WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday angered “MAGA Republicans” and the far right, issuing personal Labor Day calls to swing-state union members he hopes will go into effect for his party in November will.
“The middle class built America,” Biden said at a workers’ rally in a park lot in Milwaukee. “Everyone knows that. But the 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 held his own rally in the state.
The unofficial start of fall, Labor Day, also traditionally ushers in a politically busy season as campaigners struggle to get voters excited for Election Day on November 8th. Then control of the House and Senate and some of the country’s top governors will be decided.
Trump spoke Saturday night at Wilkes-Barre, near Scranton, where Biden was born. The President made his own Wilkes-Barre trip last week to discuss increasing police funding, debunk the GOP’s criticism of the FBI following the raid on Trump’s Florida home, and argue that new, bipartisan gun action is helping can help reduce violent crime.
Two days later, Biden went to Independence Hall in Philadelphia for a prime-time speech denouncing the “extremism” of Trump’s most vocal 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 subvert core American values to promote it. The President said Thursday that “blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence are fatal to democracy.”
Trump responded during his Saturday rally that Biden was “an enemy of the state.” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted Monday that Biden was “the most anti-labour president in modern history,” noting that high inflation has hurt American wages, incomes and savings.
During his Milwaukee speech, Biden said, “Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican,” but singled out those who have taken Trump’s campaign cry of “Make America Great Again” to dangerous or hateful lengths. He highlighted episodes like last year’s mob attack on the US Capitol.
He said many in the GOP are “filled with anger, violence, hatred, division.”
“But together we can and must choose a different path forward,” Biden said. “A future of unity and hope. we will choose to build a better America.”
The crowd jeered loudly as the President repeatedly rebuked Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin for voting against a Democrat-backed measure designed to lower prescription drug prices. The president also hinted that Johnson and other Republicans in Congress were ready to undermine Social Security.
Union endorsements helped Biden overcome disastrous early results in Iowa and New Hampshire to win the 2020 Democratic primary and eventually the White House. Since then he has continued to praise the labor movement as president.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the 2-million-member Service Employees International Union, called Biden’s campaigning for unions ahead of the midterm elections “critical” and said workers “need to mobilize on battlefields across the country to make sure working people get involved.” “.
“We are very pleased that the President is speaking directly to workers about joining a union if given the opportunity,” Henry said. She added: “This president has signaled which side he is on. And he is on the side of working people. And that is extremely important.”
In Pennsylvania, Biden reached out to members of the United Steelworkers and noted that Trump was a “former, defeated president.”
Referring to Trump’s ongoing false allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, Biden said, “You cannot love the country and say how much you love it if you only accept one of two outcomes of an election: either you won or you did.” cheated.”
Both of the perennial presidential battleground states that Biden visited Monday could provide important gauges of Democrat strength before November. With inflation still raging and the president’s approval ratings remaining slightly better but low, it remains to be seen how much Biden can help his party in top-flight races — and how many candidates want him to try.
That was seen in Milwaukee, where Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes tried to unseat incumbent Johnson but failed to show up with Biden.
In the state’s other top race, Tim Michels, a Trump-backed construction manager, is trying to deny Democratic Gov. Tony Evers a second term. Evers addressed Biden at the Labor event and briefly greeted the President backstage.
“We have a president who understands the challenges facing working families,” Evers told the crowd. He said Biden “hasn’t forgotten that working families matter, not just on Labor Day, but every single day of the year.”
Pennsylvania voters are choosing a new governor, with Attorney General John Shapiro facing another Trump-backed Republican, Doug Mastriano, and a new senator. This race is between Democratic Lt. gov. John Fetterman and Trump-backed famed cardiologist Mehmet Oz. Fetterman spoke to Biden before both delivered speeches in West Mifflin.
The Pennsylvania and Wisconsin races could decide which party controls the Senate next year, while the winner of each governorship could influence the results of the 2024 presidential election. The stakes are particularly high as some candidates close to Trump have peddled his lies about widespread fraud that didn’t happen in the 2020 election. Judges, including those appointed by Trump, dismissed dozens of lawsuits filed after that election, and Trump’s own attorney general called the allegations false.
Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute to organized labor at a breakfast meeting with the Greater Boston Labor Council, declaring, “When union wages go up, everyone’s wages go up.”
“When union jobs are safer, everyone is safer,” Harris said. “When unions are strong, America is strong.”
Associated Press writer Wilson Ring contributed to this report.