The following is a transcript of an interview with Keisha Lance Bottoms, a senior adviser to President Biden and former mayor of Atlanta, that aired Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta. She now serves as a senior adviser to President Biden, but the White House tells us that this morning she’s appearing only in a personal capacity. Good morning to you.
KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said last month you were concerned about a lack of voter enthusiasm in Georgia, but the Secretary of State says there is a historic level of turnout. What does that signal to you now?
BOTTOMS: Well, I’m glad that people are turning out to vote. When I said that last month, I was sounding the alarm. And we have seen a record number of people turn out in the early vote, but we still have an election on Tuesday, and we cannot let up until this election is over. I was on the ballot five years ago, seven points down going into Election Day, and I won by less than 800 votes. It doesn’t matter what the polls say. People still have the ability to show up to vote on Tuesday and to make a difference in Georgia. The thought of Herschel Walker going to the Senate is frightening.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That is a Republican candidate for the Senate. Black voters helped turn Georgia blue back in 2020 and send two Democratic senators here to Washington. How do you explain to Black voters now, who are so key in Georgia, that they should help support the party, given that when Democrats held the majority for these past two years, top priorities like police reform and voting rights really haven’t been addressed?
BOTTOMS: Well, we have to remember that there has been a very thin margin, but there have been a number of issues that have been addressed that impact not just African American voters, but voters across this country. Student debt relief, $10,000, $20,000 if you are Pell Grant eligible. A vast majority of African American students are Pell Grant eligible. There’s also been a reduction in prescription drug costs. Insulin will be capped at $35 a month, $2,000 a month annually–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Starting in January.
BOTTOMS: Absolutely, starting in January–
MARGARET BRENNAN: And the loans — the student debt relief is caught up in the courts and, you know, a part of dispute.
BOTTOMS: They are caught up in the courts because Republicans are pushing back against relief to American families across this country. African American voters are key in Georgia, 29% so far have shown up in the early vote. That means that there are a lot of people left out there, not just African American voters, but voters across the state who can still show up on Tuesday and make a difference in this election. And that’s what Democrats will need in Georgia for us to continue to send Raphael Warnock to the Senate and also to have Stacey Abrams elected as governor.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In our polling, we see consistently that it is the economy and inflation that are top of mind for voters. The president said just a few days ago that he has passed so many good things, but people haven’t realized how good they are yet. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin said, the truth is Democrats have done a poor job of communicating our approach on the economy. DNC advisor Cedric Richmond, you know him well, he told CBS, the president’s message of what he’s been able to accomplish has not gotten out there. Hillary Clinton just said, the work done by Democrats is impressive, but we got to get that message across more effectively. If the policies are so good, why is communicating them such a problem?
BOTTOMS: Well, it’s been a very difficult couple of years. We have been in the midst of a pandemic. There’s been a lot of misinformation flooding the airwaves. We see it in- in ways not just on television, but we’re seeing it through YouTube, we’re seeing it on other social media platforms. So, it is more difficult to get the message out, but I’m sitting here today getting the message out. This administration, Democrats in Congress have delivered for the American people, and to turn back the clock and not allow us to keep pushing through will be devastating for people across America. If we want prescription drug costs to remain low, then we need Democrats in Congress. If we want voting rights finally passed in Congress, we need Democrats in Congress. If we don’t want a national ban on abortion and for doctors and health care providers to be sent to prison for offering an abortion to a woman whose life may be in danger, then we need Democrats in Congress. And that’s the message that we will continue to push out, not just through Election Day, but beyond, because we know that elections happen quite frequently, and we can’t have people so discouraged that they think their votes don’t matter.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden said this week at a fundraiser, if Democrats do lose in the midterms — so, he’s entertaining it is a real possibility. He said, it’ll be a horrible two years, the good news is I’ll have a veto pen. Is complete gridlock what America needs to prepare for?
BOTTOMS: Well, we know that President Biden ran on being able to work across the aisle. So, of course the American people want us to be able to get things done, but when you have Republicans say that they will pull back aid to Ukraine, that their- their entire platform is based on doing what Joe Biden doesn’t want done, that’s not what the American people want. We want progress in this country, and we want leaders who believe in democracy. We don’t want leaders who deny elections. I heard Kari Lake say that people have a right to question their government. They absolutely do, but they don’t have a right to overthrow their government in the way that we saw that on January 6. So, when you have election deniers who have the — who may go to Congress, who may be elected to statewide office — we have one in Georgia, Burt Jones, who’s running for lieutenant governor, an election denier. That’s- that’s not just a danger to Democrats, that’s a danger to everyone who believes in what this country stands for.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you for joining us this morning.