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CNN, ABC and NBC panelists on Biden’s response to Dobbs

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Panelists and hosts appearing on CNN, ABC and NBC discussed the feeling among many Democrats that President Biden was being timid in his response to the Dobbs decision on Sunday, saying that “he has not met the moment.”  

During CNN’s “Inside Politics,” the panel noted a level of frustration from members of the Democratic Party towards Biden as the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade had been leaked in early May. Panelists said that the president and the White House had plenty of time to prepare for the Dobbs decision.

Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan said that there was not much the president can do via executive action. 

“But there is also rhetorical anger and Biden can’t really summon that because he has, well at least throughout his political career, said he’s opposed to abortion for — because of his Catholic faith. So he’s not a very good messenger for them on this subject, that’s why they have led so heavily on the vice president, Kamala Harris to kind of step into that breach. Biden himself, you can see it, he doesn’t feel, you know, just compare what you saw with Liz warren to Joe Biden. It is a very different reaction,” he said.

President Biden speaks at an event to celebrate Black History Month in the East Room of the White House, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said that she was “spitting mad” over the decision and said that the people were going to get the last word. She also said the Supreme Court “set a torch” to its legitimacy on June 26.  

Politico’s Christopher Cadelago noted that with the Uvalde shooting, the January 6 hearings and the Dobbs decision, Democrats have seen some gains in generic ballot polling. “But Joe Biden has remained at 38%. He has not moved in those polls,” he said, adding that the reason was because, according to several Democrats, “he has not met the moment.” 

“He’s not really thrown himself into this, in a large part not only on the policy side, but in the rhetorical way they wanted him to,” he continued. 

NBC’s senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on “This Week” that people were looking to Biden and the White House for answers.

“The president promised that he would be ready when this ruling came down and that he would take action. And you have a lot of advocates and a lot, even Democrats saying, what’s the holdup? Where is the big response from the president? And his response so far has been largely rhetorical. He has taken some steps. You know, he’s promising to defend women traveling to different states to get an abortion, promising to make sure that the abortion pill is still readily available,” Bruce said. 

Protesters hold up signs during an abortion rights demonstration, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
(AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

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The New York Times reported Wednesday that Democrats were pressuring the White House to broaden their response to the Dobbs decision, with some saying that Biden lacked “fight” in his initial response.

NBC’s Chuck Todd also noted polling that showed Democratic increases on the generic ballot following the Dobbs decision. 

“Mr. Biden’s approval rating actually went down a point,” he said.  

“It’s pretty clear that one of the predictions that was out there was that this abortion decision could energize Democrats in a way that Joe Biden hadn’t and not only is it energizing Democrats, it’s still not helping Joe Biden,” Todd said. 

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that voters were likely in a “cranky mood” with “whoever is the leader,” adding that it was probably a “hangover” from the Trump administration. 

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During CNN’s “State of the Union,” progressive CNN political commentator Jess McIntosh said that the Biden administration’s response was “not enough” and called on the White House to refocus their messaging.  

President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris, arrives to speak before signing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“Until we get to November, when then we’re going to need to vote into two more Democratic senators in order to codify Roe. I think the Biden Administration needs to get very explicit about that voting message. It’s not just vote and vote harder. It’s vote for these two seats so we can get this thing done,” McIntosh said. 

Bakari Sellers said that “it feels as though we were flatfooted, like we didn’t know this was coming.” 

“The fact is, Republicans have not hidden their hand. This has been a 50-year journey for them to overturn Roe and we don’t have a plan,” he said. 

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McIntosh added that the “reproductive justice movement didn’t hide their hand either.” Biden said Thursday during a press conference that he supported ending the filibuster in order to advance abortion legislation. 

Biden was also asked if he believed he was the best messenger when it came to abortion as his views have changed and as many members of the party want him to do more.

Biden laughed and said, “Yeah, I am.  I’m the president of the United States of America. That makes me the best messenger.” 

“And so I’m the only president they got, and I feel extremely strongly that I’m going to do everything in my power which I legally can do in terms of executive orders, as well as push the Congress and the public,” he said. 



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