President Joe Biden warned of threats to democracy if Republicans were to take on Congress as it returns to the campaign trail to oppose Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in what is set to be one of its final stops of the midterms western campaign.
The rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was aimed at boosting a key ally locked in one of the marquee cycle governor races. While Biden’s remarks focused primarily on the economy, he repeated a message from the previous night that democracy is under attack.
“They’re going after your right to vote and who’s going to count the vote,” Biden said of Republicans, adding “democracy is on the ballot.”
The president called out several Republicans by name — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Florida Sen. Rick Scott — for their positions on Social Security and Medicare, calling them “reckless and irresponsible “.
“Five days — five days until the most important election of our lifetimes,” Biden told the audience. “So many things are changing. It’s not a referendum, it’s a choice – a choice between two very different visions for America.
The president’s visit underscores the high political stakes for Democrats as they seek to keep as many governor’s mansions under their control, in a midterm election that has largely focused on whether the Biden’s party will be able to keep control of Congress – and if not, how much could it able to minimize losses.
It’s the third time in as many weeks that the president has stumbled into typically Democratic territory where his party’s gubernatorial candidates face tough races.
Last week, the president touted manufacturing investments in Syracuse, New York, alongside Governor Kathy Hochul, who is in a tighter-than-expected re-election race against Republican U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin. Hochul will get an extra boost Thursday when she appears with Vice President Kamala Harris and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a voting event in New York.
In early October, Biden traveled to Portland, Oregonwhere her party’s gubernatorial candidate – Tina Kotek – hopes to retain Democratic control in a close three-way contest for the governor’s seat
“The role of governors in America is growing exponentially in terms of how states work and the roles they play,” Biden said at a fundraising event for Kotek.
During an appearance at Central New Mexico Community College ahead of the rally, the president discussed his administration’s efforts to cut college costs and help student borrowers, also warning of the consequences if Republican officials succeed in their plan to unraveling Biden’s debt relief plan.
Biden’s plan for student debt relief was one of the administration’s moves that Democrats hope will motivate young voters to go to the polls ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
According to the White House, nearly 26 million people have submitted their information to the Department of Education to be considered for loan forgiveness, with 16 million applications expected to be approved by the end of the week.
“Our student loan program is designed to give just a little bit more breathing space, a bit of a break,” Biden said in his Thursday remarks to the college. “It’s a game changer for so many people. We hear from people across the country about how easy it is to apply.
However, the president’s student loan relief program remains stalled in court, creating uncertainty about when or if this relief will finally be extended to applicants.
A federal appeals court temporarily suspended the student loan forgiveness program last month, suspending its implementation while the court considers a challenge brought by six Republican-led states. The Biden administration has argued that it should be able to carry out its policy while the call unfolds.
The administration also faces lawsuits from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and conservative groups such as the Job Creators Network Foundation and the Cato Institute.
Biden spoke on Thursday about the predicament facing those 16 million candidates en route to approval, saying that while they “should see relief in the coming days,” that relief is on hold “because Republican members of Congress (and) Republican governors are doing everything they can — including taking us to court — to deny aid…even to their own constituents.
He continued: “Their outrage is just plain wrong. And I might add, not being too political here, but hypocritical. We fight them in court. We don’t let them get away with it. »
The president said he is confident his plan will be upheld by the courts, predicting that student borrowers will start receiving relief within weeks.
Speaking of Republicans, who have argued the plan is too costly and could make inflation worse, the president said at a campaign rally in Miami Gardens, Florida on Monday, “They moaned and moaned about it and they have challenged it in court, which they will lose.
Biden made his final student debt relief speech at a community college where more than a third of students are Pell grant recipients and more than half of students are Latinos. The president also pointed to the state scholarship program, which provides free college to eligible New Mexico residents.
Lujan Grisham, Sen. Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Melanie Stansbury were in attendance along with New Mexico Community College President Tracy Hartzler.
The speech in New Mexico followed a similar event last month when the president visited Delaware State University, one of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, to promote his plan to loan cancellation, as officials hoped the issue would motivate young voters to head into the medium term. elections.
The results of the Senate and House races next week — and whether the midterms ultimately give Republicans control of Congress — will be key in determining what the second half of Biden’s presidency will look like.
With the smallest of congressional majorities in his first two years in office, the president was able to enact some of his most important legislative priorities – from a sweeping infrastructure package to a major health bill. health care, taxation and climate change enacted just this year. Democrats openly acknowledge that without the House or Senate under their control, legislative victories will be nearly impossible to achieve in the next session of Congress.