Jill Biden casts Donald Trump as a threat to women as she opens a tour of battleground states

ATLANTA (AP) — First lady Jill Biden warned Friday that returning Donald Trump to the White House would threaten women who already have watched the former president’s Supreme Court picks nix a federal right to abortion services.

Trump has “spent a lifetime tearing us down and devaluing our existence,” she said in Atlanta, where she launched a multistate battleground tour to highlight President Joe Biden's reelection campaign outreach program aimed at women.

“I’ve been so proud of how Joe has placed women at the heart of his agenda,” the first lady said of her husband. She contrasted him to Trump, who she said “mocks women’s bodies, disrespects our accomplishments and brags about assault ” and, as recently as this week, took credit for “killing Roe v. Wade.”

It was an unusually pointed take-down from Jill Biden. She has long been a smiling, supportive advocate for her husband, often telling endearing stories about their marriage and family and her own career as an educator. Her remarks Friday signaled a more aggressive role in what is setting up to be a bitter rematch of the 2020 election. Women are likely to play a crucial role, especially in the relative handful of states that will determine the Electoral College outcome.

“We are the first generation in half a century to give our daughters a country with fewer rights than we had,” she said, adding that women must organize in 2024 and “meet this moment as if our rights are at risk — because they are.”

Besides visiting Georgia, the first lady will highlight the campaign's “Women for Biden” effort with weekend events in Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin. The president won all four states in 2020, and each is expected to be hotly contested in November.

Separately Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris released a video affirming her role alongside the first lady as the president’s top validator to women.

“We are fighting for fundamental freedoms,” Harris said, mentioning protection from gun violence and “the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body.”

Harris nodded to her place as the first woman to serve as vice president and urged women “to mobilize your daughters, your sisters, your friends and neighbors” so “we will make history again.”

At a woman-owned event space in downtown Atlanta, Jill Biden listed administration accomplishments and priorities, assuring a friendly audience that “Joe and Kamala” will push for a national abortion rights law superseding state restrictions, while also protecting access to fertility treatments and birth control.

Trump's campaign countered with a different slate of issues and highlighted the recent killing of a Georgia college student as proof the former president can serve women better than the incumbent who defeated him in 2020.

“The horrifying murder of Laken Riley at the hands of an illegal immigrant is every woman’s worst nightmare, and Joe Biden’s policies have turned our nightmare into reality,” said campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt. “Women want a president who will secure our nation’s borders, remove violent criminals from our neighborhoods, and build an economy that helps hardworking families thrive.”

Jill Biden’s tour comes ahead of Super Tuesday, a slate of primaries and caucuses across 16 states and one U.S. territory that are expected to push Biden and Trump close to the delegate majorities required for their respective nominations.

The itinerary includes the three closest states from 2020. Joe Biden won by less than a percentage point in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin, with a combined margin over Trump of about 43,000 votes across the three, a razor-thin amount despite Biden’s national popular-vote advantage of 7 million.

Biden won Nevada by 2.3 points. But Democrats have since lost the governor’s office there.

The four states have a combined 43 electoral votes, enough to flip the Electoral College in Trump’s favor.

In 2020, an AP VoteCast survey of more than 110,000 general election voters shows Biden won 55% of women and 46% of men nationally, a so-called gender gap of 9 percentage points. VoteCast showed that Trump narrowly beat Biden among white women, largely on the strength of support in rural areas and small towns. But Biden dominated with women in the suburbs, winning 59% to Trump’s 40% of a group that makes up around a quarter of the electorate nationwide. Biden won overwhelmingly among Black women, 93% to Trump’s 6%, according to VoteCast.

Several attendees Friday said concerns about reproductive rights will boost support for Biden.

“It is absolutely the No. 1 issue for me and the women in my circle — even a lot of Republicans,” said Tina Coria of suburban McDonough.

Tambrei Cash, who is running for the Georgia congressional seat held by Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Green, described the Supreme Court's 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade as an awakening for many women who took the right for granted. A recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling concerning in vitro fertilization and frozen embryos, she added, is another reminder of the stakes.

“Women are mad, because they are coming for our fundamental rights,” Cash said. “It's not just abortion. They're coming for IVF, and they're coming for birth control.”

Coria and Cash agreed that it's important for Biden, as an 81-year-old man who once talked openly about his personal opposition to abortion, to have his wife and the vice president vouching for him.

“It is essential, just essential to have their voices,” Coria said.

Katrina Parks, a 54-year-old from Douglasville, another Atlanta suburb, stressed “everyday issues” beyond the headliner debates on abortion and, more recently, immigration and border policy.

“The country is just in an overall state of emergency," Parks said, “but I think about that as the concerns that most people are living with every day.”

She cited health care, literacy and educational opportunities, consumer goods and criminal justice reform. As for the president's age and fitness for a second term, she said, “I don't hold anyone's age against them. I believe in leveraging experience, and he does that.”

Bill Barrow, The Associated Press