Biden visiting Cincinnati today for CNN town hall event: What to know

President Joe Biden delivers remarks about economic recovery and infrastructure framework at the White House in Washington on Monday, July 19, 2021. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden delivers remarks about economic recovery and infrastructure framework at the White House in Washington on Monday, July 19, 2021. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times)

Mount St. Joseph University set to host visit, as he’ll likely tout infrastructure plan to Ohioans.

President Joe Biden’s first presidential visit to the Queen City will be a televised town hall where he’ll likely push his near-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.

The president will be interviewed by CNN’s Don Lemon at Mount St. Joseph University, a private liberal arts college on the west side of Cincinnati, according to our news partner, WCPO-TV.

This is the third Ohio stop in Biden’s young presidency, and the first trip to Cincinnati since a campaign stop in October 2020. Biden visited Columbus in March to garner support for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, and then visited Cleveland in May as he was negotiating that plan.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Liz Walters said Biden has been “laser-focused” from the beginning of this presidency on the needs of working families in Ohio and across the country.

“And even as Ohio families are back on the road to recovery thanks to the president’s leadership, we’re glad to see that his commitment to working Ohioans is as steadfast as ever as he comes to Cincinnati to hear their needs and concerns,” she said. “Clearly, the president recognizes the importance of visiting our state often to hear from Ohio voters directly and we know that the policies we’re seeing put into place are working for working families as a result of those conversations.”

Said the Ohio Republican Party in a statement: “(Today), President Joe Biden will visit a great city suffering from devastating levels of violent crime caused by the failed leadership of Democrat Mayor John Cranley. Just like how Joe Biden failed to protect Americans and our southern border, John Cranley is failing to protect Cincinnatians as they face the third highest homicide rate per capita in the nation.”

The Cincinnati town hall is an invitation-only event set for 8 p.m. at the university that celebrated its centennial last year.

Biden has crisscrossed the United States pushing his infrastructure proposal, hitting Midwestern cities in states that will play key roles in the 2022 mid-term and 2024 presidential elections. Biden lost Ohio by 8 points in November, but has visited counties he won during his presidential trips to the Buckeye state. He won Cuyahoga and Franklin, home to Cleveland and Columbus. Hamilton County backed Biden in November and is home to Cincinnati.

“Even just a few months into his term, President Biden is already focusing a lot of attention on Ohio as a potential 2024 battleground state,” said John Forren, Miami University’s Department of Justice & Community Studies chairman and Miami’s Menard Family Center for Democracy executive director. “I look at this visit as a part of the Democrats’ attempt to regain some of the support within the traditional Democratic bases that eroded during the Trump years.”

Ohio is also an important state as political eyes are also looking at the state’s 2022 U.S. Senate race as U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, said he will not seek re-election, said Miami University political science professor Christopher Kelley. Portman helped to lead a bipartisan negotiation on the infrastructure deal now backed by the White House, according to the New York Times.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, of Youngstown, is the only declared Democratic candidate seeking the party’s nomination. However, there will be a swath of Republicans attempting to court Trump backers, including former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, and venture capitalist and author J.D. Vance.

The U.S. Senate is split 50-50, but the Democratic Party has control as Vice President Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, is the tie-breaking vote. The winner of the 2022 U.S. Senate race will serve alongside U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Cleveland.

Who wins the Senate race will be dependent on who emerges from the Republican primary. If Mandel wins, who is an early front-runner according to polling, Kelley said “it is possible” the Democratic candidate can win.

“Ryan will be formidable. He appeals to working-class voters and he isn’t (U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) or (U.S. Sen. Bernie) Sanders,” Kelley said. “If the GOP nominates Vance, then I think it will be harder for the Democrats to win, and this is assuming all things being equal.”

HOW TO WATCH

The one-hour invitation-only event will stream live on CNN.com and CNNgo.