How Biden plans to counter Trump and the GOP debate

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President Biden’s reelection campaign is mounting an aggressive outreach campaign in California as Republican presidential candidates prepare to face off for their second primary debate in Simi Valley on Wednesday.

Top Democratic surrogates including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison and Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodriguez will lead the media blitz with a series of events focused on Latino voters, a key group that helped elect Biden in 2020 and that he’ll need to win a second term in 2024.

Newsom, Harrison and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plan to hold a press call Monday to “prebut” GOP attacks on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by contrasting the president’s economic record with “MAGA Republican” policies.

Building off their counter-programming strategy during the first debate, Biden’s campaign will also launch a new television and digital ad as part of a $25-million advertising campaign. The 30-second ad, “La Diferencia,” argues that Biden’s agenda, which is “lowering costs and investing in Latino communities and their businesses,” is a stark contrast to “MAGA Republicans, whose platform only serves the wealthy and powerful.” The ad will run in English and Spanish during the week of the debate in battleground states including Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

Other surrogates including Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, a member of Biden’s national advisory board, and campaign co-chair Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas, will blanket airwaves with Democratic messaging.

“The campaign response builds off the strong and effective plan from the first debate with a clear north star: push back on Republicans’ lies and highlight their extremism at every turn,” a Biden campaign advisor said.

Republican presidential candidates are set to take the stage Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, about 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Fox Business and Univision will moderate the two-hour debate, and conservative online video platform Rumble will stream the event.

Former President Trump, who is leading polling in the GOP field by a wide margin, plans to skip the second debate — as he did the first — and instead will hold an event with autoworkers in Detroit. The venue and crowd have yet to be announced, but Trump’s decision to appear in a city where United Auto Workers members are on strike against the nation’s three biggest automakers is an apparent attempt to court union workers, a crucial Democratic constituency that Biden has also tried to woo ahead of 2024.

The Biden campaign released a statement slamming Trump for his Detroit visit — deriding his anti-union policies as president — and U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Haley Stevens of Michigan organized a press call ahead of the visit.

“No self-serving photo op can erase Trump’s four years of abandoning union workers and standing with his ultra-rich friends,” Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said.

The Biden campaign plans to respond to Trump’s Michigan visit, campaign advisors said.

In skipping the first GOP debate last month, Trump cited his double-digit lead in polling. He instead appeared in an interview with Tucker Carlson.

The Republican National Committee, which oversees the debates, has yet to confirm which candidates have qualified to take the stage in Simi Valley. Candidates have to reach a minimum threshold of polling numbers and campaign donors. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott are likely to qualify.

In Washington, where House Republicans have failed to reach an agreement to temporarily fund the government before a Sept. 30 deadline, a government shutdown appears all but certain. Republican candidates, Biden campaign advisors say, will have to answer to whether the party can govern functionally.

The president has largely avoided holding campaign-style events, and his 2024 operations have been slow to start since he announced his reelection bid in April. The campaign officially opened its headquarters last month in downtown Wilmington, Del., and has gradually announced a string of hires. Biden has focused on fundraisers and official events highlighting his record.

Biden will also participate in GOP debate counter-programming next week, traveling to San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday for campaign fundraisers and to meet with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. On Thursday, he’ll stop in Phoenix to honor the legacy of late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in a speech focused on democracy. Biden will also meet with donors in Arizona.

The Democratic National Committee will fly a plane across Southern California and over the Reagan library to criticize the Republican primary field. The DNC also plans to drive a billboard truck around the venue.

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