U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with dignitaries and employees at ViaSat on November 4, 2022 in Carlsbad, California. AFP
``Folks, I'm not buying the notion that we're in trouble,'' he told the crowd at a political reception in a hotel for U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee, or super PAC, aligned with the GOP House leadership, this week announced a $1.8 million ad buy against Casten, who represents an Illinois district that Biden won by about 11 percentage points in 2020.
Before a crowd of roughly 50 people, the president ticked off his administration's signature legislative achievements on infrastructure, climate and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, efforts he said were achieved in collaboration with Underwood and Casten. ``Sean and Lauren have been great partners with all of this across the board,'' he said.
Of Casten, he said, ``Sean is smart, effective and is one of the most honorable men I've ever served'' with.
He touted Underwood's ability to work across party lines, calling her a ``champion of families.''
The stops outside Chicago and earlier Friday in California _ and events to come in Joliet, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York this weekend _ are all part of Biden's down-to-the-minute efforts to shore up shaky ground that had once been reliably predicted to go for Democrats, in an effort to blunt the impact of projected losses in congressional seats and in governors races across the country in Tuesday's midterm elections.
``I feel really good about our chances,'' he told reporters as he boarded Air Force One for Illinois from Southern California. ``I think we're going to keep the Senate and pick up a seat, and I think we have a chance of winning the House. So, I feel optimistic.''
In Carlsbad, California, Biden toured a communications company that was expected to benefit from his push to bolster American semiconductor manufacturing. He took along embattled Rep. Mike Levin for the visit to Viasat, as the president highlighted his CHIPS and Science Act, a $280 billion legislative package, and the work his administration has done for U.S. veterans.
``Mike's a champion for his constituents, especially veterans who live here,`` Biden said, noting throughout his remarks that he got signature bills passed ``with Mike's help.''
Levin, a two-term congressman representing a San Diego-area district that was once a Republican stronghold, is locked in a tight race with former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott. Biden headlined a rally Thursday night in Oceanside, California, for Levin.
Coronavirus pandemic-era supply disruptions and a dearth of domestic chip manufacturing hampered Viasat, which relies on such components for services it provides to industrial customers and the U.S. military. The company also makes a point of hiring returning veterans. Biden on Friday spoke of how the CHIPS act will help Viasat and other companies reduce their reliance on overseas chip manufacturers.
``It's a game-changer,`` he said of the ability to have chips readily available in the U.S.. ``Thanks to this law, this company hopes to significantly grow its global business and hire more workers in the next five years.''
Saturday morning he's to deliver remarks in nearby Joliet, Illinois, on Social Security and Medicare, before heading to Philadelphia to join former President Barack Obama to stump for Senate candidate John Fetterman.
From there, Biden will travel to Westchester County, just north of New York City, to campaign for Gov. Kathy Hochul, who's in a tough race with Republican Lee Zeldin.
``If we just keep fighting, keep the House and Senate, we're going to be okay, but if we lose the House and Senate, it's going to be a horrible two years,`` Biden said, briefly abandoning his signature optimism before adding, ``The good news is I'll have the veto pen.''