White House preps publicity blitz for State of the Union address

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and top officials from the White House and Mr Biden’s cabinet will mount a full-scale public relations blitz to promote the Biden administration’s accomplishments and make a case that they should be given another four years to finish the job following his annual State of the Union address to Congress.

Mr Biden is set to deliver his yearly message to Congress on Thursday, two days after the Super Tuesday primary election contests that will, if the results are as expected, set up a November general election rematch with the man he defeated in 2020, former president Donald Trump.

In a statement, White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt said the president would “make the case to continue to build the economy from the bottom up and middle out that has led to record job creation, the strongest economy in the world, increased wages and household wealth, and lower prescription drug and energy costs”.

He said Mr Biden would also contrast that record with what he described as “the MAGA Republican agenda: rewarding billionaires and corporations with tax breaks, taking away rights and freedoms, and undermining our democracy”.

The president’s speech will coincide with a significant push for media exposure by Mr Biden’s team, which is looking to harness the national attention given the annual speech by placing him, Ms Harris and top aides on local media, as well as in other channels where they believe voters can be provided with relevant information on the administration’s record.

Mr LaBolt noted that the “fractured communications landscape” in the US today — the rise of streaming services and so-called “cord-cutting” along with the prevelance of handheld devices and the ubiquity of social media — means fewer Americans will watch Mr Biden speak Thursday night, but will instead see the address through other channels.

“We’re fanning out aggressively not only on Thursday but in the weeks ahead to reach Americans where they receive the news with the President’s message about whose side he’s on,” he said.

To that end, a White House official said the White House has invited a set of state-based local radio and television journalists to the White House for interviews with top administration officials, and has made provisions for a prominent Hispanic radio programme to broadcast from the White House ahead of Mr Biden’s address on Thursday.

The administration is also planning to hold briefings for “dozens of influencers and digital media publishers” as well.

Mr Biden is also set to follow up his address with travel to Philadelphia and Atlanta in the coming days, and Ms Harris will travel to Arizona and Nevada after the annual speech.

But a White House official also said cabinet officials will fan out across the US to promote the administration’s message immediately after Mr Biden’s Thursday evening appearance, with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Beccerra appearing in Colorado and Arizona this Friday.

“The White House will meet people where they are and where they receive their information,” the official said.