CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov 4 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden, struggling to show restive voters that he has improved the economy, touted his economic policies on Friday and said he planned talks with oil companies, as he predicted a Democratic win in Tuesday’s midterm elections despite polls showing Republican gains.
On the three-day, four-state campaign, Biden stopped at Viasat Inc. (VSAT.O), a US communications firm in Carlsbad, California, to tout efforts to boost semiconductor chip production and resolve supply chain issues that arose early in his presidency.
With some Republican support, Biden signed into law in August the Science and Chips Act to jump-start domestic semiconductor production in response to slowing production of cars and high-tech products like those built by Viasat.
On Viasat, Biden said the government’s latest jobs report showing the US economy added 261,000 jobs last month was a sign of progress.
He said he plans to hold “come to God” talks with US oil companies soon to complain about their record profits at a time when Americans are paying high prices at the pump.
The meeting has not yet been arranged, Biden explained to reporters after the speech, and the White House said the president was only making it clear that he was serious about forcing companies to change their behavior.
Biden declared inflation his number one priority, insisting he takes the economic concerns of the American people seriously as voters go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether he and his Democrats retain control of the US Congress.
“Friends, our economy continues to grow and add jobs even though the price of petrol continues to fall,” he said. “We also know people are struggling with inflation.” But he said there were “bright spots” where the country was recovering.
Forecasts show Republicans are poised to control the US House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well, which would give them the power to block Biden’s legislative agenda for the next two years.
The party in the White House has historically lost control of Congress during the first half of a new president’s term.
However, Biden said he thinks Democrats may buck the trend this time. “We will win this time. I feel very happy with our chances,” he said, adding that the Democrats have a good chance of winning the House of Representatives.
Biden’s campaign turnaround will culminate with a joint appearance in Philadelphia on Saturday with former President Barack Obama.
Democrats’ electoral hopes have been battered by voter concerns about high inflation, and Biden’s public approval rating has remained below 50% for more than a year, reaching 40% in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Biden has also warned of what Democrats say is the danger posed by Republicans backed by former President Donald Trump to US democracy.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Kim Coghill and Josie Kao
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