Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) didn’t respond to questions about his support for President Joe Biden’s plans to run for re-election in 2024.
On Friday, Fox News asked O’Halleran and five other Democratic congressmen about their support for a Biden 2024 run. O’Halleran and four others didn’t respond. The network posed their question several weeks after O’Halleran failed to respond to a similar question from the Daily Caller.
According to data from FiveThirtyEight, O’Halleran has a perfect voting record on issues supported by the president, though he’s insinuated otherwise.
O’Halleran was also behind the controversial proposal to suspend the federal gas tax, along with Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). Democratic leaders received the initiative coolly, according to interviews presented in Politico. The legislators spurned the idea as one that would bleed revenue without justifiable savings for consumers.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris told CNN anchor Dana Bash that she and Biden would seek re-election in 2024. Harris issued those remarks less than an hour after the New York Times reported on Democratic Party leaders’ dissent over Biden’s desire to run again.
“Joe Biden is running for re-election and I will be his ticket mate,” stated Harris. “Full stop. That’s it.”
Biden’s promise to run is something that certain individuals within Biden-Harris immediate circle have echoed repeatedly, despite pushback from fellow Democratic leaders. Lack of unified support has Biden “irked,” according to insiders that spoke with multiple mainstream outlets close with the Biden administration: including the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and Politico.
Although O’Halleran’s voting record supports Biden’s policies wholeheartedly, his reluctance to back a second round of a Biden-Harris administration may have to do with public sentiment in addition to party dissent. Biden’s approval ratings have consistently dropped: the majority of voters have disapproved of the president since last October.
FiveThirtyEight estimated that close to 56 percent of voters disapprove of Biden at present, while nearly 40 percent approve.
Reuters offered worse numbers: they estimated that 58 percent of voters disapprove of Biden, while only 36 percent approve.
By comparison, former President Donald Trump’s approval ratings fluctuated, hitting lows of 35 at the end of 2018 and at the very end of his term in 2021, but maintaining averages at or above 40 and up to 49 throughout his four years.
O’Halleran is also potentially facing a tougher voter base, thanks to redistricting. Certain studies asserted that the congressman’s new district leans Republican — if active in 2020, the Phoenix-based survey research group Data Orbital projected that Trump would have won the district by over 8 points.
The Arizona Republic, one of the state’s largest newspapers, misattributed a Democrat’s criticism of President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan handling as part of a narrative that the GOP is primarily critical of the debacle.
It was Representative Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) that offered the criticism in a press release on Thursday. O’Halleran pushed the Biden Administration for more answers and accountability for the increasingly bleak situation in Afghanistan.
“Congress and the American people deserve answers from the administration and associated agencies involved in this evacuation that has now put the lives of so many at risk,” asserted O’Halleran. “These answers must include how and why our brave men and women serving abroad were lost in what now seems was a predicted set of attacks, what the specifics of the Biden Administration’s August 31 deadline agreement with the Taliban are, and what concrete plans are in place now to ensure we can safely evacuate our service members, all Americans, all allies, and their families. We also must quickly understand what risks we face as a nation.”
However, the Republic attributed the quote to a Republican – Representative Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08). They characterized her version of the quote as continued criticisms coming from the Republican Party.
“As Americans faced the deadliest day for U.S. troops in a decade, Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., continued the GOP criticism of Biden’s evacuation efforts,” read the article.
Lesko tweeted about the misattribution later that day.
“The AZRepublic is so focused on criticizing Republicans, they accidentally criticized a Democrat,” wrote Lesko. “The quote they attributed to me below was actually from DEMOCRAT Tom O’Halleran. Criticism for Biden handling of Afghanistan is bipartisan—even if the press doesn’t want you to know!”
At some point after Lesko’s post, the Republic corrected the article to include a quote from Lesko. However, the Republic kept the original language attributing Lesko’s remarks as part of continued GOP criticism. They cast O’Halleran’s comment as Democrats merely “express[ing] concern” over Biden’s withdrawal plans.
The Republic also added a brief note about the correction to the top of their article, but didn’t apologize for the mistake or note that they regretted the error.
“Corrections & Clarifications: A statement from U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran was attributed to another member of Congress in an earlier version of the article,” read the note of correction.
AZ Free News inquired with the author of the piece, Ronald Hansen, about the misattribution. Specifically, if he’d reached out to Lesko and if he believed this misattribution substantially changed the impact of the article. Hansen didn’t respond by press time.