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Biden to visit Colorado to talk about his domestic agenda

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

President Biden is focusing on his domestic agenda today.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Yeah. He's traveling to Pueblo, Colo., to tout his administration's investment in clean energy jobs and is expected to take some swipes at right-wing Republicans.

FADEL: NPR White House correspondent Deepa Shivaram is in Colorado with Biden. Hey, Deepa.

DEEPA SHIVARAM, BYLINE: Hey, Leila.

FADEL: So why Pueblo? What's going on there?

SHIVARAM: Yeah. Well, there's a couple reasons. First, he's going to visit a plant owned by the largest wind turbine tower manufacturer in the world. The South Korean-based company is called CS Wind, and they say that thanks to Biden's major climate and jobs bill, they're adding hundreds of jobs in the state in the next few years. And secondly, Pueblo is in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by right-wing Republican Lauren Boebert. She's one of former Trump's biggest supporters and has been a prominent critic of President Biden, particularly on this climate and jobs bill, which she says should be repealed. So that's why Biden is in Pueblo today - to prop up his big legislative wins and to, as you said earlier, take a swipe at right-wing Republicans he's been so critical of. Biden is expected to talk about how he thinks Boebert and Republicans like her are a threat to the progress that he says his administration has made.

FADEL: Now, we've heard Biden criticize right-wing lawmakers. He calls them MAGA Republicans repeatedly. But he doesn't often go after individual members like this in their own district. What's the thinking here?

SHIVARAM: And this is an interesting move. I talked to Adam Green, who leads the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. It's a left-leaning political advocacy organization. He's been meeting with the White House and White House officials lately to talk about the president's economic messaging. And he says one of the things Democrats need to do more of is lean into the fight on issues with extreme Republicans, whether it's about health care or jobs or the economy.

ADAM GREEN: In order for the public to understand the difference between Democrats and Republicans on things like jobs or lower-priced prescription drugs, we need to see a fight.

SHIVARAM: And Green says that, generally speaking here, people love drama. It gets more attention. And he says for Biden to go to Congresswoman Boebert's district and pick a fight with her specifically is a good strategy because of how loudly critical she is of Biden.

GREEN: So this particular trip, in particular, might be outsized in its influence and is a good down payment on a larger strategy of picking smart fights with Republicans.

SHIVARAM: This idea that we've been talking about of drawing contrasts with Republicans is something that we've heard the White House try to do when it comes to selling Biden's economic agenda, but this is definitely a more pointed way of going about it. And you have to keep in mind, Leila, this comes at a time when recent polls have shown that the public still doesn't approve of how Biden has been handling the economy. So 11 months out from the election, it'll be interesting to see how this larger strategy here of picking smart fights, as Adam Green says, could impact public opinion, especially because this district has a really tight race. In 2022, it was super close. So it's a potential place for Democrats to flip the seat blue next year.

FADEL: Now, this trip was supposed to happen last month but got postponed because of the crisis in the Middle East. Does this mean Biden is turning his attention back to domestic issues now?

SHIVARAM: Yeah, that's right. The president was supposed to make this trip out in about mid-October but canceled at the last minute. But the White House says the president's been working across, quote, "a range of issues." In addition to this Colorado trip, he's traveling more domestically in the coming weeks. They just announced two upcoming trips to Philadelphia and the Boston area.

I will note, though, that during this trip in Colorado, you know, the conflict in the Middle East is still top of mind. There are still protesters that are calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel that the president's motorcade has passed by. Of course, we've seen some folks who are also supportive of the president as well. And as Michele Kelemen just noted, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, heads to the Middle East today, which is the last day of the extended cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

FADEL: NPR White House correspondent Deepa Shivaram, thanks so much.

SHIVARAM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.