Biden doubles down on ‘ultra-MAGA’ attacks, seeing Trump as ‘political gift’
President Joe Biden has trained his sights on the Republican Party’s “Trumpies” ahead of the November midterm elections, elevating his polarizing former and potential future rival in an attempt to secure Democrats an electoral advantage in the fall.
While visiting two battleground states on Labor Day, Biden warned voters that democracy was under threat from Republicans faithful to former President Donald Trump, a message the incumbent Democrat has uttered with growing urgency. Amid controversy, the president has insisted he is not aiming his fire at Trump’s voters.
Republicans and Democrats agree that the strategy aims to move the focus away from Biden as members of his party prepare to face off against their GOP counterparts.
“He’s doing it to reinforce this idea that the election is about change, that it’s not a referendum on his job as president in the last two years,” said T.J. Rooney, a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
BIDEN’S ‘MAGA’ ATTACKS COULD ‘SOFTEN’ OPPOSITION TO TRUMP — IF HE STAYS ON MESSAGE
Instead, keeping the focus on Trump risks uniting frustrated Democrats and swaying some independents. Biden began targeting “MAGA” Republicans after a battleground study led by a top adviser indicated that the strategy lends Democrats an edge in the November contests.
“It moves the needle. When you have a political gift that is Donald Trump, you play that hand as hard and as often as you can,” Rooney said.
The focus on Trump comes as voters continue to express misgivings about Biden’s leadership, despite the White House’s recent legislative victories.
Biden’s job approval is underwater at -12.4 percentage points, with 54.7% who disapprove compared to 42.3% who approve, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.
“The Democrats would get hammered in November if the election is a referendum on their leadership in Washington,” said Robert Blizzard, a veteran Republican pollster and partner at Public Opinion Strategies, citing the president’s poor approval rating and America’s attitude toward the direction of the country.
Sixty-eight percent of voters in a new Wall Street Journal poll said the country was headed in the wrong direction, and listed the economy, inflation, and immigration among their top concerns, issues they said Republicans were better equipped to handle. One pollster found initially negative reactions to Biden’s Philadelphia speech.
Biden is polling behind Democratic House candidates in some battlegrounds by an average of 6 percentage points, per internal Democratic polls conducted in August and reviewed by Politico.
Still, according to the Journal’s poll, voters would favor Biden as president if the 2024 election were held today in a matchup against Trump.
Some of Trump’s endorsed candidates face long odds in the countdown to November, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voicing skepticism that Republicans will retake the Senate, a message that has drawn rebuke inside the party.
Blizzard said Republicans won’t be divided by Biden raising Trump’s specter, which he said was the latest issue after student loan forgiveness in a string of efforts by the White House “to gin up enthusiasm among their Democratic base and frame the upcoming midterm as more of a choice.”
Democrats, who have been eager for Biden to step into the ring, welcomed the blistering attack that he delivered against a red backdrop in Philadelphia last week
The party has spent more than $44 million boosting so-called “Make America Great Again” candidates in upcoming races, despite Biden’s repeated warnings that they risk imperiling the republic if elected.
“The majority of Democrats are saying, ‘It’s about damn time,’” said Sasha Tirador, a Democratic consultant in South Florida.
While Tirador said the Democratic base was already motivated by the Supreme Court’s overturning of constitutional abortion rights, Biden’s address last week at Independence Hall stoked that enthusiasm.
“What the President did, as the leader of our party and nation, was yell, ‘Charge!’,” she said.
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Rooney said that despite their deep concerns about “Make America Great Again” lawmakers, Democrats have a higher goal.
“It’s about winning in November. You have to put your best foot forward,” he said.