An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

White House Infrastructure Czar Mitch Landrieu joins Biden reelection campaign

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

The White House infrastructure czar is stepping down. Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was tapped with carrying out President Biden's signature legislative achievement, the $1 trillion infrastructure law. Landrieu isn't going far. He'll help lead Biden's reelection campaign.

MITCH LANDRIEU: I'm going to spend a good bit of my time making sure that the president gets reelected and promoting, defending the president and helping, you know, talk about ways we can save democracy. And I can't do that inside the White House just speaking about infrastructure.

PFEIFFER: Our co-host, Scott Detrow, talked with Landrieu about his decision to join the campaign and whether accomplishments like the infrastructure law could help Biden win a second term.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Every time you've talked to the press about the infrastructure law, you've said, my job is getting the team together, getting the money out the door and telling the story. On the telling the story part of it, are you happy with how that went? Do you feel like that has sunk in? - because on one hand, all this money being spent on projects that people want, and the other hand, you see poll after poll. People feel like the president isn't helping me economically. The president isn't doing stuff that I value. I mean, that disconnect has been hard to figure out all along. How do you make sense of it?

LANDRIEU: Well, I don't - it's not confusing to me at all, and I'm not surprised by it. When I was running the city of New Orleans and people said, I elected you to do the following three things, and I started to do them, it took a while for their feelings to line up with the reality. And they're not always the same things. It doesn't mean that the president is not doing a good job. I do know that when you run for office and you buy air time or you find ways to communicate with people in real time and an election is coming, that is when they focus on it. And the one thing Joe Biden has that nobody in the history of the country has is the receipts on 40,000 projects in 4,500 communities that - when they get focused on that, we'll know that. And when the American people start focusing on the choices that they have between chaos and actually getting stuff done and Joe Biden brings the receipts, I feel like we got a really great shot.

DETROW: I hear what you're saying, but I do want to push back a little because the White House was talking for so long about, you know, once we tell the story, people will start to appreciate all this work that's being done. You've had all these announcements, tons of press all over the place - tunnels, highways, internet - all of these things that affect people's lives. And still - and I'm not talking about the head-to-head polls. I'm talking about the questions of, you know, do you feel like the White House is doing something for me? - those types of questions. It hasn't seemed to move the needle in the big-picture way. Is it just being eaten up by everything else, or are we thinking about it wrong?

LANDRIEU: I'll push back on you in this way. I'll give you a perfect example. Andy Beshear just ran for reelection in Kentucky in a red state, and he got elected. You know what platform he ran on? If you go look at his victory speech, he cites investments from the bipartisan infrastructure law, which indicates that when you're in a campaign and people are paying attention to it and you put enough points behind a story on ways that people learn information - whether it's on TV or digital - and they focus in on it, they really, really like it.

So it's just a matter of - there is a lot of stuff going on in the country that has people in a state of concern right now, so it really doesn't surprise me at all. That doesn't mean I don't think it's a serious problem. But I think it absolutely is something that will change dramatically next year in a campaign cycle, when the public's got to make a choice about what direction they want the country to go in and which one of the people that will be on the ballot actually got stuff done and improved their lives and which one just talked about it.

PFEIFFER: White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu talking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED co-host Scott Detrow. Landrieu announced this week that he's joining President Biden's reelection campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF JHENE AIKO SONG, "B.S.") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Courtney Dorning has been a Senior Editor for NPR's All Things Considered since November 2018. In that role, she's the lead editor for the daily show. Dorning is responsible for newsmaker interviews, lead news segments and the small, quirky features that are a hallmark of the network's flagship afternoon magazine program.