PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — President Joe Biden strode into the telephone bank in a crowded union hall and began eagerly calling and eating donuts — one frozen, one glazed — as he tries every page in the political script to deliver votes for Democrats.
“What a governor does matters,” Biden said in a pep talk to volunteers Friday night calling for the governor of hopeful Tina Kotek and other candidates. “It matters! It matters, it matters, it matters!”
Before leaving Portland on Saturday, the president planned to attend a reception for Kotek and give a speech about his administration’s efforts to cut costs for Americans.
It was the final stop on a four-day tour of Oregon, California, and Colorado that summed up Biden’s strategy for eliminating voters on Election Day, Nov. 8: bending government levers to boost candidates, promoting an agenda that is aimed at strengthening an uncertain economy and raising campaign money.
And this: Stand up for candidates when Biden can be helpful, steer clear of places where a president visits with approval ratings below 50% is not necessarily a good thing.
During the trip, Biden had to compete for the limelight and contend with a disturbing new inflation report and rising gas prices.
In Oregon, Democratic officials hope Biden can help consolidate party support kotekic. The party is in danger of losing the governor’s race in the traditional Democratic stronghold as Betsy Johnson — who has left both the Democratic and Republican parties — ran a well-funded race against Kotek and GOP candidate Christine Drazan.
The settings during the president’s journey were tailor-made for him.
In Los Angeles, he spoke on Thursday at a construction site for an extension of the city’s subway line about his massive infrastructure bill. Giant cranes rose up behind him as he stood in front of bulldozers and excavators. Many in attendance were construction workers in orange construction.
The stop neatly combined many of Biden’s agenda’s successes: investment in infrastructure, job creation, fighting climate change by promoting public transport.
“When you see these projects in your neighborhood — cranes going up, shovels in the ground, lives being changed — I want you to feel like me: proud,” Biden said. “Proud of what we can do when we do it together. This is what I mean when I say we are building a better America.”
But his comments came as the government reported that consumer prices, excluding volatile food and energy costs, rose 6.6% in September from a year ago — the fastest pace in four decades. Biden acknowledged that people “were pressured by the cost of living. It’s been like this for years, and people don’t need a report to tell them they’re being pressured.”
Democratic candidates are much more likely to appear alongside Biden at official White House events to underline their achievements than at open campaign events. In California, Biden was joined by state legislators and the city’s mayor, and he proclaimed them separately. Representative Karen Bass, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, made a takeaway with Biden to a taco shop.
Biden raised $5 million in a fundraiser in TV producer Marcy Carsey’s backyard in Brentwood. Guests included fashion designer Tom Ford and actor-filmmaker Rob Reiner.
In Colorado, the president designated the first national monument of his administration at Camp Hale, a World War II training venue, with a group of Democrats by its side. In a gorge of breathtaking views, tall pines and bright yellow aspens, his audience included Senator Michael Bennet, who faces a grueling reelection campaign and had worked for the new monument. Democrats hope the designation, popular in the state, will increase Bennet’s numbers.
Early voting is underway in California and begins next week in Oregon and Colorado. Notably, the president stayed away from states where his presence could harm Democrats, so far skipping Nevada and Arizona, where Democratic senators are tough races.
Democrats are trying to maintain power despite widespread economic uncertainty and traditional medium-term headwinds against the party in power. Republicans, who want to retake the House and Senate, believe they can take advantage of gas prices, inflation and the economy.
During his taco stop, Biden’s quesadilla order rose to $16.45, but he handed the clerk $60 and asked him to use the change to pay the next customer’s bill.
It was the kind of personal connection Biden loves. But as the moment unfolded, the headlines in Los Angeles turned to a… bitter clash city council over racist commentswhile in Washington it was all about how the House voted to President Donald Trump on his role in the January 6 uprising.
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