By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden travels to North Carolina on Friday to tout his economic agenda and pledge to support military families, spending time in a politically vibrant state while Republican presidential candidates there also woo voters.
Biden and his wife, Jill, will make stops at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to discuss workforce training programs and at the new Fort Liberty to talk about new efforts to help alumni. combatants and the families of those serving in the military, the White House said.
Biden’s trip comes as Republican presidential candidates converge on North Carolina for the state’s Republican convention. Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who are competing with each other and a group of others for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination, are expected to speak there.
Trump, who has a big lead in the polls over DeSantis, declared himself an “innocent man” on Thursday amid reports that he has been indicted by a federal grand jury for keeping classified government documents and obstructing the justice.
Biden, who is running for re-election, will likely be asked about this development when he travels on Friday. The White House previously said it would not comment on the actions taken by the Justice Department.
The president’s trip underscores his team’s political strategy of highlighting that Biden is actively governing while Republican candidates vie for the right to take him in 2024. The so-called bully pulpit is a key advantage that presidents incumbents from both parties have long put to effective use.
North Carolina is an important political state that Trump won, albeit by a slim margin in 2020, while losing the presidency to Biden, who won with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
During his trip, Biden will announce a series of executive actions to “increase economic security for military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors,” the White House said. He will do so at Fort Liberty, a U.S. Army base that was recently renamed Fort Bragg as part of an effort to rename bases named for Confederate officers.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Kim Coghill)