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Tipsheet

So Joe Biden Is Campaigning for Raphael Warnock, Sort of

AP Photo/Ben Gray

Earlier this week, we highlighted how White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was unable and unwilling to speak to whether or not President Joe Biden was campaigning for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in his runoff election that is next Tuesday. She cited the Hatch Act as to why she couldn't speak much to it, despite how she was just being asked about the president's schedule. Earlier on Friday, Biden himself revealed that he is going to campaign for the vulnerable incumbent, but from afar.

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When asked "why aren't you going to Georgia to help Sen. Warnock," in an election that is in four days, no less, Biden claimed he is, though he also bumbled out a semi-unintelligible response that he's going to Massachusetts for a fundraiser and will help out from there.

"I’m going to Georgia today to help Senator War--not to Georgia; we’re going to help Senator Warnock because I’m doing a major fundraiser up in Boston today for--for the--our next and continued Senate candidate and senator," the White House transcript explained.

Even the Associated Press noticed and was confused, with a headline reading "To boost Georgia’s Warnock, Biden is in ... Massachusetts." As Zeke Miller wrote:

To help Democrats win their 51st Senate seat in a Georgia runoff election, President Joe Biden has traveled to ... Massachusetts? 

Days before polls close on Tuesday, Biden still has no plans to visit Georgia. Instead he aimed to help Sen. Raphael Warnock’s reelection campaign from afar with appearances Friday at a Boston phone bank and fundraiser. 

They mark the culmination of Biden’s support-from-a-distance strategy that he employed throughout the midterms and that his aides credit with helping his party beat expectations in key races.

Biden landed in Boston on Friday afternoon and was to to join the phone bank run by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to help Warnock’s campaign before appearing at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has spent millions of dollars to boost Warnock’s campaign over Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

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"The trip north to help a candidate in the South had even Biden a little mixed up, at least in his comments," Miller went on to write. While Biden's comments are often unintelligible, it's particularly telling that those in the mainstream media, with AP often getting the first question during press briefings, are taking notice. 

Former President Barack Obama appeared in Atlanta on Thursday night to campaign for Warnock, as he did for many other candidates earlier in the 2022 midterm cycle. In comparison, Biden's paltry campaign appearances and tactics left something to be desired. 

Miller made a point to mention those previous campaign appearances in his report as well, and how Warnock is seemingly among those Democrats who wants to distance himself from Biden:

Aides said that the Boston trip was requested by Warnock’s campaign, and that Biden obliged, reflecting his promise to go wherever Democratic candidates wanted him in 2022. 

“The President is willing to help Senator Warnock any way he can, however the senator wants him to get involved,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week. As often as not, that also meant not going where he was not wanted. 

Ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms, Biden avoided wading into key Senate races in states like Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire, where his approval ratings have trailed below his numbers nationally.

...

Warnock, throughout the campaign, has distanced himself from Biden. That’s a stark contrast to the runoff campaign after the 2020 election when Biden, as president-elect, came to the state with the Senate balance at stake and told Georgia voters they’d determine the success of his administration and agenda.

...

Warnock has consistently avoided answering whether he believes Biden should run again in 2024 and whether he’d support the president if he does seek a second term.

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As Madeline highlighted on Thursday, polls show that Warnock and his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, are tied. 


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