NEW YORK (AP) — Hours after a gunman killed seven people at a July 4th parade in suburban Chicago, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tapped into the frustration of many fellow Democrats on the seeming inability of the U.S. to curb gun violence.
“For those who’re indignant today, I’m here to inform you: Be indignant. I’m furious,” Pritzker said.
But on the White House, President Joe Biden was more focused on reassurance than anger.
“I do know it may be exhausting and unsettling,” he said, adding that “we’re going to get through all of this.”
In a summer marked by anger amongst Democrats over a string of mass shootings and the Supreme Court’s decision to strip women of the constitutional right to an abortion, several governors, including Pritzker, are emerging because the party’s leading voices of concern. Their willingness to talk — and act — in aggressive terms stands in contrast to Biden, who’s coming under growing criticism from some Democrats for lacking a sufficiently robust response to what some in his party see as existential threats.
Some Democrats warn that the dearth of a robust response can be an issue if the party hopes to end up enough voters to take care of their narrow grip on Congress in the autumn midterm elections.
“The folks that you’re telling to vote aren’t going to listen until we prove that we’re handling this moment with urgency,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in an interview, referring to the party generally. “We’ve got quite a lot of tools at our disposal, I feel we have now quite a lot of assets at our disposal, and we have now to make use of them.”
Facing pressure to be more forceful, Biden took executive motion on Friday to guard access to abortion, but noted the boundaries of what he could do without Congress acting and said, “For God’s sake there may be an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote!”
But on this moment, governors could have unique tools which are more conducive to swift motion than the president. Well positioned heading into the autumn campaign and presiding over statehouses where Democrats are on top of things, Pritzker and Govs. Kathy Hochul of Recent York and Gavin Newsom of California have wide latitude.
In Recent York, as an illustration, Hochul was undeterred by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a state law and allowed most individuals to hold a handgun for private protection. She called a special session last week by which lawmakers passed latest measures limiting where those licensed to have guns can carry them and toughening rules for obtaining the permits. The regulations include a novel requirement to screen applicants’ social media accounts for threats.
“They could think they will change our lives with the stroke of a pen, but we have now pens too,” Hochul said defiantly of the Supreme Court’s gun ruling.
In Illinois, Pritzker has said he would convene a special legislative session in coming weeks, with support of Democratic legislative leaders, to “more firmly protect” abortion rights and address a few of the challenges the state faces as one in every of the few places within the Midwest where abortion stays legal.
Abortion rights can be on the California ballot in November, after legislators with Newsom’s blessing agreed last month to put a proposal before voters that might guarantee a right to an abortion within the state structure. The constitutional amendment is definite to drive turnout on either side of the controversy.
Newsom has been especially vocal in rallying against the repeal of abortion rights even before the Supreme Court ruled. When a draft Supreme Court opinion surfaced in May suggesting the conservative majority was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, he delivered a withering critique of the national party, suggesting it was affected by collective lethargy.
“Where is the Democratic Party?” he asked on the time, without naming anyone specifically but appearing to exclude Biden from criticism. “Why aren’t we standing up more firmly? More resolutely? Why aren’t we calling this out?”
With only a tenuous grip on Congress, nonetheless, Biden can’t move laws quickly. And even criticizing Republicans might be politically dangerous if he needs their support on key votes.
“Forcefully calling out the opposite side isn’t a luxury he has if he desires to get anything done the remaining of the 12 months on anything,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “For those who’re Gavin Newsom, whose votes are you going to lose within the state senate or California assembly?”
The White House insists Biden isn’t backing away from a fight. In a passionate prime-time speech last month, he lamented that gun violence had turned schools, supermarkets and other on a regular basis places into “killing fields” and asked, “How far more carnage are we willing to just accept?”
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, Biden called the choice the “realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that “you’ll hear more from him” on issues including abortion as she underscored the administration’s central message that winning the midterms is the most effective path forward.
Speaking on the White House on Friday concerning the abortion ruling, Biden showed anger and disgust, at times gritting his teeth as he discussed reports of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was forced to travel out of state to terminate a pregnancy after being raped.
“Ten years old. 10 years old. Raped. Six weeks pregnant. Already traumatized, was forced to travel to a different state. Imagine being that little girl. Just—I’m serious—just imagine being that little girl. Ten years old!” he said.
Still, without more federal options, Biden is popping to governors. He convened a virtual roundtable last Friday with Pritzker, Hochul and 7 other Democratic governors to debate what steps were being taken of their states to guard abortion rights.
Biden reiterated that his administration will protect the rights of ladies to travel to other states for abortion services and make sure that abortion medication is on the market as widely as possible. But he acknowledged he didn’t have votes within the U.S. Senate for more sweeping actions and laid out the stakes for November’s elections and the necessity to increase Democrats’ majorities.
“Within the meantime, I would like to listen to what the governors are doing,” he said.
With their reelections essentially secure, the aggressive motion from a few of the governors is sparking speculation about potential future presidential campaigns.
Pritzker, a billionaire businessman looking for his second term, raised chatter a few possible presidential bid when he spoke last month on the state Democratic party convention in Recent Hampshire, one in every of the early presidential nominating states. He has said he is concentrated on his job as governor and his reelection bid.
Newsom drew much more attention by running a television ad on Independence Day in Florida that was critical of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential candidate. Within the ad, which features images of DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, Newsom warns viewers that “freedom is under attack in your state.”
“I urge all of you living in Florida to affix the fight. Or join us in California, where we still consider in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to decide on, freedom from hate and the liberty to like,” Newsom said.
Associated Press writers Sara Burnett in Chicago and Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.