You can imagine that the intention will get swept away in questions on guns and immigration, but the White House is hoping that President Joe Biden today will be able to tout his success in getting the Covid-19 relief bill through Congress so early in his administration.
Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller write for Associated Press that he is the first chief executive in four decades to reach this point in his term without holding a formal question-and-answer session. He’ll meet with reporters for the nationally televised afternoon event in the East Room of the White House.
“It’s an opportunity for him to speak to the American people, obviously directly through the coverage, directly through all of you,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday. “And so I think he’s thinking about what he wants to say, what he wants to convey, where he can provide updates, and, you know, looking forward to the opportunity to engage with a free press.”
Biden’s conservative critics have pointed to the delay to suggest that Biden was being shielded by his staff. West Wing aides have dismissed the questions about a news conference as a Washington obsession, pointing to Biden’s high approval ratings while suggesting that the general public is not concerned about the event.
Behind the scenes aides have taken the event seriously enough to hold a mock session with the president earlier this week. And there is some concern that Biden, a self-proclaimed “gaffe machine,” could go off message and generate a series of unflattering news cycles.
Firmly pledging his belief in freedom of the press, Biden has rebuked his predecessor’s incendiary rhetoric toward the media, including Donald Trump’s references to reporters as “the enemy of the people.” Biden restored the daily press briefing, which had gone extinct under Trump, opening a window into the workings of the White House.
Biden will point to a surge in vaccine distribution, encouraging signs in the economy and the benefits Americans will receive from the sweeping stimulus package.
But his appearance will come just a day after he appointed vice president Kamala Harris to lead the government’s response to the situation at the US-Mexico border, where the administration faces a growing humanitarian and political challenge that threatens to overshadow Biden’s legislative agenda. Pressure has mounted on the White House to back tougher gun measures ,and the White House has struggled to blunt a nationwide effort by Republican legislatures to tighten election laws.