PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — President Joe Biden has officially touched down in Portland for the second time in 2022.
Biden arrived on Air Force One shortly before 6:15 p.m. on Friday evening. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici welcomed the president to Portland.
“We’re at a crucial crossroads in our country. We can go forward with policies on health care and housing and education, good-paying jobs, take on climate,” Senator Merkley said. “This November election is going to have a big impact on where we head as a nation.”
As soon as he arrived, the president took time to connect with those he met.
Brigadier General Donna Prigmore, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, greeted the president when he arrived.
“This was by far the highlight of my 38-year career,” Prigmore said.
Prigmore told KOIN 6 News the two spoke parent-to-parent with Biden telling her “‘’you know, I learned a long time ago that mom’s rule.’” Prigmore said she responded “you should tell my boys that!'”
Prigmore said one of her sons is a firefighter and the other is a medical student.
“He takes out his paper and pen and he says, ‘do you know their numbers by heart?’ and I said ‘yes, I do,’” Prigmore explained. “He said ‘well, write them down for me,’ So, I think he’s actually going to call them.”
It’s that personal interaction Democrats hope will help them in the Oregon governor’s race.
“I think it’s also a reminder to everybody there’s an election in 25 days. Let’s pay attention, there’s a lot at stake,” Rep. Bonamici said.
President Biden made his first stop in Southeast Portland at a volunteer event with Oregon Democrats at the SEIU Local 49 office – rounding up support for Democratic candidates ahead of November elections.
Those inside the event told KOIN 6 News his presence and commitment to the efforts of grassroots volunteers reinforced their mission.
“I know I don’t look it, but I been around a long time and this is the most important off-year election we’ve had since Roosevelt’s time because so much is at stake. If we can keep the House and Senate, we can keep doing what we’ve been doing which is really going to change the country,” Biden said.
After his speech, the president put on a headset and began making cold calls along with volunteers.
“I sat and listened to him make calls…I feel so humbled and grateful,” said Dr. Rosa Colquitt, Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon.
Gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek added “it’s so amazing when the president comes…he was right in there with us.”
While in Oregon, the president plans to speak about his plans to lower health care and drug costs for Americans, according to a member of Biden’s communications team.
To combat rising healthcare costs, Biden’s team says he is set on strengthening and protecting Medicare and Social Security. Additionally, Biden will reportedly take action to lower health care and prescription drug costs by signing an Executive Order.
Biden reportedly plans to touch on the Inflation Reduction Act’s “historic cost-saving provisions” that will be available in some Medicare plans for seniors. The president said the act will lower drug prices, lock in premiums and cap out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year. It also caps insulin at $35 per month.
On Saturday, Biden’s team says he will visit the East Portland Community Center at 12 p.m., where he will be joined by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Suzanne Bonamici. He is scheduled to meet with seniors who are set to benefit from provisions made in the Inflation Reduction Act, which will take effect at the start of next year.
Also on Saturday, Biden plans to participate in a reception for Oregon Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek at 1:45 p.m, according to the White House. He’s then expected to depart Portland by 2:50 p.m.
Before stepping foot in the Rose City, Biden will be visiting Irvine, Calif. sharing similar details on his plan to reduce healthcare costs.
This will be Biden’s second visit to Portland in six months.
KOIN 6 News’ Lisa Balick and Joelle Jones contributed to this report.