For months, Joe Biden’s reelection campaign largely refrained from lashing out at Donald Trump by name. They’re now firing their first official shot.
Hours before Trump was scheduled to appear in a primetime interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity — and the same day the former president revealed a third criminal indictment is likely forthcoming — Biden’s campaign lambasted Trump for sitting for “softball townhalls.”
In a statement provided exclusively to POLITICO, it also made a nod to the forthcoming Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where the GOP next year will formally declare its nominee.
“One year from today, Republicans will be wrapping up their convention in Wisconsin, just miles away from where former President Trump promised his ‘America First’ agenda would bring 13,000 manufacturing jobs and a new Foxconn plant to the state,” said Kevin Munoz, spokesperson for the reelection campaign of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. “The former president has yet to go back to Wisconsin since announcing his campaign, nor has he provided an explanation for his failure to deliver on his promised American manufacturing boom.”
The comments represent a turning point in Biden’s reelection bid. Since announcing in April that he would seek a second term, Biden has largely refrained from attacking the Republican field of presidential hopefuls, including Trump, his former rival.
It’s an indication that the campaign views Trump as the most credible threat in the GOP primary field.
Up until now, Biden has been leaning on the Democratic National Committee to blast his GOP opponents. Biden’s more aggressive approach toward Trump could calm the worries of some Democrats who have been concerned that his campaign is too slow-paced.
After winning Wisconsin by a point in 2016, Trump narrowly lost the state to Biden in 2020. In the campaign’s statement Tuesday, Munoz was referring to a manufacturing project Trump once billed as the “eighth wonder of the world” that ultimately fizzled out when the company scaled back its plans.
A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fact that Biden’s campaign is criticizing Trump over economic issues on the day that the Republican revealed he received a target letter from the Department of Justice underscores that Biden is not changing course when it comes to staying quiet about Trump’s legal problems. Earlier this year, Biden and his aides ordered the DNC and his campaign to not touch Trump’s indictment for his handling of classified documents.
Biden has vowed to ensure that the Department of Justice is independent. But some Democrats outside of the White House have been anxious that he is leaving a potent line of attack on the table.
The broadside also signals that Biden knows that he needs to shore up his standing on the economy among voters. Only one-third of adults approve of his handling of the economy, according to a June poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Biden and his top surrogates have spent weeks touting “Bidenomics” across the country, and the president is scheduled to speak in Philadelphia on the topic later this week.
In the statement, Munoz went on to say that Biden “has succeeded where the former president couldn’t, helping create nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs that actually exist throughout the country, and strengthening our competitive edge around the world.” The campaign touted an increase in the construction of new manufacturing plants during Biden’s time in office, while attacking Trump for opposing the Inflation Reduction Act.
Biden in September took aim at the former president during a primetime speech outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, declaring that “Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very republic,” and decrying some Republicans’ false claims of a stolen election in 2020.
But since then, Biden has remained fairly quiet when it comes to his potential Republican opponents next year, even as Trump and the rest of the GOP field have relentlessly attacked him. While visiting Tampa in February, prior to either Biden or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing their 2024 campaigns, Biden criticized both DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott for calling for cuts to federal entitlement programs.
In his launch video, Biden also attacked “MAGA extremists” as seeking to take away Americans’ freedoms over images of Trump and DeSantis, but he did not mention either Republican by name.