Happy Monday! Andrew’s back from paternity leave today. He’s thankful to his bosses for company policies that prioritize family, his newsletter colleagues for picking up the slack while he was out, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for axing the Senate’s longstanding dress code over the weekend to permit gym shorts and hoodies in the chamber. It’s important to ease back into these things gradually.
Up to Speed
- Voter concerns over President Joe Biden’s age continue to mount. A new CBS News poll released Sunday found that only 34 percent of registered voters think he would complete a second term if reelected, compared with 55 percent who believe former President Donald Trump would be able to serve out a second term. Trump, at 77, is more than three years younger than the 80-year-old Biden.
- In an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press that aired Sunday, Donald Trump denounced the heartbeat bills signed in recent years by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other pro-life governors, calling a six-week abortion ban “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.” He suggested he could support a less strict ban on abortion at the federal level—“it could be state or it could be federal, I don’t frankly care”—and portrayed himself as a unifier on the topic: “We will agree to a number of weeks which will be where both sides will be happy. We have to bring the country together on this issue.” More on this below.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy found himself in a familiar position over the weekend: trying to berate and cajole his fractious caucus into a unified team going into a fight over a piece of must-pass legislation. Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate have to compromise on spending levels fast if they want to stave off a government shutdown at the end of the month, but McCarthy doesn’t yet even have a solid open negotiating position. A short-term package negotiated by a group of House conservatives and centrists to achieve caucus consensus was revealed Sunday night, then immediately panned by enough hardliners to scuttle the bill should they ultimately vote to oppose it.
- Nikki Haley is proposing to eliminate the federal gas tax as part of a broader economic plan to reduce inflation and boost consumer spending, the underdog Republican presidential contender tells Newsmax. “We’re going to put that money back into the pockets of the taxpayers,” the former South Carolina governor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says.
- Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert apologized over the weekend for a bizarre incident in which she and a man were kicked out of a Denver production of the musical Beetlejuice for disruptive behavior. Boebert, one of the House’s loudest MAGA firebrands, said Friday that she “fell short of my values” and attributed the incident to “going through a public and difficult divorce.”
Biden’s ‘MAGA’ Messaging
President Joe Biden can speak off the cuff in public remarks and occasionally wander off course, which at times muddles his message and upstages his intended headline.
So it was instructive Friday to hear two prominent members of the Biden campaign’s national advisory board—Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Jennifer McClellan of Virginia—frame the president’s reelection pitch in crisp, carefully scripted political prose. Warren spoke first during a morning video conference call with reporters, focusing on the economy. Next came McClellan, talking about abortion rights. Both Democrats had one thing in common: Each cast the 2024 contest as a battle between “MAGA extremism” and the good old fashioned American values of freedom and fairness.
“The contrast is sharp. MAGAnomics is about policies that cut taxes for the rich and pass along costs to working Americans, while Bidenomics is all about fighting to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” Warren said. “That’s Bidenomics in action, building an economy that works, not just for the wealthy and well-connected, but an economy that works for everyone. That’s the progress the Republican presidential hopefuls are trying to reverse with MAGAnomics.”