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On the eve of the State of the Union address, President Biden is struggling — with his own party

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President Biden faces two opponents heading into the election.

Former President Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

And then Mr. Biden must square off against Democrats who are despondent at the president’s performance. 

Anemic poll numbers are driving loyal Democrats away from President Biden.

“The challenges that Joe Biden has with his own party, his own base, are the biggest challenges he’s facing in this election,” said David Cohen, a political scientist at the University of Akron. “He has a lot of issues with younger voters in the party. I think that can be directly linked to what’s happening overseas in the Middle East.” 


Consider how progressives are hectoring the president over how his administration is handling the war between Israel and Hamas.

“We are requesting a meeting with President Biden,” said Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., “We are demanding an immediate, lasting ceasefire.”

Michigan is a state which is critical to Mr. Biden’s reelection campaign. It boasts 15 electoral votes. More than 100,000 voters marked their ballot as “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary last month rather than cast a ballot for President Biden. The president only captured the state by about 154,000 votes in 2020 over former President Trump. There are about 200,000 Muslim voters in Michigan. 300,000 voters say they have ancestral ties to the Middle East or North Africa. That bloc of voters was key to President Biden winning the state four years ago. 

“The results in Michigan this week made it plain voters are not happy with the United States’ handling of the war in Gaza. And President Biden must change course,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a member of the Squad.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 5: President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with his Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 5, 2024 in Washington, DC. Biden announced new economic measures during the meeting. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is a Palestinian-American. She implored the president to alter his course on the Middle East.

“Listen to us! Listen, not only to Michigan. But so many people. The majority of people are supporting a ceasefire,” beseeched Tlaib.

A reporter then asked Tlaib if she will “vote for President Biden in November.”

“Thank you very much,” replied Tlaib. “Thank you.”


Tlaib then walked away.

“A lot of younger voters, Gen Z, millennials are very unhappy with the Biden administration’s full support of Israel,” said Cohen. “He cannot afford to have any slippage in the Democratic coalition and lack of enthusiasm. I don’t think those young Biden supporters that voted for him in 2020 are going to vote for Trump. But the worry for the Biden campaign is that they’re going to stay home.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sidestepped when yours truly asked if President Biden should make a pivot away from Israel in his State of the Union speech to satisfy the left.

“I’m not speculating about what the President should say in the State of the Union,” replied Schumer.

Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., left and President Biden, right

Democratic squad member Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., left and President Biden, right (Allison Bailey/NurPhoto via AP, left, Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images, right.)

Vice President Harris first called for a ceasefire. The President said he’d like a ceasefire by the start of Ramadan – March 10 or 11. But it’s unclear if the administration can get what it wants from the Israelis, despite taking a harder line stance.

But it’s just not Middle East policy which is turning off key sectors of the Democratic coalition. 

Via executive order, President Biden has erased a staggering $138 billion in student loan debt for 3.9 million borrowers. But that hasn’t been enough to placate some Democrats. They want it all wiped out.

And then there is the border.

Democrats are exasperated at Republicans incinerating a bipartisan border package earlier this winter after months of negotiations. But the administration’s approach to securing the border is nearly as galling to the left. 

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have long been outraged that the administration and other Democrats failed to engage them in border talks. Some liberal Democrats are angry that the now-dead bipartisan plan went too far modifying asylum and parole. 


Then there are mainstream Democrats and swing voters. They fear a surge of undocumented migrants racing across the southern border into the U.S. High-profile deaths like nursing student Laken Riley in Georgia only amplify their worries. The murder suspect – Jose Ibarra – was cited for shoplifting and endangering a child. Republicans quickly drafted a bill to require the detention of illegal migrants if they have brushes with the law.

“If we can we put a national spotlight on this thing, we’ll do it,” said Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., who represents the district where Ibarra was killed. “If we can just prevent one of these (deaths) from happening again, we’ve done our job.”

That’s why the House planned a vote on the “Laken Riley Act’ just before President Biden’s State of the Union speech Thursday. This is an effort to focus attention on the border amid the president’s address.

Collins asked Riley’s parents to attend the speech. But they are home grieving. Collins says he’ll leave his guest seat in the public gallery overlooking the House chamber vacant in honor of Riley.

But it’s not just Republicans who are infuriated about the border – even if many on the right incinerated a bipartisan border security package President Biden endorsed earlier this winter. Democrats of all stripes are now demanding enhanced border security.

Out of desperation, Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., told Fox that he now supports a chunk of the House GOP’s strict border bill, known as H.R.2. That bill cracks down on illegal immigrants in the country and mandates that employers document their workers.

John Fetterman

US Senator John Fetterman (C), Democrat of Pennsylvania, arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2023.  (Photo by PEDRO UGARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Fetterman is so focused on tightening up the border that he wants H.R.2 – with an exception for “DACA” – a delay in the deportation of persons who came to the U.S. without documentation as children.

“Anything other than that can be on the table for me,” said Fetterman.

The Pennsylvania Democrat referred to the Republicans’ plans on DACA as his “kill switch.” But he was game for anything else. 

“As a Democrat, I’m willing and eager to go stronger than the border deal that was here,” said Fetterman. “It might actually be appropriate, given the circumstances here at the border.”

So, pick your issue. President Biden is struggling to connect with lawmakers who should be in his corner.

“The party’s all over the place,” said Cohen. “Many Members of Congress are thinking about their own re-elections.”

In other words, Democrats might cut Mr. Biden some slack if the President boasted approval ratings of 50 percent. But with his subterranean numbers, Democrats are putting distance between themselves and President Biden.

“It’s all about political survival,” observed Cohen.

This is the challenge for President Biden.

It’s one thing to get hammered by former President Trump and rock-ribbed Republicans.


It’s another thing to have members of your own party upbraid you on a daily basis.

With friends like these, President Biden doesn’t need an enemy.

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