That discussion followed the first group visit recently by officials from Ohio. President Joe Biden earlier this month spoke at the groundbreaking for a new Intel plant near Columbus. Both Ohio and North Carolina have open Senate seats this year.
Thursday's half-day included Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, who's from North Carolina. Rodriguez and Keisha Lance Bottoms, a former Atlanta mayor who is now a White House senior adviser, also were to talk to the group.
In attendance were more than 50 North Carolina officials, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning, state lawmakers, the mayors of Charlotte, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Concord, Kinston and Durham, in addition to leaders from Wake and Guilford counties.
Just as administration officials want to hear local stories, they also want to emphasize the possible opportunities that local governments might have because of the bipartisan infrastructure law, the incentives for developing computer chips and scientific research, and the recent package to encourage climate-friendly energy sources and limit prescription drug prices.
As part of the day's events, the White House connected those officials with regional media outlets in a sign that they're trying to bring the message to the wider public. That will be crucial in terms of political messaging. Republicans seeking control of the House and Senate have blamed high inflation on Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, while the administration say the prices are a byproduct of global events such as the pandemic and Russia's February invasion of Ukraine.
The White House says its efforts have helped workers by swiftly bringing down unemployment rates to a low 3.7%, but the Republican drumbeat is that consumer prices are up 8.3% from a year ago and the primary reason for voter concern. Gasoline prices have eased since peaking in June, but the Federal Reserve estimated Wednesday that unemployment will likely rise to bring down inflation.
“The inflation rate plateauing above 8% does not mean that families are catching a break — it means exactly the opposite,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a Monday speech to the Senate. “It means that families are continuing to see prices go up and up and up all the time.”