Joe who? Some Democrats distance themselves from Biden as midterm elections draw closer

Democratic candidates in swing states are skipping events with Biden or distancing themselves from him on policy and in campaign ads.

Updated: September 5, 2022 - 6:49am

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Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is the latest Democratic candidate to distance himself from President Biden as the midterm elections draw closer.

A national poll published Wednesday found that Biden's approval rating has dropped to 38%. 

Barnes is running against incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. Barnes' campaign said he has three other campaign stops on Labor Day, Sept. 5, which is the day of Biden's visit. 

"The Lt. Governor is excited to participate in Laborfest events throughout Milwaukee, Madison and Racine," said spokeswoman Maddy McDaniel. "His priority is talking to Wisconsin voters and supporting the labor movement that gave his family a ticket to the middle class."

In July, Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Ohio, also missed an event with Biden. 

"We have no interest in them or any other out-of-state surrogates," said Ryan's spokesperson, according to the New York Times. "I don't think that's going to change anytime soon."

The distancing has extended beyond skipping events and into policy.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto has publicly opposed Biden's student debt forgiveness program, which he implemented unilaterally. 

"We should be focusing on passing my legislation to expand Pell Grants for lower income students, target loan forgiveness to those in need, and actually make college more affordable for working families," she said.

Ryan shared a similar view on Biden's debt forgiveness plan.

"As someone who's paying off my own family's student loans, I know the costs of higher education are too high," Ryan said in a statement. "And while there's no doubt that a college education should be about opening opportunities, waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet."

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur released an ad in August that was critical of Biden's policies.

"Joe Biden is letting Ohio solar manufacturers be undercut by China, but Marcy Kaptur is fighting back," said the narrated ad.