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Biden seeks to take on Trump over economy

Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE is taking aim at President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE on the economy, hoping to undercut Trump’s strongest argument in his reelection bid. 

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the economy and unemployment at its highest level in years, Team Biden believes it can go on offense on the issue, which had long been a strength for Trump.

Polls continue to show that a majority approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, but Democrats see a vulnerability 

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“He’s hitting Trump right at the core,” said one Biden ally who speaks to the campaign regularly. 

Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, leads Trump in many polls and across various policy areas including health care and the handling of the pandemic. But a CNBC All-Economic survey out late last month showed voters still preferred Trump when it came to the economy. 

The poll showed Trump leading Biden 44 percent to 38 percent on which of the two men has the best economic policies. 

For that reason, Democrats say it’s critical for Biden to home in on the issue. 

“The economy is the one issue area where voters give Trump the benefit of the doubt, so it makes sense that Biden would focus on Trump’s economic record and economic politics, which, upon review, have not served the interests of working and middle class Americans,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “If Biden can soften Trump up vis-a-vis the economy, the bottom could really fall out from under the president and his down-ballot allies.”

On Tuesday, in an appearance in his hometown in Wilmington, Del., Biden will discuss his plans to build a clean energy economy. A campaign aide said the former vice president will talk in that context about job creation.

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In the coming weeks, campaign officials say Biden will roll out two other initiatives as part of his populist plan aimed at keeping jobs at home. Biden will propose plans on making child care more affordable as well as proposals aimed at advancing racial equity across the nation, including closing the racial wealth gap and expanding affordable housing.

That announcement is part of the $700 billion “Buy American” jobs plan Biden revealed last week, which outlines ways to revive the struggling economy with job creation across various sectors, including manufacturing and clean energy. The plan is designed to take aim at Trump’s “America First” economic agenda.

Biden wants to cast Trump as siding with wealthy elites over working Americans. It’s a strategy that Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pa., believes will make inroads with the white working-class voters who sided with Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE in the 2016 race, helping Trump win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“During this crisis, Donald Trump has been almost singularly focused on the stock market, the Dow and the Nasdaq. Not you. Not your families,” Biden said last week during a rare public address at a manufacturing plant in Dunmore, Pa. 

“If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I’ll be laser-focused on middle-class families, the working-class families like where I came from in Scranton.” 

Democrats say it’s a message that will resonate with many voters. 

“When ‘Blue Collar Joe’ talks about helping hard-working Americans, especially in the manufacturing sector, you know it’s authentic,” said Robert Wolf, the prominent Democratic bundler and former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas. “It’s who he is and who he’s always been.

“On the other hand, it’s not Donald Trump,” Wolf added. 

The Trump campaign is working hard to tie Biden to China and to trade policies it argues hurt working-class Americans. It says the Biden economic plan will only be a repeat of the Obama-Biden administration. 

“Look no further than the Obama-Biden administration to demonstrate how the Democrat Party has failed our economy,” Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. 

Parella pointed to the Obama administration's “misguided policies” that she said “led to the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, including destroying 850,000 American jobs with the North American Free Trade Agreement" and supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership that “would have killed 450,000 US jobs.”

“Compare that with President Trump, who built the strongest economy in the history of our nation before its artificial interruption and is doing it again with 4.8 million American jobs in June alone,” she said. “This Jobs President has done more for our economy in three years than Joe Biden has in nearly five decades, and it couldn’t be clearer who Americans can trust to put America First and lead us into economic prosperity once again.” 

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Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo said Trump promised an "America First" presidency but failed to deliver. 

“Biden's agenda strikes at the core of this broken promise and clearly has the president on the defensive and struggling to effectively respond,” Ducklo said. 

One Democratic strategist said Biden should argue that Trump has done damage to the economy and continues to do so.

“He should be asking the typical question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?' I guarantee you that most people would look at where they are and say, ‘Hell no.'"