‘Deeply Out of Touch’ President Says He Doesn’t Believe Polls
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Biden acknowledged Americans’ frustration as his first year in office came to an end on Wednesday, but said the United States was on track to meet considerable challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and inflation.
“Our work’s not done,” he told a rare solo White House news conference about the economic and health recovery from the pandemic. The president added that he thought his administration could have done more on Covid testing.
On the plus side, Mr. Biden pointed to job growth, low unemployment, and new business growth.
Asked whether he had promised more than he could deliver on the 2020 campaign trail, Mr. Biden was adamant: “I didn’t over-promise.”
For 2022, Mr. Biden said he needed to leave the White House to talk to the American people more regularly.
“I’m gonna get out of this place more often. I don’t get a chance to look people in the eye,” he said, and “let them take a measure of who I am.”
Mr. Biden faces a slump in opinion polls as his fellow Democrats gird for midterm elections in which their majorities in Congress are on the line.
Two of Mr. Biden’s top legislative priorities — his signature economic and social spending package, called Build Back Better, and a federal voting rights bill — have languished.
Mr. Biden said one challenge he underestimated going into the White House was the “stalwart” opposition of Republicans to his presidency, which he characterized as worse than it was when he was vice president.
Senator McConnell “has been clear, he’d do anything to prevent Biden from being a success,” the president said, speaking about himself in the third person.
“Name me one thing they’re for,” he said of the opposing party.
Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, shot back that Mr. Biden “showed how deeply out of touch he is, claiming that the struggles Americans are facing each day aren’t real.”
Asked about surveys showing he lost favor among some voters who supported him in 2020, Mr. Biden said: “I don’t believe the polls.”
He did acknowledge that Build Back Better was all but dead in its old form. Instead, the president said, he expected that he could get “big chunks” of that bill passed, if not the full package.
Mr. Biden raised concerns that Republicans could succeed in undermining the legitimacy of the elections this year.
Mr. Biden’s fellow Democrats are fighting to retain their control of Congress amid a flood of Republican-backed state laws that civil rights advocates say could suppress Black and other minority votes.
“The increase in the prospect of it being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these reforms passed,” Mr. Biden said about federal voting rights law.
The president has held nine total news conferences in his first year in office, including six solo, a slower pace than his most recent predecessors, according to the American Presidency Project at University of California, Santa Barbara.
Image: President Biden on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 13, 2022. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque