By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign will use next week’s Republican debate in the battleground state of Wisconsin to engage thousands of social media volunteers and launch their first advertising campaign aimed at Black and Latino voters, according to a Democratic official.
Republican presidential contenders are gathering in Milwaukee next Wednesday for their first debate of the 2024 campaign season, even though front-runner and former President Donald Trump says he will skip the Fox News broadcast.
Trump may be absent but Democrats will be watching closely, in Milwaukee and across the country, using it as “as a high-impact press and organizing opportunity,” according to the campaign official, who declined to be identified.
Starting on Wednesday, the Biden campaign will begin running its third major paid ad campaign of the election cycle, including the first messages aimed at Latino and Black media, the official said, while declining to give a dollar figure.
They plan to placard Milwaukee with advertisements listing Biden’s “record of accomplishments,” while a billboard truck will circle the debate venue. Biden campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond and Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Jaime Harrison will hold a press conference before the debate.
The campaign will ask hundreds of thousands of volunteers, particularly in swing states, to post online during the debate, contrasting Republican statements with Biden’s record, after holding a massive training session this weekend.
“We’re using the debate as an opportunity to activate and energize our supporters, as well as expand support for the Biden-Harris ticket and our agenda for the middle class and protecting Americans’ freedoms,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.
Biden’s low-key re-election campaign has so far largely avoided public rallies and events, with Biden focusing largely on fundraising and the presidency.
No serious challenge has emerged for Biden’s Democratic Party nomination. A slow start to an incumbent’s presidential re-election campaign is not unusual: Barack Obama held his first official rally for the 2012 election in May of that year.
Biden needs to woo unimpressed Black and Latino voters who made his 2020 election victory possible, energize Democrats’ unenthusiastic about a second four-year term, and lift his approval ratings from their current 40% range, political strategists say.
Wisconsin is among a handful of closely divided “swing” states where both parties are focusing resources in 2024. Biden won the state by less than a percentage point in 2020; Trump won Wisconsin by a similar margin in 2016.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Jonathan Oatis)
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