President Joe Biden is fine-tuning his case for re-election amid intensive travel and fundraising, seeing the new House GOP as a threat to a rebounding economy as parts of his expected campaign coalesce.
With weeks to go before Biden is expected to announce his intention to run for re-election, White House officials have drawn up an itinerary and series of speeches that will see the president unveil infrastructure projects, promote union jobs and lay out the progress he believes the American people have made. the economy was made under his supervision.
“It’s about making something here in America again. This is about good jobs,” Biden said Monday, standing in front of a 150-year-old rail tunnel in Baltimore that will be improved with the help of a $1 trillion infrastructure law he signed in 2021. “This is about the dignity of work. It’s about respect and self-worth. And it’s about time we did.”
In a string of events along the east coast, from northern Virginia to Baltimore to Philadelphia to New York City, Biden set a multi-day weekly travel schedule that aides are expected to continue as the presidential race begins in earnest.
Last week, he told a steamfitters union hall in Virginia that his agenda is about “seeing communities across America, not just on the coast, but across America, reborn.” He will stand in another tunnel on Tuesday, this time under New York’s Hudson River, to pitch for federal dollars toward restoring the century-old line.
He will also headline a high-profile Democratic fundraiser in Manhattan, kicking off what is expected to be a campaign cash blitz. Donors have been notified of potential events in the coming months in several states, including traditional fundraising areas in California and Florida.
And on Friday, Biden will tout a relegation effort in Philadelphia before addressing the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting – a gathering where his potential re-election bid is the focus.
Biden’s aides and other Democrats have been working for months to prepare the campaign infrastructure that will be ready when he decides to make his announcement. The campaign is expected to draw some staff from the DNC and the White House, and will need to coordinate with both.
Already, Biden’s West Wing team is being reoriented with the impending departure of chief of staff Ron Klain. Klain’s successor, Jeff Zients, is expected to focus on managing the White House and implementing Biden’s legislative and policy agenda, while other top advisers — namely senior adviser Anita Dunn and White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, who managed Biden’s successful 2020 Campaign — will lead Biden’s political operation.
Other political hires are also expected as the re-election campaign takes shape, according to a White House official.
Foreshadowing Biden’s preparations is the special counsel’s investigation into his handling of classified material, which is expected to be formally launched this week. Biden has denied any wrongdoing after classified documents were found in his office and private home, but the specter of the investigation will hang over the White House for at least the next few months.
White House aides felt vindicated by polls showing the document controversy did not affect Biden’s overall approval rating. And Biden himself sidestepped questions Monday about whether he would attend an interview with special counsel Robert Hur.
“I don’t even know about the special counsel,” Biden told reporters at the White House, quickly turning to another question.
For now, Biden’s main focus is next week’s State of the Union address, which his team has crafted to act as a launching pad for his re-election bid. His string of policy speeches this week have hinted at the expected theme of Tuesday night’s speech.
After that, Biden is expected to continue traveling the country — including potential stops in Michigan and Wisconsin, two battleground states — as he prepares for his official campaign announcement.
Officials say the annual speech will continue to evolve as Biden and his advisers work to write it. The text is not expected to be finalized until the last minute before he presents it on the House floor next week. The team working on the address, including senior advisers Mike Donilon and Bruce Reed, have been holding lengthy writing and preparation sessions with Biden over the past few days.
White House officials say the president’s recent speech touting bipartisan infrastructure legislation he signs into law in 2021 is designed to mark a transition: while much of Biden’s first two years in office has focused on what he hopes to accomplish, said officer now is the time to state what he has achieved.
The US job market is robust, GDP growth continues to be strong, wages are rising, and critically, inflation finally appears to be moderating – all things that Biden mentioned in his recent public statements. Instead, the president has warned that lawmakers he calls “MAGA Republicans” are trying to reverse some of that progress by proposing ideas like a national sales tax.
He also offered a sharp warning to Republicans who want to use the national debt ceiling as leverage to negotiate spending cuts – setting up a battle that will play out in the opening weeks of his campaign.
As Biden spoke in Virginia last week, incoming Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter that if Biden “is so eager to talk about the economy, then he should set a date to discuss raising the debt ceiling responsibly.”
He will get that date this week, when Biden and McCarthy sit down at the White House for their first meeting since McCarthy was elevated to the post earlier this month.