Apr 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Ex-White House official: Biden doing "probably too many" infrastructure events

Ron Klain

Ron Klain at the White House in February 2023. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden has done "probably too many" events focused on infrastructure and shines best when he is focusing on "kitchen table concerns," former White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: Klain's comments come after audio obtained by Politico revealed Klain questioning Biden's election year priorities at an event Tuesday evening.

  • "I think the president is out there too much talking about bridges," Klain reportedly said in the audio, in which he appeared to compare the relative importance of a bridge to the high cost of groceries for everyday Americans.

The big picture: Klain told Axios that his remarks were made in response to a critic who said Biden wasn't doing enough infrastructure events and asked Klain whether he thought the president ought to be doing more.

  • "I said he's doing plenty — probably too many — and that the key issue in the campaign is democracy," Klain said.
  • On the economic side, the "key message is fighting for middle class families on their kitchen table concerns — prices, child care, senior care," he added.
  • Biden is "at his best" on economic messaging when he focuses on these issues, as he did during his State of the Union address last month, according to Klain.

State of play: Biden sought to build on the momentum from his address with a spate of visits to swing states.

The other side: When asked about Klain's reported comments, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates characterized Klain's remarks as being essentially in agreement with the White House strategy.

  • "Like Ron says, President Biden is crisscrossing the country building on his State of the Union message, highlighting that he is fighting to grow the middle class and lower costs like prescription drugs while blocking the trickle-down agenda Republican officials have proposed on behalf of rich special interests, including Medicare cuts and tax giveaways to big corporations," Bates said.
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