(CNN) — President Joe Biden swiped at renewed impeachment talk by top Republicans as he sold his agenda in Maine on Friday, suggesting his economic record was a threat to opponents.
“Republicans may have to find something else to criticize me for now that inflation is coming down. Maybe they’ll try to impeach me because it’s coming down,” Biden said at a textile manufacturing facility in Auburn.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this week escalated talk of launching an impeachment inquiry into Biden and his family’s business dealings, prompting some backlash from moderate Republicans. Later, McCarthy appeared to back off somewhat.
The White House has dismissed the prospect, suggesting the president was focused on his economic agenda and not threats from Republicans.
That was his focus in Maine, where he also signed an executive order – “Invent it here and Make it Here” – incentivizing American manufacturing of goods invented in the US.
But he saved some ire for Republicans in Congress who’ve sought to stymie his administration’s legislative priorities, singling out Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama for touting federal funding for his home state under legislation he voted against.
“He voted against it! He voted against it. I could go on, but I won’t,” Biden joked. “But I made a commitment when I ran that I’d be president for everybody, whether they voted for me or against me. A vast – a majority of all this money is going into red states, because they’ve been so badly hurt, a majority of it. I’m not picking winners and losers based on who they voted for. I’m picking winners and losers based on the need they have in their communities.”
“I’m not here to declare victory on the economy. We have more work to do, we have a plan for turning things around,” the president acknowledged. “Bidenomics is just another way of saying restoring the American dream. Forty years of trickle-down economics limited that dream to the very top.”
Maine, once peppered with factories, textile mills and paper plants, has experienced a significant drop-off in manufacturing over the last several decades. The White House said the state lost more than 42,000 manufacturing jobs between 1990 and January 2021. Maine has created 1,200 new manufacturing jobs since Biden entered office – only modest growth, though the president hopes to build on it through incentives and cutting red tape.
It’s Biden’s first trip to Maine as president, and he’s planning to attend a high-dollar campaign fundraiser in Freeport while he’s here.
“I came into office determined, determined from a trickle-down economics that everyone from the Financial Times to the Wall Street Journal called Bidenomics with a plan that’s working – building from the bottom up and the middle out,” the President said in his speech.
“We have more to do, but like what I said – inflation is now at the lowest point it’s been in over two years. In fact, we have the lowest rate of inflation among the world’s major economies,” he said.
The visit comes after a week of positive economic news the White House says is the result of the president’s decision-making.
Long the anchor weighing down the president’s popularity, the economy has lately shown signs of improvement, from slowing inflation to hiring to steady growth to easing fears of recession.
On Thursday, government figures showed gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, grew by an annualized, seasonally adjusted 2.4% rate in the April-through-June period. That was a faster pace than in the first three months of the year and was also above economists’ expectations.
Other economic indicators this month have similarly provided good news for Biden. Consumer sentiment tracked by the University of Michigan rose 13% in July, the second straight month of improvement. And wages are now rising faster than prices.
Those are all data points the White House now collects under the banner of Bidenomics, hoping voters will both feel the improving economy in their own lives and credit Biden for it.
The effort hasn’t yet prompted a major turnaround in Biden’s political fortunes. Polls still show voters disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy, with particularly low marks for inflation.
Biden’s team acknowledges it will take time for positive economic numbers to translate into real-world improvements and a political turnaround.
That’s why the president has been traveling weekly to talk about his economic agenda, particularly in states that could help determine next year’s presidential election.
Maine is one of two states (along with Nebraska) without a winner-take-all system for electoral votes. Biden won three of the state’s four electoral college votes in 2020, but Trump took one after winning the conservative-leaning 2nd District.
Biden’s focus on the economy comes amid heightened legal jeopardy for his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who faced major new charges Thursday in the case alleging he mishandled classified documents when he left office. A separate indictment looms surrounding his efforts to cling to power in the aftermath of the 2020 election and his role in the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Iowa for a roundtable discussion on abortion rights – counter-programing to a major Republican dinner in Des Moines that will feature Trump and other Republican presidential hopefuls.
In the past, White House officials have acknowledged it will be a challenge for Biden’s economic message to break through to voters amid the noise of Trump and the heated Republican race.
Yet as Friday’s visit to Maine demonstrates, Biden will keep trying.
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