President Joe Biden in Wisconsin; 1st stop after State of the Union

President Joe Biden in Wisconsin on Wednesday kicked off his post-State of the Union tour – job creation his central message.

Biden was in Dane County, a Democratic stronghold in the swing state, where he spoke at Laborers' International Union of North America Job Training Center in DeForest.

"These are good jobs, jobs you can raise a family on. And most don’t require a college degree," said Biden. "Jobs where people don’t have to leave home in search of an opportunity. But they do require at least four years of trained apprentices, which is one of the reasons why the United States has the best trained workers in the world., like you."

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The president touted the infrastructure law as already funding projects and jobs in Wisconsin. After his speech, the president met workers and apprentices.

"Here in Madison, let me tell you: We’re using the funding to buy 46 electric buses replacing dirty diesel buses," said Biden.

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

The measures include trillions of dollars for pandemic relief, rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure, jump-starting the semiconductor chip industry in the U.S., and boosting climate change and health care initiatives.

"He’s got us in his mind, and it’s good to hear," said Casey Kvalo, an underground pipe worker from DeForest. As for the job creation Biden promoted Tuesday evening, "he’s right on point about it and it’s exciting to hear," Kvalo said.

Tony Kurkowski, a Milwaukee highway worker and union member, said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the president’s visit and focus on workers.

"With a lot of politicians, it’s easy to take the vote for granted and once they get in have their own priorities, but it’s good to see he’s coming back to labor," he said.

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Union and blue-collar workers are a key voter group that Biden works to win. He signaled Wednesday that he would launch a reelection run for 2024.

"We’re going to buy American for everything we build. Last night, I announced we’re proposing new standards that all construction materials used on federal infrastructure projects be made in America," Biden said.

From a divided U.S. Capitol to a divided Wisconsin, Biden again called for bipartisanship during his stop in DeForest.

"We worked together last Congress, there’s no reason we can’t get things done as well this Congress. I mean that," he said.

Republicans are fighting back. They will hold their 2024 convention in Milwaukee.  

"After a speech filled with lies and empty rhetoric, Biden’s victory lap is out of touch with American families who are struggling to keep up with Biden’s failed economy," said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. "Every day is a crisis for American workers facing rising costs to feed their families, yet Joe Biden continues to deflect, divide and duck blame without offering solutions."

Wednesday marked the second year in a row that Biden visited Wisconsin the day after delivering his State of the Union address, showing how important the state is. He won it by about 20,000 votes in 2020 en route to the White House.

Biden's trip was one stop in the traditional post-State of the Union blitz, where the president, vice president and Cabinet officials fan out across the country to promote his themes from the speech. Biden's next stop is Tampa, Florida, on Thursday, where he's expected to discuss proposals to safeguard Social Security and Medicare, and lower the cost of health care.

A formal announcement is expected in the coming months, though a majority of Democrats now think one term is plenty for the president, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale:

"On behalf of Wisconsin’s union workers, I welcome President Biden to Madison today, and we more than welcome the discussion of the accomplishments in the first two years of his administration. 

"Just as President Biden laid out in his speech last night, investments across many sectors of our economy have made a real difference for working people in Wisconsin and across the country.  His bold initiatives are delivering economic benefit and stabilization across the board, and his confidence in the American worker is central to all of his efforts. 

"In an economy that presents significant challenges, President Biden has managed to achieve massive job growth and the lowest unemployment rate in more than 50 years. We have further to go, but it is clear we are on the right track.

"Last night in his State of the Union speech and in his visit to Madison today, President Biden is showing a true understanding that a strong American economy is dependent on the creation of strong, family-supporting union jobs. Thanks to these investments, these jobs are bringing a direct benefit to our communities.

"Thanks to President Biden, the state of our unions is strong, and getting stronger."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler:

"We were thrilled to welcome President Biden back to Wisconsin today to discuss how his economic agenda is delivering real results for our state. Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, America has made historic progress over the past two years to create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, and lower costs for working families. Now, as President Biden laid out last night, it’s time to finish the job."

Republican National Committee:

"After a speech filled with lies and empty rhetoric, Biden’s victory lap is out of touch with American families who are struggling to keep up with Biden’s failed economy. Every day is a crisis for American workers facing rising costs to feed their families, yet Joe Biden continues to deflect, divide, and duck blame without offering solutions."