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By TARA PALMERI
11/21/2021 11:18 AM EST
President Joe Biden and his allies have been saying recently that Biden, who turned 79 on Saturday, will run for reelection as they seek to head off concerns over the 2024 race. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo
Top Sunday reads:
1) WILL HE OR WON’T HE, PART 1 — Fresh off a physical that declared him fit for office, President JOE BIDEN “and members of his inner circle have reassured allies in recent days that he plans to run for reelection in 2024, as they take steps to deflect concern about the 79-year-old president’s commitment to another campaign and growing Democratic fears of a coming Republican return to power,” WaPo’s Michael Scherer, Tyler Pager and Sean Sullivan report.
“The message is aimed in part at tamping down the assumption among many Democrats that Biden may not seek reelection given his age and waning popularity, while also effectively freezing the field for Vice President [KAMALA HARRIS] and other potential presidential hopefuls. … But interviews with 28 Democratic strategists and officials, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak more frankly, show that the assurances have not stopped the internal debate over whether Biden will appear on the ticket. …
Ok then: “One Democrat involved in campaigns said they couldn’t think of a single person they had spoken to in the last month who considers the possibility of Biden running again to be a real one.”
Clean-up on Aisle Dodd: A week ago, former senator and Biden pal CHRIS DODD told NYT that “I’m hoping” Biden runs again, “but for whatever reason that might not be the case, it’s hard to believe” Harris wouldn’t be a top contender in a Democratic primary.
Here’s Dodd in today’s WaPo piece: “The only thing I’ve heard him say is he’s planning on running again.”
Biden turned 79 on Saturday.
WILL HE OR WON’T HE, PART 2: “If DONALD TRUMP tries to run for president again,” Peter Nicholas writes for The Atlantic, “one of his former campaign advisers has a plan to dissuade him. Anticipating that Trump may not know who ADLAI STEVENSON was or that he lost two straight presidential elections in the 1950s, this ex-adviser figures he or someone else might need to explain the man’s unhappy fate. They’ll remind Trump that if he were beaten in 2024, he would join Stevenson as one of history’s serial losers. ‘I think that would resonate,’ said this person, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to talk more freely. ‘Trump hates losers.’”
We’ll believe it when we see it: “[T]he mere fact that someone who worked to elect Trump the first time is rehearsing arguments to stop a comeback suggests that the former president’s tight grip on the Republican Party may be slipping.”
2) RITTENHOUSE FALLOUT — Brakkton Booker, who pens our excellent newsletter on race and identity, The Recast, writes for POLITICO Magazine that the KYLE RITTENHOUSE case “fundamentally changed the culture of protest” by sending “a signal to those who want to take up arms to defend property or attend politically or racially charged events: There is legal ground for you to use your weapon. Just claim fear.”
However, “those protections though likely will not extend to everyone. ‘I don’t have to tell you this, there is no set of circumstances, no reading of the law, no rendering of the imagination, in which a Black person could get away with this,’ said CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, former president and CEO of the NAACP, who now teaches at Harvard University.”
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3) AOC SPEAKS — In a Q-and-A with the NYT’s Astead Herndon, Rep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.) warned that if the BBB doesn’t pass soon, don’t expect the progressive caucus to back Democratic leadership on anything else. “So if those promises don’t follow through, it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to get votes on anything moving forward,” she said. “Because the trust that was already so delicate will have been broken.” She called the whole negotiating process “demoralizing” and predicted that it will affect Democratic turnout. She challenged the Biden administration to do more “with a stroke of a pen” or executive action. And she also said don’t blame her for the loss in Virginia: “[I]t was communicated quite expressly that we were unwelcome to pitch in.” She thinks the youth vote could have turned it around for Dems.
Good Sunday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.
SUNDAY BEST …
CHRIS CHRISTIE on “Fox News Sunday” on Trump running in 2024: “I think that’s just such an intensely personal decision. But, of course, I can see it. It depends on what happens in Donald Trump’s life over the next couple of years. And what he decides he wants to do, but I can see him running, too.”
