Biden hides before second solo press conference to end freshman year

President Biden has remained out of the public eye this week as he prepares for his second solo White House press conference on Wednesday amid falling support in the polls as inflation hits a 40-year high and COVID-19 cases remain near all-time highs.

Biden will host the forum on the last day of his first year in office as his once ambitious efforts to create new social spending initiatives and federalize electoral politics stall due to pushback from centrist Senate Democrats.

Biden returned to the White House on Monday without stopping to speak to reporters as he wrapped up a Martin Luther King Jr. long weekend at his home in Delaware. On Tuesday, he was not seen by reporters, but attended an economic briefing and called Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to discuss tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

Biden was elected with the most votes in US history after campaigning largely from his basement against President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 handling, but the honeymoon period at power ended quickly over the summer as its vaunted “freedom summer” from the coronavirus ended with the Delta variant wave.

Vice President Kamala Harris recently admitted that “there is a level of unease” in the country, with social activities still heavily suspended and an increase in illness after two years of pandemic policies.

Vice President Kamala Harris said there was a “level of unease” in the country.
APE

Biden’s handling of the pandemic is expected to be hotly questioned at the press conference after the Omicron variant sent case counts and hospitalization rates to record highs this month.

A record more than 1.35 million U.S. residents tested positive for COVID-19 last Monday, CDC data shows — up from last winter’s peak of just 294,000 cases on Jan. 8, 2021. And about 150 000 hospitalized patients in the United States have COVID-19 – compared to the American pre-Omicron variant record of 133,000 last January.

The White House on Tuesday launched a website for people to order coronavirus tests directly at home – after retailers ran out and official testing sites experienced hour-long queues – but the first deliveries could take another two weeks and there are signs that COVID-19 cases are already starting to drop, meaning the initiative may come too late to significantly reduce transmission.

The White House is said to have rejected a plan by experts to massively distribute tests in October. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointedly declined on Tuesday to say which Biden aides attended a reported Oct. 22 Zoom meeting with health experts from Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation and other groups or whether Biden had been consulted before their idea was bolstered three days later. .

Biden is expected to read from a prepared list of reporters, but press conferences allow for more in-depth exchanges than the typically brief Q&A on the White House lawn or after Biden has delivered a speech.

The format also allows a significant number of individual reporters to interview Biden and follow the substantive exchanges leading up to their turn. The Post is one of 30 news outlets to win a seat through a selection process set up by the White House Correspondents’ Association, but Biden is unlikely to tap all 30 reporters.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not respond to questions about a reportedly rejected plan to mass distribute COVID tests in October.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not respond to questions about a reportedly rejected plan to mass distribute COVID tests in October.
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Despite growing woes ahead of November’s midterm elections, Biden is expected to do his best and say the country has made progress toward normalcy. The White House pointed to a 3.9% unemployment rate, though total employment remains below pre-pandemic levels, and last year’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill .

But there are many difficult subjects for the 79-year-old president. In addition to annual inflation hitting 7%, which helped kill Biden’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act last month in the Senate, Biden faces a series of other setbacks, including a US-Mexico border crisis with illegal border crossings hitting at least 35- and the fallout from the chaotic US departure from Afghanistan after two decades of war.

Biden’s first year in office featured less than half the number of press conferences held by former President Donald Trump during the same period.

As of Dec. 31, Biden has held nine press conferences, including two forums with visiting world leaders, where two reporters of each nationality are traditionally called, and events during his trips abroad. His first White House press conference was in March 2020.

President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, March 25, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, March 25, 2021.
PA

During the same period, Trump gave 22 press conferences, Barack Obama gave 27, George W. Bush gave 19 and Bill Clinton gave 38, according to records kept by political scientist Martha Kumar, who leads the White House Transition Project.

Even more notable are Biden’s relatively few interviews, particularly with print publications. As of Dec. 31, Biden has given just 22 interviews, almost all of them with TV stations. Trump gave 92 interviews during the same period, Barack Obama did 156, and George W. Bush, whose freshman year was turned upside down by 9/11, gave 49.

In one category, Biden tops recent predecessors — doing 216 informal Q&As in 2021 compared to Trump’s 120 in 2017 and Obama’s 46 in 2009. But those are usually short exchanges as Biden prepares to board a airplane or leaving a conference room.

Biden agreed to hold a press conference after pressure from key press advocates.

Joe Biden speaks to reporters during his first solo press conference in March 2021.
Joe Biden speaks to reporters during his first solo press conference in March 2021.
PA

“Eisenhower – who defended democracy against totalitarian communism, built the highways and sent troops to integrate the schools – insisted on holding press conferences twice a month,” said Steven Portnoy, president of the Association of White House correspondents. tweeted January 9. “The historic record of a presidency requires more than fleeting Q&As,” added Portnoy, a reporter for CBS News Radio.

On Thursday, the association’s president-elect, NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell, whose one-year term begins in 2023, personally urged Biden to hold a press conference as reporters were driven from an event on COVID-19, where Biden took none of the questions.

“Perhaps a press conference soon, Mr. President?” We’re looking forward to that,” O’Donnell said.

Biden smiled and said, “Me too.”

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