Three years after the insurrection at the Capitol, the time around Jan. 6 this year will also serve as the launching pad to the start of the 2024 election cycle, with both parties’ top candidates pointing to the events of that day as the reason they should be given the job a second time.
Protecting democracy has been a central theme for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, contrasting messages with former President Trump, who will be campaigning in Iowa that same day.
“The threat Donald Trump posed in 2020 to American democracy has only grown more dire in the years since,” Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Manager Julie Chaves Rodriguez said in a phone call with reporters on Tuesday.
“The choice for voters next year will not simply be between competing philosophies of governing. The choice for the American people in November 2024 will be about protecting our democracy and every American’s fundamental freedoms,” she added.
The president hopes to fashion himself as a commander in the fight for democracy by kicking off his campaign for the year with events near Valley Forge, the same spot where Gen. George Washington organized colonial militias into a coalition to win the Revolutionary War.
“There the President will make the case directly that democracy and freedom, two powerful ideas that united the 13 colonies and that generations throughout our nation’s history have fought and died for a stone’s throw from where he’ll be Friday, remains central to the fight we’re in today,” Principal Deputy Campaign Manager Quentin Fulks said on a press call.
President Biden’s speech was originally scheduled for Saturday, but moved up one day to Friday due to a potential storm.
President Biden’s campaign speech in Pennsylvania was slated the same day former President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold two events in Iowa, as the former president faces charges for his role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election and appeals decisions from Colorado and Maine that bar him from the 2024 ballot for his role in the events of Jan. 6.
“These are not just indictments against Donald Trump. They are indictments against millions of freedom-loving, hardworking Americans across this country,” Trump campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a memo, adding “Joe Biden and his allies are a real and compelling threat to our Democracy. In fact, in a way never seen before in our history, they are waging a war against it.”
The competing speeches set up a split-screen moment for voters between the candidates, after the Biden team has spent months offering more pointed critiques of Trump in private campaign fundraisers.
Just days later, Biden will travel to South Carolina for the fourth time to speak at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, after Vice President Kamala Harris visits the state on Saturday and later this month kicks off a tour on reproductive rights.
“Whether it is White supremacists descending on the historic American city of Charlottesville, the assault on our nation’s capitol on Jan. 6, or White supremacists murdering churchgoers at Mother Emanuel nearly nine years ago, America is worried about the rise in political violence and determined to stand against it,” said Fulks.
As the campaign courts Black voters, in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll 63% of Black respondents said they would vote for Biden over Trump or a third party candidate, less than the percentage that supported him in his 2020 win, while more Hispanic respondents said they would vote for Trump.
When pressed on concerns over waning support among Black voters on a media call, the campaign said the trips aren’t from a place of worry, but “practicing what we preach.”
“The President prioritized putting South Carolina first in the nation in order to involve more people of color in the presidential process. And so we’re doing just that. But when it comes to voters of color and if we’re worried, look, our campaign has been putting in the work to do everything we need to do to communicate with communities of color next fall to make sure that they turn out,” Michael Tyler, Biden campaign communications director said on the press call.
The campaign told reporters it will continue to scale up its operation this year, including implementing state leadership teams in each battleground state and scaling up paid media.
The campaign’s focus on democracy comes as the president’s approval ratings continue to sink behind Trump in a head-to-head matchup.
Biden has continued to face challenges when it comes to how Americans feel about the economy, a top issue for voters, and his handling of it, despite positive indicators the White House touts in cooling inflation, increased manufacturing investment and job growth.
The economy remains a top issue for the administration. White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt described the president’s fourth year of presidency as a continued focus on lowering costs, specifically with prescription drugs, re-implementing the child care tax credit, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations and making progress on combating gun violence and violent crime.
“A busy agenda for the year. And of course, continued progress on the economy. We’ve seen 14 million jobs created this administration. Inflation has come down significantly ,but we’ve got ways to go and the president intends to keep working on it for hardworking Americans,” LaBolt said. “Consumer confidence is now rising. It was up 14% last month. I think you’ve seen this is as a turnaround moment after all the difficulties of the pandemic, that economies face globally but here in the U.S. we’ve had the strongest economic recovery in the world,” LaBolt continued.
But as the Biden administration enters 2024, another deadline in Congress to fund the government approaches this month as lawmakers have not acted on President Biden’s national security emergency supplemental funding request, which includes funding for Israel, Ukraine and the southern border, as congress remains stalled over border policy disputes.
LaBolt said “productive” talks between Senate lawmakers and the administration are continuing this week as the administration remains hopeful.
“It’s something that Democrats in Congress largely support. You know, House Republicans are the holdout here, not the administration that sent the proposals up. The president has had a request on Capitol Hill for months to fund our border patrol, to fund drug interdiction technology at the border,” he said.