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Biden's optimism collides with mounting political challenges

11 Comments
By WILL WEISSERT and ZEKE MILLER
Election 2022 Biden
FILE - President Joe Biden listens to a question during an interview with the Associated Press in the Oval Office of the White House, June 16, 2022, in Washington. Biden’s top political advisers are bracing for big midterm losses in November. They know that the party holding the White House nearly always losses congressional seats in the first midterm election of a new presidency. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Democrats are going to hold onto the House after November's midterm elections. They will pick up as many as four seats in the Senate, expanding their majority and overcoming internal dissent that has helped stifle their agenda.

As the challenges confronting President Joe Biden intensify, his predictions of a rosy political future for the Democratic Party are growing bolder. The assessments, delivered in speeches, fundraisers and conversations with friends and allies, seem at odds with a country that he acknowledged this past week was “really, really down,” burdened by a pandemic, surging gas prices and spiking inflation.

Biden's hopeful outlook is in line with a sense of optimism that has coursed through his nearly five-decade career and was at the center of his 2020 presidential campaign, which he said was built around restoring the “soul of America.” In a lengthy Oval Office interview with The Associated Press last week, Biden said part of his job as president is to “be confident.”

While presidents often try to emphasize the positive, there is a risk in this moment that Biden contributes to a dissonance between Washington and people across the country who are confronting genuine and growing economic pain.

Few of Biden's closest political advisers are as bullish about the party's prospects as the president. In interviews with a half-dozen people in and close to the White House, there is a broad sense that Democrats will lose control of Congress, and that many of the party's leading candidates in down-ballot races and contests for governor will be defeated in an election Biden himself can do little to help.

The seeming disconnect between Biden's view and the political reality has some in the party worried the White House has not fully grasped just how bad this election year may be for Democrats.

“I don’t expect any president to go out and say, ‘You know what, 'We’re going to lose the next election,’” said Will Marshall, president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, which is in regular contact with the White House’s policy team. What might serve Biden well instead, Marshall said, would be “a sober sense of, ’Look, we’re probably in for a rough night in November, and our strategy should be to remind the country what’s at stake.’”

The White House is hardly ignoring the problem.

Jen O'Malley Dillon, Biden's 2020 campaign manager who now serves as one of his deputy chiefs of staff, runs the political team from the West Wing along with Emmy Ruiz, a longtime Texas-based Democratic political consultant.

O'Malley Dillon coordinates strategy among the White House, the Democratic National Committee and an array of outside party groups. Cedric Richmond, a former Louisiana congressman who co-chaired Biden's 2020 campaign and was one of his closest White House advisers, left for a job with the DNC in April.

“We understand that, you cannot govern if you can’t win,” Richmond said in an interview. “We are treating it with that sense of urgency.”

Returning to the White House is veteran strategist Anita Dunn. Biden turned to her during an especially low political moment in February 2020, giving her broad control of his then-cash strapped presidential campaign as it appeared on the brink of collapse after a disastrous fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucus.

But where White House officials last year harbored hopes that voters could be convinced of Biden’s accomplishments and reverse their dismal outlook on the national direction, aides now acknowledge that such an uphill battle is no longer worth fighting. Instead, they have pushed the president to be more open about his own frustrations — particularly on inflation — to show voters that he shares their concerns, and to cast Republicans and their policies as obstacles to addressing these issues.

In public, Biden has betrayed few concerns about his party's fortunes this fall, opting instead for relentlessly positivity.

“I think there are at least four seats that are up for grabs that we could pick up in the Senate,” the president told a recent gathering of donors in Maryland. “And we’re going to keep the House.”

Biden meant Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with potential longer shots in North Carolina or Florida possibly representing No. 4. Aides say the president is simply seeking to fire up his base with such predictions. But one laughed when asked if it was possible that Democrats could pick up four Senate seats.

The party's chances of maintaining House control may be bleaker.

Biden has traveled more since last fall, promoting a $1 trillion public works package that became law in November, including visiting competitive territory in Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire. During a trip to Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne’s Iowa swing district, the president declared, “My name is Joe Biden. I work for Congresswoman Axne.”

Bernie Sanders, the 80-year-old Vermont senator who was the last challenger eliminated in 2020, has not ruled running should Biden not seek reelection. That has revived questions about whether Biden, 79, might opt not to run — speculation that has persisted despite the White House political operation gearing up for the midterms and beyond.

The more immediate question of Biden's midterm appeal could be even trickier. He campaigned for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia last November, after winning the state easily in 2020. McAuliffe lost by 2 percentage points, a potentially bad omen for the 16 governorships Democrats are defending this fall.

“We know there are going to be national headwinds, there always are," Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia, said recently. But she insisted she would be happy to campaign with Biden or top members of his administration.

But Democrat Beto O'Rourke, running for governor in Texas, told reporters, “I’m not interested in any national politician — anyone outside of Texas — coming into this state to help decide the outcome of this race.”

Biden's overall approval rating hit a new low of 39% last month. Even among his own party, just 33% of respondents said the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April. The president's approval rating among Democrats stood at 73%, falling sharply from last year.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


11 Comments
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Biden hasn't made any real impact on the US aside from free Covid cash and not being Trump. His own party is divided - if he satisfies the progressives, he alienates the majority of voters, so his powerbase is insecure.

