PITTSBURGH — President Biden went to Pennsylvania on Thursday to promote the fruits of the infrastructure law that he enacted this year and to make a final push to help Democrats maintain their slim control of the Senate.
In traveling to the state, Biden injected himself into one of the most hotly contested elections in the country, the fate of which could determine the prospects of his legislative agenda for the next two years. The backdrop represented a shift in Biden’s rhetorical approach to the midterm elections, which have focused in recent weeks on preserving abortion rights, Social Security, and Medicare.
“Instead of infrastructure week, which was a punchline under my predecessor, it’s infrastructure decade,” Biden said, standing in front of a crane situated next to the partially rebuilt Fern Hollow Bridge, which collapsed in January after years of neglect.
Although the event was purported to be about the economy, politics was clearly in the air. Biden was greeted at the airport by Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who is locked in a tight race with Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican, to become the state’s next senator.
The Pennsylvania Senate race has grown increasingly contentious during the final stretch. Fetterman, who suffered a stroke this year, has faced questions from Republicans, including his opponent, about his capacity to serve because of lingering health effects. During his recovery, Fetterman has at times struggled to articulate his thoughts on the campaign trail and has had to read questions on a screen during interviews.
At Thursday’s event with Biden, Fetterman made no public remarks.
Biden, who has maintained a low profile on the campaign trail this fall, is also attending a fund-raising reception with Fetterman in Philadelphia on Thursday evening.
The Fern Hollow Bridge, where Biden spoke Thursday, is symbolic of the creaky state of American infrastructure that he wants to rehabilitate. As Biden was preparing to visit the city in January, the thoroughfare crumbled and fell into the ravine below.
Funding from the infrastructure law did not go directly to rebuilding the bridge, but Biden noted that the money allowed the state to fix it more quickly because Pennsylvania’s Transportation Department did not have to divert resources from other projects. The bridge is on track to be rebuilt in less than a year, which is far faster than the two to five years that similar projects might take.
New York Times
Pence hints at 2024 presidential run
Once upon a time, they ran the country together. Now former vice president Mike Pence has suggested he might not lend his support to his old boss, Donald Trump, if Trump runs in the next presidential election.
Asked whether he’d back Trump in 2024, Pence took a long pause and, with a wry smile, told an audience at Georgetown University late Wednesday: “Well, there might be somebody else I’d prefer more.”
It’s possibly the heaviest hint yet that the former vice president might put himself in the running instead — fueling the possibility of a clash that has been the subject of Washington speculation since the tensions between the two leaders in the last days of the Trump administration.
Shrugging off applause, Pence continued, “What I can tell you is, I have every confidence that the Republican Party is going to sort out leadership. All my focus has been on the midterm elections, and it’ll stay that way for the next 20 days.”
“But after that, we’ll be thinking about the future, ours and the nation’s,” he added. “I’ll keep you posted.”
Over the summer, Trump has made it less of a question of if, but rather when, he would announce his bid. “In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision,” he told New York magazine.
Pence, who has largely stayed away from overtly criticizing Trump, refers to his time at the White House as “the Trump-Pence administration” and has undertaken an aggressive travel schedule to early 2024 primary and caucus states, particularly South Carolina and Iowa.
However, he is also walking a fine line, having criticized Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election but still campaigning with Republicans ahead of the midterm elections who have embraced Trump’s falsehoods about it.
Trump supporters have called Pence a “traitor” for carrying out his ceremonial duty to certify Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021. Rioters in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol that day chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” He said he feared for his and his family’s safety as they hid near the Senate floor.
Trump has said bluntly: “Mike committed political suicide by not taking votes that he knew were wrong.”
But Pence has hit back. “President Trump is wrong,” he said in February in Florida. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
Political pundits have noted that Pence isn’t yet making opposition to Trump a core part of his political brand.
Instead, he has been keen to talk about policies, notably immigration and border control. Earlier Wednesday, he spoke at the conservative Heritage Foundation and called out “apologists” for Russian President Vladimir Putin within the Republican Party. He also chided those who have argued against US defense funding for Ukraine.
And Pence again hinted at his own ambitions, noting that the United States was “on the cusp of a new era of Republican leadership.” Republicans, he said, can’t “allow our movement to be led astray by the siren song of unprincipled populism that’s unmoored from our oldest traditions and most cherished values.”
At the Georgetown event, Pence told the audience he “frankly always had a good relationship” with President Biden, although he said he couldn’t “identify a policy that I agree with.” Pence added: “I think you can say that somebody’s ideas are bad without saying they’re a bad person.”
Of the current vice president, Kamala D. Harris, Pence also took a moderate approach: “We got strong differences, but look, I literally respect everyone. I don’t care what your politics are if you’re willing to stand up and put your name on a ballot because you love this country — you have my respect.”
Trump reportedly deposed in fraud case
Lawyers for investors who claim they were defrauded by Donald Trump more than a decade ago finally got a chance to depose the former president about his marketing of a failed videophone venture on “Celebrity Apprentice,” according to a person familiar with the matter.
The deposition, which occurred earlier this month, hasn’t been reported. Trump was deposed in a separate case Wednesday for a defamation suit brought by New York author E. Jean Carroll. She alleges he raped her in a department store dressing room two decades ago and defamed her when he denied it.
A New York judge had ordered Trump to sit for questions in the videophone case by Oct. 31, after a planned testimony date was derailed by Hurricane Ian and triggered a fierce war of words between lawyers for plaintiffs and Trump. The exact day of the deposition wasn’t made public.
Trump, his company, and his three oldest children were sued in 2018 by four investors who claim they were duped by Trump’s promotions into paying thousands of dollars to become independent sellers with ACN Opportunity LLC, which sold a doomed videophone device that the future US president touted as the next big thing. The clunky devices were made obsolete by smartphones.
The investors’ lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The attorney also represents Carroll.
A judge will rule some time next year on the plaintiffs’ motion to let them represent all investors who may have been wronged by the Trumps’ ACN pitches. A trial is expected to last up to four weeks and a date for it hasn’t yet been set.
The investors’ lawyers have said they planned to grill Trump about why he started pitching the company to his viewers around 2008, assuring his fans that they could make easy money selling the video phones “without any of the risks most entrepreneurs have to take.”
According to the suit, the Trumps lied about their faith in its products and also failed to disclose they were being paid to promote the company. Trump himself also starred in promotional videos and appeared in-person at events for the company.