White House Looking to Flip the Script on Immigration and Crime

The best thing a politician can do to help his election is to turn a negative into a positive. Taking away an opponent’s talking point and turning it into a plus is one path to victory.


Joe Biden has two large, persistent negatives: the chaos at the border and the perception that violent crime is a huge problem.

In fact, the murder rate is way down, as are other violent crimes. But burglary and theft are higher. Perception in this case is reality, and the American people don’t feel safe in their homes for whatever reason. It’s a political reality that Biden, as a Democrat, has to deal with. Turning that negative into a positive will take a lot of work.

As for the border chaos, Biden has become a born-again border enforcer. The fact that no one believes him is not surprising considering his “Welcome to America” speech just weeks after he took office. 

But the recent defeat of Soros-backed district attorney Mike Schmidt in Oregon highlighted the Democrats’ problem. Schmidt’s refusal to enforce the law led to open-air drug markets, a shocking number of overdoses, a massive uptick in crime, and a quality of life that had the good little liberals in Portland running for the exits.

The White House is listening.

“Particularly right now, Americans don’t want to feel like things are out of control,” said one Biden official on background. “Well-meaning ideas have gone too far, and we need a sensible approach.”


The White House is banking on the idea that voters will reward them for public efforts to crack down on immigration and boost spending on law enforcement — and, perhaps as importantly, that the liberal forces that so effectively moved the party away from those planks in 2020 won’t punish the president come November.

Inside the West Wing, senior counselor Steve Ricchetti has been among the leading voices making this case, while also advocating for more toughness on the border, according to the Biden official and one other, both granted anonymity to discuss private conversations.


Biden’s problem is that his left-wing radicals can’t keep their mouths shut. The recent pro-Palestinian protests had calls to defund the police as well as divest from Israel. And radical left members of Congress are livid at his suggestion to issue an executive order that could result in shutting the border if illegal entries reach a certain threshold.

Any retreat from “criminal justice reform” or open borders will result in the president losing uncounted numbers of votes from his base. That would be turning a negative into a double-negative.

In recent months, Biden has warned advisers that scenes of chaos at the border or crime in cities pose an increasing political danger. They risk turning off the independent and suburban voters, he’s said, who may be repulsed by much of Donald Trump’s policies and personality but could be willing to vote for him anyway in the name of public safety.

The emphasis has angered some Democrats, including lawmakers who believe that the president’s approach on immigration will establish a border-enforcement-only posture as the starting ground for any type of legislative compromise. Black lawmakers have similarly warned that Biden’s tough-on-crime rhetoric risks harming people of color. It has not gone unnoticed by progressives that much of the sharpening of Biden’s rhetoric has taken place after they lost a powerful ally in the West Wing when former chief of staff Ron Klain departed.


Is there any way for Biden to finesse the situation? Pleasing both potential Trump voters and his radical base on crime and border security is a magic trick that Biden is incapable of performing. He is going to tack right on both issuers and just hope that his radical left supporters come along for the ride.

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