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Biden pushes bipartisanship ahead of potential shutdown

Arizona trip highlights federal funds for McCain Library

On Jan. 3, 2017, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain reeneacts taking the oath of office administered by Vice President Joe Biden as his wife, Cindy, looks on in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber.
On Jan. 3, 2017, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain reeneacts taking the oath of office administered by Vice President Joe Biden as his wife, Cindy, looks on in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Joe Biden and his reelection campaign are spending the day after a Republican presidential debate touting democracy and bipartisanship — amid the threat of a government shutdown.

Biden plans to deliver remarks in Arizona on Thursday to announce federal funding for a new McCain Library that will be built with the McCain Institute and Arizona State University, giving him another opportunity to highlight the importance of democratic institutions and honor the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

“I have come to honor the McCain Institute and Library because they are home to a proud Republican who put country first. Our commitment should be no less because democracy should unite all Americans – regardless of political affiliation,” Biden plans to say, according to advance excerpts released by the White House. “But there is something dangerous happening in America. There is an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy. The MAGA Movement.”

Widow Cindy McCain, whom Biden chose as ambassador to United Nations agencies in Rome, said in a statement that the library would serve Arizona “the way John served his country.”

“This effort started with the enthusiastic support of Governor Doug Ducey and continued with the equally strong support of Governor Katie Hobbs,” she said, referring to the former GOP governor and his Democratic successor, sworn in this year. “A true bi-partisan effort that we greatly appreciate.”

The president plans to argue that not all Republicans adhere to the MAGA, or “Make America Great Again,” ideas espoused by GOP front-runner and former President Donald Trump, who has a commanding lead in the polls and did not participate in Wednesday evening’s Republican debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

A new ad from the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign that is part of an existing $25 million battleground ad buy opens with a file photo of Biden and Reagan and a narrator saying, “There was a time in America when we expected leaders to put people over politics” — echoing a favorite message of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

“Americans expect their elected officials to be their voice in Washington and get big things done to make their lives better,” a Biden-Harris campaign spokesperson said in a statement. “That is exactly what Joe Biden has done throughout his time in public service.”

The ad also features Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, embracing a number of Republican foreign policy leaders. That includes McCain — the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 who lost to Barack Obama, whose running mate was Biden — and former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

The Arizona speech and the new ad blitz, both highlighting bipartisanship, come as turmoil among House Republicans and their likely rejection of a bipartisan continuing resolution drafted by the Senate make a partial government shutdown this weekend increasingly likely.

“He hasn’t gotten everything he wants, but that’s not how he measures success,” the ad says. “For Joe Biden, success means lifting everyone in America, no matter where you live or who you voted for, because he is a president for all Americans.”

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