Cedric Richmond will be ‘missed’ as he departs White House to help Dems in 2022 midterm elections

“His presence will be missed, and it will be thoroughly needed [in his absence]...we need five Cedric Richmond's in the White House. One wasn't enough,” a Biden official told theGrio.

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Cedric Richmond, the highest-ranking Black man in the Biden administration, is leaving the White House before summer. However, the senior advisor to President Joe Biden and director of public engagement will continue his work to support President Biden’s agenda as a consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). 

Cedric Richmond
Cedric Richmond, senior advisor to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, looks on as U.S. President Joe Biden meets with advisors, union and business leaders about infrastructure in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Richmond’s departure has been confirmed after sources first began chattering about it last week.

A Biden administration official who was not authorized to speak on the matter told theGrio that Richmond’s absence in the White House will be incredibly felt.

“The person coming after him will have some big shoes to fill because what he’s been able to accomplish and the relationships he has, not only in D.C. but in the U.S. generally, speaks volumes,” the Biden official said.

“He has a lot of influence. Folks have to understand that he is someone who has been in the President’s orbit for some time, especially from the campaign up until where we are now. He’s a person who is results-driven.”

Richmond being a Black man with the ear of the president, can’t be understated. The Biden official noted that as one of few Black men in the White House orbit, Richmond often championed policy issues impacting Black Americans and advocated for staff of color. 

Special Assistant to the President Ashley Williams (L) and White House Office of Public Engagement Director Cedric Richmond depart the White House on July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“His presence will be missed, and it will be thoroughly needed [in his absence]…we need more…we need five Cedric Richmond’s in the White House. One wasn’t enough,” the official said.

The former U.S. congressman’s upcoming White House departure to support the Democratic Party comes ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, which are expected to be a game-changer for Republicans who want and expect to win big in national and local contests. 

Richmond will work on fixing what many have characterized as a messaging problem for Democrats and the White House. Months ago, the House Democratic Caucus focused on changing the stagnant messaging and Democratic talking points that have not moved the needle politically as President Biden’s poll numbers continue to decline.

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, told theGrio weeks ago that “the new message” for the Democratic Party has to be about “The People.” 

“We have to understand if we are going to build a better America, we have to level with the American people. We have to tell them there are challenges, but we are for them.”

Richmond is expected to have more freedom to reach the masses outside of the White House, whereas his time inside the presidential bubble — where administration officials have to abide by many rules and regulations — can hinder the movement and conversation needed to reach people in a more personal way.  

Congresswoman Beatty said the Democratic message to constituents, particularly independent voters, must be “we feel the same pain they feel…whether it is dealing with housing, food or economics.”

Standing with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) speaks to reporters about voting rights outside of the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democrats have said that to pull out wins in the midterm elections, they must communicate a message that resonates with voters. Part of that is consistently and efficiently touting the Biden administration’s wins. In recent months, President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and administration officials have traveled across the country promoting Democrats’ legislative wins largely through the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan and the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Democrats are painfully aware of how bad the polling numbers are for the 46th president of the United States. The Harvard Institute of Politics, which polled adults ages 18-29, found that 41% of young Americans approve of President Biden’s job performance. The result of that poll was down from 46% in the fall of 2021 and a 59% majority last spring — a trend also seen in other recent surveys.

Democratic pollsters have said there needs to be a dramatic turnaround if Democrats can clinch the midterms this year and another White House win in 2024.

President Joe Biden looks to former President Barack Obama after signing an executive order during and event about the Affordable Care Act, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A successful electoral strategy, which Democrats hope Cedric Richmond can help provide for the national party, is a needed remedy considering the fact that when Biden entered the White House, he had majority support from Americans.

Recent approval ratings from agencies like Gallup reveal the president’s rating is the second-lowest for any president in 60 years in its fifth quarter of polling. Former President Donald Trump still holds the distinction of reaching the lowest approval rating at this period for any president with 39.1 percent.

TheGrio’s Managing Editor of Politics and Washington Correspondent Gerren Keith Gaynor contributed to this report.

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