Skip to content

Biden kicks off reelection push with singular goal: Restore Roe

Speaking at Northern Virginia event, Biden vows to fight for abortion rights if reelected

President Joe Biden speaks at a ”Reproductive Freedom Campaign Rally" at George Mason University on Tuesday in Manassas, Va. During the first joint rally held by the president and vice president, Biden and Kamala Harris spoke on what they perceive as a threat to reproductive rights.
President Joe Biden speaks at a ”Reproductive Freedom Campaign Rally" at George Mason University on Tuesday in Manassas, Va. During the first joint rally held by the president and vice president, Biden and Kamala Harris spoke on what they perceive as a threat to reproductive rights. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

MANASSAS, Va. — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ first campaign rally of 2024 sought to build voter enthusiasm and boost turnout on a singular issue: abortion rights, which the campaign sees as the golden ticket to reelection.

Flanked by their respective spouses, Biden and Harris on Tuesday kicked off a full-court press strategy elevating abortion rights, highlighting it as a crucial issue this election cycle.

Biden was introduced by Amanda Zurawski, the lead plaintiff in a Texas case of women denied abortions in emergency medical situations.

Zurawski recounted how she almost died during her pregnancy in 2022.

“The stakes of this election could not be higher for our future and for our lives,” she said. “Over and over again, Donald Trump brags about killing Roe v. Wade. It is unthinkable to me that anyone could cheer on these abortion bans that nearly took my life.”

The choice to double down on abortion access is not surprising, given Democratic wins with messaging on the issue down ballot — Democrats have seen wins on the abortion issue in seven successive state ballot initiatives. The issue has also shaped gubernatorial, attorneys general and congressional campaigns since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June 2022. It’s also essential to support from abortion rights groups who invested millions rallying to get Biden elected

Biden faces a historically low approval rating at 33 percent, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month.

About two dozen protesters were escorted out of the rally in the first few minutes of Biden’s remarks, in each successive interruption calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, waving banners and in one case a Palestinian flag.

Biden did not seem fazed by the rapid series of interruptions from different pockets of the packed auditorium at George Mason University’s Hylton Performing Arts Center. Nor were the rows of supporters standing behind him on stage holding red, white, and blue signs that said “Restore Roe” and “Defend Choice.”

“This is going to go on for a while. They’ve got this planned,” he said, while supporters attempted to drown out the protesters with chants of “Four more years.”

Biden’s message was clear: He is ready to sign abortion rights legislation, if Congress can make it across the finish line to his desk.

“To do that we need a new Congress,” he said, calling on voters to elect Democratic majorities in both chambers this fall. It follows a similar call to action he made during the midterms, arguing that electing a Democratic trifecta would enable them to codify abortion rights. 

The call-out to specific people affected by the Dobbs decision like Zurawski builds on previous White House listening sessions with affected women and a new ad campaign this week highlighting a Texas OB-GYN who learned her fetus had a fetal anomaly during a planned pregnancy two years ago.

Harris said during her stop Monday in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, to launch the administration’s Reproductive Freedom Tour, she spoke with Megan, a woman who had to travel to Minnesota to get an abortion because of an 1849 state law.

“Let there be no mistake. The person most responsible for taking away this freedom in America is Donald Trump,” said Harris on Tuesday.

The Tuesday rally in Prince William County, Virginia, which Biden handily carried in 2020, precedes a number of down-ballot races that could be pivotal to determining which party secures the majority in the House.

“Since Roe was overturned, tens of millions of Americans in red states and blue marched to the polls in defense of fundamental freedoms. The voice of the people has been heard, and it will be heard,” said Harris. “Today, I ask the people here in Virginia, are you ready?”

At least two House seats, currently held by Democrats, are open this November – putting the party on defense. Both Virginia’s 10th District, which includes Manassas, and Virginia’s 7th, will be open with Democrats Rep. Jennifer Wexton not seeking reelection because of health issues and Rep. Abigail Spanberger opting to run for governor.

Both women were first elected in 2018, flipping seats held by Republicans.

The rally also coincided with New Hampshire’s presidential primary, where Donald Trump was projected to win the state’s Republican primary. Biden was not on the ballot in the state.

Republicans criticized the Biden rally and broader approach to spotlight restoring abortion rights as sidestepping finding a consensus on any abortion limits.

“Joe Biden dodges questions on abortion limitations because he knows that Democrats’ support for abortion on demand, up until birth is out of touch with the mainstream,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement Tuesday. “Can Biden name any abortion he doesn’t support?”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which opposes abortion, also blasted the rally and the new ad’s focus.

But Democrats counter that this line of GOP messaging is deceptive, and doesn’t take into account efforts to push for a national abortion ban.

“As long as I have the power of the presidency, just know this, if Congress did pass a national abortion ban, I will veto it,” Biden said.

Recent Stories

Democrats ask insurers to meet contraceptive coverage mandate

Greatest Generation Coin will help preserve World War II Memorial for future generations

Lawmakers press to avoid funding pitfall for public defenders

Supreme Court sounds skeptical of cross-state air pollution rule

Another year, another disaster aid gap as funding deadline nears

Tall order for lawmakers to finish spending bills next week