The GOP’s impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden may seem like low-hanging fruit for the party’s presidential field, which is looking to score points with the base.
But as the investigation continues to move forward in Washington, Republicans on the campaign trail aren’t biting.
The 2024 GOP candidates are eager to attack the unpopular Biden on a range of issues, from his handling of the southern border to his handling of the economy and accusations of arming government agencies against political opponents. What rarely comes up in their stump speeches is the impeachment inquiry centered around the Biden family’s business dealings.
Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has been impeached twice as president, usually glosses over questions about Biden’s impeachment during campaign rallies. When asked about the survey during a radio interview in December, he said, “I don’t know. I don’t pay much attention to it. I see him doing very bad things.”
Other GOP White House candidates, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, are also avoiding the topic. After saying during an interview in June that she would welcome an inquiry into Biden, Haley has not raised the investigation on her own during any campaign shutdown.
When asked about the investigation during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in December, DeSantis called it sound, but also pointed to the dangers of frivolous investigations.
“I think they’re going to ignore a lot of the issues that our constituents are talking about and risk doing an investigation that’s going nowhere,” he said.
Republican strategists say the blowback to Biden over the poll is intentional. For Trump, discussing the government’s investigation into the president could weaken his argument for a “two-tier” justice system. For other Republican candidates, focusing on an open investigation that they agree will happen, but which has so far found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and is beyond their control, does little to differentiate themselves from their rivals in a field squeezed by Trump. .
“When you run for president, you want to set your agenda and talk about what you’re going to do. You don’t want to draft what’s going on in Congress,” said GOP strategist Matt Gorman, who advised RSC Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign.
“It’s one thing to say yes, [an inquiry] should be opened and if there are major milestones along the line, comment on it, but I think it puts pressure on you to comment as a presidential candidate or to make it part of your campaign.”
After the House of Representatives formally voted late last year to launch a party-line investigation, Biden’s impeachment attempt is certain to derail his 2024 campaign in the coming months. A pair of committees voted on Wednesday Advising House Rep. Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for objecting to the subpoena as part of his father’s inquiry.
Polls show that while the public is split on Biden’s impeachment inquiry, Republicans are broadly in favor of it. Recently USA/Today Suffolk University poll 43% of voters supported the move by the House of Representatives to start the inquiry, while 49% opposed it. Among Republicans, almost three-quarters supported the move, while 20 percent opposed it.
Still, some Iowa caucuses say the poll is not what they want to hear discussed on the campaign trail.
“People who are against Trump are going to look for anything to use against him,” said Kathy Sexton, a Newton resident who plans to caucus for Trump. “If he started talking about Biden, they would use that against him.”
“I think it’s very wise of him not to talk about it,” said Pleasant Hill resident Shelley Buhrow. “I mean, Biden hasn’t been convicted.”