CNN’s John King criticized the White House on Monday over its undercutting of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin after Vice President Kamala Harris gave an interview to a local TV station in his home state without notifying him.
King appeared alongside host Anderson Cooper and White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins on “Anderson Cooper 360” to discuss the bipartisan negotiations over President Joe Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief package.
Cooper brought up that Manchin was “frustrated” over the interview that Harris gave to push “for the larger stimulus plan” and asked King if he knew where Manchin stands on the $1.9 trillion proposal. (RELATED: ‘Stupid Politics’: Meghan McCain And Joy Behar Agree That Moving On West Virginia Without Manchin Was A Fumble For Kamala Harris)
“He has said he would like a smaller package. He has said he thinks $1.9 trillion is too much,” King responded. “He thinks so far that the money should be targeted more to middle income and lower income Americans and not people who he considers to be in the more affluent class. So I do think you will see President Biden tweak the plan somewhat in that regard.”
Biden’s proposed package includes an additional $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, as well as an extension to enhanced unemployment benefits and an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Manchin is joined by a number of Republicans and Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, who have also expressed their concern over the details of the bill.
“He is essential because Joe Biden cannot afford to lose any votes in the Senate 50/50 even divide. So, he will be in the mix of it,” King continued. “This was bad politics by the White House. They should at least have given him a heads up and they should have said we’re doing this to help you. We’re doing this to create a climate in your state where people will vote for big, so they’re going to have to smooth some feathers there.”
Harris’s interview at the West Virginia station, as well as a local Arizona station, was seen by some as part of a pressure campaign to get support for the package from more moderate Democrats like Manchin and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Cooper then asked if King thought that Democrats would remain united on the issue of the relief package.
“Yes. Listen, Joe Biden is going to have to call Senator Manchin … He is going to call, perhaps, Senator Sinema. He might have to do some work within the Democrats. He might have to do work with House Democrats to tweak the package up … The Democrats believe they have the momentum, they have the American people. Joe Biden truly believes in process. He believes in talking to Republicans, so he wants to give it a chance. But the question is will they move to him? Not will he move to them,” King concluded.