As he ramps up his reelection effort, President Joe Biden is relying on allies from across the Democratic coalition to help him win a second term.
That approach was evident over the past few days, when Biden crisscrossed the nation to address gun violence prevention groups in Connecticut, union members in Pennsylvania and environmental justice activists in California.
The trips are part of a flurry of campaign events crafted to showcase Biden’s record and build excitement among Democrats. Later this week, Biden will be with three abortion rights groups to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade precedent.
A political candidate seeking to tap into a diverse group of supporters from within their own party isn’t a novel strategy. But in order to prevail in 2024, Biden, who faces lackluster enthusiasm even among some Democrats, will need the strong backing of his traditional allies.
At a rally hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Philadelphia Convention Center on Saturday, he reminded a throng of cheering supporters of his longtime support of organized labor.
“I look out in this crowd and I see a lot of old friends, a lot of folks — as they say in Claymont, Del. — who brung me to the dance,” Biden said. “I told you when I ran for president I’d have your back. And I have. But you’ve had my back as well.”
Only about half of Democrats believe Biden should run again in 2024, according to an April poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Biden, who is 80, has faced concerns about his age, but the poll also found some good news for the president: A large majority of Democrats say they would back him if he became the nominee. (Two other Democrats, vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson, are also running, although neither has gained much traction among the party’s voters.)
Campaign advisory panel
Biden’s campaign has assembled a team of advisers, including Democratic governors, mayors and members of Congress, to serve on a campaign advisory panel. These surrogates will also help raise money and spread the message that Biden deserves a second term.
Biden’s move to solidify his core support among key constituencies was evident over the past week. In addition to the rallies, he also held fundraisers in Greenwich, Conn., and the San Francisco Bay Area.
While Biden is seeking to strengthen his ties with Democrats, Republicans remained focused on two core issues: inflation and crime.
“Joe Biden can’t hide from his track record of failures and broken promises that have caused crisis after crisis, from skyrocketing prices to rising violent crime,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement about the Connecticut trip.
The president’s campaign blitz began Wednesday, when he spoke at the League of Conservation Voters’ annual fundraising dinner. He received an early endorsement from the group’s political arm, along with the backing of three other leading climate organizations: NRDC Action Fund, Sierra Club and NextGen PAC. It marked the first time the four have jointly backed a presidential candidate.
Gun control plaudits
On Friday, the president went to West Hartford, Conn., to speak to activists at a gun violence prevention summit hosted by Sen. Christopher S. Murphy. The Connecticut Democrat wasted no time reminding the audience of Biden’s long advocacy for stricter gun control laws.
Murphy applauded Biden for beating the National Rifle Association when he helped push an assault weapons ban through Congress almost 30 years ago. Murphy also credited Biden with seizing the moment after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., last year.
The law he signed, dubbed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, was the first significant gun violence prevention measure to win approval in almost three decades. It provides funding for youth mental health programs and school security and makes it more difficult for people with mental illness to obtain firearms. In votes a year ago this week, the bill received support from 15 Republicans in the Senate, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and 14 Republicans in the House.
“Joe Biden is the biggest part of the story as to why the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act became law,” Murphy said.
Murphy said Biden’s leadership on gun safety issues gives him hope that the movement will find future success. “That opportunity exists because we have a president who eats, sleeps and breathes the fight to end this epidemic,” Murphy said.
Unlike the other Biden campaign events, the presence of survivors of mass shootings and family members who have lost loved ones to gun violence lent a solemn air to Friday’s daylong National Safer Communities Summit at the University of Hartford.
“Some people in this room have turned your pain into purpose — I suspect all of you have — your loss into determination and your anger, justifiable anger, into a deep-seated commitment,” Biden said. “You’re the reason why I’m so optimistic about the future of this country. And that’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.”
Labor of love
The mood was more celebratory on Saturday, when Biden addressed about 2,000 union members at a rally in Philadelphia. The AFL-CIO, another key cog in the Democratic alliance, formally endorsed Biden on Friday, their earliest presidential endorsement in history.
“There’s absolutely no question that Joe Biden is the most pro-union president in our lifetimes,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in a statement. “From bringing manufacturing jobs home to America to protecting our pensions and making historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy and education, we’ve never seen a president work so tirelessly to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and middle out. We’ve never seen a president more forcefully advocate for workers’ fundamental right to join a union. Now, it’s time to finish the job.”
The union backing brings boots on the ground, in the form of door-to-door canvassing, as well as digital outreach, peer-to-peer texting and other campaign tactics.
At a fundraiser Monday in Atherton, Calif., Biden reflected on the recent public pronouncements of support.
“The idea that I was able to, for example, get endorsements by every single major environmental group and, at the same time, every major union in America,” Biden said. “I mean, seriously, if I had said that to you two years ago, what are the prospects of that?”
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.