Biden praises GOP Gov. Kay Ivey after she said its ‘time to start blaming unvaccinated’

President Joe Biden on Friday night praised the Republican governor of Alabama for her angry condemnation of residents of her state who were refusing to get vaccinated, and then falling ill. 

Kay Ivey – whose state has the lowest rate of vaccinations in the country, with only 33 per cent taking up the jab against COVID – on Thursday blamed Americans who have refused to get vaccinated for rising case rates.  

‘Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,’ she said.

‘It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.’

The president, who returned to the campaign trail in Northern Virginia to tout Terry McAuliffe’s bid for a second term in the governor’s mansion, opened his speech by praising Ivey. 

Joe Biden's return to the campaign trail on Friday night was almost immediately interrupted by hecklers, who reacted when he spoke about Alabama's Republican governor, and her urging of the state's residents to get vaccinated

Joe Biden's return to the campaign trail on Friday night was almost immediately interrupted by hecklers, who reacted when he spoke about Alabama's Republican governor, and her urging of the state's residents to get vaccinated

Joe Biden’s return to the campaign trail on Friday night was almost immediately interrupted by hecklers, who reacted when he spoke about Alabama’s Republican governor, and her urging of the state’s residents to get vaccinated

Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of the president's, is running for election as governor of Virginia. On Friday night (pictured) he campaigned at Lubber Run park in Arlington

Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of the president's, is running for election as governor of Virginia. On Friday night (pictured) he campaigned at Lubber Run park in Arlington

Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of the president’s, is running for election as governor of Virginia. On Friday night (pictured) he campaigned at Lubber Run park in Arlington

‘What we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ said Biden.

‘A lot of our conservative friends have had a second thought. They’ve seen the Lord.’

He added: ‘Thank God the governor of Alabama – had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country – has now, and I’m genuinely complimenting her….’

He was then interrupted by hecklers, with some yelling ‘We love you Joe!’ and others booing. It appeared that the hecklers yelled ‘Stop Line 3!’ in reference to a pipeline project running from the Canadian province of Alberta to Minnesota.

Biden said: ‘This is not a Trump rally, let him holler – no one is paying attention.’  

Ivey’s state and others across the South are hammered by new infections – with three states in the region now accounting for 40 per cent of active cases nationwide.  

‘Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks,’ she said on Thursday. 

‘And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.’

She told reporters that she’s done her best to fight the virus but ‘can’t make you take care of yourself.’   

Kay Ivey's state of Alabama has only seen a third of residents get vaccinated - well below the national average. As a result, cases are surging and deaths will follow

Kay Ivey's state of Alabama has only seen a third of residents get vaccinated - well below the national average. As a result, cases are surging and deaths will follow

Kay Ivey’s state of Alabama has only seen a third of residents get vaccinated – well below the national average. As a result, cases are surging and deaths will follow

In the past week more than two million Americans received their first vaccine dose - a 14 percent increase from the week prior

In the past week more than two million Americans received their first vaccine dose - a 14 percent increase from the week prior

In the past week more than two million Americans received their first vaccine dose – a 14 percent increase from the week prior

Biden spoke to a small crowd in Arlington on Friday night, delivering a wide-ranging summary of his first six months in office and his plans for the next three and a half years, which he described as ‘a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America’.

He delivered a wholehearted endorsement of his close ally McAuliffe – despite, he joked, the fact that he would once again be his wife Jill’s boss. Jill Biden teaches part-time at a Northern Virginia community college. 

‘I ran against Donald Trump and so has Terry,’ said Biden, referencing McAuliffe’s campaigning for Biden in 2020.

‘I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry,’ he added, to laughter and whoops.

The commonwealth was once solidly Republican, but growth in Northern Virginia, the suburbs of Washington, D.C., has flipped Virginia to lean to the Democrats in recent years. Biden won 54.4 per cent of the vote, with Trump scoring 44.2. 

Biden said that McAuliffe’s Republican rival, Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity executive with a net worth estimated at more than $300 million, as firmly in the Trump mold.

‘The guy Terry’s running against is an accolyte of Donald Trump for real,’ he said.

‘I don’t know where these guys come from, I really mean it.’  

Biden urged Congress to agree on his flagship $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which is currently in limbo as lawmakers scramble to finalize key details ahead of the Senate’s typical August recess.

He said it would attract investment in industry and commerce to the nation, and secure a brighter future for all.

McAuliffe listens as Biden - a friend of his for decades - addresses the crowd on Friday night

McAuliffe listens as Biden - a friend of his for decades - addresses the crowd on Friday night

McAuliffe listens as Biden – a friend of his for decades – addresses the crowd on Friday night

The president cited studies suggesting he will create 18 million jobs in the next 10 years, and said his infrastructure bill would see Americans put to work in jobs where ‘a significant amount of these will pay the prevailing rate of 30, 40, 50 bucks an hour.’

He continued: ‘Folks, we are proposing a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America – a once in a generation investment in American jobs and families that is going to position us to win the competition for the 21st Century.’

Biden said that investing in infrastructure meant investing in human infrastructure as well as modernizing physical structures. 

