WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden visited South Carolina on Thursday, where the economic measures he pushed through Congress despite fierce Republican opposition are helping to keep things humming in the deep red state — and others that voted for Donald Trump in 2020.
Biden is expected to speak at 1:15 p.m. Watch the event live in the player above.
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Ahead of Biden’s visit to a state he lost by nearly 12 percentage points in 2020, if Republicans had their way, South Carolina, like many Republican-controlled states, would have lost billions of dollars in investments, White House officials said. And thousands of jobs.
Biden used his visit to unveil a new clean energy production partnership between solar company Enphase Energy and manufacturer Flex Ltd., which is expected to create 600 jobs in the state and another 1,200 nationwide.
Enphase, which is investing $60 million to open six new production lines, including two in South Carolina, is benefiting from tax breaks included in Biden’s $370 billion inflation-reduction legislation passed last August.
The White House slammed Republicans on Wednesday for voting against the legislation and efforts to roll back tax breaks included in the bill.
„Republicans in Congress, including every Republican representative in South Carolina, want to threaten to repeal the anti-inflation law, which actually helps the American people, by repealing these investments, jobs and economic opportunities,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said. said. „But as the president said in his first inauguration, he’s the president for all Americans. It doesn’t matter if you’re red or blue.”
A Republican representative representing an area that will benefit from Enphase’s new investment. Joe Wilson tweeted that after the legislation was approved on a party-line vote, it passed „to the detriment of American families.” ” of money. Wilson voted in April to repeal clean energy tax credits in the Enphase Investment Promotion Act.
The representative, another South Carolina Republican, helped the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority win nearly $26 million to build and repair clean energy transportation projects under the $1 trillion infrastructure law. The White House also took note of congratulating Nancy Mays. He voted against the bill.
2024 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott voted against the infrastructure bill, saying it included „irresponsible spending on unrelated pet projects.”
The visit to South Carolina — which has not supported a Democrat in a general presidential election since Jimmy Carter’s 1976 victory — comes less than a week after Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, visited the small town of Pickens. The rally attracted tens of thousands of people.
„By showing up in red and explaining how even those who didn’t want to vote for him benefited from his policies, Biden is beginning to clarify the real choice for that small universe of swing voters,” he said. Josh Freed heads the climate and energy program of the centre-left group Third Way.
See: Biden touts 'bitenomics’ as economy improves, but many voters remain skeptical
With soaring inflation slowing, unemployment near historic lows and the battle for Biden’s re-election heating up, the White House is making a big push to show progress under „bidenomics.”
Biden has seen his public approval ratings — and public sentiment about his handling of the economy — dragged down by stubborn inflation that hit a 40-year high last summer.
„What is 'Bidenomics’? It’s inflationary Washington spending, expensive regulations and regressive taxes promoted by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” said Sen. Wyoming, the Senate Republican leader. John Barrasso wrote in a note Wednesday. „These policies make everyday essentials more expensive, drain household savings and drive up interest rates.”
Still, White House officials embrace the economy’s right, arguing that legislative action in the first two years of the Democratic administration has kept the economy strong in the face of headwinds from the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic. Biden also argues that his legislative victories would have set the stage for further growth if voters had given him four more years.
Private companies have invested more than $500 billion in manufacturing across the country since Biden took office. South Carolina, which has an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, has seen $11 billion in new investment in manufacturing and clean energy since the start of the Biden administration, according to a White House count.
South Carolina has only one Democrat — Rep. Jim Clyburn — in Congress and hasn’t had a Democrat in elected office statewide in more than a decade.
But the state has long been a place of personal and political importance to Biden: Kiawah Island, near Charleston, is a family vacation spot and a decision-making place ahead of his presidential campaigns.
South Carolina Democrats also scored a major victory for then-candidate Biden’s 2020 bid. The endorsement of Clyburn, then the highest-ranking black member of the House, helped lift Biden to a decisive primary victory, revitalizing a flagging campaign and building momentum that propelled him through a series of Super Tuesday victories.
The party’s national prominence has risen — the Democratic National Committee recently made South Carolina the first voting state on its 2024 presidential primary calendar.
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Cristale Spain said that by making his pitch in the state, Biden is making good on his promise to be president for all Americans, not just those who supported his campaign.
„The president has always made South Carolina a priority, and we support him, and we’re excited to mobilize voters for his re-election,” Spain said during a conference call with reporters.
Kinnard reported from Columbia, SC
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