Celebrating the 100-day mark of his administration, President Biden traveled to Georgia to highlight his biggest accomplishments to date and thank voters there for the role they played in putting Democrats in charge of Washington.
The southern swing coincided with a stronger than anticipated economic news and included a closed-door visit with former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter.
“It’s only been 100 days, but I have to tell you I have never been more optimistic about the future of America,” Mr. Biden said at a car rally in Duluth. “America is on the move again!”
Since being sworn in as the nation’s oldest president, the 78-year-old Biden has differed sharply from his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, in both style and substance.
Mr. Biden has been more muted — often boring.
He has signed a flurry of executive actions — rolling back dozens of Trump-era policies — and signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which would have been dead on arrival if Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff did not flip the two Georgia seats in the last election cycle.
“Those two votes made the difference. It passed by a single vote, and that means we owe a special thanks to the people of Georgia,” Mr. Biden said. “Because of your two senators, the rest of America was able to get the help they’ve gotten so far.”
“So if you ever wonder if elections make a difference, just remember what you did in Georgia, when you elected Ossoff and Warnock,” he said. “You began to change the environment.”
Mr. Biden said he is committed to passing the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Family Plan. He said he will fight to root out systemic racism in policing and to bolster voting rights.
Mr. Biden’s Georgia visit followed the news that the U.S. economy grew at a stronger than anticipated annual rate of 6.4% last quarter.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level since the pandemic hit last March, as millions of Americans got vaccinated and the federal government spent trillions in response to the economic effects of the pandemic.
Republicans, meanwhile, painted Mr. Biden’s first 100 days as a disaster.
“Any fair examination of President Joe Biden’s policies would conclude that his first 100 days in office have been a complete failure,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee. “His presidency has largely consisted of taking credit for Republican achievements and undoing commonsense Republican policies — with disastrous results.”
Republicans say Mr. Biden is beholden to the far-left wing of the Democratic Party and has not come close to fulfilling his pledge to bring unity back to Washington.
A recent NBC News poll found that 53% of adults — including 90% of Democrats, 61% of independents and just 9% of Republicans — approve of the job the nation’s 46th president has done over his first 100 days, compared to 39% who disapprove.
Mr. Biden gets his highest mark, 69% approval, for his coronavirus response and lowest mark, 33% approval, for the way he has handled border security and immigration.
The issue of immigration haunted him at his rally when a protester started screaming “End Detention Now!” in an apparent call to close detention facilities holding illegal immigrants.
Mr. Biden said there should be no “private prisons, period” and said he is working to close those facilities.
“I agree with you,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m working on it, man. Give me another five days.”
Mr. Biden carried momentum into the rally out of his address the previous evening to a joint session of Congress. A CBS News/YouGov poll found 85% of viewers approved of the speech, and 15% disapproved.
Sen. Rick Scott, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate GOP, panned the speech Thursday, warning during an appearance on CBS that Mr. Biden is “spending us into oblivion.”
Mr. Scott will be on the frontlines of the GOP’s push to win back Mr. Warnock’s Georgia seat in the midterm elections next year, though Democrats are optimistic about their man’s chances.
He could be appearing on the same ticket as Stacey Abrams, the high-profile voting-rights activist who is expected to take another stab at running for governor after falling short in 2018.
Mr. Biden became the first Democrat to carry Georgia in a presidential race since Bill Clinton in 1992. The Ossoff and Warnock victories handed Vice President Kamala D. Harris the tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 Senate.
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