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State of the Union 2023: Biden teases 2024 bid but doesn't win over GOP

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 2/8/2023 Naomi Lim
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President Joe Biden's State of the Union was a preview of how acrimonious his 2024 reelection campaign could be, with his speech repeatedly being interrupted by Republicans, who now control the House.

But Biden's 72-minute remarks coincide with other challenges to his likely reelection bid amid polling that indicates a majority of the electorate is skeptical of what he achieved during his first term.


Biden had to connect "the dots" between his achievements and what it means for everyday people as he implored them to let him "finish the job," according to Democratic strategist Christopher Hahn.

"The American people aren’t interested in partisan fights or Beltway lingo," the former aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the Aggressive Progressive podcast host told the Washington Examiner. "They care about how what happens in D.C. impacts their lives."

The problem for Biden is that State of the Union addresses "rarely move the public opinion needle by very much," particularly in such "a highly polarized political climate," Northeastern University political science professor Costas Panagopoulos added.

"The best thing Biden can hope for is to continue to try to drive home Democrats' accomplishments, especially on the economic front, to set the stage for upcoming debates and put pressure on Republicans to compromise on things like the debt ceiling," he said.

Biden's average approval rating has recovered to 43% approval and 52% disapproval, compared to his nadir of 37.5% approval and 52% disapproval last summer, according to FiveThirtyEight. RealClearPolitics's polling average was slightly higher at 44.2% approval. Yet two polls released this week capture a darker picture of the country.

A NORC Center for Public Affairs Research-Associated Press poll found a majority of Democrats do not want Biden to seek reelection. Only 37% of Democrats told pollsters they wished he would secure another four years in office, a decrease of 15 percentage points from 52% before last year’s midterm elections. One day earlier, an ABC News-Washington Post survey found 41% of peoplefeel they are worse off financially in contrast to when Biden became president. The same study found 62% believe the commander in chief has achieved “not very much” or “little or nothing" during his tenure.

Regardless, Biden's address sounded remarkably like a reelection speech, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks.

"Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, the State of the Union is strong," he said Tuesday night.

During his remarks, Biden reminded the audience why he sought the presidency for the third time before the 2020 election and contended that although he has notched many achievements, there remained more to do. He also spoke directly to "blue-collar" workers and people who consider themselves to "have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible," many of whom he has complained, as recently as last week at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting, now support Republicans.

Biden poked Republicans for their positions, for example, on the bipartisan infrastructure package to Sen. Rick Scott's (R-FL) proposal to reauthorize programs, including Social Security and Medicare.

"I want to thank my Republican friends who voted for the law," Biden said of infrastructure legislation. "There were Republican friends who voted against it as well, but I still get asked to fund the projects in those districts, but don’t worry ... we’ll fund these projects. And I’ll see you at the ground-breaking."

"Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset," he added, prompting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to respond, "Liar!"

At another point, Biden's comments on fentanyl deaths caused Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) to yell, "It's your fault!"

Top White House aide Anita Dunn acknowledged the poor polling during a pre-State of the Union briefing with outside allies Tuesday afternoon, reiterating, "That's on us."

"That's on us, on all of us, to make sure people do know what progress has been made and what we're continuing to do," the Biden senior adviser said. "He's got your back and he cares about the things you do and he gets it."

Biden, who would be 82 by a second inauguration, teased a reelection campaign during his two appearances at the DNC meeting in Philadelphia last week.

"Let me ask you a simple question. Are you with me?" he asked at the first reception, the room breaking out into a chant of "four more years." "America is back, and we’re leading the world again."


Biden will travel to the battleground states of Florida and Wisconsin this week to underscore his achievements, specifically how he is "creating jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure, lowering costs for families, investing in our future, and delivering for families too often left behind," according to the White House. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other administration officials will hold about 30 related events in 20 different states.

Meanwhile, Biden's Republican opponents are starting to position themselves for their own primary, with former South Carolina Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley hosting a "special announcement" next week.


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Tags: White House, Joe Biden, State of the Union, 2024 Elections, Republican primary

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: State of the Union 2023: Biden teases 2024 bid but doesn't win over GOP


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