— On Trump’s focus on the 2020 election: “I hope that what he’ll do is move on and just stop talking about it. Even if he doesn’t formally concede, we need to stop talking about the fact that the election was stolen.”
— On Biden running for reelection: “I don’t buy it. I think he’s saying it because he knows that Republicans are gathering momentum. But I quite frankly don’t know how Joe Biden running in 2024 would be the least bit intimidating to Republicans.”
BETO O’ROURKE on CNN’s “State of the Union” on whether he would want Biden on the trail with him in his Texas gubernatorial campaign: “This campaign in Texas is not going to be about Joe Biden. It’s not going to be about Donald Trump. It’s not going to be about anyone from outside of our state.”
New Hampshire GOP Gov. CHRIS SUNUNU on “State of the Union” asked whether he agreed with censuring Rep. PAUL GOSAR (R-Ariz.) and whether Republicans should have supported the BIF: “I think, when a congressman says those things and puts that thing up, of course they have to be censured for that. Of course they have to be held to bear for that. When we talk about kicking people off of committees because they don’t like one vote or the other, again, I just think they have their priorities screwed up.”
Sen. KEVIN CRAMER (R-N.D.) on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Trump’s attacks on members for supporting the infrastructure bill: “I don’t make my decision on legislation based on whether it hurts or helps Donald Trump or whether it hurts or helps Joe Biden. Unfortunately, right now, a lot of the rhetoric is centered around, as much as anything, ‘This gave Joe Biden a victory.’ Whether he gets a victory or not, I happen to believe that … not every transaction in Washington requires a loser.”
BIDEN’S SUNDAY — The president will depart Wilmington, Del., at 2:10 p.m., arriving back at the White House at 3:05 p.m.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ SUNDAY — The VP has nothing on her public schedule.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY: President Joe Biden speaks with his sister Valerie Biden Owens and a priest after attending Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday, Nov. 20. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo
HOW THE HOUSE PASSED BBB — NYT’s Carl Hulse has the inside story about that call Speaker NANCY PELOSI was seen making in the middle of the Congressional Baseball Game in September. On the other end of the line was none other than JOE MANCHIN. “In a moment captured by C-SPAN cameras that went viral, Ms. Pelosi appeared to grow agitated as Mr. Manchin, according to sources apprised of the call, told her that he could not accept more than $1.5 trillion — and was prepared to provide a document clearly laying out his parameters for the package, benchmarks that House Democrats had been clamoring to see.
“The call reflected how Ms. Pelosi’s pivotal role in shepherding Mr. Biden’s agenda on Capitol Hill has reached far beyond the House that is her primary responsibility and into the Senate, where she has engaged in quiet and little-noticed talks with key lawmakers who have the power to kill the package or propel it into law. …
“It was only after her call with Mr. Manchin at the baseball game that Ms. Pelosi discovered that the West Virginian’s demands were contained in a sort of makeshift contract he had delivered to Senator CHUCK SCHUMER, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, in late July. The document, which was signed by both men, had been kept secret — including from her — for months. ‘I would have liked to have known that,’ Ms. Pelosi, said in an interview on Friday, recounting how she felt blindsided. ‘However, it was what it was.’”
MANCHINEMA WATCH — NYT’s Ken Vogel and Kate Kelly highlight how Republican donors have taken a shine to the Democratic duo in “a striking display of how party affiliation can prove secondary to special interests and ideological motivations when the stakes are high enough.
“Ms. Sinema is winning more financial backing from Wall Street and constituencies on the right in large part for her opposition to raising personal and corporate income tax rates. Mr. Manchin has attracted new Republican-leaning donors as he has fought against much of his own party to scale back the size of Mr. Biden’s legislation and limit new social welfare components.
LUMP OF COAL — The tension between the key climate provisions in the Build Back Better plan and Manchin’s home-state interests ratcheted up this week as Central Appalachia coal prices hit a 12-year high, Bloomberg’s Gregory Korte and Will Wade write.
ANOTHER DEM RETIREMENT — Rep. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D-Texas) announced on Saturday that she’s retiring after three decades in Congress. WaPo’s Annabelle Timsit on the context: “Johnson is the sixteenth House Democrat to indicate they will not run for reelection next year.”
— Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek has details on the jockeying for the seat that’s already underway.
DON’T SCREW IT UP — Sen. TIM KAINE (D-Va.) had a stern message for his colleagues at the Halifax International Security Forum regarding the NDAA: “Don’t mess up the one thing that you can count on the Senate to do in a bipartisan way every year. A Senate that cannot do this hardly deserves the title.” Andrew Desiderio writes in Halifax, Canada: “The extraordinary dynamic comes as the Senate is at a standstill on the legislation. Several Republicans have delayed the process as they push for votes on their amendments to the bill, and Democratic leaders didn’t begin the floor process for the bill until this week — far later than in past years.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
FIGHTING INFLATION — “Several outside advisers have pitched senior White House officials — including White House Chief of Staff RON KLAIN and White House National Economic Council Director BRIAN DEESE — on an offensive in which the administration would amplify criticisms of large firms in heavily concentrated industries for passing higher prices on to consumers as they benefit from high profits, the people familiar with the matter said,” WaPo’s Jeff Stein reports. “The effort would be aimed at both directing voters’ attention to companies over inflation as well as giving companies a reason to think twice before raising prices. But the push could backfire, should it antagonize many of the firms it is highly dependent on to resolve supply chain pressures ahead of the holiday season.”
A DEPRESSING NEW MILESTONE — Via WSJ’s Jon Kamp, Robbie Whelan and Anthony DeBarros: “The number of U.S. Covid-19 deaths recorded in 2021 has surpassed the toll in 2020, according to federal data and Johns Hopkins University, demonstrating the virus’s persistent menace.”
THE NEW GOP — NYT’s Jonathan Martin and Shane Goldmacher report on the backroom talks at this week’s meeting of Republican governors in Phoenix and one big question that came up: What could be done about Trump? “In a private meeting of the Republican Governors Association’s executive committee, Gov. LARRY HOGAN of Maryland brought up Mr. Trump’s campaign of retribution against incumbent Republicans he dislikes — an effort that appears to be escalating, as the former president pushes former Senator DAVID PERDUE of Georgia to challenge Gov. BRIAN KEMP. … Gov. DOUG DUCEY of Arizona, chairman of the association, assured his fellow governors that the R.G.A. would support Republican incumbents, according to several governors in the room.”
HIGH TIME — Weed has gone bipartisan. “Nearly half of Republican voters support federally decriminalizing cannabis, and GOP lawmakers are now beginning to reflect their constituents’ view by increasingly supporting broad legalization at the state and federal level,” Natalie Fertig and Mona Zhang write. “Stronger Republican involvement could hasten a snowball effect on Capitol Hill, where Democrats lead the charge on decriminalization but lack results.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
READING PUTIN’S MIND — Administration officials are trying to figure out how to respond to the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine. “Some Republican lawmakers have been pressing the U.S. to step up military support for Ukraine. But that risks turning what may be mere muscle-flexing by Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN into a full-blown confrontation that only adds to the peril for Ukraine and could trigger an energy crisis in Europe. But a weak U.S. response carries its own risks,” AP’s Nomaan Merchant writes. “Knowing how to strike the right balance would be easier if the U.S. had a better understanding of what Putin was trying to accomplish. But top officials admit they don’t know.”
— MEANWHILE, Putin has dispatched a spate of vessels to shadow U.S. warships, WSJ’s Nancy Youssef reports.
ABORTION ON THE DOCKET — The national debate over abortion is not likely to go away any time soon — even if the Supreme Court were to weaken or gut Roe v. Wade, AP’s David Crary writes. “Roe’s demise would likely prompt at least 20 Republican-governed states to impose sweeping bans; perhaps 15 Democratic-governed states would reaffirm support for abortion access. More complicated would be politically divided states where fights over abortion laws could be ferocious — and likely become a volatile issue in the 2022 elections.”
