Koch Group Attacks Biden on the Economy, Hoping to Engage Latino Voters


Libre, part of the political network created by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, on Monday will unveil a seven-figure voter engagement effort and ad campaign targeting members of Congress who have supported what it calls President Biden’s “punitive economic policies.”

The campaign, one of the most expansive undertaken by the group, will include digital ads, public events at Hispanic grocery stores and restaurants and a new Spanish language website criticizing “Bidenomics,” a term that conservatives have adopted to attack Mr. Biden’s economic policies.

Despite a run of positive economic data, including strong job growth and record unemployment, the economy has been a stubborn weakness for President Biden and Democrats, particularly among Black and Latino voters. Leaders at Libre, which gave The New York Times an early look at the plans, said they were focused on attracting Latinos on what they think is a winning issue for Republicans at a time when their party is seeking to increase its appeal to Hispanic voters.

“Bidenomics is devastating Latino families’ savings, quality of life and their ability to plan for the future,” Jose Mallea, Libre’s chief executive, said in a statement. “To reverse this trend, it’s critical that Latino families learn what overspending and overregulating are doing to our country’s economy — and prosperity.”

Libre, which describes itself as a center-right organization, said its aim was to hold lawmakers accountable for supporting policies that the group believes have contributed to high inflation and rising costs for food, utilities and other living expenses. It is targeting more than 20 congressional Democrats in more than a dozen states, including key presidential battlegrounds like Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The group rolled out a similar effort with an anti-“Bidenomics” message last year, but organizers said this campaign would be much larger in scope.

Latinos are projected to number about 36.2 million eligible voters, or nearly 15 percent of the American electorate, according to the latest analysis by the Pew Research Center. The demographic will be crucial in states like Nevada and Arizona, where they make up roughly one in four eligible voters, and Hispanic voters are also expected to play a decisive role in the battle for control of the House.

Although Latino voters still overall lean Democratic, former President Donald J. Trump improved his performance with the slice of voters in 2020, and in some areas like South Florida and South Texas made sizable gains. But some Republicans have told The Associated Press that they have yet to see Mr. Trump follow through on his ambitious plans to court the electoral bloc this cycle. Mr. Biden, on the other hand, has stepped his up — and has been looking to sharpen his own economic message after an earlier push to reclaim the term “Bidenomics” largely fell flat.

In a recent tour through Nevada and Arizona, the president has championed historic investments in Latino small businesses and Hispanic-serving institutions, along with Biden administration policies that he said had cut Hispanic child poverty to record lows, lowered drug prescription and health care costs and tackled gun violence.

Two Latino voter groups, Somos Votantes and Somos PAC, have also come to Mr. Biden’s aid with historic investments comparable to those from Libre. The liberal organizations have earmarked $33 million to mobilize Hispanic voters for Mr. Biden and other key Democratic races in several battleground states. Somos Votantes plans to put $24 million toward expanding nonpartisan voter education programs.

The Libre campaign, titled “BideNOmics,” is targeting Senate Democrats in Montana, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. It will focus on House members in heated contests across the country. In California, where Democrats and Republicans are locked in a fight for control of seats across the central and southern parts of the state, the group is taking aim at Representatives Josh Harder and Mike Levin. In New Mexico, their list includes Representative Gabriel Vasquez, and in Colorado, Representative Yadira Caraveo, both of whom clinched their seats last cycle after defeating their Republican opponents by less than a percentage point.

A preview of one of the four digital ads expected to run on social media and television and audio streaming services features a Latina who blames the president’s policies for the demise of the American dream.

“Coming to America meant an opportunity to chart your own future,” she said. “But now, Latino families across the country are being forced to make hard choices because of skyrocketing prices, and Bidenomics is robbing us of our chance at the American dream.”

The Spanish language website — NoBidenomics.com — criticizes the Biden administration policies it says have contributed to inflation, a high national debt and an expensive cost of living. The campaign’s community events, which began last week, will largely be held at super mercados, or Hispanic grocery stores, where participants will pass out gift cards for food.

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