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Biden visits microchip plant to launch ‘investments’ tour

Effort comes ahead of expected reelection announcement

President Joe Biden delivers remarks Tuesday at Wolfspeed, a semiconductor manufacturer in Durham, N.C.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks Tuesday at Wolfspeed, a semiconductor manufacturer in Durham, N.C. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden kicked off a three-week tour by top members of his administration to tout his legislative accomplishments with a trip to North Carolina on Tuesday.

The president’s remarks in Durham, which highlighted over $435 billion in total commitments for private sector manufacturing nationwide since he took office, took on a decidedly local flavor, highlighting the $5 billion commitment by his hosts at the semiconductor manufacturing company Wolfspeed for expanded North Carolina operations.

“It’s not just clean energy manufacturing: Next door in Pittsboro, the town will be getting $18 million to keep contaminants out of their drinking water,” Biden said. “Northeastern North Carolina, the Alligator River bridge connecting I-95 and the Outer Banks, will be replaced with a modern bridge so the folks heading to the beach don’t face the frustrating delays and detour.”

Much of the goal of tours like the one Biden launched Tuesday may be to earn local media coverage for the administration, as well as to try to make sure the president gets credit for popular local projects heading into the 2024 election, with Republican opponents already out on the campaign trail.

A national Monmouth University survey of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters conducted earlier in March said just 25 percent said they would prefer to see Biden seek another term, with 44 percent saying they would rather another Democrat run, with the incumbent president bowing out.

Stops on the tour will highlight spending made possible by the president’s priorities, including a bipartisan infrastructure law, a microchip research and manufacturing law and last year’s reconciliation law. Beyond infrastructure investments, the president on Tuesday also highlighted efforts to bring down the out-of-pocket cost of insulin to $35 per month.

The effort includes more than the president. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel to Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma this week to promote funding for airport safety improvements, including runway upgrades.

All told, the tour will feature the president, vice president, first lady, second gentleman and a number of administration officials who plan to “fan out to over 20 states,” according to Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton.

Biden has not formally announced a reelection campaign, but all signs point toward him seeking another term. The list of stops on the tour for the administration includes a number of likely 2024 battlegrounds, from Michigan and Nevada to Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing used the launch of the tour as an opportunity to push for maintaining strong Buy America standards throughout the implementation process.

“Sustaining the success of the Biden administration’s manufacturing agenda depends on proper implementation of Buy America provisions in the infrastructure law, and further investment in key sectors to ensure our nation’s place as a global leader,” Scott Paul, the president of the manufacturing group, said in a statement. “As geopolitical tensions increase, the strength of America’s manufacturing base is more important than ever. Industrial policy is our ticket to a brighter future.”

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