President Biden watched a preschooler’s infrastructure project crumble before his eyes Monday as he visited a New Jersey school to promote his own beleaguered spending plans.
“I’m sorry, my fault. That was my fault. I made you look up,” Biden said, bending over to pick up the pieces of what had been a tower of building blocks.
Biden appeared at the North Plainfield school with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who faces an unexpectedly tight race for re-election next week against a surging Republican candidate, Jack Ciattarelli.
Biden made only passing mention of Murphy but made time to gripe to the 4- and 5-year-olds about reporters.
“You know when you’re president, you see all these people here? They’re with you all the time. They get to ask you all kinds of questions. And you try to figure out how you can avoid answering them sometimes,” Biden said of the press travel pool.
Biden has given far fewer interviews than his predecessors. As of last week, he’d given 16 interviews as president, versus 82 by Donald Trump and 131 by Barack Obama during the same period of their first year in office. His press agents also pre-screen reporters allowed into events at the White House where he sometimes takes questions.
But Biden has made cracks about the press before — including joking in May about running over a journalist with a pickup truck when they tried to ask him a question about Israel.
Biden told reporters en route to New Jersey that he hopes to reach a deal by Wednesday on his sprawling social spending bill. He leaves on Thursday for a trip to Europe. The plan was originally pitched at $3.5 trillion, but it’s likely to be much smaller because of reluctance from centrist Democrats, including on proposed tax hikes.
The proposal would federally finance preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Biden made the stop in New Jersey as polls find Murphy in a narrowing race against his Republican challenger.
“You see this man here?” Biden asked the children. “He’s the governor of the state. He runs the state. And this is his wife, who runs him and me and everybody else.”