Biden Touts Infrastructure Funds in Bid to Flip North Carolina

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden lambasted Republicans who opposed his signature infrastructure law that is funding lead-pipe removal in North Carolina, as he seeks to make a long-shot play for the battleground state.

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Biden’s third trip to North Carolina this year is bolstering his campaign’s push to compete in the traditionally red state that Republican Donald Trump narrowly won in 2020.

Biden announced $3 billion to help identify and replace toxic lead pipes and deliver clean drinking water, casting the investment as a boon to public health and the state’s economy. The president also met with the families of four law enforcement officers fatally shot in Charlotte earlier this week. The two events showcased Biden’s efforts to appeal to both urban Black voters and white suburban voters he will need to compete in the swing state.

“There’s no, no safe level of lead exposure — none — the only way forward is replace every lead service line that connects Americans to clean water,” Biden said Thursday in Wilmington, questioning if the US could call itself a “leading nation” without ensuring that all communities had access to safe drinking water.

“Lead service lines pose severe health risks,” he added. “We know we can stop it. We know how to do it.”

Biden said the funding would particularly help disadvantaged communities and tribal lands disproportionately affected by pollution and toxins and that the effort would bolster local economies, providing high-paying jobs to plumbers, pipe fitters, engineers and others.

The funding includes $41 million for Milwaukee and $42 million for Pittsburgh, cities in battleground states, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Biden will need to turn out urban voters to win in November. North Carolina will receive more than $76 million in the latest round of funding.

Fallen Officers

Biden’s campaign has sought to put Trump on the defensive in the state before their November rematch, particularly with the presumptive Republican nominee sidelined by a Manhattan criminal trial. Biden’s operation has 11 offices in North Carolina and is on track to have 40 staff by month’s end, according to the campaign, highlighting how the president is using his fundraising advantage over Trump to deploy resources in battleground states.

Thursday’s trip saw Biden take on two roles: in Charlotte, the consoler-in-chief for a city grappling with tragedy and in Wilmington, a salesman for his embattled economic agenda.

Biden has often used his own personal story and experiences with loss, including the deaths of his first wife and daughter in a 1972 car crash and the 2015 passing of his son Beau from cancer, to comfort grief-stricken communities.

Speaking about his meeting with the families of the fallen officers, Biden said while crime rates are down nationwide more must be done to get resources to help law enforcement, including keeping firearms off the street.

“We’ve invested a record amount of public safety violence interruption. We’ve also done much work to make communities safer but to protect our officers we have to get them the resources they need to be able to do their job,” he said.

Biden has escalated his swing-state travel in recent weeks in a bid to reverse lackluster polling numbers, driven in part by voter anxiety over the economy and persistent inflation. The president has sought to showcase infrastructure and manufacturing projects in order to show voters that his policies have produced tangible economic gains.

Earlier: Biden’s Gains Against Trump Vanish on Deep Economic Pessimism

Still, an April Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll found Biden trailing Trump among voters in the seven states most likely to determine the outcome of November’s presidential election.

In North Carolina, Trump holds a 10-percentage-point lead over Biden, suggesting it won’t be easy for the president to make inroads there. North Carolina has been unfriendly territory for national Democrats in recent years. The last Democratic presidential nominee to carry it was Barack Obama in 2008.

Democrats have seized on a 12-week abortion ban Republicans enacted in North Carolina, hoping to draw suburban women, Black voters and young people to the polls. The state also features a high-profile gubernatorial race this year that pits Democrat Josh Stein, the state attorney general, against Trump-backed Republican Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.

Trump sought to hold his own event in Wilmington last month but was forced to cancel the rally because of severe weather.

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