As the clock ticks towards next month’s midterm elections, President Joe Biden traveled to the Pennsylvania battlefield on Thursday to promote his infrastructure bill and run for Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman.
Biden’s first stop was in Pittsburgh to visit the Fern Hollow Bridge – which collapsed earlier this year while Biden was visiting the state. Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, joined him there.
“You all told me about the rescue workers and got the survivors to safety,” Biden said at the bridge site. “There were heroes that day and a complete disaster was averted. But it should never have happened.”
Biden commented on progress on rebuilding the bridge, which he says will now be completed in a single year thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill — one of the key legislative victories his administration has highlighted ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Later Thursday, Biden is traveling to Philadelphia for a fundraiser in support of Fetterman’s battle in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz takes part.
Biden got off Air Force One Thursday in Pittsburgh, shook hands with Fetterman on the tarmac and told him, “You’re going to win.”
The event was a rather rare occurrence for Biden this cycle with a Democratic candidate. Some other hopefuls in the party have kept their distance from the president as he faces low approval ratings, and a handful have gone so far as to say Biden should not run for office again in 2024.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last month found that Biden’s approval rating is underwater: 39% of Americans approved of his job performance, while 53% disapproved.
When asked earlier this month about whether Biden should run again, Fetterman said it should be a “Decision by Joe Biden.”
“It’s not about choosing anyone other than his, and I respect every decision he makes,” Fetterman said on the On with Kara Swisher podcast. Fetterman added that he believes Biden would beat Donald Trump in a rematch if they both seek office again.
ABC News White House correspondent MaryAlice Parks questioned Biden about his campaign performance as he left the White House Thursday morning.
“Mr. President, John Fetterman will appear with you in Pennsylvania today … but there weren’t that many candidates campaigning with you,” Parks said.
“That is not true. It was 15, count, boy, count.” Biden interrupted.
“OK, and will there be more?” Parks kept pushing.
“Yes,” Biden replied.
At the fundraiser in Philadelphia on Thursday night, Biden and Fetterman appeared to loud cheers and applause from attendees.
“Tell you what, I want to be next to Big John if he wins,” Biden said to cheers as he ended 26 minutes of remarks about Fetterman, Republicans, his own accomplishments and more. “Because John, you’ve got character, mate. character matters. And you have it. “
Biden told donors in Washington “we need John badly”.
“We have to win,” he said. “John has to win. John has to win.” The president this week vowed to sign legislation overturning the Roe v. Wade codifies – if Democrats have enough senators after November’s election.
“If we keep the Senate, keep the House of Representatives, we’re going to get through, codify Roe,” he said to applause. “We will ensure that Roe v. Wade becomes the law of the land.”
He said Fetterman has “integrity” and “it’s never surprising that he means what he says.”
With a dig at Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz told Biden he didn’t know Oz went to high school in Delaware, but that “Delaware was smart enough to send him to New Jersey,” and Oz “is here to undo anything we’ve done.” to have .”
Biden warned that Republicans would seek to reverse some of the president’s first-term gains if they take control of Congress, and also attacked their recent threats to block aid to Ukraine.
He also argued that if Democrats didn’t win, people would pay more for drugs and insulin.
The Pennsylvania Senate race between Fetterman and Oz — who labeled Fetterman a radical and has attacked him over crime and safety — could determine which party controls the chamber next year, and Democrats see the contest as one of their best chances to get a seat and maintain or expand their slim majority. (Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is retiring.)
The latest FiveThirtyEight forecast shows that Democrats are slightly favored to retain control of the Senate, while Republicans are favored to regain control of the House of Representatives.
The FiveThirtyEight poll average for the Pennsylvania Senate race shows Fetterman leading by 5%, although his lead has narrowed in recent weeks.
ABC News’ Mary Bruce, Ben Gittleson, Justin Gomez and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.