Senior Biden campaign officials kick-start coordination with House Democrats for 2024 race

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior officials for President Joe Biden’s reelection effort met with House Democrats on Thursday to outline in detail post-Super Tuesday campaign plans — a strategy session that marks a significant boost in efforts to coordinate with lawmakers on organizing and communicating with voters nationwide.

Those at the gathering in Leesburg, Virginia, include campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez, principal deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks, campaign co-chairman Mitch Landrieu, and Louisa Terrell, former White House legislative affairs director who now advises for the campaign and the party’s August convention in Chicago. White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, who will soon transition full time to the campaign, was also scheduled to attend the session in her personal capacity.

The campaign aides discussed their general election message and outlook for the year, as well as ongoing mobilization efforts. They are also focusing on how to “activate and engage” supporters and what role lawmakers can play in doing that and in other reelect efforts, according to campaign officials.

To that end, senior campaign officials outlined several asks to House Democrats on Tuesday about how to become more involved with the reelect efforts, such as: asking lawmakers to help organize and host recruitment efforts for volunteers and other supporters; undergoing training to help ramp up use of new, digital and app-based organizing tools, and participating in campaign-hosted events, including office openings and coalition meetings, such as Women for Biden, in key battleground states.

“Together, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and House Democrats have delivered on a historic agenda for the American people,” Rodriguez said ahead of the meeting. “Democrats up and down the ballot know the stakes of this year’s election, and are ready to run and win together this November on a winning agenda that fights for the middle class, protects our rights, and stands up for our democracy.”

The meeting Thursday comes as the Biden campaign continues to grapple with reelecting a president who remains more unpopular than popular with voters, as well as polling that shows a tight contest with Donald Trump in several of the battleground state that are key to a Biden victory in November — factors that are prompting private consternation and handwringing from fellow Democrats.

House Democrats are in the northern Virginia town, about 30 miles from Washington, for their annual retreat.

Biden and his political advisers have focused on making a contrast between Trump and the broader Republican Party and the incumbent president, and he urged House Democrats again on Thursday that “we have to make the contrast, the choice, crystal clear.”

“Time and again, the Republicans show they’re a party of chaos and disunity,” Biden told House Democrats at their retreat Thursday afternoon. “The bottom line is, Republicans have to decide, who do they serve? This is not hyperbole. Who do they serve? Donald Trump or the American people?”

Since Trump romped to resounding victories in the Iowa and New Hampshire contests last month, the Biden campaign has effectively acted as if the general election race with Trump has already started. At a trio of high-dollar fundraiser in New York on Wednesday, Biden attacked his predecessor, telling donors at one that “you’re the reason we’ll make Donald Trump a loser again.”

But Biden campaign officials are framing Super Tuesday on March 5 — when more than a dozen states hold nominating contests — as the end of the primary season and the point when they will turn up their efforts for the general election. March, in the campaign’s eyes, is a key time to engage and mobilize voters. Many in Biden’s orbit believe people have been tuned out of politics for much of the campaign season so far and have not yet grasped the all-but-certain reality of a Biden-Trump rematch.

Not only are Democrats trying to keep control of the White House and a narrow majority in the Senate, but to flip control of the House from Republicans, who are currently operating with one of the smallest majorities in recent memory. The March engagement plan will help fortify a campaign operation and grassroots network for Biden and House Democrats that they will further ramp up as they work to persuade voters later this year.

Some House Democratic leaders are signaling that they will want to keep some of their politically vulnerable lawmakers away from Biden during the campaign.

Asked whether the president would campaign with Democrats in close races, Washington Rep. Suzan DelBene, the chairwoman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said he will be out with “some.”

“I think like I said, it depends on where they have their map, where they’re going,” DelBene said. “We obviously have our focus where we have our battleground and front-line districts.”

One House Democrat running in a competitive district noted that at times, the Biden campaign strategy can conflict with that of theirs. Still, the lawmaker, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the election, said Biden campaign officials have been understanding of different members’ electoral prospects and were not pressuring lawmakers to take action on behalf of the campaign one way or the other.

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Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri in Leesburg, Virginia, contributed to this report.

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