Biden looks content to let GOP and Trump hog the headlines

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on clean energy at Tioga Marine Terminal, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci/AP

Biden looks content to let GOP and Trump hog the headlines

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President Joe Biden isn’t dominating the headlines, and he may like it that way.

Biden is in the midst of a multistate tour to talk “Bidenomics,” union jobs, and infrastructure, with a date last Friday in Philadelphia and one scheduled for Monday in Colorado that was postponed. But it seems that few are paying attention.


“I’m here to announce one of the largest advanced manufacturing investments in the history of this nation,” Biden said in Philadelphia. “$7 billion in federal investments that’s going to attract $40 billion in private investment in clean hydrogen to power our economy.”

Maybe so, but that announcement is not powering the news cycle, which is dominated by GOP disorder in the House of Representatives, the latest antics of former President Donald Trump, and the tragedy of wars in Ukraine and Israel.

It isn’t new territory for Biden.

Republicans derided him as “basement Biden” and “hidin’ Biden” for a low-key 2020 presidential campaign only to see him unseat Trump from the White House. Two years later, Biden largely ceded the spotlight in the midterm elections, and his party outperformed expectations as a result. He may be looking to repeat the tactic this time around.

“It’s definitely a great strategy to let the American people see the truth,” said Sasha Tirador, a Democratic strategist based in South Florida. “The government is about to fail, and the Republican Party is going to be responsible for it.”

Biden’s Philadelphia appearance included a 23-minute speech, which was largely overshadowed by a pair of stumbles he took ascending the stairs.

Yet that may still look positive in the face of a House of Representatives that still has no speaker and a Republican opponent who most recently made comments seen as criticizing Israel and praising Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Biden is still fundraising at a healthy clip, finishing the third quarter of 2023 with more cash on hand than the entire 2024 GOP field combined.

Biden did do one of his relatively rare interviews last week, this time coming with longtime CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley. That spot included some of the same types of comments Biden frequently made on the midterm campaign trail.

“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” Biden told Pelley. “Thirty percent of it is made up of these MAGA Republicans who are maybe — Democracy is something they don’t look at the same way you and I look at Democracy.”

He reiterated in the same interview that he wants to run for reelection.

It came amid a fairly light week for Biden, in which he was criticized for hosting a barbecue and calling an early lid amid the Hamas terrorist attacks. Biden spent four hours at his Wilmington home on Friday before returning to Washington, and the White House never said why. He met with his national security team on Monday and made phone calls to the leaders of Germany and Egypt but made no public appearances, and there was no press briefing.

Not everyone agrees that Biden’s relative silence is a deliberate strategy. Republican strategist John Feehery argues that he simply isn’t interesting.

“Biden is boring. He has no energy,” Feehery said. “It will hurt him and is already hurting him. I don’t think he is ceding the ground to Trump. I think it is a natural result of Biden being uninspiring. And that won’t help him in the next election.”

The president’s sagging poll numbers are well established at this point, hovering mostly in the low 40s for more than two years. What Democrats can still point to, especially amid the speaker saga, is Biden’s status as a symbol of stability.


When Biden finally gave a speech about the Hamas attacks, he gave an unequivocal statement back to Israel. He reportedly weighing a visit to the country as well to reiterate his support and the support of the United States.

“This is a moment for the United States to come together, to grieve with those who are mourning,” Biden said last Tuesday. “Let’s be real clear. There is no place for hate in America. Not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against anybody. What we reject is terrorism. We condemn the indiscriminate evil as we’ve always done. That’s what America stands for.”

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