Biden sets out on campaign trail with new hopes and old promises

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President Joe Biden stands with first lady Jill Biden during a political rally at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Saturday, June 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Biden sets out on campaign trail with new hopes and old promises

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President Joe Biden officially kicked off his 2024 campaign on Saturday, nearly two months after announcing his reelection bid, addressing supporters at a union rally in Philadelphia, on the heels of key endorsements from several workers’ unions.

During his 25-minute speech, Biden sought to underscore his administration’s accomplishments over the last two years, hoping to paint himself as the best candidate to continue leading the country in 2024. The speech was reminiscent of his 2020 presidential run as Biden reiterated several of his past campaign promises — specifically, how he’s followed through with old pledges and how he plans to continue doing so.

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“I’ve been at this a long time. I can honestly say I have never been more optimistic about America’s future,” Biden told the crowd. “I know for a lot of people, it’s hard to believe, but not for me. Because I know the people of this country. We just have to remember who we are.”

Here are three takeaways from Biden’s first political rally as a 2024 candidate:

Biden touts pro-union stance 

The political rally at the Philadelphia Convention Center was filled with union members from a slew of different groups that offered Biden their support ahead of his speech on Saturday, including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The endorsement from AFL-CIO is especially notable as it marks the earliest the group has ever thrown its support behind a presidential candidate in an election.

President Biden lauded himself as being pro-union, calling himself the “most pro-union president in history” — a promise he repeatedly made on the 2020 campaign trail. The president has built much of his political career on organized labor, which became a crucial stance in the last election that helped propel him to victory.

Much of the legislation Biden has signed into law, focused on infrastructure and climate policies, including major incentives for companies with unionized workers — something Biden has pointed to throughout his administration. Biden also touted the passage of the Butch Lewis Act, which was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, allowing the Treasury to financially assist failing pension plans.

“That was a big deal. I committed to you, and we worked together,” Biden said. “You got that passed for me, and it is one of the most significant achievements to union workers and retirees in over 50 years. And that’s a God-natural fact. But not a single Republican in Congress voted for it.”

Biden vows to rebuild the middle class

One of Biden’s most central campaign promises during the 2020 election was his pledge to rebuild the middle class by making the wealthy “pay their fair share” without raising taxes for anyone making less than $400,000. Those talking points were back in the spotlight on Saturday as Biden touted his key legislative wins to support the middle class.

“It was time to end the trickle-down economics theory. You know, the wealthy do well [means] we all do well. Forty years of handing out excessive tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations had been a bust. Democrats, as well as Republicans, did it,” Biden said. “We decided to replace it with this theory of what the press is now calling ‘Bidenomics.’ I don’t know what the hell that is, but it’s working.”

“It’s about building an economy, literally not figuratively, from the bottom up in the middle out, not the top down,” he added, referring to a common catchphrase the president has often used to describe his economic plan. “Because when the middle class does well, everybody does well.”

Biden again pointed to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion economic package passed shortly after he took office, to address the economic strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation acted as one of Biden’s first legislative accomplishments, following through with several promises he made on the 2020 trail.

Biden also lauded other pieces of legislation passed during his administration, such as his Inflation Reduction Act, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS, and Science Act.

Biden hammers home on infrastructure

One of Biden’s earliest accomplishments of his administration was the passage of his Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, following through with one of his major campaign pledges to provide funding for infrastructure projects and public works that presidents before him couldn’t pass.

The infrastructure bill has already been used to announce tens of thousands of projects across the country to help repair and install roads, bridges, railways, broadband internet, and electric car charging stations.

“We can’t have the strongest economy in the world without the best infrastructure,” Biden said. “How the hell can you grow an economy without infrastructure? [That’s] not a joke. Under my predecessor, Infrastructure Week became a punch line. On my watch, we’re making infrastructure a decade headline.”

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Biden’s comments come just days after a stretch of I-95 in Philadelphia collapsed last weekend, closing the road off to East Coast traffic. The president visited the site of the collapse before his rally speech, vowing to invest in rebuilding it as quickly as possible.

“If I need any reminder about how important infrastructure is in the country, I got a reminder just a few days ago right here in Philly. I visited the damaged section of I-95,” Biden said. “I’ve instructed my team to move heaven and earth to get it done. Thanks to some smart thinking and some innovative design, and using materials right here in Pennsylvania, we’re gonna get it done in record time. Because it’s so important to the economy, not only in Philly, but the entire northeast corner and every community.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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