Biden kicks off rural America tour in Minnesota

Biden kicks off rural America tour in Minnesota
Biden kicks off rural America tour in Minnesota

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - US President Joe Biden holds an event to sign an Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence in the East Room at the White House in Washington October 30, 2023. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — US President Joe Biden will tout US$5 billion (RM23 billion) in new investments benefiting rural Americans during a visit today to a family farm in Minnesota, the first stop in what the White House is billing as a two-week “barnstorming” tour.

Thirteen top administration officials will visit rural places in 15 states, including election battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona, to highlight investments in rural communities, where one in five Americans live.

The Minnesota event will showcase top Democratic officials from the state in a show of support for Biden just days after Minnesota lawmaker Dean Phillips launched a primary challenge to a sitting president, sources familiar with the plans said.

A campaign official told Reuters that Biden would also participate in a fundraiser in Minneapolis after the farm visit.

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The official noted that Democrats improved their margins in rural areas in 2022 compared to 2020, winning over former supporters of former President Donald .

“We are treating these 2022 newly Democratic voters as key persuasion targets for 2024 and are not taking any vote (rural/suburban/urban) for granted,” the official added.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre did not link the president’s visit to Phillips’ long-shot challenge, but said the administration was “thankful” to Phillips for voting nearly 100 per cent with Biden over the past two years.

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“Minnesota is an important state that the president wanted to go and visit,” she said, adding that Biden planned to speak directly with rural Americans — who account for about 20 per cent of the US population — about how his legislation is creating jobs in their communities and other urgently needed investments.

Biden beat former president Donald Trump in Minnesota by 52.4 per cent to 45.3 per cent, winning the state’s 10 electoral college votes out of a total of 538 total.

The Democratic president arrives in Minnesota amid mounting criticism by Muslim and Arab Americans of his support for Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) for Minnesota, said Arab and Muslim American leaders and their allies would protest Biden’s Israel policy, at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport at 1 pm, at the farm he is visiting, and in downtown Minneapolis at 5 pm

White House officials had no immediate comment on the planned protests.

“President Biden believes that investing in America means investing in all of America and leaving no one behind,” Neera Tanden, who heads the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters. “That means young people in rural communities should not have to leave home to find opportunity.”

Reuters reported in September that the White House and Biden’s campaign planned an aggressive outreach to rural voters, who account for 30 per cent of the electorate in swing states North Carolina, Georgia and Wisconsin, and around 22 per cent in Pennsylvania.

Biden’s campaign is actively targeting Black farmers with a new television ad that will run in Raleigh, North Carolina and on national cable news, the third campaign ad targeting Black Americans.

It is part of a 16-week, US$25 million advertising campaign targeting key voters in battleground states, that are hotly contested because their voting preferences can swing either to Republicans or Democrats.

Getting credit for economic gains is crucial to Biden’s 2024 reelection, but many rural voters feel frustrated and disengaged after decades of industrial decline and job losses in the face of globalization and declining agriculture.

During his visit to Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Biden plans to announce over US$5 billion in new investments for rural America drawn from the Inflation Reduction Act, a US$1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law and reprogramming of existing funds, White House officials said.

The money includes US$1.7 billion to support climate-smart agriculture practices, US$1.1 billion in investments in clean water and other infrastructure, and US$2 billion for economic development projects in nine states and Puerto Rico, along with additional investments in expanding broadband access. — Reuters

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