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Biden travels to Minnesota to tout investments in manufacturing and clean energy

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

While more Republicans are seeking the White House, President Biden has yet to announce his bid to keep it.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Biden is promoting his record today in Minnesota. It's a state that he won in 2020 and would need again in 2024. And he is talking of federal investments in the new energy economy.

MARTÍNEZ: White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez will be traveling with the president.

Franco, so what's in Minnesota for President Biden, and where else is he going?

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Well, he'll be visiting an engine and alternative power manufacturer just north of Minneapolis. You know, the company is going to announce $1 billion in investments towards low- to zero-carbon engines. The idea really is to help decarbonize U.S. truck fleets. But, you know, as you note, the trip is actually part of a three-week tour that Biden and top aides are doing to highlight some of the investments his administration has done in some of these issues - manufacturing, supply chains and creating jobs. I mean, really, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and nearly a dozen members of the cabinet are really fanning out across the country, going to more than 20 states, including battleground states, like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada, to get this message out.

MARTÍNEZ: Another thing is the Biden administration has struggled with economic uncertainty. How does that play into this visit?

ORDOÑEZ: It's a really big part. I mean, the economy continues to dominate as the most important issue facing the country. And polls show that most Americans really do not yet feel the impacts of all the spending packages that have been turned into law. There's really been so much focus on concerns about inflation. And this is an effort to kind of counter that. The administration wants to show what they're doing and have done and the impacts it's having. And it's very, very important for Biden to kind of improve those perceptions about the economy and hone his political message ahead of the 2024 election.

MARTÍNEZ: Thing is, though, now we're all going to be focused on Donald Trump. So how hard will it be to get that message across for Biden when the attention is going to be in New York?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, of course. Attention on Trump is going to be sky high. You know, everyone wants every detail about the arrest. But for this trip, the White House is really focused on local attention and local headlines. You know, Celinda Lake, who is a pollster on the Biden campaign, told me that Trump is always going to make noise and create drama. You know, she kind of described this kind of split-screen opportunity for Biden to really emphasize the contrast between himself governing and Trump being arraigned.

CELINDA LAKE: Ironically, the noisier the environment is, the more important it is to get out the alternative in terms of what this administration is doing and what it's going to continue to do.

ORDOÑEZ: And, A, it's not that Democrats aren't concerned about Trump, you know, and the attention that it's getting, but they also point to Trump's track record when he is the focal point of the national narrative. And if you look at the last few elections, Democrats have generally benefited when he is the focal point of so much attention.

MARTÍNEZ: The thing with Biden, though, is that he still has not made his reelection official. Seems like everyone's been waiting for a while. So what's the holdup?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, Biden says he intends to run. But you're right; he has yet to make it official. But he's taking all the steps. He's visiting battleground states on what is the single most important issue for reelection. He's also tacked to the center on a bunch of issues that Republicans will likely attack him on as the campaign season kicks in - things like getting tougher on crime as well as immigration. You know, there's obviously a lot of anxiousness about this, but ultimately, it's going to be up to him to make it official.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Franco Ordoñez.

Franco, thanks.

ORDOÑEZ: Thanks, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.