By ZEKE MILLER
AP White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden cast himself as a defender of freedom on Wednesday in his first campaign ad since launching his 2024 reelection bid, aiming to flip the script on Republicans who have traditionally seized that mantle.
The television ad, which will air in major markets in the six states Biden carried in 2020 that are key to his path back to the White House, aims to portray Republicans as part of an “extreme movement” bent on overturning elections, restricting access to abortion and undermining voters’ economic security. It’s a taste of what is set to be the core of the Democratic president’s campaign message to voters, as he seeks to paint all Republicans as embracing former President Donald Trump and out of the step with popular opinion and the nation’s values.
“Courage, opportunity, democracy, freedom: They’re the values and beliefs that built this country and still beat in our hearts,” a narrator says. “But they’re under attack by an extreme movement that seeks to overturn elections, ban books and eliminate a woman’s right to choose.”
The ad goes on to say Biden “has made defending our basic freedoms the cause of his presidency: the freedom for women to make their own health care decisions, the freedom for our children to be safe from gun violence, the freedom to vote and have your vote counted, for seniors to live with dignity, and to give every American the freedom that comes with a fair shot at building a good life.”
The 90-second spot includes footage of the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters trying to overturn the 2020 election and of children fleeing a school shooting as well as patriotic-themed images of flags being raised and Biden greeting supporters.
“For freedom, for democracy, for America — Joe Biden,” the ad concludes.
The Biden campaign said the ad is airing as part of a seven-figure, two-week media buy in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It said a second ad will be released next week.
“Freedom” is a common buzzword among Republicans who would challenge Biden for reelection, typically around the cultural issues that have defined the early stages of the 2024 GOP presidential nominating campaign. Republican figures, for instance, have attacked race and gender-affirming policy in schools as a threat to the liberty of those who object to them.
It was on the lips of several of the Republican presidential prospects who attended the first big GOP campaign event of the year in Iowa, where the 2024 caucuses are expected to begin the voting next year.
Former Vice President Mike Pence pointed to an eastern Iowa school district as an example of violating such freedoms. The Linn-Mar Community School District near Cedar Rapids allows students to request a gender transition plan for teachers, administrators and students to respect without the knowledge and permission of the students’ parents. A foundation Pence leads has been involved in supporting parents who are suing to overturn the school policy.
“Make no mistake about it, the battle against radical gender ideology is a battle for religious freedom,” Pence told about 1,000 Iowa conservatives in suburban Des Moines on Saturday. “And it’s a battle we must fight.”
AP writer Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed.