, only slightly better than former President Donald Trump (29%).

“And so it was a good night and the president and I obviously have a lot of work to do to earn our reelection, but I’m confident we’re gonna win,” Harris said, before walking away without taking questions.

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