Biden’s harsh speech hints at re-election effort
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden told voters last year that he plans to run for office. Now he’s showing Democrats what a second campaign could look like.
In speeches at the United States Capitol on Thursday and in Atlanta on Tuesday, Biden presented himself as the central player in a predominantly partisan battle for the survival of the republic.
“They want chaos to reign. We want the people to rule,” he said as he promoted voting rights efforts in Georgia, a very competitive electoral battleground where, in 2020, he became the first Democrat in 28 years to win the presidential race. “The goal of the former President of the United States and his allies is to deny the right to vote to anyone who votes against them.”
Last week, in remarks commemorating the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, Biden vowed to be the only force fighting Trumpism.
“I will stand in this breach, I will defend this nation, and I will not allow anyone to put a dagger in the throat of democracy.… We will make sure that the will of the people is heard,” he said. .
In both speeches, he repeated his campaign mantra, the “battle for the soul of America”, and in both cases his running mate – Vice President Kamala Harris – spoke before him.
Biden has sounded the New Year with a campaign tone at a time when he risks losing influence if Democrats start to see him as a lame duck. With Biden’s approval rating mired at 42%, the social safety net and Democrats’ voting rights metrics at a standstill, and the midterm elections quickly approaching, many Democrats have wondered if it would – or should – exceed their ticket in 2024.
Biden is “absolutely” demonstrating what he said about running for a second term, said Adrienne Elrod, a campaign aide to Biden who remains close to the West Wing. “We all think he is a presidential candidate,” she said.
Shifting to more combative and partisan rhetoric – last week he ridiculed Donald Trump as the “defeated former president” – gives Biden several angles to improve his position, Democratic strategists say. It reminds his supporters of their chosen candidate, raises the electoral stakes for Republicans and Democrats who oppose his platform, refocuses Democrats on their common GOP opponent, and serves as a buttress against the perception that he is short term.
“What they’re doing here with Trump and voting rights should be replicated on a lot of other issues where Biden shows he’s got a fight in him,” said Faiz Shakir, who led the senator’s 2020 presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders, I -Vt., Referring to the White House. “One of the things they suffer from is a perception of weakness.”
This stems in part, he said, from Biden’s attempts to avoid intense partisanship early in his presidency.
“As a result, over the course of a year he lost a certain political position because people lost track of what you are fighting for, who your opponents are,” Shakir said.
The erosion was evident on Tuesday, when some voting rights activists skipped his Atlanta speech because they saw him as more about Biden’s politics than the substance of ensuring the franchise.
Two bills passed by the House regarding elections and voting rights are stuck in the Senate, where a narrow Democratic majority must either garner 10 Republican votes or change the rules of the chamber to move forward. Senators Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Whose votes would be needed for a rule change, have expressed support for the filibuster.
On Tuesday, Biden called on the Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which would expand access to polling stations, make Election Day a federal holiday, demand greater disclosure of political contributions, and ban redistribution of the vote. Congress in the middle of the decade, and the passing of the John Lewis Rights Advancement Act, which would reinstate sections of the original 1965 Voting Rights Act.
If Democrats are unable to muster the 60 votes needed to consider the legislation directly, Biden said, “we have no choice but to change the rules of the Senate, including getting rid of the systematic obstruction on this subject “.
Although he has been under heavy pressure from civil rights leaders to more aggressively claim voting rights, Biden’s options may be limited to what he can do through executive orders. and the application by the Ministry of Justice of laws already in force. For Democrats, there are both substantive and electoral imperatives in strengthening voting rights.
“If we don’t get voting rights now, we Democrats will be in a deep doo-doo,” Elrod said.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Biden linked the Jan.6 attack to the surge in voting rights.
“We must remain strong and united to ensure that January 6 does not mark the end of democracy but the beginning of a rebirth of our democracy,” he said.
A Democratic consultant with ties to Biden said the Jan.6 remarks could make it clearer that he plans to get re-elected.
“I don’t think it’s calculated, but I don’t think it hurts,” the consultant said. “It reminded me of his big campaign speeches.”