WASHINGTON — The last time Joe Biden was in New Hampshire, he was a no-show at his own, sad party.
Trounced in the state’s 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Biden hopped a flight to next-up South Carolina before the polls had even closed on his fifth-place finish. On Tuesday, he returns to New Hampshire as president, eager to talk up his new $1 trillion infrastructure deal and what all that money can do for Americans.
Biden is down in the polls and hopes to use the successful deal to shift the political winds in his direction with new momentum for his broader $1.85 trillion social spending package before Congress.
The president signed the infrastructure bill into law on Monday at a splashy bipartisan ceremony for hundreds on the White House South Lawn, where lawmakers and union workers cheered and clapped.
“America is moving again and your life is going to change for the better,” Biden promised Americans.
The president and members of his Cabinet are moving, too — spreading out around the country to showcase the package. Biden himself has stops Tuesday in Woodstock, New Hampshire, and Wednesday in Detroit to promote the new law as a source of jobs and repairs for aging roads, bridges, pipes and ports while also helping to ease inflation and supply chain woes.
“As he goes around the country, he’s really going to dig into how these issues will impact people’s everyday lives, what they talk about at their kitchen tables,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
The president, whose poll numbers continued to drop even after passage of the bill, is pleading for patience from Americans exhausted by the pandemic and frightened by rising inflation.
Biden defeated Donald Trump by 7 percentage points in New Hampshire in the 2020 election, but his popularity has sagged in the state. In a University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll last month, his overall favorable rating was 34%, with 53% having an unfavorable view.
On Tuesday, the president will visit a bridge that carries state Route 175 over the Pemigewasset River. Built in 1939, the bridge has been on the state’s “red list” since 2014 because of its poor condition. Another bridge over the river was added in 2018.
“The president is going there because there is a broken-down bridge that needs to be repaired,” Psaki said.
New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who planned to greet Biden at the airport, sent a letter to the president Tuesday asking him to work with Congress to earmark even more infrastructure funding for the state. He also urged Biden to address supply chain issues, workforce shortages and the rising cost of construction materials.
“Ensuring that roads get built, bridges get repaired, and drinking water gets improved will be even more challenging given the economic challenges Washington seems oblivious to,” Sununu said.
Under the funding formula in the bill, New Hampshire will receive $1.1 billion for federal-aid highways and $225 million for bridges, the White House said.
The infrastructure bill overall contains $110 billion to repair aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or nearly 280,000 kilometers of U.S. highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. The law has almost $40 billion for bridges, the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration.
Many of the particulars of how the money is spent will be up to state governments. Biden has named former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as the liaison between the White House and the states to help ensure things run smoothly and to prevent waste and fraud.
Ramer reported from Concord, N.H.
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