Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee added herself Friday to a shortlist of Republicans to recognize President Trump’s projected loss to Joseph R. Biden before reportedly trying to reverse course.
Ms. Blackburn, a steadfast Trump supporter, referred to Mr. Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, California Democrat, as the “president-elect” and “vice president-elect,” respectively.
“I have not spoken with the president-elect,” Ms. Blackburn said on ABC. “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.”
The remark made Ms. Blackburn, one of Mr. Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill, among just a handful of Republicans to recognize preliminary election results and accept Mr. Biden as the next president.
Local media reported later Friday that Ms. Blackburn’s campaign had already tried to walk it back, however.
“She simply misspoke — it’s nothing more,” clarified Blackburn campaign spokesperson Abigail Sigler, The Tennessean reported.
Democrats were accordingly quick to blast Ms. Blackburn for the apparent reversal.
“Senator Blackburn’s staff is trying to walk this back already, but Marsha knows exactly what she’s doing,” Christopher J. Hale, a former U.S. House of Representatives candidate, said on Twitter. “There’s no reason to take a random interview on ABC News Digital on a Friday night before Thanksgiving [than] to slowly break up with the president of the United States.”
“Blackburn also called Harris the ‘vice president elect,’ which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And then said it was a mistake,” noted former Obama administration member Chris Lu. “Incredible how they twist themselves into knots to deny reality.”
Messages requesting comment from the senator’s office were not immediately returned.
Few members of Mr. Trump’s party have accepted preliminary election results, which decisively found the Republican incumbent lost to Mr. Biden, a Democrat, and effectively denied a second-term.
Mr. Trump has also not conceded the race and has repeatedly advanced unproven claims and conspiracy theories to argue the election was “rigged.”
Speaking on ABC, Mr. Blackburn said the time is now for lawyers representing Mr. Trump’s campaign to present any potential evidence to substantiate his claims of election fraud.
Mr. Trump insisted Saturday on Twitter that evidence is forthcoming.