Morning Report — Can Biden stay in the race?

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Still reeling from a disastrous presidential debate performance, President Biden will be spending the coming week trying to prove to voters — and fellow Democrats — that he’s the right person for the presidential ticket in November.

Biden and his allies have spent the past week in a furious round of damage control, writes The Hill’s Niall Stanage, assuaging Democratic lawmakers and donors that the 81-year-old is fit for the job.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said at a Fourth of July event at the White House for service members and their families.

Several Democratic lawmakers and pundits, as well as major publications, have urged Biden to step down ahead of the Democratic National Convention, and NBC News reports the president has moved between acceptance and defiance in the face of the shift in his political standing within the party.

“I had a bad night,” Biden told a Milwaukee radio host in a prerecorded interview that aired Thursday morning ahead of campaign events in the state today. “And the fact of the matter is that I screwed up. I made a mistake.”

On a call with Democratic governors on Wednesday, Biden said he needs to get more sleep and work fewer hours, a stark acknowledgement of his performance and limitations. His comments came after news reports that his lapses have become more frequent and more pronounced over the past few months. Biden told the governors that he saw a doctor after the debate and was given a clean bill of health. The comments contradict White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who told reporters Tuesday that Biden had not had a medical exam since February (summary here).

Biden remains committed to staying in the race, with the support of Vice President Harris and key allies — as well as several Democratic governors, who publicly said they would back him (Politico and The Hill).

Party leaders remain anxious about what comes next, especially as new polling shows former President Trump expanding his lead.

The Wall Street Journal: The 2024 battleground map is showing signs of possible expansion into traditionally blue states as Biden tries to salvage his re-election bid.

GOING FORWARD, every public appearance and interview will pose a must-pass test for Biden as he seeks to prove his fitness for office, and he faces several of them in the coming days and weeks.

He will sit down with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos for a taped television interview today, his first since the debate, to air in full tonight and again Sunday. Also today, Biden will campaign in Wisconsin, followed by another campaign stop in Philadelphia on Sunday. The president’s supporters have urged him to eschew teleprompters at campaign stops.

Next week, lawmakers return to Capitol Hill from their holiday breaks, and there are already multiple drafts of letters circulating among House Democrats, at least one of which calls on Biden to end his campaign. Elected officials who have called on Biden to step down as nominee are Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.). Next week, that number could rise.

“The dam is breaking,” a Democratic lawmaker told Axios.

Donors are on edge, too, gritting their teeth as they fear that any move against the president could backfire. Some are locking up donations, rerouting money to congressional races or airing their anger publicly. Collectively, they remain distrustful of the campaign and the White House (CNBC and The New York Times).

To note: If Biden does leave the race, here’s what would happen to his campaign cash.

A NATO summit in Washington next week is yet another test. While world leaders will be talking about aid to Ukraine and the country’s quest for NATO membership, all eyes will be on Biden’s performance as worries about a second Trump presidency mount across the globe. Biden has a news conference scheduled Wednesday, exposing him to direct questioning by reporters (The Washington Post).

“If he puts on a decent performance, then maybe [world leaders are] all back to where they were before, saying, ‘The media in America is so overblown,’” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, director of the transatlantic security program at the Center for a New American Security. “I do think it’ll go a long way in shaping their sense of his future and the future of the Democratic Party.”

Following the NATO summit, the president “will get right back on the campaign trail with a swing through the Southwest focused on engaging Black and Latino voters,” his campaign announced.


▪ 🌀 Hurricane Beryl, responsible for at least 9 deaths, has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm as it pushes wind, torrential rainfall and dangerous storm surge to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, a popular tourist area, during landfall this morning. As it blows into the Gulf of Mexico, it will impact parts of northeastern Mexico and South Texas this weekend.

▪ ⚖️ Chief Justice of the United State John Roberts takes back control of the Supreme Court. Roberts moved the law to match his priorities this term — and didn’t worry about getting liberal justices on board.

▪ ⛽️ Gas is the cheapest it’s been since 2021 over this holiday weekend. Here’s how to stretch your dollar even further at the pump.


Leading First lady 03092024 AP Brynn Anderson

© The Associated Press / Brynn Anderson | First lady Jill Biden in March with President Biden in Atlanta. 


It shouldn’t surprise Americans that Jill Biden is her husband’s biggest defender, his closest confidant and emotional sustenance. History has presented the Bidens’ style of coupledom to voters before: the Fords, the Carters, the Reagans, George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Bush 43 and Laura Bush. Add the Obamas; Michelle Obama made no secret of her dislike of politics but shared President Obama’s vision about what his presidency could mean to Americans.

