Watch Live: Biden speaks for first time since 2024 announcement

President Biden on Tuesday is giving his first speech since he formally announced his reelection bid earlier in the day, addressing the North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton near the White House. Mr. Biden took the stage to chants of, “Let’s go, Joe,” and another chant of “four more years” broke out during his speech.

In what was billed as a White House event and not a campaign stop, the president is discussing how the Biden administration believes their investments in the country are bringing back manufacturing, creating good-paying union jobs and “rebuilding the middle class.” The president sought to make the case that his administration is strengthening the economy for American families, even as still-high inflation continues to hammer Americans’ budgets. 

“Under my predecessor, Infrastructure Week became a punchline,” Mr. Biden said. “On my watch, infrastructure’s become a decade headline, a decade. And that’s where you all come in. No, really. That’s where you all come in. We’ve already announced over 25,000 infrastructure projects in 4,500 towns across America. And we’re just getting started, not even close. Union workers will build roads, bridges, lay internet cable, install 500,000 electric vehicle chargers throughout America. And union workers are going to transform America. And union workers are going to finish the job!”

On Tuesday morning, the president’s campaign released a three-minute video with the president trying to make the case that he and fellow Democrats want to protect as many American freedoms as possible. 

“When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America — and we still are,” Mr. Biden said in the video. “The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer. I know what I want the answer to be. This is not a time to be complacent. That’s why I’m running for reelection.”

The Washington Hilton, where Mr. Biden is speaking Tuesday, is the same site where the White House Correspondents Dinner will be held on Saturday.

Mr. Biden has long voiced his support for unions, a key group in funding and backing his successful 2020 presidential election bid against former President Donald Trump. The line, “The middle class built America — and unions built the middle class,” has become one so frequent in his speeches that those who watch the president regularly could probably cite it in their sleep. And it’s one Mr. Biden used in his speech yet again Tuesday. 

According to a CBS News poll released Tuesday but conducted ahead of Mr. Biden’s announcement, Democrats said they like and approve of the president, although they would greet the announcement of his reelection bid more with acceptance than excitement. Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents, 54% described how they feel about the president running again as “accepting,” while 28% chose “confident,” 27% chose “nervous” and 22% chose “excited.” 

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel criticized the president’s speech in a statement. 

“Biden wants to ‘finish the job,’ yet he couldn’t name a single accomplishment in his three-minute-long video seeking re-election,” McDaniel said. “Americans’ paychecks are shrinking and our communities are less safe in Biden’s America, which is why our Republican nominee will beat Biden in 2024.”

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