A new report from NBC News paints the Biden White House as a rudderless ship in a sea of angst and anger.
“Faced with a worsening political predicament, President Joe Biden is pressing aides for a more compelling message and a sharper strategy while bristling at how they’ve tried to stifle the plain-speaking persona that has long been one of his most potent assets,” the report Tuesday said.
“I don’t know what’s required here,” said Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, whose support helped Biden win the Democratic presidential nomination. “But I do know the poll numbers have been stuck where they are for far too long.”
NBC News described the president as “rattled” by his low approval numbers. Polls show he is less popular than former President Donald Trump, and that rankles Biden, according to the report, which was based on multiple sources who were not named.
“He’s now lower than Trump, and he’s really twisted about it,” NBC News quoted what it was was a “person close to the White House” as saying.
Contrary to Biden’s public claims that he never looks at the polls, the report said, he has weekly meetings on polls and has been surprised to see his standing tumble among suburban women.
Americans have been unhappy with the president on a range of issues, including skyrocketing prices for gas and other necessities, a surge in illegal immigration since he took office and the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The 79-year-old Democrat has tried to craft a winning message but has failed. Biden himself reportedly thought of denigrating Trump supporters as “Ultra MAGA,” only to find out that the name-calling was embraced as a slogan.
“He shares the view that we haven’t landed on a winning midterm message,” NBC News quoted a “person close to the White House” as saying. “And he’s putting a lot of pressure on people to figure out what that is.”
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Biden’s strategy of getting out of Washington has done little.
“People confront him,” a top Democratic donor said. “All he’s hearing is ‘Why can’t you get anything done?’”
As issues pile up, such as the recent shortage of infant formula, the president is angry that he is always a step behind, according to the report.
“Biden is frustrated. If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” a White House insider said.
A staff change is rumored, with speculation that Chief of Staff Ron Klain will leave after the November midterm elections, possibly to be replaced by Biden loyalist Anita Dunn, currently a White House adviser, according to NBC News.
The report said Biden is irked by the way aides revise his public comments.
“The so-called clean-up campaign, he has told advisers, undermines him and smothers the authenticity that fueled his rise. Worse, it feeds a Republican talking point that he’s not fully in command,” NBC News reported.
It said that after the president spoke about the need to remove Russian leader Vladimir Putin from power, only to have his staff amend his comments, “Biden was furious that his remarks were being seen as unreliable, arguing that he speaks genuinely and reminding his staff that he’s the one who is president.”
As Biden flails, Democrats founder with midterm elections approaching.
“We’re on a track — a losing track,” Faiz Shakir, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said of the Democrats.
Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida said the White House has yet to propose an “intellectually honest” plan to fight inflation.
“If I sound frustrated, it’s because I hear from my constituents,” Murphy said, according to NBC News. “They’re struggling. This is not a time for political games. It’s not the time for finding bogeymen.”
Murphy’s office said it has been six months since she had a policy discussion with the Biden White House.