The 7 most important lines from Joe Biden’s press conference

Biden spoke – intermittently – for 112 minutes. I extracted the seven most important lines from what he said. They are below.

1. “I didn’t overpromise. I probably exceeded what everyone thought would happen.”

Biden took umbrage at the suggestion that he bit off more than he could chew, legislatively speaking. And it took a page out of its predecessor’s playbook by bragging that it did better than expected. This is a questionable assertion. He was able to get a Covid stimulus bill and an infrastructure package through Congress and into law. But his Build Back Better Act languishes and any major suffrage legislation seems a long way off.

2. “We’re not going to start closing schools again. Schools need to stay open.”

Biden spent the first 15 minutes of the presser delivering a speech – largely focused on his administration’s response to the Covid pandemic. The basic message was: we will not be going back to where we were when he took office – and we don’t need to. His assertion that schools must remain open was the most recent part of that pledge – and one that should appeal to all parties.

3. “I’m confident we can get big chunks, big chunks, of Build Back Better signed into law.”

There are two big things going on here: a) Biden admitting his BBB bill won’t pass and b) approving the cutting of the legislation to get some of the more popular parts of it approved. It’s a strategy that recognizes the political reality that Democrats badly need a legislative victory on its national agenda and that its long-held hopes that the BBB will pass in full are now dashed. “It’s clear to me that we’re probably going to have to break it up,” Biden said later of the bill.

4. “I’m not so sure [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is certain of what he will do. I guess he will move in [to Ukraine]. He has to do something.”

It was a WOW moment for anyone with even a passing knowledge of the current situation on the Ukrainian border. Biden, repeatedly questioned in follow-ups on that initial statement, appeared to backtrack – insisting he didn’t know about Putin’s plan in terms of invading eastern Ukraine (and his belief that Putin has not made up his mind). Still, the original claim is going to attract a lot of attention and scrutiny.

5. “One thing I haven’t been able to do so far is get my Republican friends to help make things better in this country. … What are they for? thing they are for.”

This will be Biden’s message in the upcoming midterm elections: that he walked across the aisle to try to get Republicans on board for various policies and they didn’t want to. That the only Republican policy is that of obstruction of its agenda. That they don’t have a proactive agenda. Which, well, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell probably agrees. “This midterm election will be a performance review of this entire Democratic government, the president, the House and the Senate,” the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday.

6. “I’m happy to have a referendum on how I handled the economy.”

Biden is very, very likely to get his wish, as Republicans have made it clear they believe they can win House and Senate majorities by focusing on inflation and supply chain issues affecting the country. Biden (and other Democrats) will point to the drop in the unemployment rate as a sign that things are moving in the right direction. Where does the audience land on the question? In a December CNN poll, just 44% approved of his handling of the economy, while 55% disapproved. As CNN’s Harry Enten noted, this is “the lowest net economic rating of any president at this point in their first term since at least Jimmy Carter in 1977.”

7. “It could easily be illegitimate. … Raising the prospect of [the 2022 election] being illegitimate is proportional to not being able to pass these reforms. »

That’s how Biden answered a question about whether he was worried that the results of the upcoming election would be somewhat below normal. The connection between this prospect and the passage of suffrage reforms – which, for the moment, appear to be seriously stalled – is striking. If, one has to wonder, major suffrage legislation isn’t passed before the 2022 midterm elections, does that mean the results — especially if Republicans win — are illegitimate?

Point: How Biden did during the presser depends, in large part, on your stance on him in general. There is no doubt, however, that his insistence that he is comfortable with the 2022 midterm elections being a referendum on the economy will give the strategists of the left.

About Therese Williams

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