The White House prepares for battle

Presidential aides know they are getting into uncomfortable, even deeply personal clashes over everything from the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan to migrants crossing the southern border to the Biden family itself. Already, new House committee chairs have said they will launch investigations into the president’s son, Hunter, and his business connections.

But officials and other planning participants argue that the new, more difficult terrain will also create opportunities for contrast with political opponents whose priorities they see as outside the mainstream and, frankly, extreme.

They are buoyed by the surprising resilience of Democrats midterm and note that, already, Biden has laid the groundwork by elevating the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a legislator they not long ago preferred to ignore, but increasingly see as a useful foil. The theory of several Biden aides and close White House allies is that the endless scrutiny will backfire and end up being seen as partisan excess.

“A lot of what they’re talking about just isn’t about Americans,” an administration official said, sticking to a mantra that has long guided the president’s message operation.

Recent political history is filled with presidents benefiting from a newly emboldened opposition party that goes too far after a midterm election. And veterans of those administrations suggest the same thing could soon happen again. Ben LaBolt, a former Barack Obama, said the Republican Party’s elevation and embrace of far-right elected figures will eventually cloud its need to course-correct after underperforming expectations earlier this month.

“That tells you something about where Republicans are going next year,” LaBolt said. The party, he claimed, is “trapped in a right-wing media echo chamber” that will make it difficult to respond to realities on the ground and execute plans that will win support broad enough to go from the front. “Certainly you need an effective rapid-response operation ready to respond to anything that comes out of a Republican-controlled house. Republicans will generate news, ultimately, however, that doesn’t mean that they are substantial and important.

So far, the White House has telegraphed that it plans to use a mixture of stark contrasts and outright disdain when it comes to GOP attacks. When Biden was recently asked about House Republican’s investigations into his family — specifically his son, Hunter’s business dealings — he quoted a former coach: ‘Much luck in your senior year,’ the president said. .

“I think the American people will look at all of this for what it is,” Biden added after mentioning possible attempts by the GOP to impeach him for unspecified reasons. “It’s almost comedy. …Look, I can’t control what they’re going to do.

Biden also shrugged last week when, while abroad at the G-20, he and French President Emmanuel Macron were asked if they had reacted to Trump’s announcement. . The two leaders seemed to be smiling. “Not really,” Biden told reporters.

At the same time, the White House plans to draw political contrasts with Republicans to portray them as unwilling to tackle issues like inflation and being filibusters for the sake of obstruction. Biden will pledge to work constructively with those on either side who act in kind.

“The president has always emphasized that he is eager to find common ground and work across the aisle. He also always said, “don’t compare me to the Almighty – compare me to the alternative,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a written response. “And he has always promised to oppose sweeping policies that hurt middle-class families and run counter to mainstream values, like tax giveaways to the rich that make inflation worse, the privatization of health insurance disease or the prohibition of abortion.”

While Biden has devoted considerable periods of his presidency to appealing to Republicans on policies such as infrastructure spending and a modest gun control package, he has crafted a midterm pitch around what he considered Republican proposals that would repel the public the most. The result was a pushback against the Republican Sens. Rick Scott from Florida and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin for trying to cut Social Security and Medicare.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), also came under fire from the White House after signing off on the party’s budget plan suggesting reforms to social programs.

Biden is not the first president to have had to shift his priorities to a more defensive plan after his first midterm elections. Yet this situation is unique in one respect: While the president has repeatedly emphasized that he intends to run for office, Trump is already a candidate and a wide array of young Republican spoilers are plotting their own challenges.

Outside the White House, Democratic operatives, in close coordination with the president’s team, are writing research binders on potential 2024 adversaries and beginning to plan acquisitions of high-profile personnel. And as the GOP cattle calls begin in earnest, including an event over the weekend in Nevada, Democrats are poised to watch and attack GOP contenders as they swing in various states.

Asked about former President Trump’s approach, a person close to the White House pointed to the quick reply style videos released by Biden designed to undermine Trump’s tenure and bolster his own. The videos examined Biden’s efforts to pass sweeping infrastructure legislation versus Trump’s dissatisfied efforts; as well as Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election.

For now, the two men’s fortunes still seem linked even though their rankings seem to be going in opposite directions. While more Republicans still want Trump to run than Democrats do for Biden, the number of Democrats who think Biden could win has risen by double digits, from 60% in August to 71%, according to the new poll. USA TODAY / Ipsos. Trump’s number among Republicans has fallen to 75% from 82% before the midterm elections.




Politico

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