White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeated the same talking point multiple times without ever answering a question about whether President Joe Biden agrees with striking auto workers’ demands.
Reporters pressed Jean-Pierre about Biden’s scheduled visit to Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday to speak in support of the United Auto Workers (UAW) as employees continue to strike for higher wages, defined benefit pensions and a 32-hour work week, among other demands.
Jean-Pierre repeatedly insisted that Biden is the “most pro-union president” and will not get involved in the negotiations between the workers and the the Big Three automakers: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
CNN senior White House correspondent Min Jung “MJ” Lee asked about Biden’s motivation to stand on the picket line.
“So, as you just laid out, the president is a union guy, right? You’ve heard him say that many times. He is the most pro-union president in modern times. That is not something that he’s given himself that title. That is something that labor unions have given to him and he wears that very proudly. And, as you all know, the president of UAW invited him to attend and he accepted,” Jean-Pierre said.
The press secretary also said the president believes that automakers’ high profits should lead to “a record UAW contract.”
Lee then asked whether Biden is “explicitly taking the side” of the UAW workers by attending the strike. (RELATED: KJP Cuts Off And Shouts Down Peter Doocy After Refusing To Answer Border Crisis Question)
“Well he has been very clear, he is pro-UAW, he is pro-workers. That is this president, right? He has said the middle class was built, the unions built the middle class. This is something that he’s said over and over again. He’s always been on the side of workers. He believes that there is an opportunity here and he is encouraged and he is pleased by seeing both sides continue to have that conversation. It is their negotiation to make, right? This is why he says he believes in collective bargaining, and he believes that there could be a win-win agreement here, but he is always going to stand on the side of workers, always.”
Another reporter then asked whether the president believes there is “room for compromise” between the company and the UAW. Jean-Pierre responded the White House will not answer questions about negotiations. Instead, she said Biden will “always stand on the side of workers” and repeated her talking point about Biden being “the most pro-union president.” She did not say whether Biden supports the workers’ specific demands, including a pay raise.
An NBC News reporter then stepped up to press Jean-Pierre once again on whether Biden is explicitly “siding with the auto workers over the auto companies.”
“What we’re saying is we’re not going to get into negotiation, right?” Jean-Pierre responded. “This is, when it comes to a negotiation, that is something for the parties to decide on. That is something for them to discuss. But me saying that the president supports the auto workers, that’s not anything new. When we’re talking about a president who is the most pro-union president in history, it is nothing new for the president to stand by the workers. That is nothing new for the president to say, ‘I’m gonna stand by the men and women of UAW, make sure that they get their fair share, make sure that they get a win-win agreement here.”
“We believe this agreement can be a win-win agreement for all, but we’re not going to litigate the specifics of the negotiations,” she added.
More reporters sparred with the press secretary in an attempt to convince Jean-Pierre give a direct answer about whether Biden is endorsing the union’s demands. Jean-Pierre repeated that Biden is “standing with [the workers] to make sure that they get a fair share,” but said the White House will not comment on any details about specific negotiations.
The reporter answered that Biden appears to be choosing a side by standing at the picket line.
“But we have said over and over again that this is a president who stands with union workers,” Jean-Pierre replied.
“Right, and that’s why it’s confusing because you’re saying we’re not gonna talk about the terms,” he interrupted.
“No, I disagree,” Jean-Pierre interjected. “It is not confusing. What he is saying — and we’ve been very clear — he stands with union workers, he stands with the workers, he has said and they have said he is the most pro-union president in history, and that is what he’s doing. He is going to stand in solidarity at the picket line with the workers,” Jean-Pierre said.
Another reporter made one final attempt to clarify, with Jean-Pierre saying she would give “the same answer” she had been giving. The press secretary reiterated that Biden was “standing with the auto workers” but said the White House was “not involved in negotiations.”