Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves repeatedly declined to say that President Joe Biden was “legitimately and lawfully elected” when pressed by CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Sunday, condemning mail-in voting while only going as far as to say Biden has been “duly-elected.”
Reeves, who was recently criticized by Biden over his “Neanderthal thinking” for rolling back his state’s coronavirus restrictions and mask mandate, was first grilled by Tapper over that decision during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Health experts believe because of your decisions people in Mississippi will get sick and die,” Tapper declared, adding that the state’s vaccination rate is still under 10 percent.
After they went back and forth some more over whether Reeves was rushing to reopen his state and ditch face-mask requirements, Tapper swung the conversation to former President Donald Trump’s continuing to peddle the Big Lie that the presidential election was “stolen” from him due to widespread voter fraud.
“You were not part of that campaign, but I want to ask you a simple yes or no question because your answer a few weeks ago to a colleague kind of raised my eyebrows. Do you accept that Joe Biden is the legitimate and lawfully elected president of the United States?” Tapper wondered aloud.
“President Biden is the president of the United States,” Reeves replied, prompting the CNN anchor to quickly push back.
“Was he legitimately and lawfully elected?” Tapper asked, leading the GOP governor to parrot Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting.
“Our state, we do not allow mail-in voting and the reason we don’t allow mail-in voting is we don’t think that—we think it allows for lots of opportunities for fraud and other things,” Reeves grumbled. “And I don’t think mail-in voting should be allowed in other states around the nation. President Biden is the duly-elected president and we will do everything we can to work with him to help the citizens of Mississippi.”
Tapper, meanwhile, pointed out that Trump won in a number of states where mail-in voting is widely utilized, such as Florida, Ohio, and Utah. He then noted that Reeves appeared to be going out of his way not to openly acknowledge that Biden’s election was legitimate, adding that courts, judges, Republican election officials and even Trump’s attorney general have said there was no widespread voter fraud during last year’s election.
“Yes or no, do you accept that the 2020 presidential election was free and fair? Obviously, every election has some questions, but I’m talking about free and fair legitimately-elected Joe Biden,” an increasingly frustrated Tapper asked. “Yes or no?”
Reeves, however, stuck with his talking points: Biden was “duly-elected”—and laws in other states allowing mail-in voting are bad.
“Joe Biden is the duly-elected president of the United States,” he stubbornly stated. “He was certified by all 50 states either having won or lost, and he lost my state by 20 points, but he was certified in each of the individual states and certified by the U.S. Congress and he is the duly-elected president. That doesn’t mean we don’t have bad laws in the books in other states. It’s just a fact.”
Tapper, getting the last word, replied: “All right. Some people might point to Mississippi laws and point to bad laws. I hear you. You did say he is duly elected so I’ll take that as an answer.”