Biden’s late push through the West aims to provide votes for Dems

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — President Joe Biden entered the phone bank in a crowded union hall and began busily making calls and eating donuts — one frosted, one glazed — while trying every page in the political script to deliver votes for Democrats.

“What a governor does matters,” Biden said in an encouraging conversation with volunteers who called out for gubernatorial hope Tina Kotek and other candidates on Friday night. “It matters! It matters, it matters, it matters!”

Before leaving Portland on Saturday, the president planned to attend a reception for Kotek and deliver a speech about his administration’s efforts to cut costs for Americans.

It was the final stop of a four-day sweep through Oregon, California and Colorado that embodied Biden’s strategy for turnout on Election Day, November 8: tightening government levers to empower candidates, promoting an empowering agenda uncertain economy and bring in campaign money.

And this: show up for candidates when Biden can be helpful, avoid places where a visit by a president with approval ratings below 50% isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Throughout the trip, Biden had to fight for the limelight and grapple with a troubling new inflation report and soaring gas prices.

In Oregon, Democratic officials are hoping Biden can help cement party support behind Kotek. The party is in danger of losing the governor’s race in the traditional Democratic stronghold as Betsy Johnson – who has left both the Democratic and Republican parties – has been running a well-funded race against Kotek and GOP nominee Christine Drazan.

Settings throughout the President’s trip were tailored to him.

In Los Angeles on Thursday, he spoke about his massive infrastructure bill at a construction site for an extension of the city’s subway line. Huge cranes rose behind him as he faced bulldozers and excavators. Many of them were laborers with construction orange hard hats.

The stop combined many of the wins of Biden’s agenda: investing in infrastructure, creating jobs, fighting climate change by boosting mass transit.

“When you see these projects in your neighborhood — cranes going up, shovels in the ground, lives changing — I want you to feel like I do: pride,” Biden said. “Proud of what we can achieve together. That’s what I mean when I say we’re building a better America.”

But his comments came as the government reported that excluding volatile food and energy costs, consumer prices rose 6.6% year on year in September – the fastest such pace in four decades. Biden acknowledged that people are “pressed by the cost of living. This has been true for years and people don’t need a report to tell them they’re being crushed.”

Democratic candidates were much more likely to appear with Biden at official White House events to underscore their accomplishments than at open campaign events. In California, Biden joined state legislators and the city’s mayor, and he called them individually. Rep. Karen Bass, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, stopped by a taco shop with Biden.

Biden raised $5 million at a fundraiser in TV producer Marcy Carsey’s Brentwood backyard. Guests included fashion designer Tom Ford and actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner.

In Colorado, the President, with a group of Democrats at his side, erected his administration’s first national monument at Camp Hale, a World War II-era training ground. His audience in a ravine with stunning views, towering pines and bright yellow aspens included Senator Michael Bennet, who is facing a tough re-election campaign and had worked on the new monument. Democrats hope the term, popular in the state, will boost Bennet’s number.

Early voting is underway in California and will begin next week in Oregon and Colorado. The president has notably stayed away from states where his presence could harm Democrats, so far skipping Nevada and Arizona, where Democratic senators are hard races.

Democrats are trying to stay in power amid widespread economic uncertainty and traditional medium-term headwinds against the party in power. Republicans, aiming to win back the House and Senate, believe they can take advantage of gas prices, inflation and the economy.

During his taco stop, Biden’s chicken quesadilla order was $16.45, but he gave the clerk $60 and asked him to use the change to pay the next customer’s bill.

It was the kind of personal connection that Biden loves. But as the moment unfolded, headlines in Los Angeles focused on a bitter city council clash over racist remarks, while in Washington it was how the House of Representatives voted to indict former President Donald Trump for his role in the March 6 riot. to subpoena January.

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For full coverage of the midterms, follow AP at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics

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