WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Joe Biden dismissed his party's gloomy outlook for November's midterm elections, saying Democrats could pick up two Senate seats while admitting he's making a mistake by not doing enough to tell voters about his accomplishments.
Mr Biden, speaking Thursday (April 21) at a fundraiser in Portland, Oregon, said Democrats erred in 2010, during Mr Barack Obama's first term, by not trumpeting passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, leaving voters unsure of what they'd done.
That allowed Republicans to make major gains in the 2010 midterms.
"What I'm realising is, I'm making the same mistake," he told the crowd.
"What I'm worried about now is that we've done one hell of a job, but the fact is, that because things have moved so rapidly, so profoundly, it's hard for people" to follow, he added.
Biden is facing a rapidly closing window to pass new legislation before the elections, which polls signal will be bruising for Democrats, with the House in particular at risk.
Midterm cycles are usually rough for first-term presidents, and were for Mr Donald Trump, Mr Obama and Mr Bill Clinton.
Mr Biden, whose own poll numbers have yet to recover from a decline that began last year, said he needed the crowd's help to hold both the House and the Senate.
"I think we can pick up two Senate seats," he said, without specifying which ones.
He lamented the closely divided, 50-50 Senate that has stymied his legislative ambitions, and made an apparent critique of two moderates in particular who've resisted his agenda, West Virginia's Mr Joe Manchin and Ms Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
He did not mention either senator by name.
"The bad news there's 51 presidents," he said. "Anyone can declare themselves a president, as two Democrats have."
Mr Biden again said he'd get out on the road more often to lay out what he has done. In the fundraiser and at a speech earlier, he cited the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the plunging unemployment rate and job gains.
In his Portland remarks, he acknowledged that rising inflation has become a big concern for many Americans.
He also took aim at his Republican opponents, saying they've increasingly embraced ideas and positions once relegated to the extremist fringes.
"This is not your father's Republican Party by any stretch of the imagination. This is the MAGA party," he said, referring to Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.
"The far right has taken over that party. It's not even conservative in the traditional sense of 'conservative'. It's mean, it's ugly."
He alluded to the widening political battle in Florida over an education bill that restricts discussion of sexual orientation in the early grades and has now escalated into a standoff between Governor Ron DeSantis, and the Walt Disney Company.
On Thursday, the state's lawmakers approved a bill that could strip Disney, one of Florida's largest employers, of special privileges that granted the company a measure of quasi-governmental authority over a giant tract of land that includes Disney World.
Mr DeSantis, a potential candidate for president in 2024, is expected to sign the measure.
"Look what's happening down in Florida. ...they're going after Mickey Mouse," Mr Biden said.
Mr Biden said Democrats won major victories in 2018 - Trump's midterm year - by relentlessly telling voters about preserving Obamacare, and signalled that they need a similar approach this time.
Mr Biden also addressed the war in Ukraine, repeating his pledge that he would not send American troops into the country but would continue to provide military equipment and aid in its fight against Russia and its president, Mr Vladimir Putin.
"He's a butcher, he's an actual butcher," Mr Biden said. "What's happening is just sinful."
He said food inflation could persist for a while globally, because of disruptions linked to Ukraine's agricultural sector.