The Slatest

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn Calls Biden President-Elect, but Later Takes It Back

Blackburn seated in a Senate hearing room, looking at her desk and holding her palms together in front of her mouth
Sen. Marsha Blackburn on Capitol Hill on Nov. 10. Pool/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee raised more than a few eyebrows Friday when she referred to Joe Biden as the “president-elect.” That immediately seemed to put her among the handful of Republican senators who have acknowledged that Biden won the election, which seemed a strange spot for the staunch supporter of President Donald Trump. Turns out it was a mistake.

Blackburn made the comments while she was being interviewed live on ABC News and was asked if she had been in touch with “the president-elect to congratulate him on his victory.” Blackburn answered that she had “not spoken with the president-elect.” It wasn’t a one-time thing either, as Blackburn also used the term “vice president–elect” to refer to Sen. Kamala Harris. “We did have the vice president come to the floor, the vice president–elect come to the floor this week to cast a vote. I was presiding at the time. Didn’t get to speak with her,” Blackburn said.

A little while later, her staff said the whole thing was nothing but a big mistake. “She simply misspoke—it’s nothing more,” said Abigail Sigler, a Blackburn campaign spokesperson. Blackburn has confidently stated in the past that Trump will get another term in the White House, and she has helped efforts to fundraise for the president’s legal challenges to the elections.

Even though her office claims she misspoke, during the interview Blackburn did seem to suggest time was running out for Trump to make his case. “I will say now is the time for the Trump campaign, if they have their information that they need to present in court, now is the time that they need to be taking that evidence to court,” Blackburn said. Earlier in the week, Sen. Lamar Alexander, the senior senator from Tennessee who did not run for reelection, said he wasn’t ready to start calling Biden president-elect but did say he should get access to transition resources because he has a “very good chance” of winning.

A few other Republicans are also joining in on recognizing that the election is over. Rep. Kay Granger from Texas told CNN she has “great concerns” about Trump’s legal challenges to the elections and said that “it’s time to move on.”* Rep. Fred Upton from Michigan said that “it’s all said and done” and dismissed baseless speculation of voter fraud in his state. “No one has seen any real identification of any real fraud,” Upton said.

Correction, Nov. 23, 2020: This post originally misspelled Kay Granger’s last name.