by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden advised his former boss to take a “victory lap” after then-President Barack Obama signed a 2009 law aimed at resuscitating the country’s economy amid the Great Recession.
But Biden’s own sales tour touting his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending bill has been muted by his lackluster stage presence, the House approving the measure when the electorate is distracted by the holiday season, and his limited media interviews, particularly with local press.
The White House had hyped Biden’s sales pitch, in part to appease Democrats concerned about public perception of the president and the party before next year’s midterm elections. The plan was to include public and private events around the country paired with an extensive media strategy, such as local press appearances.
The White House has insisted the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 variant will not derail Biden’s travel itinerary yet. But while he has visited Maryland, Michigan, and New Hampshire since the Nov. 6 passage of the infrastructure deal, he has only spoken to a Cincinnati TV station in Ohio in addition to a delayed bill signing ceremony and sporadic answers to mostly shouted reporter questions. Former President Donald Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points last year.
“I would very much like that to happen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this week. “We are always competing with time on the schedule — I’m going to be honest. His schedule has been quite packed. But he would like to do it. We’re working to get it on the schedule.”
Local media is another way the White House can connect with voters when Biden’s job approval numbers are low and his aides repeatedly find themselves at odds with more critical national outlets.