(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden lambasted Donald Trump for comments casting the US as a “failing nation,” plugging his agenda in a Republican-leaning state he aims to pick up in November’s election.
Most Read from Bloomberg
The president during a Thursday event in North Carolina hit Trump for predicting the economy will crater and hoping any stock market crash happens under Biden’s watch.
“He doesn’t want to be the next Herbert Hoover. I told him: He’s already Hoover. He’s the only president to be president for four years and lose jobs, not gain jobs,” Biden said, referring to the president who was in office at the time of the 1929 market crash that triggered the Great Depression.
Trump in office touted Wall Street’s performance as a gauge — however imperfect — of his economic stewardship. The S&P 500 Index gained about 70% during Trump’s tenure, compared with 24% for Biden.
Biden has increasingly hammered Trump’s record, seeking to draw a contrast with his predecessor ahead of a likely general election matchup in which the president’s handling of the economy will take center stage. Biden has pointed to data that show a strong economy, low unemployment and inflation cooling.
“He wants to see the stock market crash” because he does not want to acknowledge the economy is now performing well, Biden said.
On Thursday, Biden cast his approach as a “fundamental break from trickle-down economics,” which he said was “super-charged” under Trump. Biden said Trump’s policies “shrank public investment in education, infrastructure and education, and hollowed out communities, closing factories and leaving too many behind.”
Biden traveled to the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina on official business to tout his economic agenda, but the 2024 map loomed large. Trump won North Carolina in 2020, but Biden’s team has signaled it will contest the state this year in a likely rematch between the two men.
The president has accelerated his campaign efforts as Trump seeks to quickly sew up the Republican presidential nomination after a blowout victory in Iowa, the first state to vote. Polls show the men in a close race.
Biden trailed Trump by 5 percentage points among registered voters in seven swing states, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll taken last month found. The gap was widest in North Carolina, where Trump’s lead was nine points.
Biden Refines Economic Pitch for 2024 in Bet Worst Is Behind Him
Biden on Thursday announced $82 million from the American Rescue Plan, his first Covid-era stimulus law, to connect 16,000 North Carolina homes and businesses to high-speed Internet. Between that package and the president’s infrastructure law, his administration is investing over $3 billion in North Carolina on Internet connectivity.
Biden cast the efforts as a sign of how his policies had aided communities across the country — even those that had not backed him.
“I promised to be a president for all America, whether you voted for me or not. These investments help all Americans in red states and blue states as well,” Biden said, touting the state’s 3.5% unemployment rate — which he said had fallen since Trump was in office.
He highlighted $11 billion in investments his administration has made in the state, citing $1 billion to help build a rail line between Richmond and Raleigh and $110 million to replace the Alligator River Bridge.
Biden acknowledged there was still work to do, particularly on lowering costs, but said there had been signs of progress.
“Costs are still too high, but inflation continues to fall and mortgage rates are falling. They’re going to fall more,” he said.
Thursday’s event is the latest attempt by the White House to showcase Biden’s efforts to lower prices for Americans and reverse the poor marks voters give him on his economic stewardship. Just 31% of adults approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released this week.
A Democratic presidential nominee has won the Tar Heel state just twice in the past five decades, most recently Barack Obama in 2008. But Biden’s photo finish with Trump in 2020, when he lost by just 0.3 percentage points, has encouraged Biden’s campaign he can compete there.
(Updates with additional context on stock market performance)
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2024 Bloomberg L.P.