Abigail Spanberger on Biden, FDR and what Democrats want – “The Takeout”

1

After Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger told the New York Times that “nobody elected [President Biden] to be FDR,” after Democrats lost the legislature and the governor's race in November, and some blamed Democratic lawmakers, the Virginia Democrat received an unexpected phone call while she was on the House floor voting. 

“I go into the cloakroom, and they say, ‘the president and the White House are trying to get a hold of you.' And I thought they were kidding. They were not kidding,” Spanberger told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in this week's episode of “The Takeout” podcast.  

“I pick up the phone and this woman says, ‘Representative Spanberger, are you available to speak with the president,'” she recalled. The next voice she heard was President Biden's.

“‘Hello, Abigail, it's President Roosevelt.' And I wanted to crawl under the table,” Spanberger recalled. “And I said, ‘Hello, Mr. President,' and he starts laughing and says, ‘Oh, I'm glad you have a good sense of humor, Abigail,' to which I could barely contain myself and said, I'm glad you have a good sense of humor, Mr. President.” 

On “The Takeout,” Spanberger also expanded on her remark to the New York Times, and reiterated her argument that voters who had supported Mr. Biden weren't looking for the next New Deal. 

“I'm not saying that they weren't attracted to some of his policies, but the principal uniting factor between the Democrats who voted for him, the independents voted for him, the Republicans who voted for him is, ‘Oh my goodness, like a pandemic, years of upheaval under the last administration, so much is happening. There's so much unease. We just need to stabilize, right?'” Spanberger said. “That bit of normalcy, that stopping of the chaos, I think, is, you know, when it comes down to it, a major motivator for so many people who voted for him.” 

Virginia GOP Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin carried Spanberger's congressional district by 11 points in November and prevailed in the race, though Mr. Biden carried Virginia in 2020. Spanberger says she sees the “nervous” atmosphere among Democrats as motivation for herself and for the other Democrats up for reelection in 2022. 

“I think it's perfectly appropriate that everybody be really nervous towards 2022. I think you should be really nervous towards any single race. I think you should plan for it to be as hard of a race, you know, whether you're an incumbent here in Virginia, or in California, Texas, or anywhere else,” Spanberger said. “The fact that there's a lot of attention, there's a lot of people worrying, I think that's probably very good if it gets people motivated and focused and serious about the election.” 

Spanberger, who was an officer in the CIA before she entered politics, also spoke about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan this summer. 

I think it was a disaster. I think it was chaotic. I think it was really, really hard to watch, particularly for anyone who's ever spent time in Afghanistan or spent years of their lives focused on kind of the future and the possibility that existed in Afghanistan,” Spanberger said. “But I think that you can say, yes, it was a bad reality in August, but it wasn't the decisions of just July and June that got us there or the kind of choices that we made in August. It's 20 years' worth of decision making and 20 years' worth of choices.” 

Highlights 

  • Frame of mind for Democrats going into midterms: “I think it's perfectly appropriate that everybody be really nervous towards 2022. I think you should be really nervous towards any single race. I think you should plan for it to be as hard of a race, you know, whether you're an incumbent here in Virginia, or in California, Texas, or anywhere else. I think people should be planning for it to be the hardest race and you should run like you're five points behind, even if you don't think you are. So the fact that there's a lot of attention, there's a lot of people worrying, I think that's probably very good if it gets people motivated and focused and serious about the election.” 

  • “Nobody elected [Biden] to be FDR”: “Listening to voters, listening to constituents in my district, you know, the primary sort of principal reason across the board- now, maybe somebody really likes this policy proposal, that policy proposal — I'm not saying that they weren't attracted to some of his policies, but the principle uniting factor between the Democrats who voted for him. the independents voted for him, the Republicans who voted for him is, ‘oh my goodness, like a pandemic, years of upheaval under the last administration, so much is happening. There's so much unease. We just need to stabilize, right?' And here's a man who has decades worth of working across the aisle, getting things done, accomplishing things, and we just need to not have to watch the news for a day.' And that bit of normalcy, that stopping of the chaos, I think, is, you know, when it comes down to it, a major motivator for so many people who voted for him.” 

  • Afghanistan withdrawal: “I think it was a disaster. I think it was chaotic. I think it was really, really hard to watch, particularly for anyone who's ever spent time in Afghanistan or spent years of their lives focused on kind of the future and the possibility that existed in Afghanistan. But I think that you can say, yes, it was a bad reality in August, but it wasn't the decisions of just July and June that got us there or the kind of choices that we made in August. It's 20 years' worth of decision making and 20 years' worth of choices.” 

  • Oil release from Strategic Petroleum Reserve: “Well, not only do I support, but I joined colleagues yesterday, calling on the president to do just this. You know, certainly it's important that we take very seriously the real impact on families and the impact of gas prices being increased as they are in some places, you know, record gas prices. You know, certainly there's a lot of contributing factors, pent up demand certainly gas prices fell to a pretty significant low during the early days of the pandemic. But I think this is the right thing to do, and I'm appreciative that the president has finally done it.” 

Executive producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin 
Show email: [email protected]
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast
Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

View original post