‘We used to have the best roads, highways, bridges, ports in the world,’ he said.

He vowed to bring access to high-speed internet and get rid of lead pipes ‘poisoning our children’.   

The president began his speech by praising Virginia’s vaccination rate, which he said is higher than the national average, and thanked the current Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, who cannot run for another term in November.

‘Here’s the truth. If you are fully vaccinated, you are safer and with a higher degree of protection,’ said Biden.

Biden opened his remarks by urging all Americans to get vaccinated

Biden opened his remarks by urging all Americans to get vaccinated

Biden opened his remarks by urging all Americans to get vaccinated

Continuing with his speech, Biden declared that he believed healthcare was a right, not a privilege.

He lamented the high price of prescription drugs, and said that the solution was to use Medicare to buy the products, which could bargain on consumers’ behalf.

‘We have to build back better – it’s amazing how that phrase has caught on around the world, isn’t it?’ he said, to applause.

Biden told the crowd that he had no problem with millionaires and billionaires – ‘as long as they pay their fair share.’

Closing corporation tax loopholes, he said, would give America a much needed financial boost. 

‘We can afford to do this if the very wealthy just start paying their fair share,’ he said.

‘About two million women are unable to go back to the workforce, due to things like not being able to pay for childcare.’

He added: ‘Terry and I share the same basic truth – trickle down economy doesn’t work.

‘It’s time to build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.’  

He promised to invest in veterans’ healthcare, and said that the tax cuts on the middle class would reduce child poverty by half this year.

‘We have to cut through the Republican fog that the government is the problem, and come back to we the people,’ he said.

He described America as ‘the most unique country in the world,’ born of a idea of freedom and prosperity for all.

‘We have never met the test – but we have never walked away from it like the Republicans have,’ he said.   

As Biden makes his return, Democrats are doubling down on the successes of his presidency so far and its popularity, making it the centerpiece of their 2022 midterm strategy. 

Looming over their efforts is the shadow of Donald Trump, who is already inserting himself into the next rounds of Republican primaries. 

With control of Congress at stake, along with Biden’s ability to pass his legislative agenda, Democrats have invested heavily in Biden, establishing party embeds in some of the major battle ground states as part of the coordination effort with the White House.

That coordination includes a united messaging strategy, specifically promoting Biden’s legislation agenda, including the Child Tax Credit and his American Rescue Plan.  Last week the three Democratic campaign committees released a rare joint ad touting the Child Tax Credit and its benefits on the middle class. 

The economy will be a key talking point.  

A White House official told DailyMail.com the focus is on ‘the strength of our agenda, and the impact that it is already having – through things like the Child Tax Credit – and will have through more jobs, tax cuts, and lower costs for working families.’  

The Virginia race, along with New Jersey’s off-year gubernatorial contest, is seen as a bellwether how the party will do in the 2022 midterms. 

President Biden returned to the campaign trail on Friday evening as Democrats double down on his presidency heading into the midterm elections

President Biden returned to the campaign trail on Friday evening as Democrats double down on his presidency heading into the midterm elections

President Biden returned to the campaign trail on Friday evening as Democrats double down on his presidency heading into the midterm elections

President Biden campaigned for Terry McAuliffe, who is running for Virginia governor; above McAuliffe and Biden campaigned together in Virginia during the 2020 presidential contest

President Biden campaigned for Terry McAuliffe, who is running for Virginia governor; above McAuliffe and Biden campaigned together in Virginia during the 2020 presidential contest

President Biden campaigned for Terry McAuliffe, who is running for Virginia governor; above McAuliffe and Biden campaigned together in Virginia during the 2020 presidential contest

Polls show the Virginia race is tight with Youngkin narrowly trailing McAuliffe. 

A JMS Analytics survey released last month showed McAuliffe leading Youngkin 46% to 42%, within the poll’s 4.2-point margin of error. 

McAuliffe, a former head of the Democratic Party, is close to Biden and campaigned for him in the 2020 election. The Democratic National Committee is also investing $5 million into this race, the committee announced this week.

McAuliffe has also received $650,000 from teaching unions that promoted Ccritical race theory – a flashpoint in the culture wars sweeping America, and particularly Virginia, where school board meetings have turned into wild screaming matches. 

The National Education Association (NEA) — the largest teachers’ union in America that recently adopted a measure saying they will ‘research’ opponents of critical race theory — gave McAuliffe $400,000.

Additionally, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) gave McAuliffe’s campaign $250,000. 

Randi Weingarten, the president of AFT, recently said the union would protect members who teach critical race theory. 

Youngkin’s campaign is using McAuliffe’s strong ties to prominent Democrats to portray him as a Washington insider.  

‘Terry McAuliffe must be worried about his terrible poll numbers if he’s already calling in political favors this early in the campaign. We expect he’ll bring his mentors Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton here soon too, just like he did the first two times he ran for governor,’ Younkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement.

And while Friday marks Biden’s official return to the campaign trail, a soft sell of endangered Democrats have been in the works for weeks by the White House.

When Biden was in Illinois earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood, a top GOP target next year, was at his side. 

