By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden excoriated “MAGA Republicans” and the far-right on Monday, making personal Labor Day appeals to union members in two key states he hopes will run. in force for his party in November.
“The middle class built America,” Biden said at a rally of workers in a park in Milwaukee. “Everyone knows this. But unions built the middle class.
Later Monday, he flew to West Mifflin, outside of Pittsburgh – returning to Pennsylvania for the third time in less than a week and just two days after his predecessor, Donald Trump, hosted his own gathering in the state.
The unofficial start of fall, Labor Day, also traditionally kicks off a busy political season where campaigns jostle to get voters excited for Election Day on Nov. 8. This is when the control of the House and Senate, as well as some of the main governorates of the country, will be decided. .
Trump spoke Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, near Scranton, where Biden was born. The president made his own trip to Wilkes-Barre last week to discuss increased police funding, denounce GOP criticism of the FBI after the raid on Trump’s Florida estate and to affirm that new bipartisan measures on guns can help reduce violent crime.
Two days later, Biden traveled to Independence Hall in Philadelphia for a prime-time speech denouncing the “extremism” of Trump’s staunchest supporters.
Trump has endorsed candidates in key races across the country and Biden warns that some Republicans now believe so strongly in Trumpism that they are willing to undermine core American values to promote it. The president said on Thursday that “blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence are fatal to democracy.”
Trump responded at his Saturday rally that Biden was “an enemy of the state.”
On Monday, Biden said “not all Republicans are MAGA Republicans,” but singled out those who took Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign cry to dangerous or hateful lengths. He pointed to episodes like last year’s mob attack on the US Capitol.
He told the Milwaukee rally that many GOP members “chose to go back, full of anger, violence, hate, division.”
“But together we can and must choose a different path,” Biden said. “A future of unity and hope. we will choose to build a better America.
The crowd laughed loudly as Biden repeatedly berated Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin for voting against a Democratic-backed measure to lower prescription drug prices. The president also suggested Johnson and other congressional Republicans were out to undermine Social Security.
The union endorsements helped Biden overcome disastrous early results in Iowa and New Hampshire to win the 2020 Democratic primary, and ultimately the White House. He has since continued to praise the labor movement as president.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union, called Biden’s defense of unions “critical” ahead of the midterm elections and said workers were to “mobilize on battlefields across the country to make sure workers show up.”
“We’re really excited for the president to speak directly to the workers, if given the chance he would join a union,” Henry said. She added: “This president has indicated which side he is on. And he is on the side of the workers. And that matters a lot.
In Pennsylvania, Biden was delivering remarks outside a union hall. He did not participate in the Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, which is one of the largest in the country, although he attended the 2015 installment as vice president and returned in 2018. Both times, Biden, now 79, had to consider whether he would run for president. in the next election – which he opted against in 2016 before winning the White House in 2020.
This year the oldest president in US history has faced speculation over whether he will seek a second term in 2024 – although he has insisted that was his intention , and the pressure has dissipated in recent weeks after a series of political and political successes for Biden and his party.
Still, the two eternal presidential battleground states Biden visited on Monday can provide key measures of the strength of Democrats ahead of November and 2024. With inflation still ongoing and the president’s approval ratings marginally better but remaining Weak, how much Biden can help his party in the top races — and how many candidates want him to try — remains to be seen.
That’s been on display in Milwaukee, where Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes is trying to unseat incumbent Johnson, but hasn’t appeared with Biden.
In the other race for the top of the state, Tim Michels, a Trump-endorsed construction executive, is trying to deny Democratic Gov. Tony Evers a second term. Evers spoke at the union event Biden addressed and briefly greeted the president backstage.
“We have a president who understands the challenges working families face,” Evers told the crowd. He said Biden “hasn’t forgotten that working families matter, not just on Labor Day, but every day of the year.”
Pennsylvania voters choose a new governor, with state Attorney General John Shapiro facing another Trump-endorsed Republican, Doug Mastriano, and a new senator. This race is between Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and famed Trump-backed cardiologist Mehmet Oz. Fetterman met with Biden before speaking to West Mifflin.
The races in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could decide which party controls the Senate next year, while the winner of each gubernatorial post could influence the results of the 2024 presidential election. The stakes are particularly high given that some candidates Trump-aligned people have been spreading lies about widespread fraud that didn’t happen in the 2020 election, raising questions about what might happen if a candidate they don’t support wins the next presidential election.
Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute to organized labor during a breakfast with the Greater Boston Labor Council, saying, “When union wages go up, everyone’s wages go up.
“When unionized workplaces are safer, everyone is safer,” Harris said. “When unions are strong, America is strong.”
Associated Press writer Wilson Ring contributed to this report.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.