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Updated Jun 8, 2023, 3:44pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Inside Biden’s North Carolina pitch on jobs

REUTERS/Leah Millis
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The Scoop

On his trip to North Carolina on Friday, President Biden will visit a community college to meet with students enrolled in workforce training programs that are benefitting from federal dollars, according to senior administration officials.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden will use the visit to Nash County Community College to highlight funding from the American Rescue Plan that is helping support workforce training programs for advanced manufacturing and clean energy at the school, which is part of a group that received nearly $24 million from the 2021 COVID-19 relief law.

“You’ll hear them talk about how folks are being trained for the jobs of the future, for the industries of the future, the types of jobs that are being created as a result of the president’s Investing in America Agenda,” a senior administration official told Semafor.

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The North Carolina trip is part of a broader effort by the White House to tell the positive story of the president’s economic agenda that will be central to his 2024 reelection effort, at a time when Republicans continue to blame the president’s policies for inflation.

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Know More

Biden saw the passage of major pieces of legislation in his first two years, including not only the American Rescue Plan, but also the bipartisan infrastructure law, CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Now, his administration is focused on both implementing and selling those accomplishments; he traveled to North Carolina in March to visit Wolfspeed, a semiconductor firm expanding in the state.

The president and first lady, who is a community college teacher and has made education and workforce a focus of her official portfolio, will tour advanced manufacturing training facilities and meet with students enrolled in a pre-apprentice program related to electric vehicle manufacturing and maintenance, another senior administration official said.

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Biden will talk about how the initiatives help create union jobs and positions that don’t require four-year degrees, officials said. A third senior administration official said the workforce training initiative will help communities of color in particular, noting that cities surrounding Nash are majority African American.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C. plan to join Biden at the school, one of the senior administration officials said. The Bidens will make a second stop at Fort Liberty, the U.S. Army installation known as Fort Bragg until recently, for an event related to the first lady’s Joining Forces military and veteran families initiative.

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Morgan’s view

While the trip is an official one, it has an obvious political tinge. Biden will be in North Carolina at the same time as the state’s Republican convention. Former President Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former vice president Mike Pence — all 2024 GOP candidates — are expected to attend the convention.

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The Nash County Community College, where Biden will be speaking, is in Nash County, an area east of Raleigh where the president defeated Trump by less than 50 votes in 2020 despite losing the state by just over a single percentage point.

Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez singled out North Carolina and Florida as states the campaign will focus on flipping in a memo she wrote last month.

The president’s economic message — anchored in his legislative achievements — will be central to courting the working class and African American voters in the state, as well as others across the country.

One reason Democrats are feeling bullish on North Carolina: the state’s abortion ban. The Republican-controlled state legislature overrode Cooper’s veto to pass a law banning most abortions after 12 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother, and some fetal abnormalities. It goes into effect July 1.

Both the Democratic National Committee and Biden campaign have started running ads in North Carolina this cycle, and the DNC is investing more in the state party than it did in past presidential election cycles.

But Republicans aren’t worried about holding onto a state that a Democratic presidential contender hasn’t won since Barack Obama in 2008 (before that, the last Democratic victory was in 1976). They point to Ted Budd’s victory last cycle over Democrat Cheri Beasley for the open U.S. Senate seat and gains in Republican voter turnout. Republicans also flipped the state’s Supreme Court last cycle.

“We are excited the Biden campaign is investing in North Carolina as Republicans always encourage Democrats to light money on fire in places where voters have solidly rejected them cycle after cycle,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn said in a statement to Semafor.

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