Biden Touts Chips Law at Intel Site in Midterm Battleground Ohio

President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the groundbreaking of the new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility near New Albany, Ohio. (Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg News)

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President Joe Biden attended the groundbreaking of Intel Corp.’s new semiconductor manufacturing facility outside Columbus, Ohio, touting one of his legislative wins in a crucial midterm state.

But the visit also underscored the political challenges for Biden as he looks to translate a series of legislative and policy victories for Democrats into gains in November’s midterm elections.

The state’s Democratic Senate candidate, Rep. Tim Ryan, joined Biden at the event but declined to say if the president should even run for re-election.

“That is up to him,” Ryan said.

Biden, for his part, acknowledged Ryan in his remarks, offering support to a candidate, who like other Democrats in tight races, has been reluctant to embrace the president. Ryan and Ohio’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Nan Whaley, have both avoided Biden during past visits to the state, including in July.

“Tim Ryan, thank you for your leadership,” the president said, praising him for representing “working people.”

Ryan is locked in a close contest with Republican venture capitalist and author J.D. Vance to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. The race has emerged as a pickup opportunity for Democrats — albeit a long-shot one — in a state former President Donald Trump won easily in 2020.

Biden focused his remarks at the groundbreaking on the impact of the CHIPS and Science Act, which he said would bring semiconductor manufacturing that is crucial to national security back to the U.S. and help curb inflation, a political liability for the president.

“Imagine if we had more of these kinds of factories across the country,” Biden said. “This law makes that a reality.”

Auto and electronics companies have struggled in recent years to source semiconductors crucial to modern products.

“In fact, one-third of the core inflation last year was due to higher prices of automobiles, because of a shortage of the semiconductors needed to build those automobiles,” Biden said.

Intel says the Ohio facility — which will support 3,000 full time jobs — was made possible by bipartisan legislation passed earlier this year providing more than $50 billion in subsidies to the semiconductor industry. As part of the trip, Intel also announced it has distributed $17.7 million to Ohio colleges and universities to develop semiconductor-related curricula that will help better train the state’s workforce.

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The trip allowed Biden the chance to tout a signature accomplishment in a state that may be key to Democrats’ hopes for protecting their slim Senate majority. But Ryan has been running a campaign trying to appeal to moderates and working-class voters — many of whom backed Trump after once supporting Democrats. He’s emphasized a willingness to oppose Biden and his party on issues such as trade.

Polls indicate the Senate race is tight two months before the election. Trump is planning a rally for Vance.

Asked in an interview that aired on WFMJ in Youngstown this week whether he thinks Biden should run again in 2024, Ryan demurred.

“My hunch is that like, we need new leadership across the board, Democrats, Republicans,” Ryan said. “I think it’s time for like a generational move for new leaders on both sides.”