Amid Sagging Poll Numbers, Biden and His Backers Embark on Tour to Tout Progress Claims

Amid dipping poll ratings, President Joe Biden made his first stop in New Hampshire on Tuesday to start a national tour promoting the new $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill he signed into law Monday.

In a speech from a bridge built in 1939 that was deemed a priority for repair in 2014, Biden spoke about the new plan in terms of how it could affect everyday Americans.

"This isn't esoteric, this isn't some gigantic bill — it is, but it's about what happens to ordinary people," he said, according to The Associated Press. "Conversations around those kitchen tables that are both profound as they are ordinary: How do I cross the bridge in a snowstorm?"

After holding a bipartisan bill signing ceremony Monday, Biden and several members of his Cabinet traveled to different parts of the country to begin promoting the bill in an effort to generate positive momentum for the public's opinion of the President.

In addition to raising his popularity among Americans, the Democratic lawmakers also want to generate awareness and support for Biden's $1.85 trillion Build Back Better plan aimed at various areas of social spending that is currently under consideration in Congress.

The newly signed infrastructure bill contains $110 billion for repair of highways, bridges and roads. The White House says about 173,000 total miles of highways and major roads across the country are in poor condition.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

President Joe Biden, Infrastructure Bill, New Hampshire
President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the NH 175 bridge over the Pemigewasset River to promote infrastructure spending Tuesday in Woodstock, N.H. Evan Vucci/Associated Press

First stop of the tour: a snowy, rusty bridge in New Hampshire, a state that gave him no love in last year's presidential primaries.

Biden left the state in February of 2020 before polls had even closed on his fifth-place primary finish. But he returned as president, eager to talk up the billions in investments in upgrading America's roads, bridges and transit systems that he signed into law Monday.

He said it would have a meaningful impact here, from efficient everyday transportation to keeping emergency routes open.

"America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better," Biden promised Americans.

Biden himself has stops Tuesday in Woodstock, New Hampshire, and Wednesday in Detroit to promote the new law as a source of jobs and repairs for aging roads, bridges, pipes and ports while also helping to ease inflation and supply chain woes.

"As he goes around the country, he's really going to dig into how these issues will impact people's everyday lives, what they talk about at their kitchen tables," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Also this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will take a tour through the South, hitting Louisiana and Texas, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will visit Massachusetts, California and the state she represented in Congress, New Mexico, and Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Ohio, among top administration officials on the road.

The president, whose poll numbers have continued to drop even after passage of the bill, is pleading for patience from Americans exhausted by the pandemic and concerned about rising inflation.The White House says the infrastructure funding could begin going out within months, and they say it will have a measurable impact on Americans' lives by helping create new, good-paying jobs.

During his new Hampshire stop Tuesday, Biden said there were 215 bridges deemed "structurally unsafe" and 700 miles of highway in the state listed in poor condition, which he said costs residents heavily each year in gas and repairs.

In addition to speeding repairs to roads and bridges, Biden touted the law's investments in upgrading public transit and trains, replacing lead pipes and expanding access to broadband internet. The law, he said, is estimated to create an extra 2 million jobs a year, and he insisted it also would improve supply chain bottlenecks that have contributed to rising prices for consumers by providing funding for America's ports, airports and freight rail.

Biden defeated Donald Trump by 7 percentage points in New Hampshire in the 2020 election, but his popularity has sagged in the state. In a University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll last month, his overall favorable rating was 34%, with 53% having an unfavorable view.

On Tuesday, the president visited a bridge that carries state Route 175 over the Pemigewasset River. Another bridge over the river was added in 2018.

"This may not seem like a big bridge, but it saves lives and solves problems," Biden said.

New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who planned to greet Biden at the airport, sent a letter to the president Tuesday asking him to work with Congress to earmark even more infrastructure funding for the state. He also urged Biden to address supply chain issues, workforce shortages and the rising cost of construction materials.

"Ensuring that roads get built, bridges get repaired, and drinking water gets improved will be even more challenging given the economic challenges Washington seems oblivious to," Sununu said.

Under the funding formula in the bill, New Hampshire will receive $1.1 billion for federal-aid highways and $225 million for bridges, the White House said.

According to the White House, 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. The law has almost $40 billion for bridges, the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration.

Many of the particulars of how the money is spent will be up to state governments. Biden has named former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as the liaison between the White House and the states to help ensure things run smoothly and to prevent waste and fraud.

President Joe Biden, Infrastructure Bill, New Hampshire
President Joe Biden greets wellwishers after speaking on infrastructure at the NH 175 bridge over the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, New Hampshire on Tuesday. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images