In two weeks, Americans will elect a new Congress.
While 2020 loser Donald Trump is already using this election campaign as a platform for the next presidential race, President Joe Biden has a different strategy.
As the midterm elections draw closer, the President has been spending more time trying to help Democratic candidates in tough races but with his weak approval ratings, there are many competitive races in the country where Biden is unwelcome.
In September, Biden declared the so-called MAGA movement, led by Trump, as a direct threat to democratic self-government in the United States at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Since then, he has been fairly scarce. Recent polls put his approval at just above 40 percent, which means there are a lot of places where Biden could hurt more than he helps.
More than six in 10 Americans do not want Trump to run for the White House in 2024, according to a recent PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, and while Trump’s possession of more than 10,000 government documents at his Florida home seems not to have changed the minds of his steady supporters, most Americans think he has done something illegal.
The level of support for another Trump campaign remains virtually unchanged from December 2020, the month after he lost the presidential election and weeks before a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes.
Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said that means Trump is “only talking about a third of the electorate who are in his corner.”
“He’s done some things that are borderline stupid. I don’t think that kind of thing is going to help unite the country,” said Jim Holladay, an independent voter from North Carolina, citing the classified documents recently found in Trump’s home and the former president’s rally on Jan. 6.
At least when Biden does appear, he tries not to undermine the people he is campaigning for.
At an event for Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in Phildelphia, Biden said, “we’re at a point where there’s not many real Republicans left. No, I mean that sincerely. I’m not joking. There are no Specters out there anymore” — a reference to former Sen. Arlen Specter, who represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate from from 1981 to 2011.
“You have the guy in charge of the Republican Senate campaign from Florida, Scott, saying every five years there should be a referendum on Social Security, there should be a referendum on Medicare and Medicaid,” said Biden. “And that is, if we don’t, it comes up — it goes away unless you vote it back in place.”
Trump recently called Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ endorsement of moderate Republican Colorado Senate nominee Joe O’Dea “a big mistake.”
In what may be the first public break amid long-brewing speculation that the two GOP leaders have been privately clashing, Trump paired the statement on his social media platform “Truth Social” with a Washington Examiner article that reported DeSantis, a hardline Republican, recorded a robocall for underdog O’Dea in which he placed full support behind the candidate who has openly sparred with the former president.
Trump-backed Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance was ridiculed during a debate by his opponent for “kissing ass” to get an endorsement when Representative Tim Ryan threw back the former president’s words at his Republican opponent.
During a rally in Youngstown, Trump pointed to Vance, who he has endorsed, and said: “JD is kissing my ass, he wants my support so much.”
Some Democratic candidates have claimed scheduling conflicts when Biden comes to town, conflicts that preclude joint appearances. Republicans have roundly mocked Biden and his party for this. But Democratic strategists say Biden and Democrats are just being smart.
That’s a shift from his predecessors, former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who held more traditional rallies ahead of the midterms in their first terms, said Brendan Doherty, a politics professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who tracks presidential travel.
“Biden has held many official events with campaign undertones. Other presidents did this too, but for Biden, it’s his principal mode of campaigning in the leadup to the midterms,” Doherty said.
He’s also been in high demand at events to raise cash for his party. At a Friday night fundraiser in a private home in Los Angeles, Biden helped raise $5 million, money that will help congressional candidates all over the country, including those in swing districts who at the moment wouldn’t want to be seen in public with Biden.