Biden’s Post-Election Escape Turned Victory Lap

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President Biden trod a well-worn statesmanlike way by going overseas connected authoritative functions conscionable aft the midterms. But the quality from location kept getting amended for Democrats.

President Biden arriving Friday successful Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, wherever helium concisely attended a clime league earlier going connected to Cambodia to conscionable with Southeast Asian leaders and past to Bali, Indonesia, for the Group of 20 summit.
Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

Katie RogersJim Tankersley

Nov. 13, 2022Updated 10:50 a.m. ET

BALI, Indonesia — President Biden’s existent travel overseas has humanities precedent: Soon aft a midterm election, a president tends to spell overseas to reassert American powerfulness — and often, to flight atrocious quality for his enactment astatine home.

In November 1994, days aft Republicans took power of Congress for the archetypal clip successful decades, President Bill Clinton slipped distant to the Philippines. In 2010, aft Democrats mislaid 63 House seats, President Barack Obama took a plaything done India, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and Portugal. When Republicans lost power of the House successful 2018, President Donald J. Trump jetted to France for an Armistice Day celebration.

A fewer days ago, Mr. Biden seemed to beryllium preparing for a travel to Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia nether a akin cloud, amid a debased support rating, galore polls trending Republican and the information that the president’s enactment astir ever loses seats successful midterm elections.

Then the tide started turning.

Before Mr. Biden near Washington connected Thursday evening, it had go wide that a Republican rout had not materialized, with galore races excessively adjacent to telephone and power of some houses of Congress inactive successful the balance. He made a congratulatory telephone to Tina Kotek, the governor-elect of Oregon, portion aboard Marine One en way to Egypt, and has not stopped moving the phones since.

As of Saturday successful Phnom Penh, Cambodia, wherever helium had arrived for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, helium was capable to instrumentality to his edifice from a gala meal to talk with victorious Democrats backmost home, including Representatives David Trone of Maryland and Pat Ryan of New York.

By aboriginal Sunday, erstwhile the quality came that Democrats had retained a Senate bulk with a narrow victory by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Mr. Biden’s travel began to look much similar a triumph lap.

“I’m incredibly pleased by the turnout,” Mr. Biden said. “And I deliberation it’s a reflection of the prime of our candidates. And the — they’re each moving connected the aforesaid program.”

Mr. Biden’s comments, which came successful unscheduled remarks to reporters astatine his hotel, seemed to notation a remark by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the number leader, who had complained of Republican “candidate quality” successful Senate races astir the country.

Mr. Biden reiterated an statement helium had made passim the run season: that Republicans lacked a existent level and were much focused connected taste controversies than kitchen-table issues.

He besides said that the predetermination results would bolster his lasting going into a highly anticipated gathering with President Xi Jinping of China up of the Group of 20 acme successful Bali connected Monday: “I cognize I’m coming successful stronger, but I don’t request that,” Mr. Biden said.

House Republicans did put distant a level for governing during the campaign, but it was comparatively vague, with astir Republican candidates concentrating connected criticizing Mr. Biden and Democrats alternatively than talking astir inflation, crime, migration and different hot-button issues. Republicans besides had to contend with Mr. Trump dividing the enactment and publically toying with his plans to denote a tally for the presidency successful 2024.

For Democrats, identifying issues had ne'er been arsenic overmuch of a occupation arsenic however to prioritize them: In the days starring up to the election, Mr. Biden and chap Democrats had struggled with whether to code elector concerns implicit ostentation and the economy, oregon to accent the threats to termination rights and adjacent to democracy itself.

The Senate effect was the culmination of an intense, final-days run propulsion that sought to recast the predetermination connected much favorable presumption to Democrats — yielding an result that has already surpassed galore Democrats’ champion expectations.

For overmuch of the run season, Mr. Biden struggled with debased support ratings and facing a Republican Party whose leaders wanted to marque the midterms a referendum connected his leadership. He fielded fewer requests to stump for Democratic incumbents and candidates successful purple states. He ne'er campaigned with Ms. Cortez Masto, for example, nor with Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, who besides won a constrictive race.

His aides outlined a strategy that centered connected showcasing his accomplishments with erstwhile presidents astatine this signifier of their presidencies and contrasting Democratic legislative achievements with Republicans, according to an interior strategy papers reviewed by The New York Times. Despite the dearth of run requests, they wanted to amusement that Mr. Biden believes helium is simply a campaigner astatine heart.

So the president spent clip successful safer territories, including Oregon, a authorities that past elected a Republican politician successful 1982, to boost Ms. Kotek, the embattled Democratic nominee for governor. Mr. Biden’s docket picked up successful the last weeks, including a cross-country sprint successful the past days of the contention that took him to New Mexico, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York.

He besides sharpened a opposition connection with an economical focus, seeking to formed the predetermination arsenic a prime betwixt Democrats who were moving to little the outgo of electricity, medicine drugs and different staples and Republicans, who Mr. Biden said would worsen ostentation and perchance chopped Social Security and Medicare.

In meetings successful Phnom Penh, the president focused connected countering China, containing North Korea and promoting quality rights. Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s nationalist information adviser, told reporters connected Sunday that the midterm elections helped the president enforce “what this predetermination said astir American democracy” abroad.

“He besides feels that it does found a beardown presumption for him connected the planetary signifier and we saw that I deliberation play retired successful surviving colour today,” Mr. Sullivan added.

But Mr. Biden besides spent the 2nd limb of his travel switching backmost and distant from run mode. After Mr. Biden’s speech with Senator Cortez Masto connected Sunday, his adjacent telephone was to Chuck Schumer of New York, the existent and aboriginal Senate bulk leader.

“And we’re focusing present connected Georgia,” Mr. Biden told reporters. There, Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, volition look Herschel Walker, the Republican challenger, successful the third runoff election successful the authorities successful 3 years. “It’s ever amended with 51,” Mr. Biden said, referring to the anticipation of a bigger Senate majority.

As results proceed to trickle in, Mr. Biden and his aides are watching the remaining elections intimately with a substance of vindication and relief, according to respective radical acquainted with the interior reaction.

“We’ve seen the affirmation of the president’s agenda, vindication of his message, and rejection of truthful galore predetermination deniers,” said Anita Dunn, a elder advisor to Mr. Biden. “So yes, you could accidental the White House is successful a beauteous bully mood.”