HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – President Joe Biden will appear in Pittsburgh on Friday as the opening step in a broader campaign to boost White House performance in key states ahead of the midterm elections.
But two of the top three Democrats in Pennsylvania’s statewide vote this spring who were invited to appear with Biden will not attend, their campaigns confirmed. president’s visit.
Governor John Fetterman, a leading Senate candidate, and State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the likely Democrat in the race for governor, will be absent due to clashes over governors. schedule, according to their spokesperson. Another top Senate candidate, Representative Conor Lamb, a longtime Biden supporter based in Pittsburgh, will attend, his office confirmed. All three were invited to participate in a photo stream with the president.
The high-profile absence comes as Democrats in other states begin to take modest steps to distance themselves from the first-term president, whose approval ratings have plummeted in recent months. this. And while Fetterman and Shapiro point out that politics doesn’t affect their schedules, their decision to avoid Biden, especially in his hometown, could raise further questions among the candidates. Democrats worry elsewhere as they decide whether to embrace the struggling president.
“Josh Shapiro is running for governor of Pennsylvania and he is focused on issues that matter to Pennsylvania families,” said Shapiro spokesman Will Simons.
Shapiro made three appearances with Biden last summer and fall when the president’s numbers were better. But the gubernatorial hopefuls this time have a scheduling conflict, Simons said, without detailing the conflict.
“Like every American should, Josh wants our president to succeed and we will continue to welcome President Biden to his home state of Pennsylvania,” Simons said.
Pennsylvania’s top Democrats, who were not on the ballot this year, did not have similar scheduling conflicts. Those who will appear with Biden on Friday include Governor Tom Wolf, whose term is in office, and Senator Bob Casey, whose current term runs through 2024.
That’s another reckoning for vulnerable Democrats who will have to face voters in 2022.
Earlier this month, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, a leading candidate for governor in another state, passed up an opportunity to appear with the president in that state, citing scheduling conflicts. undefined. And in the weeks since, several other notable Democrats seem to have trailed Biden, too.
Last week, Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, said he doesn’t need the Democratic president’s support in his campaign for governor.
“I don’t care that any national politician – anyone outside of Texas – comes to this state to help decide the outcome of this,” O’Rourke said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I think we all want to make sure we’re working together, listening, and voting together in Texas.”
And this week, Representative Steny Hoyer, the 3rd Democrat in the House, declined to say whether Democrats vulnerable to this fall’s vote should adopt the name “Party” Democratic Biden” or not.
“I want every Democrat to run as a Democrat, the people who have entrusted it,” Hoyer told Politico when asked directly about “Biden Democrat.”
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said he was not surprised that some Democratic candidates might want to distance themselves from Biden, but he said those to do so were “stupid.”
“They’re stupid because things can turn quite suddenly in politics,” Rendell told The Associated Press. “You can’t hide. People will end up thinking less about you for not showing up.”
Fetterman, the outspoken governor whose campaign is based in Pittsburgh, said he would miss Biden’s visit in that city to attend the Democratic state committee, which begins Friday night 200 miles back. east in Harrisburg.
“It was great that President Biden came to Pittsburgh to talk about infrastructure,” Fetterman said. But he said he would be at the meeting in Harrisburg to talk to Democrats about midterms.
Lamb, meanwhile, one of Fetterman’s main opponents in the state’s Senate race, was eager to hear Biden’s comments live on his sweeping infrastructure bill.
“President Biden announced his infrastructure plan for the first time in Pittsburgh, and Conor looks forward to welcoming him back and talking about all the good jobs the bill will create in the Pittsburgh area and across Pennsylvania,” said Lamb campaign manager Abby Nassif Murphy.
Malcolm Kenyatta, a prominent Democratic Senate candidate, was not invited to Biden’s appearance because he represented a different part of the state in the state Legislature. But he was full of praise for the president when he got the chance. Like Lamb, Kenyatta traveled to early voting states in the 2020 presidential primaries to campaign on behalf of Biden.
“The more he is here, the better,” said Kenyatta. “I wouldn’t be offended to be called a Biden Democrat. I’ve always considered myself a Democrat who should do something. ”
The White House announced Biden’s trip on Monday after the president said last week he would seek to leave Washington more during his second year in office.
Biden, who has seen his poll numbers tumble amid the unrelenting pandemic and high inflation, said it’s important for him to “go out and talk to the public” about what’s going on. he achieved and on why Congress needs to get behind the rest of its domestic agenda.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said while in Pittsburgh, Biden will focus on the economy.
Psaki told reporters at the White House on Thursday: “He’s going to talk about how far we’ve come in getting our economy back on track, making more money in America, and making sure ensure that all workers benefit”. “He will highlight the 367,000 manufacturing jobs our economy has created since he took office, and he will highlight the important role the federal government plays in bringing workers and businesses together.”
The visit will take Biden, a Pennsylvania native, to a key battleground in this year’s midterm congressional elections. The battle to replace Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who is not seeking re-election, is expected to be one of the most competitive Senate races this year.
Christopher Borick, director of Muhlenberg University’s Public Opinion Institute, said the drop in enthusiasm among Democrats around the country was a worrisome sign for Pennsylvania Democrats’ hopes. in capturing Toomey’s seat and serving as governor.
Only 28% of Americans say they want Biden to run for re-election in 2024, of which only 48% are Democrats, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Along with Biden’s legislative setbacks, Borick noted the president’s advanced age (he’s 79) and voters’ uncertainty about whether he’ll run for a second term – even though he said will – is affecting the 2022 campaign.
But Borick said that Biden “could have some rallying effect for Democrats” if he scores some legislative success close to the election.
Casey, a three-term senator who will face the next voter in 2024, said he is urging elected Democrats to do better when it comes to his first year achievements. Biden, such as the infrastructure bill, distributes vaccines, gets money to keep schools open, expands child tax credits, and reduces unemployment.
“We have to do a much better job, and we’re starting to do that,” Casey said.
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/01/28/pennsylvania-dems-missing-biden-pittsburgh-visit/ Key Pennsylvania Democrats to President Biden’s Visit to Pittsburgh – CBS Pittsburgh