Press Secretary Responds to Criticism of Biden’s Stance on Campus Demonstrations

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended President Joe Biden’s engagement with young voters after Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy criticized the president for his perceived absence on campus protests.

Police have intervened in several states where students set up encampments advocating for a Gaza ceasefire and urging their schools to sever ties with Israel amid the conflict. At Columbia University in New York, police cleared an administrative building that protesters occupied as part of their demonstration.

During a Wednesday press conference, Doocy accused Biden of being “MIA” on the pro-Palestinian protests and not addressing reports of anti-semitism amid the demonstrations. The White House had previously condemned the Columbia University protest, calling some of the language used “blatantly anti-Semitic, unconscionable, and dangerous.”

“I understand that President Biden historically has spoken very forcefully about antisemitism, but this week, he’s not. He’s MIA. Is he that worried about losing the youth vote with these protesters?” Doocy asked.

“I’m going to be mindful. You’re talking about youth vote. You’re talking about 2024,” Jean-Pierre responded.

As Doocy attempted to interject, Jean-Pierre continued, “No, no, no, no. I — I have to say what I have to say and just give me a second.”

Jean-Pierre pointed to several policies young progressive voters support, including efforts to address student debt.

“The president has taken a lot of policy actions here that he knows that young people care about and a lot of those actions are popular with those young folks, whether it’s giving a little bit of breathing room with student debt relief — so we made announcement today, as a matter of fact, and we are going to continue to do that, because we think it’s important as families or as an American and you’re coming out of college and you want to build a family [and] buy a home, you have the opportunity to do that and not be crushed by student debt,” Jean-Pierre said.

She emphasized that Biden understands the importance of addressing student debt and climate change, issues that resonate strongly with young people.

Amid growing speculation about how campus protests and Biden’s Israel policy will impact the November elections with younger Democrats, there have been multiple protest votes in Democratic primaries in swing states criticizing Biden’s stance on Israel. Filmmaker Michael Moore suggested on CNN this week that Biden could lose to Donald Trump if he does not adjust his Israel policy. Former Trump White House official Alyssa Farah Griffin echoed similar sentiments on Wednesday’s The View, suggesting that “young progressives” could undermine Biden’s campaign.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Doocy also inquired if Biden wanted an investigation into whether “agitators” at the campus protests were backed by foreign entities. New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) placed much of the blame for increased tensions at protests on “outside agitators” and expressed interest in investigating potential foreign influences.

Jean-Pierre indicated that local law enforcement would handle the matter, but the FBI and Department of Justice would provide support.

“The DOJ and FBI will continue to offer support to universities and colleges with respect to federal laws. That is something the DOJ and FBI are doing,” she said. “As far as local organizations and what is being reported on the ground, that is something that I’m certain local law enforcement is looking into.”

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