President Biden appeared to give a confused answer Friday in response to a reporter’s question over whether he will travel to Georgia to campaign for Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., ahead of Tuesday’s runoff election.
At the tail end of a bill signing ceremony for legislation cementing a deal between rail unions and freight companies to avoid a strike, Biden was asked why he is not going down to Georgia to help Senator Warnock. In response, he said he was, and then clarified he is not and will travel to Massachusetts instead for a fundraiser.
“I’m going to Georgia today to help Sen. War– not to Georgia. I’m going to help Sen. Warnock by doing a major fundraiser up in Boston,” Biden said.
The president is scheduled to make appearances at a Boston phone bank and fundraiser for Warnock, who is fending off a challenge from legendary University of Georgia running back and Heisman trophy winner Herschel Walker.
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Earlier this week, White House aides said the Boston trip was requested by Warnock’s campaign and that Biden was willing to go wherever Democratic candidates wanted him in 2022.
“The president is willing to help Sen. Warnock any way he can, however the senator wants him to get involved,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Biden, who remains underwater in job approval polls, largely avoided the campaign trail in the lead-up to the midterm elections and that strategy appeared to pay off. Democrats won key Senate races in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, and maintained their Senate majority largely without Biden traveling to deliver stump speeches.
A fifty-year veteran of Washington, Biden recognized that statewide candidates especially would seek to stake out a distinct identity for voters frustrated by politics in Washington, his aides said. Meanwhile, he proved to be a boon to the candidacy of Sen.-elect John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and his appearances with more than a dozen House candidates helped Democrats keep Republicans to the narrowest of majorities in the upcoming Congress.
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While he wasn’t in those states in person, White House aides said, Biden was talking about the issues that were relevant in those races from afar — from bringing down healthcare costs to combating efforts to undermine election results.
“It didn’t matter where the president went; his message very much resonated,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that Biden talked about the Democrats’ legislative achievements. “And that worked. Right? That worked.”
While Warnock has also distanced himself from Biden, his campaign has welcomed support from other high-profile and popular Democrats, including former President Barack Obama.
Obama traveled to Georgia Thursday and gave an impassioned plea for voters to re-elect Warnock, questioning Walker’s competence to serve in the Senate.
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The former president charged that Walker, a first time candidate and former college and professional football star, lacked the “confidence or the character, the track record of service, that would justify him representing Georgia in the United States Senate right now.”
This was Obama’s second trip to Georgia in just over a month. The former president teamed up with Warnock and 2022 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams at a large rally at an arena near Atlanta’s airport in late October, just ahead of the November general election.
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More than 1 million Georgians have already cast ballots, according to state officials, and Democrats have aggressively pushed for their supporters to get to the polls to give Warnock a head start ahead of next Tuesday’s contest.
Polls show a tight race, but give Warnock a slight edge to win. Though neither candidate won an outright majority to avoid a runoff in the Nov. 8 election, Warnock did finish approximately 37,000 votes ahead of his Republican opponent.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.