by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Despite earlier promises to be a major presence on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden has been notable for his absence at political rallies as the 2022 midterm elections hit the final stretch.
Biden has been focused on Hurricane Ian for the last week but wasn’t doing much in the way of campaigning beforehand. He hasn’t appeared with Georgia gubernatorial and Senate candidates Stacey Abrams or Raphael Warnock, and Florida Senate hopeful Val Demings was set to skip a Florida stop that Biden rescheduled due to the storm.
The president has said throughout 2022 that he wants to be out and about more, feeling that he’s at his best interacting directly with voters around the country. But his campaign activity remains modest.
“Are we going to see him actually, as we approach the midterms, stumping for individual candidates?” a reporter asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Aug. 29. “Are we going to see more big rallies?”
Jean-Pierre’s response focused mainly on policies that Democrats are messaging around rather than who would be stumping for them.
“We had a string of successful legislative pieces just a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “In the coming weeks, the president will host a Cabinet meeting here, host an Inflation Reduction Act celebration even at the White House, and will travel across the country to highlight how the act will save money.”
Biden makes frequent policy-focused stops, as Jean-Pierre said, and a few of them have included candidates. Senate candidate Tim Ryan (D-OH) stopped by a groundbreaking ceremony in his home state intended to showcase the CHIPS and Science Act, for example. Some candidates have elected to split the difference, with fellow Senate candidate John Fetterman (D-PA) skipping a Biden speech about gun control, only to appear with him the next week, with qualifiers.