Biden highlighted recent economic achievements that are central to his argument for four more years in the White House.
“Just remember. Remember what it was like when I took office, we took office. Remember the mess we inherited,” Biden told supporters in Philadelphia.
“And now look at where we are today,” he added. To an audience that repeatedly chanted “four more years,” the president highlighted several accomplishments, including the bipartisan infrastructure law, the coronavirus relief package, the bipartisan semiconductor chip law, and the recently negotiated debt ceiling deal that helped prevent US bankruptcy.
Biden also criticized recent Republican tax proposals as he outlined what he called his vision for the American economy for the middle class, referring to it several times as “Biden-omics.”
Biden only briefly mentioned Donald Trump, the current front-runner in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, without mentioning the recent federal indictment against the former president, but did touch on the topic of infrastructure.
“Under my predecessor, infrastructure week became a joke. Under my leadership, we made infrastructure the theme of the decade,” Biden said. First Lady Jill Biden, who spoke shortly before her husband, underscored the president’s optimism. On the occasion of their 46th wedding anniversary, the first lady recalled how she met Biden after the deaths of his first wife and young daughter in a tragic car accident that also injured his two sons.
“What I love about Joe is that even though he has faced unimaginable tragedies, his optimism is unwavering,” said Jill Biden.
“He’s ready to get the job done. He’s ready to win, and with your help, he’s going to do it,” she added. Although his economic victories were a central theme of Biden’s campaign kick-off event, polls show many voters give him low ratings on dealing with the economy, especially after prices rose after the pandemic However, recent data showed inflation easing and fears of an impending recession have subsided.
Biden said more Americans will appreciate him for his economic stewardship as the benefits of some of his signature legislative changes, including a new infrastructure law, begin to be felt. Among the labor groups that endorsed Biden ahead of his speech was the AFL-CIO, which said it was the earliest point in the presidential election cycle it had endorsed a candidate.
“There is no doubt that Joe Biden is the most pro-union president in our lifetime,” said union president Liz Shuler. “From bringing manufacturing jobs back to America to protecting our pensions and historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, and education, we’ve never seen a president working so tirelessly to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and from the middle out,” she added.
Biden, who made his first stop since announcing his re-election bid at a legislative conference of the North American Construction Unions in Washington, D.C., has long relied on union support for his political ambitions.
“I’m more honored to have your support than you can imagine — coming this early, it’s going to make a gigantic difference in this campaign,” Biden said at the event in Philadelphia, during which he called himself “the most unionist president in American history”.
Not all unions supported Biden’s re-election bid. Last month, the influential United Auto Workers – UAW said it was refraining from endorsing Biden, citing concerns about his policies that would encourage the shift to electric vehicles. The UAW has more than 400,000 members, and Biden has touted its support in the past. Last year, he called American auto workers “the most skilled auto workers in the world.”
The group’s members are mostly concentrated in Michigan, which is a presidential battleground. Last year, Biden also angered union members when he signed legislation that prevented a nationwide rail strike, a step he said was necessary to prevent the shutdown of critical freight.
Biden’s campaign has built on his economic record, releasing a 60-second ad last month titled “Backbone.” The spot is populist in tone, combining audio of the president talking about “investing in places and people that have been forgotten” and a narrator listing the administration’s work to boost infrastructure and manufacturing in the country.