Three presidents — one current and two former presidents — arrived in Pennsylvania on Saturday for the final stage of their midterm push, underscoring the stakes in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races.
For President Joe Biden, he will hold a rare joint appearance in Philadelphia with former President Barack Obama, aimed at boosting the Democratic nominee. Governor John Fetterman of Pennsylvania will undergo a political stress test in his home state, having traveled to the state 20 times since taking office.
For former President Donald Trump, who rallied in Latrobe outside Pittsburgh, his hand-picked candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz could prove his enduring viability in a federation that narrowly lost in 2020.
The consequences go well beyond next week’s election. As Trump prepares to announce a third presidential bid, likely in the coming weeks, Biden aides are taking their own initial steps toward launching a reelection campaign. The dynamics of a potential 2020 rematch will be revealed in a few hours Saturday afternoon.
This moment marked an anomaly in history. Former presidents typically rarely dabble in day-to-day politics, mostly avoiding direct criticism of the people they once held office. Not since Grover Cleveland in 1892 has a defeated one-term president won the White House again.
Pennsylvania’s presidents have come together, each time warning of dire consequences if the opposition wins, reflecting the changing norms Trump brokered when he took office nearly six years ago, quickly spying on Obama and false allegations of malpractice in general.
Biden, who spent much of his first year in office trying to avoid saying Trump’s name, is less cautious now. He called out “Trump and all his Trumps” at a rally in California this week and identified Florida’s governor. Ron DeSantis played “Trump incarnate” during a fundraiser outside Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday. At his own rallies, Trump played a series of blundering videos that cast his successor as a gaffe-prone senior — even though he didn’t follow him as often as Obama.
Meanwhile, Obama has delivered his harshest criticism of Trump-backed candidates, many of whom deny the 2020 election results and emulate the 45th president.
“It’s not just about being successful because someone’s been on TV. It turns out that being president or governor is more than just funky lines and good lighting,” Obama said of the Republican gubernatorial candidate, former Local News, in Arizona last week. anchor Cary Lake said.
Pennsylvania’s Senate and gubernatorial races are the only major races Biden has repeatedly contested in this year’s midterm cycle. In other high-profile races, candidates distanced themselves from a president with underwater approval ratings.
That’s not the case with Obama, who has been highly sought after among closely-matched Democrats. In the final weeks of the campaign, Obama held raucous rallies in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada — all states Biden has avoided over the past few months as candidates work to prevent a republic Party momentum.
That’s a 180-degree turn from the midterm cycle during Obama’s presidency, when Biden ventured into more states — including conservative-leaning regions — where the incumbent president is seen as an ally of the Democratic nominee. drag.
Officials said Biden wasn’t annoyed, or even surprised, that Obama was more attractive than him in this year’s campaign. He discussed some racial issues with his former boss and believed Obama’s message would both resonate with voters and complement his own.
Still, their joint appearance Saturday only underscores their different styles and political abilities — a comparison even some Democrats say ultimately favors Obama.
“I know you always ask me how we’re doing. I think this time we’re going to win. I feel really good about our chances,” Biden told reporters in California on Friday.
The president has been bullish on Democrats’ chances next week, even as many Democrats are increasingly concerned about their party’s prospects. His campaign schedule — a closer-than-expected run for candidates in blue states — is itself a signal of the Democrats’ vulnerability.
In the final days of the campaign, Biden has mostly traveled to the blue states he won, but Democrats are still closer than expected there. He stopped in New Mexico, California and Illinois before stopping in Pennsylvania on Saturday and will run for governor of struggling New York. On Sunday, Casey Hocher. He will spend election eve in Maryland.
People familiar with Biden’s thinking said he acknowledged that not every Democratic candidate would welcome him as a surrogate, and his approval ratings remained low. He also told fellow Democrats that he respects their political instincts when it comes to his race.
But he was frustrated by reports that he was a political albatross and believed his policies — if properly explained — were popular with voters, according to people familiar with the matter.
Biden has held far fewer campaign rallies for his party this midterm cycle than Obama and Trump. For the past month, most of his events have been official events, delivered to crowds of sometimes just a few dozen people.
In the final days of the campaign, his rallies have begun to draw larger crowds. An event in Southern California on Friday had to turn away 600 people, according to the White House. Biden spoke to a crowd unable to enter the main venue during a rally with governors in New Mexico. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“I know you don’t think so, but I think we have quite a large crowd. They’re pretty enthusiastic. You don’t write it that way, but they write it this way,” Biden said Friday as he left California.
Still, his campaign did not generate the same electricity as Obama. The former president has confided in Trump and his followers running for office in a series of rallies across the country over the past few weeks, mocking Republicans with sharp humor and bemused looks.
Like Biden, he believes the U.S. system of government is in jeopardy in next week’s election, telling a group in Arizona that “democracy as we know it” could perish if those who reject the election come to power.
Obama and Biden were last seen together at the White House in September, when Obama’s official portrait was unveiled in the East Room of the White House. The event was delayed during the Trump administration, in part because neither the Obamas nor the Trumps were interested in showing off their friendship.
In campaigning for his candidate this fall, Trump made little attempt to hide his larger intentions: backing his own possible presidential campaign, which he hopes will bring him back to the White House.
“Get ready, that’s what I’m going to say,” Trump told the crowd in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday, adding that he was “very, very likely to do it again.”
Top Trump aides have discussed the third week of November as an ideal starting point for his 2024 presidential bid if Republicans do well in the midterm elections, according to people familiar with the matter.
For Biden, the decision could take longer. When asked about his own schedule, he mentioned family discussions around the holidays. Members of his political team have prepared the campaign infrastructure early on, assuming he will decide to run again.
His motivating factor, aides said, was whether Trump would volunteer.