President Biden hits the road on Wednesday to make the case for the infrastructure deal reached by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House.
And while the president’s trip is mostly about policy, it’s hard to overlook the politics, as Biden’s travel plans will once again bring him to a battleground congressional district.
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The president holds his event promoting his so-called “Build Back Better” agenda at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois, an exurb northwest of Chicago. The school is located in the district of Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood, who won reelection last November to a second term by less than two points.
While her district may become more friendly due to the upcoming redistricting process, which in blue state Illinois is controlled by the Democrats, the National Republican Congressional Committee considers her “vulnerable” as she runs for reelection next year.
Veteran political columnist and analyst Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times this week described the area as “one of the redder parts of one of the bluest states in the nation.”
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The Democrats currently hold their narrowest House majority since World War II, and the GOP needs a net gain of just five seats to win back the chamber in the 2022 midterm elections, which will very much be a referendum on Biden’s first two years as president.
Biden’s trip comes a week after he held an event in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the district of longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, who also narrowly won reelection last year and faces a challenging reelection in 2022 if he seeks another term in the House.
Asked about the politics of the president’s stop in Illinois, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that “I would see this as less of a political trip.” And she once again noted that Biden “ran as someone who would represent not just Democrats, not just Republicans, not just independents, but all people.”
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If part of the mission of the trip is to showcase Biden’s bipartisan efforts, McHenry County, which then-President Trump narrowly won last November, seems to fit the bill.
So does Central Lake, Michigan, where the president held a Fourth of July holiday weekend event. The area’s in a safe Republican district represented by GOP Rep. Jack Bergman.