TURNING AWAY FROM THE DEATH PENALTY — Oklahoma GOP Gov. KEVIN STITT decided to halt the execution of JULIUS JONES this week, joining a growing number of Republicans across the country who are turning away from the death penalty, WSJ’s Laura Kusisto reports.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
HELP WANTED — Nebraska set an alarming record this week: “Nebraska logged the lowest unemployment rate of any state on record in October, reflecting the acute labor shortages that have quickly swept across the nation amid an economic recovery that is without parallel,” WSJ’s Sarah Chaney Cambon reports. “Nebraska’s unemployment rate ticked down to 1.9% last month, well below the national jobless rate of 4.6% and the lowest for state records tracing back to 1976, Labor Department data show.”
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Maureen Dowd further investigates the Le “Améthyste” double entendre.
Barack Obama took to Twitter to wish a happy birthday to Biden, “my friend and my brother, @POTUS! Thanks for giving all of us the gift of better infrastructure. Grateful for all you’re doing to build this country back better.”
Eric Adams is trying to recruit Tom Suozzi to become his deputy mayor.
In remembrance of the “flamboyant” Iranian ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi, WaPo’s Harrison Smith recalls how it took nine hours for the embassy to dispose of its 4,000 bottles of alcohol when Iran declared its new prohibition on alcohol.
A BRIDGERTON TO THE PAST — BBC correspondent Suzanne Kianpour brought a dash of Regency-era British flare to the nightclub scene on Saturday night with her Bridgerton Ball themed birthday bash at the Mayflower Club in Dupont (not to be confused with the hotel). Guests who turned up in attire, while dancing to club beats included Christina Sevilla in an Empire style ball gown with gloves, Neil Grace and Josh Lederman in notch collars, Nikki Schwab in a carriage dress, Lauren Culbertson, Jordan Colvin, Igor Bobic and Valerie Chicola, Kelsey Glover, Rina Shah, Aftan Snyder, Nihal Krishan, Steve Rochlin, Paul Hamill, Raquel Krähenbühl, Jennifer Renteria and Andy Rabens. The invite
ENGAGED — Jordan Hoshko, director and COS for consumer business at POLITICO, and Andrew MacDowell, senior director of data science and analytics at Procurated, got engaged on Saturday in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Carl Woog, head of comms for WhatsApp and an Obama NSC and DOD alum, and Lauren Thomson on Nov. 10 welcomed Asa Thomson Woog, their third boy. Pic
— Emily Singer, a senior political reporter at the American Independent and a Mic and Roll Call alum, and Jake Singer, a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, on Friday welcomed Hallie Ruth Singer. She came in at 5 lbs, 14 oz, and joins big sister Rose. She’s named after her late great grandpa, Henry Galler, a Holocaust survivor and the patriarch of the Singer family, as well as her late great grandpa Roy Cahn, a Navy veteran from WWII. Pic … More pics
BIRTHWEEK (was Saturday): Coleman Tolbert of Deloitte and a Trump DOE alum … Vox’s Lucio Villa … (was Friday): Laura Bridge of the Halifax International Security Forum
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) (7-0) … Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and Anthony Brown (D-Md.) (6-0) … Bret Stephens … Tina Brown of Tina Brown Live Media/Women in the World … Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League … Kyle Nevins … James Braid of the Conservative Partnership Institute … Betsy Dudley … Allison Varricchio of the NSC … David Culver … ABC’s Rick Klein … Sarah Courtney … Valerie Berlin of BerlinRosen … Mallory Shelbourne … Elizabeth Farrar of the Senate Rules Dems … Mica Soellner of the Washington Times … Matt Kehres … Christopher “Gindy” Gindlesperger of the National Confectioners Association … Jon Adams … Catherine Edmonson of American Defense International … Joanna Liberman Turner … T.J. Tatum of Cornerstone Government Affairs … Carl S. Ey … Bloomberg’s Max Abelson … Colby Moore … Anthony Randazzo of Equable Institute … Judah Taylor … former Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) … Matthew Agvent of Matt Richards’ Georgia congressional campaign … POLITICO’s Clarissa Stark … Inside Higher Ed’s Maria Carrasco … Evan Allen … Matthew Gallagher of BCW … NYU’s Mitchell Moss
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