Jumpstart Joe

Happy Thursday! There will be fewer elephants in the room at the annual GOP retreat this year, as more than 100 House Republicans will reportedly skip the trip. The reason? They just really don’t want to be together.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced plans Wednesday to increase defense spending by 40 billion kroner—roughly $6 billion—over the next five years in order to meet NATO targets and in response to Russia’s increased aggression on the continent. “We are not rearming in Denmark because we want war, destruction, or suffering,” Frederiksen told reporters. “We are rearming right now to avoid war and in a world where the international order is being challenged.” The new budget sets military spending at 2.4 percent of the Nordic country’s GDP when including this year’s military aid sent to Ukraine, and next year will be at 2 percent without such contributions. The plan also introduces military conscription for women starting in 2026. 
  • Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom won parliamentary elections in November, announced on Wednesday that he would forgo the prime ministership after failing to build a governing majority. “I can only become Prime Minister if ALL parties in the coalition support it,” he tweeted yesterday. “That was not the case. … The love for my country and voters is great and more important than my own position.” The Party for Freedom is now in talks with three other major parties—the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the New Social Contract, and the Farmer-Citizen Movement—to form a coalition cabinet.
  • The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that would require Chinese company ByteDance to divest its ownership of social media platform TikTok or face a ban from U.S. app stores. The legislation passed by a 352-65 vote along broadly bipartisan lines. The bill heads to the Senate next, and though it faces an uncertain future in the upper chamber, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio—the chairman and vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, respectively—have voiced their support for the measure. “We are united in our concern about the national security threat posed by TikTok—a platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans whose parent company ByteDance remains legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party,” the senators said in a joint statement released Wednesday. “We were encouraged by today’s strong bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law.”
  • The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s election interference case in Georgia threw out six of the 41 charges included in the indictment Wednesday, ruling that the state was not specific enough in its allegations. Three of the dismissed charges pertained to Trump; the remainder were leveled against co-conspirators Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Mark Meadows. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee left open the opportunity for prosecutors to appeal the decision or refile the charges with greater detail. The six dismissed charges involved accusations that the former president and his co-conspirators solicited public officers to violate their oaths.
  • Hunter Biden on Wednesday rejected House Republicans’ request to testify publicly as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. “Your latest step—this March 6 invitation—is not a serious oversight proceeding,” Biden lawyer Abbe Lowell wrote in a letter responding to the invitation. “It is your attempt to resuscitate your Conference’s moribund inquiry with a made-for-right-wing-media, circus act.” Lawyers for the president’s son suggested the younger Biden would appear if “relatives of former President Trump” were also required to testify. Biden’s rejection follows a closed-door deposition before the House Oversight Committee in late February, and represents a reversal of his previous insistence on testifying only publicly.

Whither the Narrative Goes

President Joe Biden speaks during the State of the Union address on March 7, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden speaks during the State of the Union address on March 7, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last week presented both an opportunity to outline a policy vision for the country and to boost his reelection bid. “Turning setback into comeback, that’s what America does,” he quipped, and as the night ended, Democrats hoped the speech would do the same for the president’s campaign. 

Biden and former President Donald Trump both reached the necessary delegate thresholds in their respective party primaries on Tuesday to clinch the nominations, formally kicking off the general election. While the Trump campaign is fresh off a victorious primary contest, the Biden campaign has kicked into a new gear following the SOTU. The speech and the redoubled campaign activity have prompted some left-leaning commentators and strategists who previously doubted the president’s reelection chances to change their tune. But with a lengthy reelection campaign ahead, polling still shows the president remains a weak incumbent. 

The fiery and historically partisan SOTU provided some reassurance to Democratic strategists looking for signs that Biden can effectively run a reelection effort. “Democrats are reinvigorated,” Cristóbal Alex, a former senior adviser to Biden’s 2020 campaign, said after the speech. “My phone has been blowing up since last night and hasn’t stopped.” The campaign brought in a $10 million fundraising haul in the 24 hours following the speech—comparatively, the campaign and allied groups like the Democratic National Committee raised $42 million combined over the month of January. The Friday after the address, Biden set off on a whirlwind tour of battleground states, traveling first to Philadelphia and then Atlanta over the weekend. Earlier this week, he spoke to supporters at two stops in New Hampshire. He was in Milwaukee yesterday and will be stumping in Michigan today. The Biden campaign also launched a $30 million, six-week ad blitz in swing states.

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