With less than six weeks to go before the November midterm elections, President Biden is aiming to boost his party as Democrats try to defend their slim majorities in Congress and struggle to gain ground in the battle for states.
“We have to win. We have to win,” the president said to applause from a crowd of supporters Wednesday night.
However, Biden’s comments did not surface on the campaign trail.
Instead, the president was in the nation’s capital, headlining a fundraising reception for the Democratic Governors Association.
With his approval ratings rebounding but still in negative territory, Biden is campaigning away from the battleground states where the battle for the House and Senate is playing out, and instead stumping from the White House, using the power of the pulpit. intimidating, and playing a regular role for presidents: as chief fundraiser for his party.
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It’s a different role for a politician who for decades has been a road warrior for Democrats on the campaign trail. The then-former vice president toured the country for Democrats during the 2018 midterm elections as his party came back to win a majority in the House. Biden’s current schedule stands in stark contrast to his predecessor in the White House, as former President Trump joins in almost weekly rallies with Republicans competing in crucial midterm races.
The president headlined a Democratic National Committee rally in the blue state of Maryland last month and traveled to the crucial battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania on Labor Day, joining Democratic incumbents and candidates in a pair of campaign-style events. He criticized Republicans during a prime-time speech outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia earlier this month.
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However, a DNC rally that Biden was supposed to headline this week in Florida was canceled when Hurricane Ian slammed into the Sunshine State. Additionally, most of Biden’s time on the campaign circuit has been relegated to speaking. at fundraising events, helping your party raise the money needed to compete in the midterm elections.
“Thanks in large part to President Biden’s commitment, the DNC has raised more than $107 million so far this year, the most at this time in any year. This is also the DNC’s best midterm year for the grassroots fundraising. This overwhelming display of support reflects the broad level of enthusiasm and support for President Biden’s agenda,” a party official told Fox News.
The fundraising has allowed the DNC to invest at least $70 million in states this cycle, a huge boost from its investments during the 2018 midterms.
Democrats also argue that Biden has already made a big difference in close races, even as he cautiously advanced on the campaign trail. They point to the slew of high-profile legislative victories for Democrats from Congress and the president in late summer, political victories that strategists say have given Democratic incumbents plenty of ammunition as they fight to win re-election.
“The president understands that the politics of these races vary. He wants to do what’s most helpful to people on the ground. And if that means making calls and raising money from Washington, then that’s what he’s going to do. But I think in some places, if that means flying and doing rallies, he will,” a strategist in Biden’s political orbit told Fox News. “There’s no ego in it for him. His goal is to elect Democrats from top to bottom on the ballot.”
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The president has also been shooting arrows at “MAGA Republicans,” who he says have embraced “semi-fascism” because of their continued loyalty to Trump, who remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party. Biden’s aggressive language appears to be a move to alter the midterm narrative of a referendum on the president and congressional Democrats and their record running the country, amid record inflation, rising crime and a crisis. border, to a choice election between Biden and Trump and a battle to save democracy.
Yet Biden is far from the campaign trail, where his presence could do more harm than good for fellow Democrats facing challenging re-elections.
Asked if she would like to see Biden join her on the campaign trail in the key battleground state of New Hampshire as she runs for re-election, former governor and first-term Democratic senator Maggie Hassan told Fox News earlier this mes that “my job is to be an independent voice for New Hampshire. That’s the role I’ve always worked to play and be for Granite Staters.”
Republicans have heavily targeted Hassan, who has for months highlighted his political differences with the White House. The senator added at the end of her response that “the president of the United States is always welcome in New Hampshire.”
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Asked by reporters this week if he’d like any national Democrats to join him on the campaign trail, such as the president, first-term Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, he quickly pivoted, saying, “regardless of who else comes to Georgia, or not come, at the end of the day the people of Georgia have a very clear choice between me and [GOP Senate challenger] HerschelWalker. That’s the one that runs.”
Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, noted that “President Biden understands that, with his low approval ratings, taking to the streets won’t necessarily benefit members of his party. Though it’s probably personally upsetting to him.” , he’s a professional, and he understands that he needs to campaign from the White House.”
To a lesser degree, then-President Trump faced a similar situation during the 2018 midterm elections, as Republicans running in blue or purple states were anything but enthusiastic about sharing the stage with an unpopular president.
Fast-forward four years, and Trump is busy on the campaign trail, aiming to energize his party’s conservative base and boost some of the candidates he endorsed during this year’s Republican primary.
While Trump will get the credit if the GOP regains a majority in one or both houses of Congress, his political clout is at stake, and his strong chances of winning the 2024 Republican presidential nomination may be affected, if some of his candidates selected are reduced to defeat in November. Levesque noted that the former president’s rallies are more about Trump and “not necessarily about Republicans getting elected to office.”
While Trump has repeatedly played the role of GOP kingmaker, endorsing all the way to statewide and even local congressional elections, Biden, by contrast, has kept his powder dry when it comes to weighing in during the Democratic primaries and even during general elections. choice. While the then-former vice president garnered more than 100 endorsements during the 2018 cycle and nearly 50 during the 2020 cycle as a presidential candidate and later as a standard-bearer for his party, the now president has only endorsed nine candidates this cycle.
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One problem that both Biden and Trump share is that they are incredibly polarized. While both enjoy strong approval and favorable ratings among their respective parties, they are both underwater with each other and with the independents.
How that factor, and how their widely divergent campaign strategies play out during the midterms, and which proves more successful, are questions that will be answered in November.