El Paso will play a prominent role in President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign with U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar on his team.
Biden on Tuesday announced plans to run for reelection and Escobar, D-El Paso, will be among those leading his campaign as a national co-chair on the president’s reelection committee.
Escobar said Wednesday that Biden called her over the weekend to discuss his campaign, but she never guessed he would call to offer her a top position on the team.
“I was floored,” Escobar said, “but obviously honored, thrilled and excited when the president called me on Sunday. I had no idea I was even being considered.”
In addition to Escobar, the Biden campaign’s national co-chairs are U.S. Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.; U.S. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former CEO of DreamWorks. Julie Chávez Rodríguez will be campaign manager, The Hill reported.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be among this group,” Escobar said, noting her job ‒ like that of her colleagues ‒ will mirror any other campaign for public office: raise money, talk to voters and devise the campaign’s messaging and strategy, which will likely lean hard on hallmark issues for Democrats such as gun control, climate change and women’s reproductive rights.
Border issues, Hispanic voters and Biden’s top priorities
Escobar’s prominent placement on Biden’s reelection team creates a valuable opportunity for the priorities of Hispanic voters to be front and center in his campaign, but the congresswoman believes the president will discuss much more along the campaign trail.
“I think for certain I will be a key voice on the border and border issues and immigration,” Escobar said. “But many of the conversations I’ve had with President Biden have involved much more than just the border and immigration.”
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In those discussions, Escobar said the conversation often veered toward environmental issues, such as stemming the threat of climate change and preserving public lands.
“He knows my passion for preserving open spaces and addressing climate issues,” Escobar said, noting the recent designation of Castner Range as a national monument.
Another topic of conversation has often been the rising tide of gun violence across the country and how to prevent it, the rollback of women’s reproductive rights and, key to El Paso, innovation, trade and the economy.
“El Paso is a key economic artery for our country,” Escobar said. “We are innovating around aerospace engineering and … manufacturing. I hope when the president thinks about El Paso and my work … that he thinks about that multifaceted aspect of what our community really is.”
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“I have always talked about the need to ensure Latino voters are considered,” she continued, noting that Hispanic voters will be a key demographic to the president’s reelection bid. “But our issues are not just immigration issues; they are wide ranging.”
Beating back primary challengers and a possible rematch of 2020
A handful of primary challengers already have emerged to challenge Biden for the Democratic Party’s nomination –self-help author Marianne Williamson, who first ran in 2020, and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have both announced bids for the nomination ‒ but Escobar said she is “not at all worried” about the prospects of a contender unseating Biden.
“I think, while he has primary opponents, the president also has an incredible record to run on that is unrivaled,” Escobar said, adding that Biden has pushed bipartisan legislation across the finish line that will be “transformative for our country in the most positive way.”
The real work starts once the president has secured his party’s nomination, Escobar said.
“Then we will take on whatever extremist the Republican Party decides to put on the ballot,” she said, noting that among the already announced candidates up for the Republican Party’s nomination is former President Donald Trump, which sets up the possibility of a rematch of the 2020 political battle between Biden and the ousted Republican. “Whether it is Donald Trump or a generic version of Donald Trump, Trumpism will probably prevail through the nomination process.”
Contrast between two political parties’ agendas
“While I would love a reasonable Republican Party because I think that’s important for the betterment of our country … the current Republican Party is controlled by extremists,” Escobar continued. “That’s certainly true in Congress and it’s certainly true for the nominees.”
Escobar blasted Republicans for putting the National Rifle Association and gun owners ahead of children, for seeking a national abortion ban even in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk, and for seeking to defund the FBI.
But those extreme positions, she said, create an avenue for Democrats to draw stark contrast between the two parties’ agendas.
“They could not be more radical or extreme,” Escobar said. “I know that as soon as they’ve chosen their nominee, we will do everything possible to draw the distinction between their extremism and the dangers and risks they pose to our safety and democracy versus the experience, compassion and strategic leadership of President Biden.”
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Escobar has no plans to seek higher office
While Escobar’s post as a national co-chair to an incumbent president’s reelection campaign will inevitably raise her profile as a key figure in American politics, the two-term congresswoman has no intentions of running for a higher position, either in the U.S. Senate or the Texas governor’s office.
“I am single-mindedly focused on President Biden’s reelection and my own reelection to the House of Representatives,” Escobar said.
Still, she understands that her dual mission will be a rigid needle to thread while traveling with Biden and then acting as a surrogate for his campaign when not traveling alongside the president.
“I’m definitely planning on being on the ballot in March and hope to win the Democratic nomination in El Paso and hope to be on the ballot in November,” Escobar said. “I have never taken my election for granted.”
Escobar said she plans to do what she’s always done: launch robust outreach, get-out-the-vote efforts, and listen to the community she serves.
“Nothing is going to change that,” she said. “This just means I’m going to need to do a lot more balancing.”