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Biden heads west to talk environment, economy ahead of midterms

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US President Joe Biden designates Camp Hale as a National Monument in Colorado at the start of a three-state swing through the American West./AFP
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Oct 13, 2022 - 07:15 AM

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden traveled to Colorado Wednesday at the start of a three-state swing through the American West to promote his record with less than a month to go before the crucial midterm elections.

Biden’s first stop was at Camp Hale, a former US Army World War II training ground in the Rocky Mountains.

Sporting his signature aviator sunglasses, he designated the site as a national monument in honor of its military history, the local Native American community and the area’s natural beauty.

Protection of the site, where the 10th Mountain Division trained for conditions in the mountains of Italy, has been a long-standing goal of Democratic Party leaders in the state.

The move, which raises hope for significant tourism benefits, fulfills a request by Democratic Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who is seeking reelection in November — a vital seat for the Democrats’ hopes of retaining control of the Senate.

“He came to the White House and he said, ‘I told you what I need.’ And I said I’ll do it. You know why? I was worried he’d never leave the damn White House,” Biden joked during the ceremony.

“In my first year in office, I have protected more lands and waters than any American presidents since John (Fitzgerald) Kennedy” in the 1960s, Biden said, accusing his predecessor Donald Trump of having “rolled back protections.”

“We’re investing billions of dollars to protect our iconic outdoors, preserve our historic sites, and addressing the devastating effects of climate change,” he added.

Some of those funds, linked to a broad program of environmental investments and social spending passed by Congress this summer, will be used to address the region’s drought problems.

Campaign ramping up 

A month before the midterms, Biden is increasing his travels to promote his record in office, hoping it will boost his party’s chances.

After Colorado, the president will head to California and Oregon to push his cost of living and infrastructure reforms.

The 79-year-old Democrat will also take part in fundraising efforts, a vital part of US politics.

A Democratic Party spokesperson recently said that “thanks in a large part to engagement from President Biden,” the party has raised $107 million so far in 2022, a record for this point in the year.

Since January, Biden has participated in 12 fundraising events.

US political commentators have, however, pointed out that this tour will not take the president to Arizona and Nevada, the two western states that promise to be key Senate battlegrounds.

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