The event comes as the administration has made progress in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with a strong vaccine rollout, but concerns are rising over the slowing the pace of vaccinations in recent weeks. The US now faces an uptick in Covid-19 cases, driven in large part by the highly transmissible Delta variant. Forty-five states are experiencing a surge in new cases — the vast majority among unvaccinated people — and the daily pace of people becoming fully vaccinated is down 84% since mid-April, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The town hall will come at a critical time in Biden’s presidency as the administration faces a number of congressional hurdles, including on immigration, police reform and infrastructure.
The event will take place in the hometown of Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, who was one of the senators who signed on to a bipartisan infrastructure deal with the President last month at the White House and has been making the case for the GOP to work with Biden on key legislative priorities. Portman is a key Republican to watch throughout Biden’s first two years in office as he is retiring at the end of 2022 and could be a potential bipartisan dealmaker.
The event will take place in the traditional battleground state of Ohio, which has often been a key bellwether in presidential elections. The state has a Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who has been a key ally in the fight against Covid for Biden and has joined the President in multiple virtual events promoting Covid-19 vaccines.
Biden won Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, in the 2020 election — one of just seven Ohio counties he took from former President Donald Trump in that race. Ohio as a state went for Trump 53.3% to 45.2%.
The President has been traveling around the country in recent months selling his infrastructure proposal, often hitting Midwestern cities in key states and districts that will play a key role in both the 2022 and 2024 elections. The President has gone to these areas touting his “Blue Collar Blueprint for America,” attempting to reach voters who may have swung toward Trump in previous elections but have traditionally voted for Democrats.
A CNN spokesperson said an invitation-only audience will be present at the town hall and the network will follow all local and state Covid-19 guidance and regulations to ensure a safe event. The spokesperson added that details on the location will be forthcoming.