When former President Donald Trump was last indicted, his successor left the White House the next day, intending to get on with his schedule without intervening on the issue.
With Trump being indicted for the second time, President Joe Biden is planning to do the same. A deliberate display of calm and normality in the midst of the chaos of his predecessor.
As I leave the White House to visit the North Carolina site, I will likely be asked about the indictment all day long. But there is little to suggest that he considers the nature of the case.
That’s because he and his aides believe that doing so will only add extra weight to Trump’s claim that he is the victim of a political “witch hunt.” People familiar with Biden’s thinking said Mr. Biden didn’t want Mr. Trump to steer him into making his case. And he remains firm in his belief that a sitting president should not comment on legal issues.
Those dynamics were already at work when Mr. Trump was indicted in New York, and have been amplified when the former president was handed federal indictments by Mr. Biden’s Justice Department. Biden and his team know the situation has to be handled with caution.
“As you can see, I never suggested to the Justice Department what they should or shouldn’t do with regard to prosecution or non-prosecution. I’m being honest.” Biden said at a press conference on Thursday.
The White House on Friday remained silent on Trump’s indictment and again declined to comment to emphasize the independence of the Justice Department’s operations. The White House said he first learned of the former president’s indictment from media reports Thursday night, as well as other Justice Department actions related to Trump. A senior White House official told CNN that senior officials shared the reports with Biden when they came to light.
Neither the political team involved in the president’s re-election campaign nor the Democratic National Committee commented on the matter.
Mr. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will travel to North Carolina on Friday to promote his job training agenda and sign an executive order to help military spouses stay in the workforce. Official visits are the kind of activity Mr. Biden has planned a lot for next year to sell his achievements to skeptical voters.
Aides know that Biden’s dutiful trips to and from community colleges, union halls and construction sites are unlikely to generate the same level of headlines as Trump’s legal dangers. ing.
But Mr. Biden probably wants less of an accomplishment per se than an air of competence and authority to contrast the turmoil that has plagued Mr. Trump for years. The comparison couldn’t be more grim this week.
Friday’s visit has one additional goal. That is to launch an effort to reverse states that have been Republican in the last three presidential elections.
During Mr. Biden’s final visit to North Carolina, Rep. Wiley Nickel was bullish about the state’s political potential while on Air Force One en route to Durham.
“I have spoken to him about it many times. It’s been going on,” Democrats told CNN this week.
The pitch may have worked. The visit is one of Biden’s first trips outside Washington to pitch his own policies since announcing his re-election candidacy in April.
He’s not the only prospect in the state for 2024. Two hours drive west, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is scheduled to speak at the North Carolina Republican convention in Greensboro. Former Vice President Mike Pence and Trump are also scheduled to speak at the weekend rally.
It is no coincidence that the candidates came together in Tarheel province. After a narrow 2020 loss to Trump in the state, the Biden campaign said in a strategy memo this spring that the state was one of its top targets as it sought to expand the electoral map next year.
For the Republican side, North Carolina’s 16 electoral votes will be essential to his return to the White House. The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won was Barack Obama in 2008.
But the 1.3% gap Trump won in 2020 is the smallest of any state, and at least in Biden’s mind, it shows that 2024 is well within reach. The state’s demographic is becoming more urban and diverse. The Biden campaign has already bought TV advertising time there.
Biden’s stop on Friday is not campaign-related and is considered official business. But they reflect his team’s strategy of working to promote his achievements in next year’s election.
He plans to visit a community college in Rocky Mount to promote a job training program before heading to Fort Liberty (recently renamed Fort Bragg, stripped of the Confederate General’s name) to ask military spouses to stay on the job. I plan to sign an executive order to help.
“We are asking government agencies to make it easier for federally employed spouses to take time off, telework, and relocate offices. We are creating resources to support entrepreneurs. and this executive order will help government agencies and companies retain military spouses through telework and overseas relocation,” First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who is with her husband in North Carolina, said Friday.
Both areas will focus on the types of topics the president plans to use as a basis for his re-election debate next year, with a focus on job creation and the middle class. Mr. Biden has focused on vocational training for college graduates as part of his efforts to revive American manufacturing.
But despite a strong job market and rising wages, polls show Mr. Biden is having trouble convincing the American public of his economic policies. The three Republican candidates addressing Greensboro this weekend will undoubtedly hurt the president on issues such as inflation.
Events like Friday’s stops at Rocky Mount and Fort Liberty are meant to explain to the American public what Biden has been up to, and he’ll pursue that approach next year as the Republican Party heads into the primary. expected to continue.
Nash Community College, which the president is visiting, is part of a historic coalition of black colleges that has received about $24 million from Biden’s American Rescue Plan for training on careers in clean energy, according to the White House. Department.
The executive order, which he later plans to sign at Fort Liberty, is intended to give employers more flexibility so military spouses can remain in the workforce. The issue has become a major topic of discussion for the First Lady.
It wasn’t clear if Biden would mention the base name change, which became official last week. Many Republicans opposed stripping the Confederate general’s name from the bases that began under the Biden administration. President Trump likened the move to erasing American history.
Mr. Biden’s aides acknowledge that pitching the president’s policies is unlikely to be enough to win him re-election. They have also sought to highlight extreme Republican positions on issues such as education and abortion.
Again, North Carolina is the backdrop for what the Democrats think is in the lead. North Carolina Republicans last month used a supermajority in Congress to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto and pass a restrictive new law outlawing most abortions after 12 weeks.
The Biden campaign already has plans to focus on the ban as it seeks to expand into the state.
Nickel said Republican abortion policies were the reason he was elected last year.
“We were pretty much focused on just two things: rejecting far-right extremism and defending women’s right to choose. is,” he said.
Nickel gave Biden, who will be carefully managing his time as a candidate to face still serious headwinds, advice on how to win in North Carolina. “I think he needs to make a lot of appearances.”