By SEUNG MIN KIM and COLLEEN LONG Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s three-state westbound tour this week will capture, in a nutshell, the White House’s mid-term strategy for a president who remains largely unpopular: promote his administration’s accomplishments and Show up where you can effectively rally the party faithful: all while continuing to raise campaign money.
Biden’s first stop on Wednesday is near Vail, Colorado, where he will designate the first national monument of his administration at the urging of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, the state’s top senator who is in a competitive re-election bid. The president will then head to California, where he will hold a couple of events to promote two of his most significant legislative accomplishments and headline a fundraiser for the House Democrats’ campaign arm.
Finally, Biden will stop in Oregon, where Democrats’ control of the governor’s mansion in Salem is threatened by an unaffiliated candidate who has posted double-digit support in the polls, providing an opportunity 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 are going to talk about the successes that we have seen in this administration in the last 19 months.”
It’s all part of a campaign plan tweaked in recent months for Biden, who has been eager to travel the country but faces traditional midterm headwinds against the ruling political party, a shaky economic outlook and presidential approval ratings that have remained stubbornly underwater.
To counter Republican criticism of the economy and inflation, Democratic candidates have highlighted achievements such as bipartisan infrastructure, manufacturing laws and a comprehensive health care, tax and climate package. Those accomplishments also helped fuel a late-summer uptick in Biden’s job performance ratings earlier this year.
Democratic candidates are also much more likely to run with Biden if it is an official White House event that highlights his achievements, such as the dedication of a computer chip facility in suburban Ohio that was greatly helped by the law that reinforces the national production of semiconductors.
That’s the focus 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 precious lands and waters for the benefit of future generations.”
Biden will designate Camp Hale, an alpine training site where American soldiers prepared for battles in the Italian Alps during World War II, as the first national monument of his administration. 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 join Biden in the announcement, which comes after years of advocacy by the senator and other Democrats in the state. Bennett, in office since 2009, faces a challenge from Republican candidate Joe O’Dea, a moderate-profile businessman who national Republicans say is among the party’s top recruits this cycle. O’Dea dismissed the trip as a stunt.
“It’s not changing our economy. It’s not changing the price of gas,” 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 “an usurpation of power.”
The political climate in Colorado prompted the Senate Leadership Fund, the primary 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 O’Dea super PAC.
“We have been monitoring Colorado and we like what we see there,” said Steven Law, president of the group,
Biden will return to his standard midterm address in California, where he plans to highlight the Democrats’ climate and health care package that the party hopes will be its political panacea for voters’ inflationary concerns, despite the imperceptible impact of the law on short-term prices.
Democrats also believe an election referendum that would enshrine access to abortion and contraceptives in the state constitution will keep the issue in the spotlight for their California candidates, even as the issue fades elsewhere. But rising gas prices — California has the highest in the nation at about $6.20 a gallon — will be an unwelcome political backdrop for Biden.
Republicans believe they can take advantage of gas prices, inflation and the economy as they seek to defend and win five House seats statewide. Both parties are considering at least two offensive opportunities in the Orange County area, where Biden will speak on Friday about cutting costs a day after the federal government releases its final inflation report ahead of Election Day.
Biden will also address the bipartisan infrastructure bill, signed last fall, in a separate speech in Los Angeles and will hold his first fundraiser this cycle directly benefiting 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 is in danger of losing the gubernatorial race in the traditionally blue state as Betsy Johnson, a former Republican and Democrat who has since quit both parties, mounted a well-funded bid against Democratic candidate Tina Kotek and the election. of the Republican Party, Cristina Drazan. Democratic officials hope that while she is in Oregon, Biden can help solidify party support behind Kotek.
“That’s a huge factor in this race,” David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, 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 seen an opportunity in the race for Oregon, not just because of Johnson’s candidacy, but because of a message of homelessness and crime that has been a top concern of voters in the state.
“Democrats are terrified that their decades-long hold on the governor’s office is slipping away as Christine Drazan connects with the majority of Oregon voters who yearn for change,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the Governors Association. Republicans. “The Democratic regime of Joe Biden, Kate Brown, Tina Kotek and Betsy Johnson have done 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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