Biden, Harris head to North Carolina as they seek to flip state

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 5:02 AM

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris travel to North Carolina on Tuesday to contrast their healthcare agenda with a blueprint congressional Republicans recently offered, as their reelection campaign seeks to flip the state for the first time since 2008.

The North Carolina trip marks the finale of Biden’s tour of all the campaign battleground states following the State of the Union speech earlier this month. Biden, a Democrat, used the tour to draw contrasts with Republicans and to raise millions of dollars as top Republican rival Donald Trump remains bogged down in costly criminal and civil legal challenges.

Biden’s reelection campaign is eyeing North Carolina after Trump barely eked out a win the last time the two went head-to-head in 2020. Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was the last Democrat to win the Southern state in 2008, but Democrats note that the margin of victory for Republicans has narrowed in recent elections.

Biden is expected to tout record enrollment in Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, at 21 million – up from 9 million when he took office – as well as a new $35 price cap on insulin and a plan to empower the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices with pharmaceutical companies for the first time.

He will contrast those accomplishments with a budget presented by the Republican Study Committee that White House senior adviser Anita Dunn says will slash the Obamacare and Medicaid health insurance for the poor while stripping protections for pre-existing conditions.

“The difference is simple. The president and vice president have always believed that healthcare is a right not a privilege,” Dunn said.

Trump currently edges Biden by 3% in North Carolina, according to the latest opinion poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. Like other polls, the Marist survey shows Biden losing ground among critical Black voters.

Democrats are hoping some down-ballot races could help Biden pull out a win come November. They believe Mark Robinson, the Republican candidate for governor, could swing voters to the Democratic ticket in 2024.

Robinson has built a reputation as a political firebrand, and forged a path in politics partly through incendiary comments on social issues, which have mobilized his Trump-aligned base and repulsed Democrats.

Robinson has a history of antisemitic comments and opposes abortion and gay rights.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)