Biden Appeals to North Carolina With Program to Replace Lead Pipes

President Biden traveled on Thursday to North Carolina, a possible swing state in the fall election, to promote his efforts to replace toxic lead pipes as part of his administration’s program to expand and upgrade the nation’s network of roads, airports and other critical infrastructure.

During a stop in Wilmington, the president announced $3 billion in new spending drawn from the bipartisan infrastructure law that he pushed through Congress in 2021, one of the signature legislative achievements he hopes to use to show voters that he can be effective despite political polarization.

“Until the United States of America, God love us, deals with this, how can we say we’re a leading nation in the world?” he told a crowd of supporters at the Wilmington Convention Center. “For God’s sake, we’re better than this.”

Mr. Biden has committed to replacing all lead pipes across the nation within a decade. Lead exposure can affect brain development in children, damage kidneys and interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen. The administration estimates that more than nine million homes, schools, day care centers and businesses still receive water through lead pipes, particularly in communities of marginalized people.

In choosing North Carolina to announce the third installment of his program, Mr. Biden was reaching out to a state that has sided with Democrats in just two of the past 14 presidential elections (1976 and 2008) but that Democrats believe is trending their way. Mr. Biden lost the state and its 15 electoral votes by only 1.3 percent of the ballots cast in 2020, though he trails by six percentage points in a cumulative average of polls calculated by the political website

The Biden campaign has invested resources in North Carolina, opening 11 offices so far and paying for television advertising in the state, while the president’s strategists said they have not detected much effort by Mr. Trump’s team. Mr. Biden’s visit on Thursday was his third to the state this year, and Vice President Kamala Harris has been here four times.

The president came to Wilmington after a stop in Charlotte, where he met with families of four law enforcement officers killed on Monday and some of their colleagues who were injured. The meeting was held out of sight, and Mr. Biden made no public comments at the time in deference to the families’ privacy, but later paid tribute to them at his speech in Wilmington.

“Every time an officer puts on that shield and walks out the door, a family member wonders whether they’re going to get that call. Will they come home?” he said. “The entire nation is praying for these families.”

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