President Joe Biden heads west on Thursday to replace Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in what is set to be one of his last midterm campaign stops in the West, aimed at strengthen a key ally locked in one of the marquee races for governor of the cycle.
The president’s visit will underscore the high political stakes for Democrats as they seek to keep as many governor’s mansions under their control, in a midterm election that has largely focused on whether the Biden’s party will be able to keep control of Congress — and if not, how much he might be able to minimize his losses.
During the trip, Biden will undertake Republican-led efforts to challenge his administration’s plans to extend student debt relief to millions of Americans when he travels to Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Thursday. attempting to highlight another political contrast with the GOP in the closing. election days.
During an appearance at Central New Mexico Community College, the president will discuss his administration’s efforts to “reduce college costs and provide additional breathing room” for student borrowers, a White House official said, while warning “disastrous consequences for the middle class”. American families if Republican officials succeed in their plan to deprive tens of millions of borrowers of the opportunity to receive debt relief.
The president’s remarks on student loan cancellation will precede his appearance at a campaign rally to help spur Lujan Grisham, who is locked in a tough re-election fight against Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti in a state which the president won by double digits.
It’s the third time in as many weeks that the president has stumbled into typically Democratic territory where his party’s gubernatorial candidates face tough races.
Last week, the president touted manufacturing investments in Syracuse, New York, alongside Governor Kathy Hochul, who is in a tighter-than-expected re-election race against Republican U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin. Hochul will get an extra boost Thursday when she appears with Vice President Kamala Harris and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a voting event in New York.
In early October, Biden traveled to Portland, Oregon, where his party’s gubernatorial candidate – Tina Kotek – hopes to retain Democratic control in a three-way contest for the governor’s seat.
“The role of governors in America is growing exponentially in terms of how states work and the roles they play,” Biden said at a fundraising event for Kotek.
Biden’s plans for student debt relief were one of the administration’s moves that Democrats hope will motivate young voters to go to the polls ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
According to the White House, nearly 26 million people have submitted their information to the Department of Education to be considered for loan forgiveness, with 16 million applications expected to be approved by the end of the week. But the president’s student loan relief program remains stalled in court, creating uncertainty about when or if that relief will finally be extended to applicants.
A federal appeals court temporarily suspended the student loan forgiveness program last month, suspending its implementation while the court considers a challenge brought by six Republican-led states. The Biden administration has argued that it should be able to carry out its policy while the call unfolds.
The administration also faces lawsuits from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and conservative groups such as the Job Creators Network Foundation and the Cato Institute.
The president said he is confident his plan will be upheld by the courts, predicting that student borrowers will start receiving relief within weeks.
Speaking of Republicans, who have argued the plan is too costly and could make inflation worse, the president said at a campaign rally in Miami Gardens, Florida on Monday, “They moaned and moaned about it and they have challenged it in court, which they will lose.
Biden will deliver his final student debt relief speech at a community college where more than a third of students are Pell Grant recipients and more than half of students are Latino. The president will also highlight the state scholarship program, which provides free college education to eligible New Mexico residents, the White House official said.
Lujan Grisham, Sen. Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Melanie Stansbury will be in attendance along with New Mexico Community College President Tracy Hartzler, the official added.
The speech in New Mexico follows a similar event last month when the president visited Delaware State University, one of the country’s historically black colleges and universities, to promote his plan to loan cancellation, as officials hoped the issue would motivate young voters to head into the medium term. elections.
The results of the Senate and House races next week — and whether the midterms ultimately give Republicans control of Congress — will be key in determining what the second half of Biden’s presidency will look like.
With the smallest of congressional majorities in his first two years in office, the president was able to enact some of his most important legislative priorities – from a sweeping infrastructure package to a major health bill. health care, taxation and climate change enacted just this year. Democrats openly acknowledge that without the House or Senate under their control, legislative victories will be nearly impossible to achieve in the next session of Congress.
Yet Democratic officials are also eager to note the outsized roles governors across the country are also playing in enacting key elements of the White House agenda.
“When you talk about the Senate and the House, it’s: do you keep the majority or not?” said David Turner, director of communications for the Democratic Governor’s Association. “When you talk about a governor, it’s: is anyone going to help you advance your program, especially the popular parts of your program?”
And while the political rally Biden will headline on Thursday will feature Lujan Grisham, there are also competitive house races in New Mexico that officials hope will benefit significantly from a high-profile visit from the president.
“Even though he’s going to campaign for governor, he can help and bring energy to the races at the polls,” said a Democratic official close to the White House. “The name of the game right now is how to get your voters to turn themselves in.”