WILMINGTON, Del. (UKTN) — If a president’s most precious commodity is time, there is no place this mid-year that is more politically valuable to the White House than Pennsylvania.
The White House has spotlighted Keystone State — Biden’s hometown — in the latest build-up to Nov. 8, with the president returning Friday for his 15th visit since taking office and officials are gearing up for another visit next week.
The open Commonwealth Senate seat has been the most likely stepping stone for Democrats in the evenly divided Senate for months, but as the outlook for Democratic incumbents elsewhere darkens, a Pennsylvania win becomes an even more urgent insurance policy for the party to hold on to. to the control of the Senate.
Biden’s final bid to keep Democratic candidate John Fetterman afloat will be at a state Democratic Party fundraising dinner where he will speak with Vice President Kamala Harris, top party officials and the leading candidates in the midterm vote in this presidential election. battlefield state .
It comes three days after Fetterman — recovering from a stroke earlier this year that he says nearly killed him — made a shaky performance in his lone debate against Republican Mehmet Oz. Biden’s performance at Friday’s dinner will be an opportunity to crush Democrats after Fetterman’s uneven performance.
Watching parts of Tuesday night’s debate, Biden “thought Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman did a great job,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in an email Friday.
The dinner, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the state party. Those in attendance include Governor Tom Wolf, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the party’s candidate for governor, and Fetterman. Also expected is US Representative Matt Cartwright, for whom Biden led a virtual fundraiser earlier this week.
In his comments, Biden will continue to sharpen his line of attack against congressional Republicans, focusing on the GOP’s “mega MAGA trickle-down plan to increase the cost of prescription drugs, lower Medicare and Social Security, and Trump’s massive tax cuts for the United States.” doubling empires.” ‘ said a Democratic official who previewed the message on condition of anonymity.
In the race for governor, Shapiro has broken state campaign spending records and led polls on Republican candidate Doug Mastriano, a far-right candidate who has alienated moderate Republicans and GOP donors.
In the Senate race, polls show a close race between Fetterman and Oz. The Democrat’s actions shocked some viewers and raised concern among party leaders. A day later, he delivered a brisk 13-minute speech in Pittsburgh as his campaign tried to downplay Tuesday’s performance, saying that Fetterman was always bad at debates and that the closed captioning system he used as a resource was faulty.
The White House reiterated this week that Biden — through his personal conversations with the lieutenant governor — believes Fetterman is physically capable of serving in public office, citing analysis by independent medical experts who said his hesitant speech is not a problem with his cognitive functions.
In the meantime, Fetterman’s campaign and national Democratic groups are turning their attention elsewhere, pumping money into TV ads with a debate clip of Oz saying, “I want women, doctors, local political leaders” to decide the fate of the nation. a woman’s right to an abortion.
The statement — which quickly spread on social media immediately after the debate — was intended to frame Oz’s opposition to a federal ban that would reduce access to abortion in Pennsylvania, even though he opposes abortion. But the Democrats say it’s proof that Oz wants politicians in doctors’ offices and examination rooms with women.
From his political account, Biden tweeted after the debate: “If Dr. Oz gets his way, where does this end? Would he recommend local officials to make decisions about cancer treatments? Colonoscopies? Or is this kind of research just for women?” Meanwhile, a Democratic group called the Senate Majority PAC will place a TV ad on Oz’s “local political leaders” commentary during Friday’s World Series opening game with the Philadelphia Phillies, one said. spokesperson. .
There are signs that Democrats’ initial nervousness could calm down immediately after the debate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., was captured with a live microphone on Thursday as he greeted Biden in New York and told the president that “it doesn’t seem like the debate hasn’t hurt us too much in Pennsylvania as of today. so that’s good.”
Biden’s approval ratings are falling in Pennsylvania at the same rate as the rest of the nation, raising the question of whether his presence is good for Democrats in a year when Republicans have political wind at their backs.
But Biden won heavily in 2020 in Philadelphia and his four suburban “collar” counties — including winning over Republican moderates — and that propelled him to victory over former President Donald Trump.
The Democratic president is likely to remain popular there.
“Boosting voters in Philadelphia and the suburbs of Philadelphia is a cornerstone for a Democratic victory in Pennsylvania in the Senate race and in the governor’s race, and quite frankly in some of these suburban races as well,” said Democratic political strategist Mark Nevins.
Even if there is some debate about whether Biden can help with the campaign trail, “the one constant is his ability to raise money. Chairmen can help with that. There’s no question that they will take the help of a president to raise money in these very costly races,” said Christopher Borick, a political science professor and pollster at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.
Biden has also treated Pennsylvania as a sort of home base.
It’s where he spent part of his childhood, it’s where he campaigned countless times for himself and other Democrats, and it’s where the Democrats called him “the third senator from Pennsylvania” during his 36 years in the Senate from next door in Delaware.
Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.