Analysis: Biden’s 2022 pitch – targets Trump sidekicks, courting swing voters

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WASHINGTON, Jan.9 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden enters his second year in office with two unfinished goals: to end Trumpism and to unify a polarized country.

To achieve both, Biden will more regularly attack the values ​​of Republicans aligned with former President Donald Trump as a threat to democracy, while extending an olive branch to opponents, those close to the Democratic president have said in multiple interviews. inside and outside the White House. these last weeks.

Biden’s speech on Thursday, on the one-year anniversary of the deadly Jan.6 attack on the Capitol, described the new approach. Biden savagely slammed Trump, who instigated his supporters to march on the seat of Congress a year ago with unproven allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and punched down other members of the Republican Party who continue to support its predecessor.

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“The ‘big lie’ told by the former president and many Republicans who fear his wrath is that the insurgency in this country actually took place on election day,” Biden said in a speech to inside the Capitol.

“Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country – to look at America?

Ahead of the November congressional election, Biden and his closest allies made new calculations about a country at a crossroads, people close to the president said.

They see a divided public gorging themselves with misleading information, not only about the 2020 election, but a host of other issues, including the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. They believe the White House is hampered by a Republican Party bent on ensuring Biden’s failure, even if it hurts the United States as a whole.

Biden is appalled at the “silence and complacency” of Republicans in a Congress he has served in for decades, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

Friday, he blasted again, in a speech on the US economy, which surpasses that of other developed countries. “Republicans want to flout the recovery because they voted against the legislation that made it possible,” Biden said. “I refuse to let them stand in the way of this recovery.”

Republicans accuse Biden of veering hard to the left since winning the White House on a largely center-left message and pushing spending initiatives and tax proposals that they say will hurt the Republicans. economy and stimulate already high inflation.

‘NOT OUR PRESIDENT’

Biden stacked his first year in office with policies.

Propose solutions to these ‘kitchen table’ problems, primarily avoiding divisive topics such as abortion and police reform, and based on a long-held belief that simple, empathetic explanations can seducing the centrist American majority has not brought the country closer to a key objective. he is running as a candidate for the presidency.

Uniting the United States “is proving to be one of the most difficult things” he has tried to do as president, Biden admitted last month in Missouri, a state he has lost to death. hand against Trump in the 2020 election.

Biden’s motorcade there was greeted by someone carrying a sign that read ‘Not Our President’, another reminder that polls show most Republican voters still believe Trump’s fake story about election theft has been stolen. On Christmas Eve, when Biden called some children to discuss Santa, he was greeted by a parent with a rude yell popular among Trump supporters.

Aiming for the center didn’t help the president’s popularity. About 48% of Americans approved of Biden’s performance in December, compared with 55% approval around his nomination in early 2021, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll.

The White House believes that a new effort to promote core Democratic values, including speeches to extol voter empowerment concerns and the strengthening of electoral laws in time for the 2022 vote, may have broad support among the American people, regardless of how they voted before.

But a shift in emphasis is risky: Voters shift like this when Biden appears to be trying to work with the other side, think the president’s aides and allies. Biden attempted to thread that needle in Thursday’s speech, pledging to work with Republicans “who support the rule of law and not the rule of one man.”

The president is prepared to shoulder the short-term political pressure associated with Trump’s attack, according to his allies.

“Joe Biden has always played the long game,” said Richard Harpootlian, a South Carolina lawyer, Democratic state senator and longtime Biden supporter, who met with the president last month. “He doesn’t worry about the weekly polls and the daily polls. He thinks what he does in the long run will pay off.”

However, he added, “It could have consequences in 2022 that he might not prefer.”

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Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Paul Simao

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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