Sunday, May 19

White House looks to convince Americans of ‘Bidenomics’ with Kamala Harris tour

The Biden administration is taking its economic message to the road, tasking Vice President Kamala Harris with an economic opportunity tour. It kicked off last week in Georgia with an event in Michigan next in line as the issue remains the most important to voters heading into the November election. 

“The Biden campaign has to be very nervous about turnout problems among potential Democratic voters in Michigan and Georgia,” said Ken Kollman, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Political Studies.

Both states were flipped from red to blue in 2020 when Biden defeated former President Trump. 

“It’s likely that every sliver of turnout will matter in these states,” Kollman added. 

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“It’s nothing new to quote James Carville’s ‘It’s the economy stupid’ line, but the economy really consistently does play a major role in determining presidential outcomes,” Democratic strategist Kaivan Shroff explained. 

Earlier this week, the official tour was announced, with the White House rolling out an April 29 event in Atlanta and previewing an event in Detroit later this week. A press release noted more locations and dates would soon be added. 

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“President Biden and I are committed to creating an economy in which every person has the freedom to thrive,” Harris said in a statement on the tour.

Her Atlanta kickoff included an event where the vice president delivered remarks to hundreds of people, mainly Black entrepreneurs and lawmakers. She touted legislation passed during the Biden administration, highlighting spending on infrastructure and manufacturing in particular. 

The Georgia visit comes as concerns over Biden’s performance with Black Americans linger, with some indicating lethargy about supporting the president again. 

In a recent Fox News Poll, Trump bested Biden in Georgia, 51% to 45%. Biden defeated Trump in the southern state in 2020, 49.47% to 49.24%.

“The vice president’s economic opportunity tour is a way for the administration to highlight their actions to promote economic opportunity, especially for minority communities who will play a big role in this year’s election in swing states,” said University of South Carolina political scientist David Darmofal. 

He said the Atlanta event was “noteworthy for its in-depth panel discussions. This highlights how the administration is meeting these voters’ concerns with detailed, substantive, policy-oriented events.”

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“The issues she discussed in Atlanta and will discuss in Detroit are the kitchen table issues: fighting medical debt, pathways to homeownership, student loan forgiveness and more,” Shroff said. “She is also emphasizing the efforts the Biden-Harris administration has made to invest in Black communities, and I think that is important in swing states like Georgia and Michigan where Black voters are critical to winning the state again — as the Biden-Harris ticket did in 2020.”

Harris’ office explained the tour is focused on showing voters what the administration has accomplished to expand opportunities to those in communities that are traditionally underserved. On the tour with the vice president are representatives from the Small Business Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who are there to provide information and resources on various programs. 

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On Monday, she will be headed to Detroit for a second event, where Biden and Democrats have seen warning signs electorally.

In a Fox News Poll last month, Trump defeated Biden in Michigan, 49% to 46%. In 2020, Biden won Michigan over Trump, 49.9% to 48.6%. 

Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University College of Law assistant professor said, “The big keys for Biden in Michigan and Georgia is to solidify the base and hold onto one key demographic, educated suburban voters.

“For both these groups, Biden has a huge challenge.” 

“While the economy is booming on paper, Americans aren’t necessarily feeling like it at home, particularly after a rough few years of inflation,” Kreis said. 

He claimed Biden and Harris’ re-election campaign has yet to find the right message to convince voters, adding the tour “appears to be the latest attempt to refine their economic message.”

“You can’t really dispute how much money Biden has spent trying to prop up the economy, which is why we have a $1.8 trillion deficit, a $35 trillion national debt and record inflation,” remarked Michigan Republican strategist Jason Cabel Roe. 

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Despite this spending, he said voters are still “dissatisfied with the cost of living, the cost of gas, diminishing take-home pay and a feckless leader who can’t seem to manage anything competently.”

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, suggested Trump is finding an effective pitch to voters in relying on “nostalgia for the pre-COVID economy.” 

“Biden doesn’t necessarily need to be perceived as better on the economy than Trump in order to win, but he does need to combat this nostalgia,” he said. 

Democratic strategist Max Burns reiterated Kreis’ point that positive economic developments aren’t being felt by average voters. He explained that Biden needs to be out on the trail to sell the message, adding that “retail politics has always been Biden’s strength.”

While he noted the importance of the economy in any election, Kondik said, “I do wonder if it really is the key driver of voting attitudes.”

He noted that there was recently “an election where inflation was a huge national problem but the ruling party [the Democrats] were not hugely penalized for it.”

For that reason, he suggested “it is a lot more complicated than just ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’” referencing Carville’s saying. 

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said, “Under President Trump, inflation was nonexistent, gasoline was cheap, groceries were affordable and the American Dream was alive and well. Thanks to Joe Biden’s out-of-control spending, prices are nearly 20% higher than they were four years ago, gas prices have hit record highs and American’s paychecks are not keeping up with the increasing pace of inflation.

“Michigan and Georgia’s families and workers cannot afford four more years of Joe Biden. We need a businessman and a proven leader like President Trump who will get our economy booming again.” 

The vice president’s office did not provide comment to Fox News Digital. 

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