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Biden hits the road to sell his agenda as focus shifts to midterms

The president visited Wisconsin on Wednesday to plug his domestic priorities after his first State of the Union address.

Following his first State of the Union speech, President Joe Biden hit the road on Wednesday as he and top members of his administration spread across the country to give his presidency a jump-start ahead of the midterm elections.

Standing in front of banners that read "Building a Better America" at a school in Superior, Wisconsin, Biden celebrated legislative achievements from his first year in office — including the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law — while committing to address lingering issues like rising prices.

Biden pointed to the Blatnik Bridge, a nearby aging bridge that connects Wisconsin to Minnesota, as an example of a critical piece of infrastructure that would be improved and modernized by the bipartisan infrastructure law.

“This bridge has an outdated design. Tight curves lead to higher than average crash rates on this bridge,” Biden said. “And now, after years of talking about infrastructure, we're finally getting it done."

Biden is facing the midterms as his key legislative priorities — from Build Back Better to voting rights — remain stalled in Congress. Inflation concerns continue to grip the country. And the president has been unable to turn around his sagging approval rating.

The president's early strategy ahead of the midterms appears to lean on his bipartisan infrastructure bill to carry his party in the election year, even though it will likely take years for states to spend the funds from the bill and most infrastructure projects will not be completed before November.

He also has shown no sign of abandoning his "Build Back Better" agenda, which remains stalled in Congress, although the administration is attempting to rebrand it as Biden's "Building a Better America" plan.

"Despite this historic recovery, too many families are still struggling with higher cost. I get it." Biden said Wednesday. "Our top priority must be getting prices under control."

A president’s party typically loses seats during a midterm elections year. With thin majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats are in jeopardy of losing control of both chambers of Congress.

Biden’s job approval rating hovers around 43 percent, according to NBC News polls. With the exception of former President Donald Trump, who had a 39 percent approval rating, Biden’s job performance rating is the lowest for a president ending his first year in the 30-year history of the NBC News poll.

Biden spent most of his first year in office in Washington due to the Covid pandemic, but the White House has said that the president is eager to spend more time outside D.C. ahead of the midterms and would be ramping up his travel schedule following his State of the Union address.

In a post-State of the Union blitz, top members of the Biden administration spread out around the country on Wednesday to promote the president's agenda.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh visited a community college in North Carolina, while Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm planned to visit a solar farm in Kentucky. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan was also scheduled to visit South Carolina to discuss sewage upgrade projects.

Biden’s first stop following his speech is home to one of the best Democratic chances for a Senate pickup in 2022.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is running for re-election in a state that Biden won in 2020 by less than a percentage point. The Cook Political Report rates the Wisconsin Senate race a “toss up.” The state's other senator, Tammy Baldwin, is a Democrat, while neighboring Minnesota is represented by two Democrats, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

"I love Wisconsin, I love Minnesota," Biden said Wednesday. "Thanks for three outstanding senators."