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[COMMENTARY] Joe Biden Speaks About Infrastructure and Ice Cream in Portland

[COMMENTARY] Joe Biden Speaks About Infrastructure and Ice Cream in Portland

President Joe Biden traveled to the Pacific Northwest on Thursday for a two-day visit to talk about the “Infrastructure Decade” his administration is planning for the country. The President first stopped in Portland, where I was fortunate enough to score a press pass.

This was my first time covering a Presidential event, and the entire experience was so fascinating for me. First of all, it’s just a thrill to be on the official email chain for the White House Press Office, although it’ll clog your inbox pretty quickly on the President’s more active days. What I found the most interesting–aside from learning some new lingo–is just what the mainstream media doesn’t cover about the President and what they choose to focus on instead.

Plus once I got through the first gauntlet of security, I got to see the POTUSmobiles!

 

It made sense to hold the event at an Air Force hangar near the Portland Airport, which has been rated the top airport in the country for seven years in a row. The President was here to talk about his Build Back Better plan, which got another boost earlier this week with the announcement that all future infrastructure projects must use American steel and iron. Local iron and steel union members proudly displayed their affiliations as they waited to enter the event.

Several prominent Oregon Democrats joined the President at the event. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Governor Kate Brown spoke first, followed by Democrats Reps Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Kurt Schrader, and Peter DeFazio, who has been the driving force behind the Infrastructure Bill for the bulk of his career. “The most important man in Congress, both sides, when it comes to infrastructure,” said Rep. Blumenauer said of DeFazio.

The Congressional Democrats were followed by Oregon’s Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, who enumerated all of the reasons why President Biden deserves an “A” for his Infrastructure bill. “Something to bring home and put on his refrigerator,” Wyden quipped.

Finally, the man of the hour was introduced first via loudspeaker and then at the podium by a member of the local electrician’s union. The President spoke praised the work of the Oregon Democrats and thanked them for their support for his $1 trillion infrastructure package that he signed into law last fall, which is set to provide billions of federal dollars to Oregon and Washington.

President Biden also got in a jab at his predecessor, who always promised “Infrastructure Week” was coming “soon.” The crowd laughed knowingly, and the President kept us laughing by saying, “That week never came! And now with our bipartisan bill, we don’t have just an Infrastructure Week, we’re going to have an Infrastructure Decade!” That’s when the laughs became cheers. Also, you can zip it with that “Sleepy Joe” malarkey, the President was energized and expected the same from his fellow Americans.

The President’s remarks ended with him saying that he’s more optimistic about America’s future than at any other point in his long career. As patriotic music blared from the speakers, President Biden immediately walked over to the group of union workers who had been standing to his left for his entire speech, and then he went deeper into the crowd, with his Secret Service by his side.

The President holding someone else’s phone while taking a selfie as his Secret Service does a Sam the Eagle behind him is probably my favorite image of the day. By that point my phone was almost dead–I thought the event was going to be outside, so I didn’t bring a charger. But I talked to the President! I just didn’t capture the moment where I called out “Mr. President!” and he focused on me with that smile.

I don’t know if he got his Salt & Straw on this trip, so if not, he’ll just have to come back. He’s clearly always welcome.

President Biden will travel on to Seattle, where he’ll celebrate Earth Day. You can watch the President’s full remarks from Portland, below.

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