Biden to take on a new role: salesman in chief

3 minutes

WASHINGTON, April 27 -- When he makes his first speech at a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, President Joe Biden will take on a new role : Salesman in Chief.

Through his first 100 days in office, Biden has often struck a somber tone as he spoke about the coronavirus deaths, mass shootings and millions out of work.

With his Cabinet mostly in position and a flurry of presidential or legislative orders and a huge COVID 19 relief bill signed, much of Biden's upcoming agenda is at the mercy of Congress.

So the Democratic president is determined to redouble efforts to convince voters -- and by extension reluctant legislators -- that collaborative effort and trillions in spending are the way to renovate the country and compete with China, administration officials and their allies, including Congress, said in recent weeks.

Biden's Build Back Better agenda is broadly popular with voters, but his coronavirus relief bill failed to win a single Republican vote in the House of Representatives.On Wednesday, he plans to outline another large-ticket idea - taxing $1.5 trillion into the transportation and college education, and giving rich Americans to pay for it.

It all comes on top of a $2 trillion jobs-and infrastructure plan was funded by raising taxes on U.S. companies, which Republicans in Congress argue is too big.

Biden is expected to try to convince Americans that infrastructure is more than just roads, that caregivers need to be paid for their work and that taxing the wealthy more to invest in long-term projects is good for the economy.After his speech on Wednesday, he will head to Pennsylvania on Thursday and Georgia on Friday with more stops to come.

More than half of Americans and 55% support the president, Reuters Ipsos poll showed, highest levels of support that were never achieved by the predecessor Donald Trump, a Republican.Infrastructure spending is even more popular, as well as making the rich pay higher taxes.

That is why Wednesday's target audience is not just the tiny group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill tuned in, but the tens of millions as Biden associates say that the Congress will tune in.

At the same time, White House aides are pushing Biden for an assortment of policies in the speech, ranging from police reform to foreign affairs.

Biden's first speechwriter Vinay Reddy helped the president make his 21 minute speech, among the shortest in modern times, and a March plea to end hate after the killing of Asian Americans in Georgia.

The first two speeches process is generally a back and forth affair, say aides, that last many weeks or months, with drafts written by hand or marked up until the last minute and edited until the last time.

Biden asks aides to boil concepts down into blunt, rib-sticking terms and to make only promises they know they can deliver - like guaranteeing 100 million vaccine shot within 100 days during his campaign, a goal that was achieved quickly and then doubled.

The whole concept of the bully pulpit went to the people to put pressure on lawmakers, said Theodore Sheckels, an English professor at Randolph-Macon College who has written extensively about political communication.

Sheckels is trying to communicate more directly with the American people, said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

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