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President Joe Biden and Democratic presidential primary challenger Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will share their competing visions for America in Chicago on June 28, less than 14 months before the Democratic National Convention here will determine the party’s 2024 nominee.
Saddled with low approval ratings and questions about his age and fitness, Biden this week launched his second “Investing in America” tour, where he will travel around the country describing how his economic plan has spurred investments and jobs as the economy remains the most important issue for Americans.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced more than $40 billion in infrastructure investment to provide affordable, high-speed internet in areas where it’s unavailable or too slow.
Biden compared the “historic investment” to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan to bring electricity to every American home and farm through his Rural Electrification Act.
A White House fact sheet said that more than 8.5 million homes and small businesses are in areas without high-speed internet infrastructure, while millions more struggle with limited or unreliable access.
In Chicago, Biden will deliver a speech centered around what he calls “Bidenomics,” a new term for his 2024 campaign’s economic message.
“We decided to replace this [trickle-down economics] theory with what the press has now called ‘Bidenomics,” the president told union members on June 17 during his first reelection campaign rally in Philadelphia.
“I don’t know what the hell that is. But it’s working,” Biden added.
President Ronald Reagan’s “Reaganomics” became a household word in the 1980s. The White House is striving to distinguish “Bidenomics” as its own plan of rebuilding the economy from the bottom up and the middle out—not the top down—with a focus on the middle class, which Biden sees as America’s backbone.
Kennedy, who has gained support from voters in both parties since announcing his candidacy in April, also has a campaign message that embraces the middle class.
He chastised Trump and Biden for COVID-era business closures that “shifted $4 trillion from the middle class to the super-rich.”
“We created a billionaire a day during the lockdowns and you know, it was the last breath of the American middle class,” Kennedy told The Epoch Times.
Though critics question whether Kennedy can secure the party’s nomination because of the Democratic National Committee’s backing of Biden, his campaign team said they have two objectives, defeating Biden and winning the general election against the Republican nominee.
While Biden will speak at noon, Kennedy will appear at a NewsNation town hall at 9 p.m. It marks his first town hall with a national news network. The audience will include Democrats or independents who are leaning Democratic. Additional audiences will watch the event in New Hampshire and South Carolina. New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College will help facilitate the live audience. Kennedy has already delivered campaign speeches at the college.
Earlier this year, Biden successfully pushed the DNC to shift New Hampshire’s longtime First in the Nation primary status to second behind South Carolina. Because of the move, Biden’s name might not appear on the state’s Democrat primary ballot.
Republican and Democrat legislators in New Hampshire have said they will not adhere to the schedule change and that a state law prohibits the move. If Biden does not appear on the ballot, that will leave Kennedy and author Marianne Williamson to win the state’s Democrat nomination.
Questions from the town hall audience are likely to address Kennedy’s wide-ranging views that demonstrate why he has attracted interest from conservatives, moderates, progressives, and independents.
Kennedy, the founder of Children’s Health Defense, is vocal about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine for some in the population who were coerced to take them, and of vaccines in general. He’s a vocal opponent of the pharmaceutical industry.
When asked about his stance on the Second Amendment, he said, “I believe in the Constitution, and I’m not going to take everybody’s guns away.
“We must figure out a way to deal with it, but talking about taking people’s guns away at this point in history is not a solution,” he said.
Kennedy has a more conservative than liberal stance regarding the border crisis.
“We have to stop the crisis at the border. We have to seal our borders. No nation can exist If you don’t control [illegal] immigration,” he told The Epoch Times.
Kennedy has also called for a de-escalation of the war in Ukraine and is opposed to U.S. involvement in the conflict. He has said that China is developing ethnic bioweapons that are designed to attack people of certain racial types. He has also chastised the Democratic party for censoring alternative viewpoints.
Critics claim that Kennedy’s platform is a mix of Trump conservatism and a plethora of conspiracy theories. A recent poll from The Economist/YouGov, though, showed that Kennedy has the highest net favorability of all 2024 presidential candidates.
In the survey—which was conducted from June 10 to June 13 among 1,500 U.S. adults and had a 2.7-point margin of error—Kennedy was viewed favorably by 49 percent of the respondents, which translates to a net favorability rating of 19 points. He was seen as unfavorable by 30 percent.
Biden and former President Donald Trump, who is currently the frontrunner among Republican candidates, had 45 percent and 43 percent of the respondents view them in a favorable way.
Biden’s net favorability rating was minus 7 while Trump had a minus 10 net favorability rating.
Biden and Kennedy appearing in the same city on the same day could be the closest the two candidates get since reports indicate that the president has no plans for debates before the August 2024 convention.
Kennedy was asked at a town hall in Philadelphia earlier in June whether he thinks Biden owes the American people a debate with Democratic primary candidates.
“It’s a strategic decision for him,” Kennedy said about reports that Biden won’t participate in a debate. “I don’t even know if President [Donald] Trump will debate his opponents.”
Kennedy added that “the optics are not good” to Americans when candidates don’t debate because “there are so many people now who believe the system is rigged against us.”
Emel Akan contributed to this report