President Joe Biden Tries to Buoy Democrats’ Spirits With a Portland Stop

“Who gets nervous, right?”

President Joe Biden stayed overnight in downtown Portland and tried to give a morale boost to Oregon Democrats anxious about losing their 36-year hold on the governor’s office.

The president’s visit was part of a West Coast tour designed to shore up what traditionally has been a reliable bloc of blue states. The president today delivered remarks at the East Portland Community Center on lowering the costs of prescription medication—a win he shared with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). He also made a now-traditional stop for ice cream—at a Baskin-Robbins in Gresham. (He ordered double-dip chocolate chip, according to a pool report.)

But Biden’s stop occurred against a backdrop of Portland’s social ills and what looks like an electorate ready to shift to the right. He stayed the night at the Duniway Hotel—a building that faces foreclosure as visitors stay away from downtown—and shortly after his arrival in the city, a Portland police officer shot and wounded a man allegedly chasing people with a knife.

A central reason for Biden’s visit was fundraising for Democratic candidate for governor and former House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), who is trying to overcome voter frustration with the party in power, and nearly $5 million in spending by Nike co-founder Phil Knight to defeat her.

At least Kotek got to join Biden at Baskin-Robbins. While there, Biden expressed confidence in her chances. “I think she’s going to win,” the president said, according to an official White House transcript. “I really do. I think people are going to show up and vote. I think it’s going to work.”

A reporter asked Biden if he felt nervous about the third-party candidacy of former state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose). Johnson’s candidacy appears to be siphoning votes away from Kotek and strengthening the position of the Republican nominee, former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby).

“Well, if you take it—if she takes it seriously,” Biden replied, somewhat cryptically. “But you know. Who gets nervous, right?”

See photos of the East Portland Community Center event below.