President Joe Biden on Wednesday blamed this week’s Democratic election losses not on his or their agendas but rather on conservative voters loyal to and supportive of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Biden listed a number of other reasons for the losses, from Trump to “very conservative folks who turned out” to vote as well as Americans who are “upset and uncertain” about inflation and COVID-19 — but not displeasure with his party and his own political objectives, doubling down on his call for Democrats to use their slim majorities in both chambers of Congress to rapidly pass what is now a $1.75 trillion social and climate spending bill.
The president’s comments came after Republican Glenn Youngkin, in his first foray into politics, upset Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe to win the governor’s race in Virginia, where Republicans also captured the offices of lieutenant governor and attorney general. McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor himself, lost despite campaign assistance from Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama, and Georgia voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams.
And though the race has been called for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in New Jersey, that race, too, was unexpectedly close, with Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former member of the New Jersey Assembly, losing by less than 1 percent after actually leading by a substantial margin in the hours after polls closed.
Biden handily won both states — 10 points in Virginia and nearly 16 points in New Jersey — last November.
“People are upset and uncertain about a lot of things, from COVID to school to jobs to a whole range of things and the cost of a gallon of gasoline,” Biden told a press gaggle later on Wednesday. “And so if I’m able to pass and sign into the law my Build Back Better initiative, I’m in a position where you’re going to see a lot of those things ameliorated quickly and swiftly.”
But Republicans and centrist Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia did not draw the same conclusions, taking Tuesday’s sweeping victories where the GOP even made inroads in blue New York State, as a sign that the far-left spending and legislative priorities favored by Biden are not shared by a majority of Americans. To the issue of inflation specifically, Republicans and centrist Democrats are opposed to rushing through new massive spending bills which they say would only worsen inflation.
Also, Republicans say that Tuesday’s wins are also a referendum on Biden’s personal popularity, which has been sinking fast to new lows in recent weeks.
Still, the president nevertheless pushed his party to pass the reconciliation bill along with a $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure, the latter of which actually has bipartisan support.
“I do know that people want us to get things done. They want us to get things done. And that’s why I’m continuing to push very hard for the Democratic Party to move along and pass my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better bill,” he said.
Biden continued to harken back to Trump, who never traveled to New Jersey or Virginia to campaign for either GOP candidate, though he did endorse Youngkin.
“I’m not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out in red districts who are Trump voters,” Biden said of the Democrats’ losses in Virginia.
Both he and McAuliffe attempted to tie Youngkin to Trump throughout the latter’s campaign. During a 17-minute speech last week in northern Virginia, Biden mentioned Trump two dozen times; following Tuesday’s results, Trump said that Democrats’ focus on him cost them victories.
He’s not alone. In a scathing statement after McAuliffe conceded to Youngkin Wednesday, a coalition of far-left groups also blasted the former Democratic governor for honing in on Trump rather than focusing on promoting issues.
At one point, Biden was asked if the focus on Trump was too much in which he responded, “the reason I mentioned Trump… is because the issues he supports are affecting their lives every day and they are a negative impact on their lives.”
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