Politico

Biden: 'I'm not sure' passing Build Back Better agenda would've changed Virginia election


President Joe Biden on Wednesday said Democrats should have passed his Build Back Better agenda before the party’s Election Day defeat in Virginia, though he added that he’s not sure it would have changed the results given what Americans are facing.

In his first remarks since Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the governor-elect of Virginia, Biden pointed to external factors weighing down voters like the lingering Covid pandemic and economic uncertainty.

“People need a little breathing room. They’re overwhelmed. And what happened was I think we have to just produce results for them to change their standard of living and give them a little more breathing room,” Biden said at the White House after an address on Covid vaccines and kids.

The president refrained from saying he takes some responsibility for former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s loss on Tuesday, but did state that his infrastructure and social spending plan should already be through Congress.

“But I’m not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out in the red districts who were Trump voters,” Biden said. “But maybe. Maybe.”

When a reporter interjected to add that Biden won the state by 10 points in 2020, he responded that he was running against former President Donald Trump. The president also pointed to history as an explanation for McAuliffe’s loss, saying that Virginians typically elect a governor of the party not in control of the White House.

Though the Virginia governor’s race is a statewide election, it’s largely seen as a key indicator for the crucial midterm elections next November. Statewide and national polls have shown a significant decline in approval for Biden, and Democrats hold razor-thin majorities in Congress.

Trump maintained a significant presence in Virginia’s race, as McAuliffe relentlessly tried to tie Youngkin to the former president, who endorsed the Republican. Biden, too, repeatedly mentioned Trump while campaigning for McAuliffe last week in Virginia, calling Youngkin an “acolyte” of the former president.

And even Wednesday’s news conference ended on Trump, when the president was asked about how many times he said Trump’s name last week, and whether voters want to hear Biden talk about his predecessor.

“Well, the reason I mentioned Trump — I didn’t count the times — is because the issues he supports are affecting their lives every day and are a negative impact on their lives,” he said.

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