(Add comments from Biden)
By Trevor Hunnicutt
ROSEMONT, Ill., Nov 4 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden, struggling to show anxious voters that he has boosted the economy, touted his economic policies on Friday and said he planned to talk to oil companies on high prices and record profits as he predicted that Democrats will prevail in Tuesday’s legislature even as polls show Republican gains.
In a three-day, four-state campaign, Biden stopped at Viasat Inc., a U.S. communications company in Carlsbad, Calif., to tout efforts to increase semiconductor chip production and solve chain problems of supply that arose at the beginning of his presidency.
With some Republican support, Biden signed into law in August the Science and Chips Act to boost domestic semiconductor production in response to slowing production of cars and high-tech products like those built by Viasat.
On Viasat, Biden said the latest government jobs report showing the US economy added 261,000 jobs last month was a sign of progress.
He said he planned to have a “come to the Lord” talk soon with US oil companies to complain about their record profits at a time when Americans are paying high prices at the pump.
The meeting has not yet been set, Biden clarified to reporters after the speech, and the White House said the president was only making it clear that he was serious about forcing companies to change their behavior.
Biden left California to attend a Chicago-area fundraiser Friday night for two Democratic members of the Illinois House, Reps. Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten, both at risk of losing their seats if Republicans do well in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
“I don’t buy into the idea that we’re in big trouble,” Biden told donors gathered at the event before adding that he believes Democrats will hold the House and Senate.
Earlier in the day, Biden declared inflation his number one priority, stressing that he was taking Americans’ economic concerns seriously as voters head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether he and his Democrats keep the control of the US Congress.
“Folks, our economy continues to grow and add jobs even as gas prices continue to drop,” he said. “We also know that people are struggling with inflation.” But he said there are “bright spots” where the country is recovering.
Forecasts show Republicans poised to take control of the US House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate, which would give them the power to block Biden’s legislative agenda for the next two years.
Historically, the party in the White House loses control of Congress during the first half of a new president’s term.
However, Biden said he thought Democrats could buck the trend this time. “We’re going to win this time. I feel very good about our chances,” he said, adding that Democrats have a good chance of winning the House of Representatives.
Biden’s campaign turnaround will conclude Saturday with a joint appearance in Philadelphia with former President Barack Obama.
Democrats’ electoral hopes have been hurt by voters’ worries about high inflation, and Biden’s public approval rating has remained below 50% for more than a year, reaching 40% in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Biden has also warned of what Democrats say are the dangers posed by Republicans backed by former President Donald Trump to American democracy. (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Kim Coghill, Josie Kao and Michael Perry)
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