White House defends Biden's stances

Asked about the progressive criticisms of Biden's recent actions, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said the party remains unified behind him and cited wins that have coalesced Democrats, from new judges to gun regulations to climate change to Medicare.

“President Biden’s values and agenda have demonstrably unified congressional Democrats across the full spectrum of the party — as well as the country more broadly — and are consistent with what he ran on and fought for over many years,” Bates said. “These same principles galvanized Democrats when President Biden won the most votes of any candidate in history, when he led the best midterm outcome for a new president in decades, and now.”

Republicans see political motivations for Biden to take his recent positions on the D.C. crime bill and immigration. Some see parallels with Bill Clinton's attempts to triangulate against his party's left after the 1994 midterms.

“Well, he said he’s running for re-election. It looks like a guy who is running for re-election,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said of Biden, who has not yet formally announced his plans for 2024.

During his first campaign, Clinton popularized the term “Sister Souljah moment” after he aggressively repudiated the hip-hop artist’s controversial comments on race. But Biden seems to be taking a quieter, policy-focused path to his independence.

On crime, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Biden is “just following common sense,” and added: “I think it shows that, one, he’s probably running; and two, that he is trying to find a way to protect his members more in the middle.”

“Now that they’ve lost the House, he’s trying to do the triangulation thing, which makes sense,” Graham said. Biden’s “first two years were unashamedly very progressive, very liberal. And now you see him making an adjustment.”