The TAKE with Rick Klein
A re-election for president in 2024 may or may not take place. But President Joe Biden indicates he wants to make the 2022 election about former President Donald Trump — and about the movement he still leads.
On some level, Biden’s speech Thursday night in Philadelphia limited his criticism of Republicans. He dropped “semi-fascism” language to emphasize that, in his opinion, “not even the majority of Republicans are MAGA Republicans.”
But by going wholly to Trump and his devoted followers, Biden is raising the stakes of the midterm elections in part by handpicking voters who are all he is, but admitted they won’t change their minds.
“MAGA Republicans have made their choice,” the president said in an apparently official — as opposed to political — speech, to a striking backdrop of two Marines standing at attention. “They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They don’t live in the light of truth, but in the shadow of lies.”
It’s a grim message that probably won’t be particularly appealing to Republicans — and that could be an immediate turn-off for anyone looking for an excuse to oppose the party now in power in Washington.
It was also a message from a president who is now in a political upswing and leading a party that has truly realistic hopes of exceeding expectations in the meantime. Democrats may not like the idea of Biden going out with them, but Trump led the GOP through elections that saw the party lose the House, Senate and, yes, the presidency — with Biden at the top of the ticket that time.
The president described November’s choice as “forward or backward.” However, both Biden and Trump find it helpful, if not necessary, to focus on the recent past.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
As Biden ramps up midterm coverage, emphasizing the threat to democracy and calling out the so-called “MAGA Republicans,” the GOP is expressing a message of its own.
“It is clear to me and it is clear to you that Washington and the White House are not listening,” minority leader Kevin McCarthy said during remarks in Scranton, Pennsylvania. McCarthy, who borrowed terminology from Biden, later added, “Joe Biden has launched an attack on the soul of America.”
His ambition to be Speaker of the House hinges on the GOP’s ability to deliver a “red wave” of Republican victories on Election Day. Republican efforts to take control of both the House and Senate are arguably on shaky ground.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent comment that the quality of the candidates would determine who will take over the Senate has been interpreted as a jab at Republican candidates and an attempt to dampen expectations towards November. sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who heads the GOP Senate campaign committee, spoke about it.
“If you mess with our candidates, you harm our chances of winning, and you harm our candidates’ ability to raise money,” Scott told Politico. “I know they’re good candidates because I’ve talked to them and they’re working hard.”
All the while, former President Trump’s continued focus on the 2020 election lies and the January 6 justification still looms over the party. Trump told conservative radio host Wendy Bell that he would pardon and apologize to those associated with the Capitol attack. He even said he’s giving some of those charged financially a boost.
“I support people who are incredible financially and they were actually in my office two days ago, so they are very much on my mind,” Trump said. “It is a disgrace what they have done to them. What they have done to these people is disgraceful.”
The TIP with Hannah Demissie
Could a different way of voting be on the rise?
After the first test of ranking-based voting in Alaska’s special house election, where we saw Democrat Mary Peltola come out victorious against former heads of state Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, politicians spoke out about the state’s new voting system.
sen. Tom Cotton scolded votes based on rankings Twitter, saying it is “a scam to manipulate elections”. Rep. Adam Kinzinger went on to say: Twitter that “elective voting gives all Americans a voice and not the extremes of one party.”
Kinzinger’s comments are consistent with those who support rank-based voting in hopes that it could lead to less polarizing elections and encourage candidates to reach beyond their base voters.
Ranked voting works like this: If a candidate wins more than 50% of the first choice vote in the general election, they win the race outright. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes in first place will be eliminated and that candidate’s voters will instead have their ballots redistributed to their second choice.
After all the votes in the race were tallied, Begich was the candidate with the fewest number of first choice votes and was eliminated. Those who voted for Begich were redistributed among their second candidate, with Peltola coming out on top.
Peltola will only serve the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Don Young, which expires in January. In November, she will be back at the polls — along with Palin and Begich to try to win a full two-year term, which was due to start next year. The state will also vote in those elections based on ranking. Despite Peltola’s loss, Begich and Palin have made it clear that they intend to stay on the ballot in November.
“While we are disappointed with this outcome, Alaskans know that I am the last person to ever pull out,” Palin said in a statement following her loss. “Instead, I’m going to reload. With the optimism that Alaskans are learning from this flaw in the voting system and correcting it in the next election, let’s work even harder to send a conservative America First to Washington in November.”
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
18. That’s the percentage points by which the Democrats outperformed the partisan meager of Alaska’s large district in the special election. On average, Democrats have now outperformed by 11 points in the five special elections held since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in late June. But as FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich writes, Alaska’s special election was a weird one — voting was based on ranked picks, which most states don’t, and the Republican’s top candidate, former chief of government Sarah Palin, was flawed. Learn more from Nathaniel about what the Alaska Democrat win does and doesn’t say about November.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” kicks off Friday morning with a look at the midterm elections as President Biden urges voters to reject “MAGA Republicans.” ABC News Political contributor Sarah Isgur leads us away. Then Dr. Eli Cahan of the ABC News Medical Unit the impact of COVID education at home. And, ABC’s Bob Woodruff of Taiwan reports amid tensions between the US and China. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND
- The president will receive the daily briefing at 9 a.m. ET.
- The president will discuss the divestments from the American rescue plan at 11 a.m. Dutch time. Minister of Commerce Gina Raimondo will be in attendance.
- The president will have lunch with the vice president at noon ET.
- The president and first lady will depart from the White House at 3 p.m. ET on their way to Camp David.
- The president will receive the daily briefing at 9 a.m. ET.
- Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will provide a briefing at 11:45 a.m. ET.
- The president is expected to visit Milwaukee and Pittsburgh on Labor Day.
- ABC’s “This Week”: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Jackson, MS Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Round table: ABC News political director Rick KleinUSA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan PageNew York Times National Political Reporter Astead Herndonand POLITICO National Political Correspondent Meridith McGraw.
Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the sharpest political analysis of the day.
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key stories of the day in politics. Check back next week after Labor Day for the latest news.