Inflation is eating into an increasing percentage of American's disposable income and damaging trade. Higher wages will turbo charge the inflation and strikes will cause even more problems. Inflation is the biggest vote loser of all, and it is rampant. Interest rate hikes will not affect it, just causing additional problems for those with loans and mortgages.

Abortion rights, one of the jewels in the crown of post war Democrat politics, is under serious threat, on his watch.

America is further away from a green revolution than the rest of the G7, trade barriers and sanctions limiting progress - blocks on importing solar panels etc.

There is a new, large refugee/migrant convoy on the way.

Politicians (of both parties) are taking down the US tech sector for political reasons, despite it being the key driver of global US power and influence, being the engine of the US and global economy, and representing the American Dream 2.0 in the form of the start up.

Russia is coping with the sanctions. They are damaging the West more. Ukraine is not winning, and the US are running out of lendable military kit.

The legal pursuit of Trump has re-energised his supporters.

Afghanistan was a disaster - although Trump was party to it, it reached its sorry conclusion on his watch.

The Supreme Court will be Republican for a generation, so the future for the Democrats is potentially very bad indeed. At best their policies will be blocked. At worst, the Republicans can take both houses and the presidency as well, giving them a dictatorial level of control over the entire nation.

If Biden is feeling positive, his doctor may need to check his prescription.

Democrats need to wake up, understand how bad their situation is and try to retake some of the centre of American politics very quickly indeed, or they could be marginalised and wiped out at the next election. How many red flags do they need before they stop behaving like student activists and get serious about reclaiming the hearts and minds of a majority of the American people.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Joe himself at his election victory speech said that there would be challenges and arguments and debates in the days ahead but that's alright because that's how democracy works - people working together and reaching compromises to make solutions, not some egotistical dictator sassybrat traitor acting like an arrogant tin god.

Whatever you may feel about Joe's policymaking and agenda, he's right and we all know it's true. His eight years as Obama's VP has given him the know-how and the experience has served him well. Because we have a human being in the WH again, that's what matters the most to me.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Shows how totally out of touch he is. Still mystifies me that he managed to get elected. If not for hatred of Orange, it seemed impossible. And run again? He is out and out lying.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

 Higher wages will turbo charge the inflation and strikes will cause even more problems.

No, higher wages for working people will generate greater prosperity, believe it not, (given that nearly three-quarters of US GDP is consumer spending.)

Low wages = bad for the economy. High wages = good for the economy.

Today's pro-globalization, neo-liberal ideology that believes otherwise is toxic for working people in the west, and they need to come together to smash it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In the fourth photo from left, Biden is discussing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which strengthens the hand of US exporters against that of shippers. Too many times, a shipping company will choose to send back to Asia an empty container rather than loaded with fresh American produce or other products as it finds them not worth the effort. Among other stipulations, the Act requires shipping companies to explain returning empty containers if asked be waiting shippers.

This will be good for consumers in Japan and throughout Asia and good for American farmers and manufacturers. It is nuts-and-bolts stuff like this which is widening markets for America - not that it receives much attention, including in Japan Today.

https://www.commerce.senate.gov/2022/6/president-biden-signs-cantwell-championed-ocean-shipping-reform-act

0 ( +1 / -1 )

absolutely trounced him

Destroyed him. Took him to the cleaners.

Trump was a one-term failure.

One interesting observation was that Trump gave added impetus to the thing which sends the right into unbridled hysterics - the woke movement. Trump’s red meat to the morons making whooping noises at his rallies sent it into overdrive.

The next time the right are triggered by a pronoun, remember that the man who saw the Republicans lose the house and control of the senate as well as getting absolute hiding by sleepy Joe turbo-charged the woke crowd.

No wall either.

What a failure.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

One interesting observation was that Trump gave added impetus to the thing which sends the right into unbridled hysterics - the woke movement. Trump’s red meat to the morons making whooping noises at his rallies sent it into overdrive.

I listened to a terrorism expert recently, speaking on, wait for it, terrorism. Anyways, he pointed out two things I found quite interesting:

* Much extremism is a direct response to the other extreme. For example, antifa he said is left-wingers who escalate in direct response to right-wing extremism

* Far-right terrorism is by and far the most prevalent domestic terrorism, and no other domestic terrorism even comes remotely close.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I'll tell you what Biden has done, that Trump was never able to do: be the person people wanted to be president. Trump has never been the choice of The People, only of the politicians.

The Trumpets HATE that fact.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And not only that, Biden won bigly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The Democrats got us into this situation...

Nope, it goes right to Trump. Yellen was tightening fiscal policy, ie, raising interest rates, from 2015 to 2018 from the Obama years to choke off emerging inflation.

But then Trump got "elected," and fired the cautious Yellen, replacing her with lapdog Powell. Trump loudly and publicly complained about high rates in 2017 until his appointee duly complied and dropped rates near zero, despite a hot economy. Now, the Fed is in a bind thanks to that history. It needs to tighten policy without creating a recession. Thanks, Trump.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Biden’s meaningless phrases ‘restore the soul of America’ and his job is to ‘be confident’ mean JS!

Who does he think he is fooling?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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