Biden revs up economy pitch after week of silence on Trump

WILMINGTON, Delaware, Aug 7 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden kicks off a visit to three Western U.S. states on Monday as he aims to invigorate his reelection bid by highlighting recent economic gains and funding for new infrastructure projects.

Biden’s trip to New Mexico, Utah and the key electoral battleground of Arizona represents a stark contrast to the controversy swirling around his top Republican rival, former President Donald Trump, who was indicted last week for the third time in four months, this time for wide-ranging attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Biden, who spent last week vacationing in his home state of Delaware, has refused to comment on the trials and tribulations of his predecessor, his likely opponent in the 2024 presidential contest.

Biden’s reelection strategy is focused on trying to convince a cynical American public of the strengths of the economy and that his policies are helping.

Recent polls show making such a case will be a challenge as voters stew over inflation, even though the U.S. economy has outrun recession warnings with record-low unemployment, strong wage gains and better-than-expected growth.

Some Americans who voted for Biden in 2020 say they believe the economy has fared poorly under his stewardship and they might not vote for him in the 2024 election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week.

About half the respondents who voted for Biden in 2020 said they have heard little or nothing of his major policy initiatives to reduce inflation or boost spending on infrastructure.

Biden and fellow Democrats pushed bills through Congress that put about $1.5 trillion toward new bridge, road, climate and manufacturing projects.

Democratic strategist Jennifer Holdsworth said this week’s trip would counter a message spread by the nation’s right-wing media distorting the economy and Biden’s legislative agenda.

“As President Biden gets out there on the campaign trail, I think you’ll see that trend start to change,” she said.

Senior White House officials and Cabinet members will fan out across the country this week to promote the administration’s accomplishments, including at least a dozen events by department heads, advisers and Vice President Kamala Harris. Construction sites across the country related to the bills are being marked with signs noting Biden’s role.

Biden is expected to travel to Arizona on Monday night, ahead of an event on Tuesday where he will tout investments in conservation and protecting natural resources and his signature climate-change legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA.

Arizona has emerged as key battleground state that the Biden campaign will target with money and resources. Biden won the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2020, four years after Trump took the state by 3.5 percentage points.

On Wednesday, Biden will be in New Mexico to tout the IRA’s role in a clean-energy manufacturing boom, one year after the law was signed. On Thursday, he will be in a veteran’s facility in Utah to highlight the anniversary of the PACT Act, which provides aid to veterans sickened by gases from military toxic burn pits.

Biden is also expected to hold campaign fundraising events during his Western trip.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Leslie Adler and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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