When he went to Wisconsin, he had endangered Democratic Rep. Ron Kind with him.

And when Jill Biden visited a COVID clinic in Georgia this month, Sen. Raphael Warnock, the most endangered Democratic senator, was touring it with her. 

When the first lady went to New Hampshire for a July 4th barbeque, vulnerable Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan joined her for the celebration.

‘The President’s time is one of the most valuable commodities that a White House has,’ the White House official noted. 

‘Where he is spending that time is an indication of what we see as the strength of our argument with the American people.’

But bringing in Biden has its risks. 

While Biden enjoys a high approval rating – 63% in an Associated Press poll last week – polls also find that voters think the country is sharply divided and Republicans give him low marks. 

And, historically, the president’s party tends to do badly in the first midterms after they talk office. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump saw their respective parties lose control of the House of Representatives in their first midterms – 2010 and 2018. 

With the midterm elections over a year away, Senate races are garnering the early attention. Six of the nine Senate races rated competitive by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report are in states Biden won last year. 

And Democrats hold a narrow majority in the 50-50 Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as tie breaker. 

The president is expected to be active in helping his party keep control of Congress.  

‘I would expect that the president will be actively engaged in in the 2022 election,’ Democratic Senator Gary Peters, who is head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told DailyMail.com. 

‘I fully expect the president to be very engaged in making sure that we hold the majority and expand the majority.’

A soft sell campaign has already started with President Joe Biden having Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood (left of Biden), a top GOP target next year, at his side when he was in Illinois earlier this month

A soft sell campaign has already started with President Joe Biden having Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood (left of Biden), a top GOP target next year, at his side when he was in Illinois earlier this month

A soft sell campaign has already started with President Joe Biden having Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood (left of Biden), a top GOP target next year, at his side when he was in Illinois earlier this month

Jill Biden Sen. Raphael Warnock, the most endangered Democratic senator, at her side when she visited a COVID vaccine clinic in Savannah earlier this month

Jill Biden Sen. Raphael Warnock, the most endangered Democratic senator, at her side when she visited a COVID vaccine clinic in Savannah earlier this month

Jill Biden Sen. Raphael Warnock, the most endangered Democratic senator, at her side when she visited a COVID vaccine clinic in Savannah earlier this month

Democrats have four vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. And the party faces crowded, competitive primaries in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. 

The DSCC is already invested on the ground, putting in communications staff in key Senate battleground states and investing heavily in voter protection as Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed new voting laws that critics say will hurt minority groups – which tend to vote Democratic – at the ballot box.

The coordinating on messaging and strategy is already in play. 

‘The DSCC coordinates communications and political strategy on an on-going basis with state parties in battleground Senate states as well as other committees like the DNC, DCCC, and DGA and with the White House political department,’ a DSCC aide told DailyMail.com.

Republicans are expressing confidence heading into 2022. 

On Wednesday, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy referred to Nancy Pelosi as the ‘lame duck speaker’ – which she would be if Republicans win control of the House next year.

And the Republican National Committee said they will hold the Biden administration accountable in the election. 

‘Americans are rejecting the failed policies of the Biden administration and turning towards Republicans’ proven message,’ RNC Spokesperson Emma Vaughn told DailyMail.com. 

‘We look forward to holding Biden and Democrats accountable for their resounding failures when we take back the House and Senate in 2022.’ 

Over it all looms the shadow of Trump – although how far and dark a net the former president will cast on the midterms remains to be seen.  

Trump has weighed in on Senate races in Georgia and Arizona – featuring two of the most Democratic incumbents – and advised Virginia voters to watch their ballots in the November election. Trump has endorsed Youngkin in the governor’s race. 

Former President Donald Trump has already inserted himself in the 2022 midterm election, picking favorites in competitive GOP primaries

Former President Donald Trump has already inserted himself in the 2022 midterm election, picking favorites in competitive GOP primaries

Former President Donald Trump has already inserted himself in the 2022 midterm election, picking favorites in competitive GOP primaries

And Republicans have primary problems of their own, mainly among candidates touting who has the most support from Trump. 

Of the nearly 700 Republicans who have filed initial paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for either the Senate or the House of Representatives, at least a third have embraced Trump’s false claims about his defeat, according to a Washington Post analysis earlier this month. 

Trump’s base of MAGA supporters remains devoted to him and could prove to have huge sway in the GOP primaries.  

The former president has already christened some favorites.  

In Georgia, which Trump claims he won and has railed against Republican officials there for not supporting him in that lie, Trump is publicly pushing football star Herschel Walker to run for the Senate. Walker has made no formal announcement of his intentions. 

The former president will hold a campaign rally in Arizona on Saturday where Democratic Senator Mark Kelly is running for re-election. 

Trump has repeatedly attacked Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, even after Ducey said he is not running for Senate.

Trump also has been touting a recount of Maricopa County, ordered by the Republican-controlled state Senate, that has yet to announce its results. Previous recounts found no evidence of voter fraud and confirmed Biden’s win. 

He will also likely attack Biden on border policy, an area the president could prove vulnerable among voters. 

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