But the trip to Michigan comes against the backdrop of deepening anger over Biden’s approach to Israel’s war against Hamas, which has driven a wedge between the White House and many of the Arab-American voters the president is counting on to deliver the battleground state in November.

In a sign of the deep fissures on the ground, several Arab-American and Muslim leaders declined invitations to meet with Chávez Rodríguez, said Michigan state Rep. Alabas Farhat, a Democrat who represents Dearborn.

Those leaders were invited to a Friday afternoon meeting but, after surveying their constituents, determined there would be little to gain from the session.

“I represent a community that’s actively hurting,” said Farhat, who was among those to decline the invitation. “When speaking to the community about this, it was a resounding no. Now is not the time for political conversations, now is the time for a ceasefire, and then we can talk.”

The Biden campaign declined to comment.

Chávez Rodríguez still planned to meet with other local leaders Friday in numerous meetings, which were first reported by the Detroit News. The gatherings were meant to address a range of issues facing various minority communities — not just to discuss anger over Biden’s Middle East policy, said one of the people familiar the matter, who was granted anonymity to discuss the private meetings.

Michigan’s Democratic primary is scheduled for Feb. 27.
Recent polling has shown Biden losing ground to former President Donald Trump in Michigan, a must-win state for the president’s reelection. Liberal voters, including the state’s large Arab American population,
have been outraged by the administration’s support of Israel amid its war in Gaza.

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, who is not part of the planned meetings, told POLITICO in a recent interview that his concerns about the Biden administration’s handling of the war have fallen on deaf ears.

“This idea of maybe the White House is unaware — I think all that is bullshit,” he said.

Katie Doyal, a spokesperson for the mayor, said Hammoud turned down a meeting Friday with the Biden campaign.

Farhat, the state lawmaker, also expressed concerns that the Biden campaign has not yet grasped the gravity of the situation.

“I don’t think they’re taking it seriously enough,” he said. “As a Democrat, I welcome conversations with our party in telling them how we can do better to secure the Arab vote. … But not during a time when over 30,000 people have died, and more are dying every day.”

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