President Biden outlined an economic agenda on Thursday that he believes has helped all voters, regardless of whether they voted for him, and name-checked Republican lawmakers who have attacked his policies but whose constituents have benefited from billions in federal funding.
In a speech at a manufacturing facility in South Carolina, Mr. Biden pointed out that many Republican lawmakers had voted for his policies, including the bipartisan infrastructure act and the CHIPS Act to bolster semiconductor production, because they were best for those lawmakers’ constituents.
“I didn’t get much help from the other team, but that didn’t stop us from getting it done,” Mr. Biden said, drawing applause from a crowd at the facility, in a state that revived his 2020 presidential campaign.
He thanked Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who had voted for both pieces of legislation. Mr. Biden said that his policies had brought some 14,000 jobs to the state and that “jobs that used to go to Mexico, India, Romania and China are now coming home to South Carolina.” A fact sheet distributed by the White House said that $2.6 billion in infrastructure funding and $11 billion in clean-energy investments had been pumped into the state.
Mr. Biden said that the distribution of so much money to Republican-controlled states like South Carolina had not mattered to him: “My view is, wherever the need is most, that’s the place we should be helping, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
South Carolina is a crucial state for Mr. Biden, who was all but counted out of the 2020 Democratic primary until his deep political relationships and popularity with Black voters established him as the leading contender after his victory in the state. He has since proposed for South Carolina to be the first primary state in 2024, arguing that “voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process.” And he has maintained a close relationship with James E. Clyburn, a Democrat of South Carolina whose endorsement of Mr. Biden helped revive his flagging 2020 campaign.
Mr. Biden’s visit came just days after former President Donald J. Trump visited Pickens, a small town about 100 miles to the northwest of West Columbia. At a rally that drew thousands, Mr. Graham, who introduced Mr. Trump, was booed as a traitor for opposing the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
At the rally, Mr. Trump continued his own campaign theme of avenging grievances, describing the 2024 presidential race as “our final battle” and railing against Democrats and liberals.
As president, Mr. Trump abandoned any distinction between his campaign rallies and White House events ostensibly geared toward his policies. On Thursday, Mr. Biden struck a contrast in content and in style by keeping mostly to policy, taking only a small swipe at Mr. Trump.
“Under my predecessor, Infrastructure Week became a punchline,” Mr. Biden said, correctly. “Every, every, every month. Anyway, I won’t get into it. On my watch, we’re making infrastructure a decade headline.”
Mr. Biden, whose advisers have rolled out a summer of economic-related events throughout the country, did not keep his remarks limited to South Carolina. At one point, he name-checked other Republicans, including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican of Georgia, whose district is home to a solar plant in Dalton: “I’ll be there for the groundbreaking,” the president said of a planned expansion at the plant.
The trip to South Carolina comes as Mr. Biden and his advisers have been searching for a message that could break through a cloud of pervasive pessimism about the direction of the American economy. Though the administration is still faced with nagging inflation that has driven up costs, Mr. Biden and his aides have stressed that “Bidenomics” — their catchall term for millions of new jobs created since he took office — is working.
On Thursday, Mr. Clyburn — who has repeatedly defended the president against concerns that he has not done enough for Black voters who will be key to his re-election effort — praised the Biden administration’s economic policies.
He said some Republicans who criticize Mr. Biden go on to promote the investments in their own communities.
“I can understand why they want to take credit,” Mr. Clyburn said. “Bidenomics is good for their constituents.”