At Waukesha visit, Jill Biden calls Trump ‘dangerous to women’

Biden discussed abortion rights during her stop in the Republican stronghold. It was her fourth visit to the state since August.

First Lady Jill Biden speaks to supporters during her “Women For Biden-Harris” tour in Waukesha, WI on Sunday, March 3, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

First lady Jill Biden on Sunday touted her husband’s position on reproductive rights and said another Donald Trump presidency would be dangerous for women. 

The first lady made the comments during a visit to Waukesha as part of her “Women for Biden-Harris” tour. She spoke to around 100 people gathered inside the arena building at the Waukesha Expo Center. During her speech, she said President Joe Biden would protect women’s reproductive rights if re-elected. 

“Donald Trump is dangerous to women and to our families. We simply cannot let him win,” she said. “We must re-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.” 

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Republican former President Trump has reportedly expressed support privately for a national 16-week abortion ban, though he told reporters he hasn’t yet decided on the number of weeks he would support.

“Women put Joe Biden in the White House and women are going to do it again, because we know what’s at stake,” Jill Biden said Sunday.

The trip is yet another reminder of the key role Wisconsin will play in the presidential election. Joe Biden, a Democrat, won 55 percent of women’s votes in the 2020 election, according to an AP VoteCast survey. In Wisconsin, exit polls from NBC News revealed that 56 percent of women across the state voted for him. 

Waukesha was the fourth stop on the first lady’s tour, which began Friday in Pennsylvania. The goal is to “reach and mobilize women across the country” to vote for Joe Biden in the general election this fall, according to a statement. The visit comes as the 2024 presidential election is shaping up to be a rematch of the 2020 election, when Biden beat Trump by less than a percentage point in Wisconsin. 

People stand together in winter clothing as they hold signs at a rally.
Supporters of abortion access hold signs at a rally Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Appleton, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

The first lady mostly spoke about abortion, a hot button issue in Wisconsin. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in 2022, it removed federal abortion protections. The decision pushed abortion regulations back to the states. In Wisconsin, abortions essentially ceased until late 2023, when a Dane County judge ruled a state law enacted in 1849 bans feticide and not consensual abortions.

Jill Biden blamed the Supreme Court’s decision on Trump, who swung the Supreme Court to a conservative majority when he was in office.

“He (Trump) spent a lifetime tearing us (women) down and devaluing our existence,” she said. 

Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin also attended. Baldwin is running for a third Senate term in November. She said it’s up to women to turn out to help Biden win another term and help protect abortion rights for Americans. 

“Wisconsin is the battleground state in our country this year,” Baldwin said. “The stakes of our fight are higher than ever,” she said. 

So far, Baldwin’s likely Republican opponent appears to be entrepreneur Eric Hovde, who entered the race last month. The Senate primary is in August.

“This year, we can defeat Donald Trump, Eric Hovde and the MAGA agenda once and for all,” Baldwin said. 

In response to the visit, Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Brian Schimming questioned why President Biden didn’t come to the state himself. 

“For the second time since the Hur Report’s release last month, the White House is sending the first lady instead of the president to make the case for his abysmal record,” Schimming wrote in the statement. He called it “the latest desperate attempt by Democrats to cover for a tired presidency and its failing policies.” 

That report is the special counsel Robert Hur investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents that were found at his home in Delaware and at an office in Washington, D.C., which concluded that “no criminal charges are warranted,” but was critical of the president’s memory. 

President Joe Biden was in Superior earlier this year to promote the administration’s infrastructure investments. In August and December, he stopped in Milwaukee to promote the Inflation Reduction Act and efforts to support Black-owned businesses.

The visit comes as Joe Biden’s job approval rating is at 37 percent, close to the lowest level of his presidency, according to Reuters. 

It was the first lady’s fourth visit to the battleground state since August, when she stopped in Madison to highlight the White House’s cancer prevention work and support for public schools. In October, she visited the Menominee reservation as part of a two-day trip to northeast Wisconsin. In February, she visited Green Bay to tout the administration’s education policies. 

Joe Biden, Blatnik Bridge
From left to right: Labor officials, Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar applaud President Joe Biden for infrastructure investments near the base of the Blatnik Bridge in Superior on Jan. 25, 2024. (Danielle Kaeding/WPR)

Vice President Kamala Harris also stopped in Wisconsin in January to talk about abortion rights. She will visit Madison on Wednesday.

A recent Marquette University Law School Poll showed Trump leading Biden nationally among registered voters 51-49. 

Biden flipped Wisconsin blue in 2020 after Trump won the state in 2016. Republicans’ focus on Wisconsin played a part in the party’s choice of Milwaukee to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.