As he ran to the podium, US President Joe Biden showed no concern that his son Hunter Biden had just been indicted on gun charges – and neither did the audience. The crowd cheered and jeered as he arrived at a university in Largo, Maryland, to deliver a speech aimed at shifting the narrative away from his recent troubles and returning to his “Bidenomics” agenda.
Then they crowded around to try to shake the 80-year-old’s hand or take selfies, concerns about polls, impeachment inquiries, age and criminal charges momentarily forgotten.
“That’s a distraction, that’s a political distraction,” said Susanna Anderson, 49, when asked about the issues facing the president.
The mother of two wore a blue T-shirt made by her own small company that read “The VP Looks Like Me” — a reference to Vice President Kamala Harris, who is Black — and showed off a photo she took with Biden had made.
“If there’s an election coming up, they have to throw something and see if it sticks. I’m not focused on that,” she added.
The night before, Biden used the exact same words — “not focused” — as he pushed aside the impeachment inquiry launched by Republican lawmakers over Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
He made no mention Thursday of the fact that his son had been charged with buying a gun while on drugs, casting a new shadow on Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign.
What about his age, a frequent lightning rod for Republican criticism of America’s oldest president?
“Did you see him run onto the stage? I’m not worried about that,” said Enicia Porter, 34. “He’s got a firm handshake… He reminds me of my grandfather.”
The White House has been eager to get Biden back on the campaign trail, sensing that his stewardship of America’s economic recovery is not registering in the polls.
Before his speech at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, delivered against the backdrop of American flags and “Bidenomics” signs, Biden introduced a new line of attack: MAGAnomics.
The idea is to portray all Republicans as followers of former President Donald Trump – known for his ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) slogan – and highlight Trump’s economic failures.
Biden also tried to blame them for the threat of a looming government shutdown at the end of this month.
But did the message get through here to the audience of some 200 locals and students in a bedroom town half an hour’s drive from the White House, let alone to the millions of voters?
“I think this was a good tip of the iceberg,” said Porter, treasurer of the local chapter of Student Veterans of America. “But I need more concrete follow-up.”
Porter said she asked Biden about housing in particular “and he nodded and said we have a whole plan.”
Biden still had work to do to convince voters, agreed Don Pruett, 68, director of planning at the college.
The president’s speech will “plant the seeds and over time these must be nourished,” he said. “We need to see the fruits.”
However, blue T-shirt wearer Susanna Anderson said Biden was “getting the message to the people who need to hear it” — including her sister, who she said just had her student loans forgiven by the Biden administration, a policy opposed by Republicans.
Biden repeatedly hammered home that message, at one point banging the lectern while saying it was Republican plans to cut spending.
He also lashed out at the record of Trump — who is facing a series of criminal charges, including for election interference, and who he will likely face in a 2024 rematch — and warned darkly that “democracy is under attack.” .
With a grueling campaign ahead, Pruett believed Biden faced a “difficult road” to re-election.
But he added: “There’s so much chaos on the other side… if he stays stable, Papa Joe will be there.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)