Dems citing ‘scheduling conflicts’ when unpopular Biden visits their states

The number of Democrats running away from President Biden is turning into a stampede.

With inflation at a 41-year high and the economy teetering on recession, Mr. Biden is likely to encounter this fall more of what happened when he visited Ohio in mid-July: Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for Senate, didn’t appear with him.

Mr. Ryan said he had a scheduling conflict and wanted to spend time instead with “normal Ohioans.”

In Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock is distancing himself from the president in his bid for a full term against Republican rival Herschel Walker, whose campaign is criticizing the “Biden-Warnock agenda.”

“This is still a national race,” said Gail Gitcho, a senior adviser to Mr. Walker. “The burden is on Raphael Warnock and the extremely close ties he has to Joe Biden in this environment. Herschel has put him on the defensive.”

Mr. Warnock has bemoaned “demagogues trying to divide us.”

“I’m focused on the job I’m doing,” Mr. Warnock said when asked about Mr. Biden’s performance. “When that means standing with this person or that person, it’s based on what it does for Georgia.”

In Oregon, Democratic House candidate Andrea Salinas recently told supporters that Mr. Biden’s plummeting job-approval rating is making her race more difficult in a district that has been rated as 54% Democratic. She said House Democratic campaign officials told her that “because of our president’s sliding ratings right now, we should handicap ourselves about 3%.”

“So, this district really is closer to 51%,” Ms. Salinas said in a video obtained by Fox News Digital.

Rep. Kim Schrier, Washington Democrat, boasted in a campaign ad this summer that she was “taking on the Biden administration” over a gas-tax holiday. She faces Republican opponents in an all-party primary Tuesday in the suburban Seattle district.

The Senate campaign of Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman didn’t respond when asked if he has any plans to appear on the same stage with Mr. Biden this fall.

Republicans say that Mr. Biden, with an approval rating in the 30s, won’t be in demand on the campaign trail this fall. But they said his absence won’t change the disadvantage that Democratic candidates face with voters, given the anxiety over the economy.

“Democrats are tied at the hip with Biden, as they enabled him to turn a recovery into a recession,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn. “Americans know that Democrats rubber-stamped Biden’s $1.9 trillion boondoggle [in COVID relief], and dodging Biden on the trail will not change that.”

The president’s party normally takes a beating in the midterm elections, and the economic downturn is only compounding Mr. Biden’s dilemma.

Republicans say the autumn campaign will mirror midterms in 1994, when President Bill Clinton was shunned in swing districts after the failure of the so-called “Hillarycare” health care plan, and in 2010, when the passage of Obamacare led to stormy town-hall meetings in congressional districts and the rise of the tea party.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Mr. Biden is “excited” to meet with voters again soon after recovering from COVID-19, but she offered no timetable for new presidential events in different states.

The president was forced to cancel a trip to Michigan on Tuesday after testing positive for a second time.

Democrats say the president has provided their candidates with a strong platform for the fall campaign.

“Thanks to President Biden, House Democrats delivered funding for new roads and bridges in their communities, we’re bringing CHIPS manufacturing home to boost our national security, and we’re defending freedom and justice for the American people,” said Chris Taylor, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “MAGA Republicans are dead set on making Americans sicker by ending Medicare in five years, poorer by raising taxes on working people, and less free with a nationwide abortion ban that rips women of their freedom to make decisions about their own reproductive health.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre pointed to Senate Democrats’ $433 billion climate and energy package, headed for approval this week, as another boost for Democrats. The White House contends it will lower families’ costs on utility bills, prescription drugs and other bills.

“We have a plan to fight inflation,” she said. “We are ready to help middle-class families. Republicans are opposing that. This is our chance to really start to lower inflation.”

Weighing on Democrats’ midterm calculations, however, are the party’s worries about Mr. Biden running for reelection in 2024. Polls show that the majority of Democrats don’t want the president to seek a second term.

Increasingly, congressional Democrats are dodging the question of whether they will support Mr. Biden for reelection. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who helped to revive Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda last week, won’t commit to supporting him in 2024.

“If Joe Biden runs again and he is the Democratic nominee, depending on who the Republican nominee is, we will just have to wait and see,” Mr. Manchin told former CNN host Chris Cuomo in a podcast.

A poll in New Hampshire last week found that Mr. Biden was narrowly trailing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg among the state’s Democrats as the preferred presidential candidate in 2024. Mr. Buttigieg received 17% support, while Mr. Biden received 16% in the University of New Hampshire survey.

The poll found that 74% of Democrats in the early-primary state don’t want Mr. Biden.

Ms. Jean-Pierre shrugged off such surveys.

“The president intends to run in 2024,” she said. “We are a long ways away from that. We’re going to continue to deliver the best way we can.”

Republicans intend to keep hammering away on inflation and the economic downturn under Mr. Biden in swing districts and key Senate races.

The conservative Club for Growth launched a TV ad last week on “the Biden recession” that will run in three states with competitive Senate races — Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina.

“Since taking office, the Biden administration has laughed at the very real concerns facing our economy by downplaying the hardships American families are experiencing and by shifting blame and overtly lying,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh. “Make no mistake, America is now in Biden’s recession regardless of what the administration tries to say.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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