Vice President Harris asserted that Joe Biden is president – not Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) – during a tense exchange on Charlamagne Tha God’s Comedy Central show.
Charlamagne The God asked Harris to name the country’s “real president.”
“It’s Joe Biden – and don’t start talking like a Republican about asking whether or not he’s president,” Harris told the “Tha God’s Honest Truth” host on Friday in an interview on the weekly late-night program.
“It’s Joe Biden,” Harris repeated, her voice escalating. “And I’m vice president, and my name is Kamala Harris.”
“The reality is, because we are in office, we do the things like the child tax credit, which is going to reduce Black child poverty by 50 percent,” Harris continued, highlighting the administration’s efforts to lower the price of prescription drugs, lower the Black maternal mortality rate and enact police reform measures.
“So I hear the frustration, but let’s not deny the impact that we’ve had,” Harris said.
The heated back-and-forth came after a Harris aide appeared to try to wrap up the remote interview before the vice president could answer Charlamagne’s question during a taping of the sit-down earlier on Friday.
The show’s host, whose real name is Lenard McElvey, then accused Harris and her team of pretending as if they couldn’t hear the Manchin versus Biden question through their earpieces.
“I can hear you,” Harris responded, before saying, “C’mon Charlamagne, it’s Joe Biden.”
Charlamagne praised her forceful response, saying, “That Kamala Harris, that’s the one I like. That’s the one that was putting the pressure on people in Senate hearings. That’s the one I’d like to see more often out here in these streets.”
The “Breakfast Club” radio show host ripped Manchin throughout his talk with Harris, saying the centrist lawmaker is “ruining this country” and “blocking progress.” The TV personality’s comments came as Democrats in Congress have expressed frustration with Manchin over his hesitancy to back the $2 trillion social spending and climate bill before the end of 2021.
Asked why Manchin is “allowed to constantly hold up Biden’s agenda,” Harris replied that in the 50-50 Senate, “every vote matters.”
We have to listen to the voices who represent their districts,” she said.
Charlamagne said Democrats risk losing the support of Black voters in the midterm elections next year, and in the 2024 White House race, because “the stuff [Manchin’s] holding up progress on are hurting people, they’re hurting Black people in particular.”
But Harris argued that it is not just Democrats that are holding up Democratic priorities.
“Here’s the thing though,” Harris said. “I think it’s a mistake to try and think about this only through the lens of Democrats versus Democrats, when the fact is, Republicans are consistently and unanimously standing in the way of progress.”
“Right now we are debating whether democracies actually can survive or is autocracy better – which is basically one person or one group telling everybody what they should do,” Harris said of voting rights legislation. “This is what’s at stake right now for America. And you can tell I’m a bit frustrated – more than that, actually – that people are making this into a partisan issue instead of stepping up to say save our democracy.”
Harris, the nation’s first woman vice president and the first Black and South Asian American person to hold the office, also deflected on a question about how she’s portrayed in the press. Charlamagne told Harris she’s “crucified for every little thing in the media.”
“My focus is on the work,” Harris, 57, said, adding that she meets children who watched her historic swearing-in. “That’s what I focus on – in terms of my motivation, and my inspiration, and verification of the importance of being here and getting this work done.”
Asked if the criticism stems from her being a woman of color, Harris said, “There’s definitely a healthy discussion that I believe others to have about that, but I’m going to be focused on the work and I will not be distracted.”