What to Know in Washington: Biden Wisconsin Launch Hints at 2024

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Joe Biden wanted a show of strength and found it in a union hall in Wisconsin — a state Democrats learned the hard way that they can’t ignore, and one where the president sent his strongest signal yet of a reelection bid.

The trip this week, on the heels of the State of the Union address, plucked Biden from the bruising fray of Washington and dropped him in front of a friendly crowd near Madison, a heavily Democratic part of a swing state that will help crown the winner of the 2024 election.

Biden has given every signal that he plans to run again; and if, at age 80, he’s harboring any misgivings, he received only encouragement in Wisconsin. Hundreds of people packed the union training center in DeForest, just outside Madison, to cheer him on, and labor leaders there praised him as the most pro-union president they’ve known.

Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg
Biden speaks during a visit at LiUNA Training Center in DeForest, Wisconsin, US, on Wednesday.

The trip intended to shore up two blocs ahead of a potential rematch with Donald Trump: Wisconsin itself, where Trump shocked Democrats by winning in 2016 before Biden narrowly won it back, and the labor movement, whose leaders remain Democratic loyalists but whose rank and file flirted with Republicans.

“I think he should run,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which hosted the event. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny. He’s moving, moving, moving, and I see no signs of this man, this president, slowing down.”

Wisconsin has seen a shift in voter allegiance similar to other swing states, where Ronald Reagan-era suburban Republicans have skewed more Democratic while rural areas have grown more deeply Republican. It makes Wisconsin a so-called purple state overall, but it’s a quilt of places that lean heavily one way or another.

Several people involved in politics said they expect 2024 to be contentious, regardless.

“I just think it’s going to be another dog fight,” said Scott Walker, a former Republican governor of the state, stopping short of predicting Biden would lose there.

“Elections are about the future, not about the past. So to the extent, if circumstances are similar, if there’s a Republican nominee who’s got a plan for the future, I think he or she is in a pretty good spot to be competitive against Joe Biden or whoever the Democrat is,” he said.

The president reprised elements of his State of the Union speech at the union hall near Madison, saying that the US needs a blue-collar effort to rebuild the country. Josh Wingrove previews the outlook for Biden in the Badger State.

Happening on the Hill


  • The Senate returns Monday.
  • House members are out for a two-week recess.

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Republican Senator Looks to Farm Bill to Undo Biden Water Rule

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GOP Lawmakers Ask SEC to Justify Private Funds in Proposal

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Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) escaped an attack Thursday morning by tossing hot coffee at a man who punched her in an elevator of her Washington apartment building, police said.

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Silicon Valley Lawmaker Plans Visits to Taiwan, China This Year

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who represents much of the Silicon Valley, said he plans trips to both China and Taiwan this year in an effort to stabilize the US-Chinese trade relationship and strengthen ties to the Taiwanese semiconductor industry.

Elections, Politics & Probes

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Pence, O’Brien Subpoenaed in Special Counsel Probes of Trump

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Around the Administration


  • Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at 11:15 a.m. host governors at the White House as part of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting.
  • Biden and Harris then welcome Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at 3:30 p.m., followed by a bilateral meeting.
  • At 1:30 p.m. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing.

Biden, Lula Put On Pro-Democracy Show Under Bolsonaro’s Shadow

Biden hosts his counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the White House Friday in a show of support for Brazilian democracy, shaken last month by a right-wing insurrection akin to the invasion of the US Capitol in 2021.

Biden Agenda Hits Obstacle in Sought-After Texas Federal Judge

Biden administration policies on immigrant, reproductive, and LGBTQ rights have all hit the same roadblock in Amarillo, Texas: Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.

Biden Denies US Considering Deportations of Non-Mexican Migrants

Biden denied his administration is considering deporting major numbers of non-Mexican immigrants, saying he didn’t think there was a need to do that even if pandemic-era border restrictions are lifted.

Dating Apps, Yacht Research Found on Pentagon Phones Despite Ban

Defense Department employees are downloading mobile applications to their work telephones that pose “operational and cybersecurity risks,” the department’s inspector general said in a report that stemmed from concern about the Chinese-owned video service TikTok and other messaging apps.

China Envoy Says Balloon Shouldn’t ‘Offset’ Push to Mend US Ties

The balloon dispute shouldn’t undermine efforts by China and the US to repair ties, a senior Chinese diplomat in Washington says in remarks Wednesday.

Half of Taiwanese Support a Visit by McCarthy, Defying China

More than half of Taiwanese surveyed in a recent poll say they support a visit by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — even though China responded to a trip by his predecessor by launching missiles over the democratically run island.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com; Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com

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