In the modern era, debate performances have thrust former first ladies into damage control before. Jill Biden’s comment to Vogue three days after her husband’s unsettling sparring match against his Republican challenger was an echo of at least one predecessor. The first lady said the Biden family “will not let those 90 minutes define the four years he’s been president. We will continue to fight.”    

The first lady is said to be irked by the president’s staff and alarmed by Democratic critics and naysayers who want her husband to step down as nominee. And she’s by all appearances convinced that President Biden can fulfill his duties this year and for another four years. He will always do what’s best for the country,” she told Vogue.

Nancy Reagan, whose adoration for her husband was legendary during their marriage, in 1984 quickly recognized that President Reagan had stumbled during his first debate with Democratic nominee and former Vice President Walter Mondale while seeking reelection. “What have you done to Ronnie?” she asked an aide accusingly.

Reagan, then 73, had rambled. He seemed to lose his train of thought at one point and appeared tired. Americans by a wide margin said Mondale won the debate. Reagan’s age and cognitive health reemerged as an issue. The president righted his ship during his second debate, although there were signs that Reagan’s recall wasn’t perfect. Researchers later discovered that he included in his daily private diary occasions when he felt his memory had failed him.

In August 1984, Nancy Reagan was caught cuing the president when he smiled silently without an answer to a reporter’s question. “Doing everything we can,” she said under her breath, standing by her husband’s side as Reagan repeated her words. She later told reporters she had been talking to herself. Reagan went on to serve a second term, leaving office in 1989. He announced in 1994, when he was 83, that he had Alzheimer’s disease. He died in 2004.

As first lady, Laura Bush expanded her policy portfolio from lauding libraries to advocating for the rights of Afghan women. She denied being a backroom adviser to former President George W. Bush, but she was honest with “Bushy,” as she calls her husband. After the 9/11 terror attacks, she privately challenged the president’s “dead or alive” ultimatum aimed at Osama bin Laden, explaining in a later interview that she thought her husband’s comment “didn’t sound serious.” Bush conceded that his unscripted threat sent “the wrong signal,” which he said he failed to realize at the time.

Laura Bush said as first lady she was not “a sounding board” but “more of emotional support, I think. You know, comfort. Being there with him.” It’s a job description political spouses know well.

In 2016, at a time when her husband considered and decided against running for president, Jill Biden told an audience she was a woman with “a double life” — an educator known as “Dr. Biden” as well as a career politician’s spouse. “I couldn’t just move to Washington and only live Joe’s life,” she said at Northern Virginia Community College during a commencement while explaining why she wanted to continue teaching after her marriage in 1977. 

“Every campaign is important, and every campaign is hard,” she added during her recent interview with Vogue. “But this one, the urgency is different. We know what’s at stake. Joe is asking the American people to come together to draw a line in the sand against all this vitriol.”

▪ The Hill: Biden leans on his family with his political future at risk.

▪ The New York Times: Jill Biden could make or break Biden’s campaign. She says she’s all in.

▪ The New York Times, opinion by Michelle Cottle: The “Philly Girl” shielding Biden from the bad news.

▪ Elle magazine Q&A with New York Times correspondent Katie Rogers about her book, “American Woman: The Transformation of the Modern First Lady.


The House will meet at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session.

The Senate will convene 9 a.m. for a pro forma session. Senators return to Washington on July 8.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. Biden will travel to Madison, Wis., for a campaign rally at 1:15 p.m. CDT, accompanied by Gov. Tony Evers (D), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and other officials. Biden later will be interviewed by ABC News, to air at 8 p.m. EDT. The president will head from Wisconsin to Wilmington, Del., arriving at 7 p.m.

The vice president will travel to New Orleans today to speak Saturday at the Essence Festival of Culture, which is meeting there this week.

Economic indicator: Analysts will pore over the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report for June, released at 8:30 a.m. A slowing U.S. employment picture may offer clues about the state of the economy as the Federal Reserve considers when to cut interest rates.


Zoom In–More Politics 04202024 AP Chris Seward

© The Associated Press / Chris Seward | Supporters of former President Trump at an April campaign event in Wilmington, N.C. 


BIDEN’S ALLIES could get an unlikely boost to keep him on the ticket: Republicans. Led by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, Republican operatives are looking to guarantee that the president will be the Democratic nominee — and to ensure that if he does withdraw from the race, it won’t be easy to replace him on ballots. But since Biden is not yet the party’s official nominee, if he dropped out before the nominating deadline or the Democratic party voted to move forward with a different candidate, it would be difficult to keep him on ballots.

