Biden to jump-start 2024 campaign with focus on fight for democracy

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Ailing in opinion polls, Joe Biden will aim to jump-start his re-election campaign in the coming week with events designed to symbolise the fight for democracy and racial justice against Donald Trump.

The Biden-Harris campaign announced the plans in a conference call with reporters that mentioned Trump by name 28 times in just 24 minutes, a sign of its determination to draw a sharp contrast between the US president and his likely Republican challenger.

On Saturday Biden will deliver a major address laying out the stakes of the election at Valley Forge, near Philadelphia, the site of a 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army led by George Washington during the American revolutionary war.

It was at Valley Forge that a disorganised alliance of colonial militias was transformed into a cohesive coalition united in the battle for democracy, the Biden-Harris campaign told reporters, noting that Washington became president but then relinquished power.

“There the president will make the case directly that democracy and freedom – two powerful ideas that united the 13 colonies and that generations throughout our nation’s history have fought and died for a stone’s throw from where he’ll be Saturday – remain central to the fight we’re in today,” said the principal deputy campaign manager, Quentin Fulks.

Then, on Monday, Biden will speak at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, where in 2015 nine African American worshippers were killed by a white supremacist while they were praying at the end of Bible study.

Fulks described it as a historic venue that embodies the stakes of our nation at this moment because whether it is white supremacists descending on the historic American city or Charlottesville, the assault on our nation’s capital on January 6 or white supremacists murdering churchgoers at Mother Emanuel nearly nine years ago, America is worried about the rise in political violence and determined to stand against it”.

The vice-president, Kamala Harris, will also travel to South Carolina on Saturday to address the 7th Episcopal District AME church Women’s Missionary Society annual retreat and, later this month, launch a “reproductive freedoms tour” in Wisconsin, highlighting the “chaos and cruelty” unleashed by the overturning of the constitutional right to abortion.

Speaking from the campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, Fulks told reporters: “You can expect the entirety of our campaign to be out in full force later this month on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, making crystal clear to every American to that the freedom for women to make their own healthcare decisions is on the ballot this November.”

But the conference call made no mention of Biden’s leadership during the war in Ukraine, where Congress now threatens to cut off funding, nor the war in Gaza, which has been the most divisive foreign policy issue of his presidency. The campaign team also avoided the subject of Biden’s age – at 81 he is the oldest president in American history.

The call did dwell on the January 6 insurrection, however, underlining how the Biden campaign is intent on making the election less a referendum on his presidency than a choice between the incumbent and Trump, who has been twice impeached and indicted in four separate cases and is facing 91 criminal counts.

Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the campaign manager, said: “When Joe Biden ran for president four years ago, he said, ‘We are in the battle for the soul of America’ and as we look towards November 2024, we still are. The threat Donald Trump posed in 2020 to American democracy has only grown more dire in the years since.

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