Democratic political strategist Van Jones told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that while there is still time to turn things around, President Biden’s “honeymoon” period is over.
“Right now, the Democratic Party is looking over the edge of a cliff. And there’s a lot of fear and concern. And we’re – you’re not seeing that strong Joe Biden leadership that I think people were expecting to get stuff done, to get the next round of stuff done,” Jones said.
“Why don’t we see him all the time, addressing these things, in press conferences, TV shows? Where is he?” CNN’s Cuomo asked.
VAN JONES: I think that right now, the honeymoon is over. There was a moment where it’s like Trump’s – “Goodbye, Trump! Hello, vaccines! We’re so glad to see you, Joe Biden.” That’s kind of how this year started.
And then, he actually got stuff done. Don’t forget, you got 200 million Americans, who are vaccinated, right now. You got a trillion dollars that he was able to move out into the economy with the Rescue plan. He’s dealing with the coup attempt well. His Department of Justice is going after voter suppression.
He’s doing a lot of good stuff. The problem is that he put himself in a position, where he made big, bold claims, about the rest of the agenda.
“You think this great stuff that we did is good. It’s nothing! Wait until this summer, when you’re going to get all this other stuff!” And then he steps on a rake, and then he slipped on a banana peel, and he falls down the stairs, with some marbles. And now, people are looking at him in a negative light.
Now, can they recover? Yes, they can recover. If at this time, next year, if gas prices have come down, if cases are going down, jobs going up, you’re going to be in a different situation.
But right now, the Democratic Party is looking over the edge of a cliff. And there’s a lot of fear and concern. And we’re – you’re not seeing that strong Joe Biden leadership that I think people were expecting to get stuff done, to get the next round of stuff done.
CUOMO: So, I would say it is unfair, for you, to say “They,” or that “He stepped on the rake, he failed,” because if I were him, I’d be blaming my people, in Congress, for these fights, and not just Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. I’d be mad at all of them for making me look bad.
However, the last point that you made, where is the Joe Biden, who knows the game, who likes straight talk, who likes to get in people’s faces, who likes to talk, period! Why don’t we see him all the time, addressing these things, in press conferences, TV shows? Where is he?
V. JONES: Well, I mean, when he does that stuff, sometimes people get mad at him, for what he is saying.
I think a couple things. Number one, the next round of wins that he needs, which has to do with getting the bipartisan infrastructure bill done, and then giving the progressives something more than that. That’s basically the formula.
He’s sitting on – he’s sitting on top of the biggest win, any president, could have, a massive trillion-dollar bipartisan bill that even his opponent, Mitch McConnell supports.
He can’t get that across the finish line, though, until he gives the progressives something more. They wanted $3.5 trillion more. Maybe they should get $2 trillion more.
But once that comes across the finish line, something more for the progressives, and it’s not just progressives. You’re talking about helping grandmas, who need hearing aids. You’re talking about helping kids in need, pre-K. You’re talking about real stuff for real people. Then, it’s going to look very differently.
He needs another big legislative win. That has to happen. Again, the gas prices, this time, next year, have to be going back down. Jobs have to be going back up. He can get there.
But, right now, you got a major problem, because the victory that he promised us this summer has been held up, and it’s his own party, holding it up, because, of our internal divisions.
CUOMO: Where are you on the Worry-o-Meter about the midterms?
V. JONES: Look, I’m worried right now, because, like I said, he’s not getting credit for the great stuff that he’s done, because he promised more and hadn’t delivered yet. And so, I’m worried.
At the same time, I do fundamentally think that we’re going to be a better place with regard to COVID, this time next year. You had the number earlier, almost 80 percent. We’re getting close to herd immunity.
If you’d stop with Delta, if you don’t wind up with an Omega variant, I think this time, next year, cases are down, gas prices are down, jobs are up, and he’s got some real legislative wins.
But if you don’t – if any of those four, go the wrong way, if cases are up, gas prices are up, you still can’t pull a legislative win, we’re in very deep trouble.
CUOMO: Well, I think that you’re in very deep trouble anyway, because you are going up and against an opponent that will lie about anything, to beat you, that seems to have made a decision that it is better to bring the house down than to not lead it.
And I don’t really hear Democrats kind of expressing that like in a existential fashion that like–
V. JONES: Well I don’t–
CUOMO: –these people that you’re up against? They are willing to take down the democracy. I mean, we’ve never seen anything like what we just lived through.
V. JONES: Well I–
CUOMO: And you guys are fighting over price tags!
V. JONES: Well, I think that we’re trying to show that if you let us govern, you’re going to get more than just not fascism.
If you let us govern, you’re going to get more than just not the worst situation ever. If you’ll let us govern, you’re going to get help for your kids. You’re going to get help for your grandma. You’re going to get help.
And so, I think it’s a fight worth having internal to the party. I just think, at a certain point, you’ve got to be able to cut a deal. And we’ve not been able to figure out how to cut that deal.
Listen, I don’t know what Democrats, you’re talking to. Every Democrat I’m talking to is miserable, upset, depressed, and terrified, of what we’re seeing, from the Republican Party, in terms of their willingness to burn the house down, in terms of their willingness to lie about a coup, in terms of their willingness to – I mean, every Democrat I know is very, very frustrated and upset.
I will say, guys, it is October. We still have 12 more months plus, before the midterms. There is time to turn this around.