“I don’t know how there’s a state law that locks Joe Biden in at this point as the Democratic candidate,” state election lawyer John Ciampoli told NOTUS. “How can a state make someone a candidate when the party hasn’t made him their candidate yet?”

▪ Reuters: Trump allies intensify their attacks on Harris as the Biden replacement talks build.

▪ The Daily Beast and Fox News: “She’s so bad. She’s so pathetic. She’s just so f—ing bad,” Trump says about the vice president in leaked video after last week’s debate with the president.

2024 Roundup

▪ Biden’s campaign will launch a $50 million battleground state ad blitz, it announced Friday. The campaign also said it would invest $17 million to ramp up voter outreach over the next two months.

▪ Trump and allies have ambitious, conservative plans for governance, pledging to use all levers of power more forcefully. Add to that the Supreme Court’s presidential immunity decision, which has raised fears Trump will feel unchained and unchecked if he’s president once again.

▪ Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.), a pair of vulnerable Blue Dog House Democrats from opposite ends of the country are both predicting that Biden would lose reelection to Trump this year.


Intl UK Keir Starmer 0732024 PA via AP Andrew Milligan

© The Associated Press / Andrew Milligan, PA | Under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, the U.K. Labour Party is poised for victory in the U.K. general election. 


THE LABOUR PARTY WON by a landslide in the United Kingdom’s general elections on Thursday, ending 14 years of Conservative rule. Keir Starmer will be prime minister, replacing Rishi Sunak, as exit polls show Labour on track to take 412 seats in Parliament, a huge victory against the Conservatives’ 121 seats. If the projections are confirmed, it will mark the worst defeat for the Conservatives in the nearly 200-year history of the party, one that will raise searching questions about its future — and even its viability (NBC News and The New York Times).

“We did it,” Starmer told a cheering crowd in central London early today. “You voted for it and now it has arrived. Change begins now.”

▪ The Washington Post: The intriguing real-life story of Starmer, the U.K.’s next prime minister.

▪ CNN: Nigel Farage, a driving force behind Brexit and a confidant of fTrump, has been elected to parliament for the first time.

In France, centrist and left-wing parties are trying to find a way to block a far-right majority in Parliament. A Harris Interactive survey for Challenges magazine, the first since an anti-National Rally alliance was formed, indicates that the plan could work, and Marine Le Pen’s far-right party might not win the seats needed to control the country’s National Assembly. According to the poll, efforts by President Emmanuel Macron’s centrists and the leftist bloc New Popular Front to block the far-right as a so-called Republican Front might be effective (The Guardian).

The Guardian: French elections: What is the Republican Front — and will it head off National Rally?

CEASE-FIRE: Biden on Thursday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it’s “time to close” a cease-fire and hostage release deal in Gaza. White House officials said they want to take advantage of Hamas’s positive response to the latest proposal to close the remaining gaps and reach an agreement (Axios).

Israeli forces killed a senior Hezbollah commander in a drone strike in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, prompting the militia to retaliate with a heavy rocket barrage across the border as diplomats scrambled to prevent an all-out war (The New York Times).

The Guardian: Viktor Orbán will travel to Moscow on Friday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, days after Hungary’s prime minister made his first visit to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.


■ How Keir Starmer overwhelmed Britain’s Conservatives, by E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist, The Washington Post.

■ No poll can tell Biden what he needs to hear, by Kristen Soltis Anderson, contributing writer, The New York Times.


CLOSER Bikini 07141952 AP file

© The Associated Press / AP photo | In 1952, twins Jean and Jane Strickland modeled Jantzen two-piece swimsuits at Cypress Gardens in Florida.    

And finally … 👙 On this day in 1946, women’s fashion and body consciousness changed forever with the introduction of a two-piece swimsuit called a bikini, introduced at a popular Paris swimming pool.

Leave it to the French to make much of postwar liberation by innovating with less.

French designer Louis Réard put Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini in daring swimwear on July 5, 1946, at the Piscine Molitor. She modeled what he called a “bikini,” a name plucked from that week’s headlines about the U.S. atomic test at the Pacific Ocean’s Bikini Atoll. A competing French designer, Jacques Heim, called his minimalist swimsuit the “atom” and advertised it as “the world’s smallest bathing suit.”

Micro-triangles of fabric, some string, and there was no going back.

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