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Biden tries to shift the focus to Russia and the GOP as economic concerns pile up

The President’s speech at the White House comes as the administration is on the defensive over the economy. The country is facing the worst inflation in 40 years and a CNN poll conducted by SSRS showed fewer than a third of Americans think his party’s economic visions aligns with their own. Gas prices have also jumped to fresh record highs, with AAA reporting on Tuesday that the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $4.37 — a 17-cent spike in the past week. Just last week, the Federal Reserve recently announced it was taking aggressive action to lower inflation and is raising interest rates by a half-percentage point — something it hasn’t done in 22 years.

The administration has attempted to pin the blame for rising gas prices and economic uncertainty on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, Biden economic Cecilia Rouse said on CNN’s “New Day” that it’s up to Putin whether gas prices come down.

“We certainly hope that these will come down soon that that’s somewhat up to Putin. But the President is focused on addressing these kinds of issues,” Rouse said, pointing to efforts from the administration to ease prices, including the release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves.

“The President understands the uncertainty and that cost that rising prices — cause on families. All measures are on the table. He is focused on these issues,” she added, going on to lay out longer-term measures to relieve pricing pressures.

During his remarks, Biden will lay out a “whole of government approach” to combating inflation, Rouse said. She indicated that Chinese tariffs and trade policy more broadly will be part of his speech, as well as clean energy, and later called on Congress to confirm the administration’s Federal Reserve nominees.

Another part of those remarks will be blasting Republicans and their midterm message. In the past week, Biden has ramped up his rhetoric against Republican and argued the far-right has overtaken the party as he tries to sharpen the contrast between his administration’s policies and what Republicans are proposing. It’s a significant messaging shift for a President who campaigned on unifying the country and turning down the political temperature and comes as Democrats scramble for an effective campaign message six months out from Election Day.

The President has recently seized on a plan put forward by Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the head of Senate Republicans’ campaign committee, as a primary example that leaders on the right fit into former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mold. The President is expected to continue hammering Scott’s proposal during his Tuesday morning speech on his administration’s efforts to lower costs for Americans and bring down inflation.

Scott’s plan, Biden argues, would raise taxes on working-class Americans and sunset programs like Social Security and Medicare. It includes several Trumpian proposals and even calls for completing a border wall and naming it after the former President. GOP leader Mitch McConnell has publicly rebuked the plan and wants to keep the focus on criticizing the Biden administration heading into the midterms.

A White House official previewing Biden’s remarks said Monday that fighting inflation is the Biden’s “top economic priority,” adding the administration is “laser-focused on doing everything we can to bring down prices.” In contrast, the official said Monday, Republicans have used inflation as “a political talking point,” but have failed to materially reduce costs for Americans.

In addition to blasting Scott’s plan, the President argued on Monday that Republicans are “coming for” voting rights and want to ban books. He argued the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade showed that “so much more” is at stake in addition to abortion rights.

“We gotta start talking more about what these guys are talking about,” Biden said of Republicans and their agenda at a Democratic fundraiser on Monday night, according to a readout of the event.

CNN’s Donald Judd and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

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