The Biden administration is launching a full-court press with a closing economic argument to voters on Thursday, with President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet fanning out across the country to highlight their record with Election Day less than two weeks away.
Biden will argue he’s focused on building “an economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” with investments in infrastructure and reviving manufacturing while asking the wealthy and corporations to “pay their fair share.” He’s contrasted that with a GOP agenda that would reverse wins over special interests and put entitlement programs at risk.
It's a push that comes as Republicans have leaned in on attacking Democrats for rising inflation and gas prices, blaming Biden and Democratic control of Washington for those economic woes.
Meanwhile, an administration official says Biden's major economic speech will be “reinforced” by more than a half dozen other administration officials who will also hold economic-focused events Thursday, including a major economic address in Ohio from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Many will be joined by down-ballot Democrats, emblematic of a longer-term trend where some of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents who’ve shied away from campaigning with Biden have been more open to appearing with other administration surrogates.
Like Biden, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will be focusing on the CHIPS bill at an event in Maryland with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, while HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra touts efforts to reduce prescription drug prices in a Texas swing district. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join Infrastructure Czar Mitch Landrieu in North Carolina, a Senate battleground, to discuss expanding broadband access.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will continue his busy schedule of official and political events Thursday with a stop in Wisconsin with Gov. Tony Evers. And vulnerable Democratic incumbents Dan Kildee and Elissa Slotkin will be joined by Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman at separate stops in Michigan.
By Friday, Cabinet members will have made 77 trips to 29 states in the month of October discussing administration priorities, according to an administration official. Most — 32 — focused on inflation and the economy with another 11 highlighting infrastructure projects.
“The president’s Cabinet are trusted messengers for the Administration and they host and join events to underscore how our policies are lowering costs for Americans and impacting them across the country,” an administration official said.
The White House has argued that even if Biden isn’t holding traditional campaign events across the country, he is helping shape the national debate. Officials also note that unlike past midterm election cycles, most Democrats are running squarely on their legislative record, even if they may not mention the president who championed and signed those bills.
But as one strategist for a House Democrat in a tough race put it, at a time when national headwinds are so strong, they work on a daily basis to keep the focus on local issues and their record. And events with members of the Cabinet help generate local media coverage without inviting in the national attention that makes the race a referendum on Democratic-run Washington.
Also this week, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge joined Senate candidate Val Demings in Florida; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg held an infrastructure event with Rep. Mike Levin in his toss-up California district; Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael Regan joined Sen. Patty Murray in Seattle to discuss funding for an electrified fleet of school buses.
While much of the Cabinet travel is for official events, many are also joining Democrats at campaign events. Walsh and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland each have or will attend a half dozen candidate events this month, including an early vote event Haaland is holding in Arizona. Buttigieg has events planned in Wisconsin and Michigan in the final stretch, as well as a Chicago fundraiser with Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly.