Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering costs for American families, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 19.
Las Vegas CNN  — 

President Joe Biden is taking his reelection pitch to a pair of Western battleground states this week, heading to Nevada and Arizona to shore up support in key states he’s looking to defend against former President Donald Trump in November.

Biden’s pitch will zero-in on efforts to improve the cost of housing and create jobs in clean energy and manufacturing as he makes the case to Americans that his policies are working for them. He’ll also use the trip to highlight early organizing efforts in these two states that the campaign believes will be “core” to electoral victory.

The president is also looking to appeal to Latinos, who make up a sizable portion of voters in Arizona and Nevada, as his predecessor has sought to make inroads in a community that has long been key to the Democratic coalition. Biden launched the campaign’s “Latinos con Biden-Harris” organizing initiative during a visit to South Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday evening.

While the president bested former President Donald Trump in both Nevada and Arizona in 2020, early polling indicates his path to victory in these Western swing states may be a challenge this year. Nevada is expected to be a tight race, and in Arizona, a Fox News poll of the state reflected a slight edge for Trump over Biden, who has also been hampered by low approval ratings nationwide.

But Biden’s team hopes a number of issues – including reproductive rights and democracy arguments – could work in their favor against Trump, especially with moderate voters.

Arizona and Nevada could see abortion rights provisions on their state ballots this November, which the campaign believes will be key to its organizing and can galvanize women and moderate voters.

“Nevadans and Arizonans are gathering signatures for ballot initiative to give voters the opportunity to protect abortion access in their states’ constitution in 2024. Nevada is one of the most pro-choice states in the nation. And the vast majority of Arizonans support abortion access, as well,” said Dan Kanninen, the Biden campaign’s battleground states director.

Along with issues like job creation and protection for unions, the campaign also plans to make the battle for democracy a key plank of its argument in these states.

“Issues of democracy are particularly potent and top of mind in both states. Trump’s allies in Arizona launched their infamous election audits after his loss in 2020. The state Republican Party in Nevada is literally run by Trump’s indicted fake electors. Democrats, independents, and moderate Republicans have come together to defeat the far-right candidates in these states who have parried Trump’s lies,” Kanninen said.

Victory in both states will require activating Biden’s 2020 coalition and mobilizing new voters. The campaign is looking to both states’ diverse voters, including AAPI, Latino, Black, indigenous, young and women voters, Kanninen said, and Biden also hopes to shore up support from union workers.

In a pair of interviews with Spanish-language outlets that aired Tuesday, Biden blasted his predecessor’s remarks about migrants and Latinos.

“This guy (Trump) despises Latinos — I understand Latino values,” he said. “You know — we just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, I hope you’re not offended by me saying this, but you know, the thing about the Irish that came here, they’re about family, they’re about faith, they’re about decency, and that’s exactly what the Latino community is all about,” Biden told Univision’s “El Bueno, La Mala y El Feo.”

He added, “Latinos were essential to my win in 2020, and again they’re essential, working hard to earn their vote. Earliest ever ad campaign to communicate directly with Latino voters about what we’ve done, in English and Spanish. The campaign is organizing on the ground in our Latino communities.”

The Sun Belt swing is part of the Biden campaign’s March month of action, building off what his team viewed as a successful State of the Union address with travel to every battleground state. Senior campaign advisers have argued the Western states – along with the so-called blue wall and two Southern states - will be key to their pathway to 270 electoral votes.

“Across the Southwest, Donald Trump and his extreme MAGA agenda have taken over the Republican Party establishment, causing deep divisions among traditional GOP voters and an opening for Democrats that has increasingly become a trendline,” Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, wrote in a memo.

In the weeks since the State of the Union, Biden has traveled to Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, along with New Hampshire, and the president and Vice President Kamala Harris plan on visiting North Carolina, a state the campaign sees as a possible pickup opportunity, next week.

It comes as the campaign is also scaling up its battleground operation, including expanding its brick-and-mortar presence with more than 100 new offices and 350 new team members – including 40 across Nevada and Arizona, Chavez Rodriguez’s memo said.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
President Joe Biden arrives for a campaign event at El Portal restaurant on Tuesday in Phoenix.

Biden’s Western swing

At a first stop in the Reno, Nevada, area, Biden met with local leaders and campaign volunteers in Washoe County, which Kanninen said is a “key swing county that has been critical to Democrats’ wins in recent cycles.”

Biden traveled onward to Las Vegas on Tuesday for a stop where he highlighted his plan to combat rising housing costs, calling on Congress to pass legislation that the White House says will help unlock the housing market for first-time homebuyers and improve affordability for renters. There is a shortage of affordable and available rental housing for extremely low-income renters in the state, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“For too many people, that dream of having a good home – it still feels out of reach. I get it,” the president told an audience, many of whom wore union T-shirts, at a community center in Las Vegas. “As more folks move to Nevada for good-paying jobs, we need housing that’s affordable.”

In making his pitch, Biden outlined his proposals – many of which require congressional action – in digestible terms.

“Nevada is the perfect place to lay out the president’s State of the Union housing goals and housing agenda,” said Biden senior adviser Gene Sperling, because it is a state that benefited from housing provisions in the Covid relief package passed in 2021 but also has much more need.

To that end, Biden has proposed $258 billion in housing investments in the budget he submitted to Congress earlier this month. It calls on Congress to pass a mortgage relief credit for middle-class, first-time homebuyers of $10,000 over two years, proposes new policies and rules to reduce closing costs, and offers tax credits and a competitive grant fund to build more affordable housing.

And for renters, Biden is calling on federal agencies to fight rent gouging by corporate landlords, cracking down on rental fees, and calling on Congress to expand housing-choice vouchers from more than 100,000 to more than 500,000 households.

“Folks are tired of being played for suckers, and I’m tired of letting them be played for suckers,” he said to applause in Las Vegas.

Many of the provisions requiring congressional approval could face an uphill battle with a divided Congress in an election year, though a senior administration official told reporters the policies are “incredibly bipartisan” at the state level.

Later Tuesday, he arrived in Phoenix, where he delivered remarks at a local Mexican restaurant to kick off the campaign’s “Latinos con Biden-Harris” initiative. The organizing effort, which will include online and in-person training and messaging sessions for Latino supporters, comes as the campaign is working to boost bilingual organizers and open offices in areas with Latino communities.

“You are the reason why, in large part, I beat Donald Trump. … Kamala and I desperately need your help,” Biden said at the restaurant. “Because look, there’s only about six or seven states that will determine the outcome of this election, they’re toss-up states, and this is one of them.”

The president will also deliver remarks on his “Investing in America” agenda in the Phoenix area on Wednesday. The event is expected to include a major funding announcement relating to the CHIPS and Science Act, a source familiar with the plans said, as the president looks to boost American chip manufacturing.

Biden’s travel this week will also fill his campaign war chest: The president is expected to participate in fundraisers in Dallas and Houston, days after the campaign announced it brought in $53 million in February, a sign of accelerating donor interest as Biden maintains a significant cash advantage over Trump.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Donald Judd contributed to this report.