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Politics chat: 8 months of Trump and Biden start now

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

It's all over but the shouting, which means eight months of shouting. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are all but certain to be their party's nominees, meaning the presidential primary is effectively over, and the race - marathon, really - for the White House is a rematch. NPR senior White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now. Good morning, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: OK, I say effectively, but we should stress that there's still voting to be done for a House and Senate and local races. That said, how are President Biden and former President Trump kicking things off?

KEITH: They were both in the key state of Georgia yesterday holding dueling rallies. And Biden is on a real campaign blitz this weekend and into next week. They're ramping up hiring in key swing states, and over the next six weeks, the Biden campaign announced it will spend $30 million airing ads like this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Look, I'm not a young guy. That's no secret. But here's the deal. I understand how to get things done for the American people.

KEITH: Age is something that when I'm out talking to voters, they bring up unprompted. That's Republicans and Democrats alike. The Biden approach here, as you hear in that ad, is you can't hide from it, so embrace it. And the other thing that I should say here is that although we are calling this a rematch, it is very much a different race. A lot has changed since November of 2020. President Biden has had a lot of time to govern, you know, and with that comes decisions that people who voted for him don't like, including the U.S. role in the war in Gaza. But also there is a record of accomplishments. And for Trump, there was an insurrection that came at the end of his presidency as he clung to power, 91 criminal charges and some significant civil judgments, though none of that seems to bother Republicans.

RASCOE: Trump is running like an incumbent, though. On Friday, he hosted Hungary's prime minister at Mar-a-Lago, right?

KEITH: He did. Viktor Orban is an anti-democratic strongman who has become something of a darling on the far right in the U.S., and the Trump campaign put out photos and a readout from that meeting as if Trump was still president, and Orban tweeted out a video with some slow-motion footage of an evening reception where Trump praised him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: And he does a great job. He's noncontroversial figure because he said this is the way it's going to be, and that's the end of it, right? He's the boss.

KEITH: Trump has a well-documented admiration for autocrats who quash dissent in their countries. Biden pointed to this visit as a sign that Trump seeks to diminish democracy here in the U.S., rather than build it up.

RASCOE: So let's talk about policy differences between these two candidates. They both addressed immigration yesterday.

KEITH: Indeed. Trump is rerunning his 2016 playbook, talking up problems at the border, demonizing immigrants. And he wants voters to turn to him and his more hard-line immigration policies for safety.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: The suburban - they always say suburban housewives. They want something that's very important security. They don't want illegal immigrants coming into our country. They don't want illegal immigrants knocking on their front door and saying, I'm going to use your kitchen.

KEITH: And he goes on from there. He's drawing attention to a recent case where a young woman in Georgia was killed by a man who was in the country illegally. Trump even met with Laken Riley's parents yesterday. And President Biden is in a tough spot politically with immigration. He's trying to get Republicans in Congress to approve funding to bolster border security, but at Trump's urging, they are blocking a bipartisan border deal. And he's also dealing with pressure from his left. This isn't about policy, but Biden, as he was being heckled during the State of the Union last week, referred to the alleged perpetrator in the Riley case as an illegal, which got him some blowback, so yesterday in an interview with MSNBC, he said it was a mistake to use that term instead of undocumented.

RASCOE: So then do you think that the next eight months will be all about immigration?

KEITH: Well, certainly immigration is going to be a major talking point for Trump, but Democrats intend to make this campaign all about reproductive rights, and it's certainly an area of maximum contrast with Republicans. Trump has claimed credit for the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade because he appointed three conservative justices. Biden is not going to let him forget it. And for voters who care about reproductive rights, it seems like there's a new reminder every day of what a post-Roe America looks like, from the recent IVF stoppage in Alabama to cases of women having to go out of state for medically necessary abortions.

RASCOE: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. Tam, thank you so much.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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