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Biden steers clear of election battlegrounds with week to go before midterms

President Biden has avoided campaigning in several key states with just eight days to go before the Nov. 8 midterm elections, confining his appearances to normally safe blue states like California and New York — or his home turf of Pennsylvania.

Since Sept. 1, Biden has visited just six of the 14 states with the most competitive Senate and gubernatorial races as rated by the non-partisan Cook Political Report, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal.

Notably, the president has not campaigned in Arizona, Nevada, or Georgia — all states he won in 2020 that are playing host to races that could swing the balance of power in the Senate.

Since Sept. 1, Biden has visited 14 states and has held 17 fundraisers, according to the Journal — a less full schedule than either of his predecessors.

Biden promoted his infrastructure agenda at an event in Pittsburgh earlier this month with John Fetterman.

Over the same period in 2010, former President Barack Obama visited 20 states and held 28 fundraisers. In 2018, former President Donald Trump visited 25 states and held 18 fundraisers. 

Biden’s limited travel has included multiple trips to New York and a swing through left-leaning California and Oregon, but only one visit to Michigan and Wisconsin. His final rally before Election Day will be held in Maryland, where Democrats are heavily favored to regain the governor’s mansion after eight years.  

Democrats have publicly played down Biden’s relatively light schedule — he spent the penultimate weekend before the midterms at his Delaware home, emerging only to accompany his granddaughter, Natalie to the polls — but for different reasons.

“He’s on the road and he’s raising a boatload of money for Democratic candidates,” Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, told the Wall Street Journal. 

However, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), told CBS News earlier this month that he wasn’t interested in Biden’s assistance in his close Senate race against Republican J.D. Vance.

“I won’t be asking the president to come in — or very, very few, if any, national people to come in and actually campaign with us,” Ryan said, “because I want to be the main face, the main messenger of that of this campaign.”

Ryan also distanced himself from the president in interviews when Biden visited the Buckeye State in early September for the groundbreaking of a semiconductor facility.

Donald Trump holding a hat.
Trump visited 25 states and held 18 fundraisers leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.

The lone exception to Biden’s avoidance of battlegrounds has been Pennsylvania, where the president was born and lived the first ten years of his life.

Biden visited the state twice in eight days this month to boost the candidacy of Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, whose campaign is struggling to regain momentum after a disastrous performance in an Oct. 25 debate against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The president will return to the Keystone State Nov. 5 to campaign for Fetterman alongside his former boss, Obama.

Up next for Biden this week is a campaign event in Florida on Tuesday for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and Senate candidate Val Demings, both of whom trail respective GOP incumbents Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio.

On Thursday, the president will head to New Mexico to campaign for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham — who like her fellow Democrats in Oregon and New York — is locked in a closer-than-expected race.

Barack Obama.
In 2010, Obama visited 20 states and held 28 fundraisers leading up to Election Day.

Some of the heavy lifting, it seems, will be left to Obama, who will travel to Nevada on Tuesday and campaign for Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who polls show trailing Republican Adam Laxalt in her reelection campaign.

The 44th president will then head to Arizona on Wednesday, where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs trails Republican Kari Lake by about 4 percentage points and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly leads Trump-backed Republican Blake Masters by just over 1 percentage point, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Last week, Obama attended a rally for Democrats in Georgia, where he spoke in support of Sen. Raphael Warnock and gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, both of whom trail in their respective races — Warnock by a point and a half to Republican Herschel Walker, and Abrams by 7.6 points to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R), according to RCP.

Republicans are expected at a minimum to flip the five seats necessary in order to take control of the House Representatives, and with the Senate divided 50-50, the GOP needs to only flip one seat to control the upper chamber as well.

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