Biden heads west on 3-state tour ahead of midterm elections

By SEUNG MIN KIM and COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s tri-state swing West this week will sum up, in a nutshell, the White House’s medium-term strategy for a president who remains largely unpopular: promote his administration’s accomplishments and appear where he can effectively rally party loyalists – while still raising money for the campaign.

Biden’s first stop on Wednesday is near Vail, Colorado, where he is to designate his administration’s first national monument at the behest of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, the state’s senior senator who finds himself in a re-election bid. competitive. Next, the president will travel to California, where he will host two events promoting two of his most significant legislative accomplishments and headline a fundraiser for the House Democrats’ campaign arm.

Finally, Biden will stop in Oregon, where the Democrats’ grip on the governor’s Salem mansion is under threat from an unaffiliated candidate who has won double-digit support in the polls, giving an opening for a Republican to win the race in November.

“We’ve been very clear that the president is going out, the vice president is going out,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. “They’re going to talk about the successes we’ve seen in this administration over the past 19 months.”

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It’s all part of a campaign plan refined over the past few months for Biden, who was eager to travel the country but faces traditional midterm headwinds against the ruling political party, a shaky economic outlook and to presidential approval ratings that have remained stubbornly underwater.

To counter Republican criticism of the economy and inflation, Democratic candidates highlighted achievements such as bipartisan infrastructure, manufacturing laws and a sweeping climate, tax and health care agenda. Those accomplishments also contributed to a late-summer surge in Biden’s own job performance reviews earlier this year.

Democratic candidates have also been much more likely to appear with Biden if it’s an official White House event highlighting their accomplishments, such as the grand opening of a computer chip facility in suburban New York. Ohio which has been helped enormously by the law which reinforces the national production of semiconductors.

That’s the approach in Colorado, where the White House says Biden will speak about his administration’s efforts to “protect, conserve and restore some of America’s most cherished lands and waters for the benefit of future generations.”

Biden is to designate Camp Hale — an alpine training site where American soldiers prepared for battles in the Italian Alps during World War II — as his administration’s first national monument. Many troops who trained at Camp Hale returned to Colorado after the war and helped create the state’s lucrative ski industry. While most national monuments protect extraordinary natural landscapes, there are at least 12 other military sites designated as national monuments by other presidents.

Bennet will stand with Biden during the announcement, which comes after years of advocacy by the senator and other state Democrats. Bennet, in office since 2009, faces a challenge from GOP nominee Joe O’Dea, a moderate-profile businessman who National Republicans say is among the party’s top recruits this cycle. O’Dea called the trip a stunt.

“It does not change our economy. It doesn’t change the price of gasoline,” O’Dea said of the Camp Hale designation in an interview. He added that while Camp Hale is “a special place,” Biden’s unilateral action was “a usurpation of power.”

The political climate in Colorado prompted the Senate Leadership Fund, the main super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the Senate, to make its first investment of the cycle in Colorado last week by sending $1.25 million to the super PAC from ‘O’Dea.

“We watch Colorado and we like what we see there,” said group president Steven Law.

Biden will return to his standard midterm speech in California, where he plans to highlight the Democrats’ climate and health care agenda that the party hopes will be its political panacea for voter inflation concerns, despite the indiscernible impact of the law on prices in the short term.

Democrats also believe that a referendum that enshrines access to abortion and contraceptives in the state constitution will keep the issue in the spotlight for their California candidates, even if the issue fades elsewhere. But rising gasoline prices — California has the highest in the nation at around $6.20 a gallon — will be an unwelcome political backdrop for Biden.

Republicans believe they can capitalize on gas prices, inflation and the economy as they seek to defend and win five House seats statewide. Both sides are eyeing at least two offensive opportunities in the Orange County area, where Biden will talk Friday about cutting costs a day after the federal government releases its final report on inflation ahead of Election Day.

Biden will also address the bipartisan infrastructure law, signed into law last fall, during a separate speech in Los Angeles and host his first fundraiser this cycle that directly benefits the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The president headlined a dozen receptions this year for the Democratic National Committee that raised more than $20 million.

It is in Oregon that Biden’s political appeal will be tested among Democratic voters.

The party faces losing the gubernatorial race in the traditionally blue state because Betsy Johnson — a former Republican and Democrat who has since left both parties — mounted a well-funded bid against Democratic nominee Tina Kotek and the GOP pick. , Christine Drazan. Democratic officials hope that while in Oregon, Biden can help shore up party support behind Kotek.

“That’s a huge factor in this race,” Democratic Governor’s Association spokesman David Turner said of Johnson’s candidacy. “I don’t think we would be talking about this race if Betsy Johnson wasn’t in it.”

For months, Republicans have sensed an opportunity in the Oregon race, not just through Johnson’s candidacy, but over a message of homelessness and crime that has been a major concern for voters across the country. State.

“Democrats are in a panic, their decades-long hold on the governor’s office is crumbling as Christine Drazan connects with a majority of Oregon voters who yearn for change,” said Jesse Hunt, spokesperson for the Republican Governors Association. “The Democratic regime of Joe Biden, Kate Brown, Tina Kotek and Betsy Johnson did nothing to make Oregon safer or more prosperous.

Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi and Jesse Bedayn in Denver contributed to this report.

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