Morning Report — Democrats fear loss with Biden as nominee

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Morning Report — Democrats fear loss with Biden as nominee

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The Democratic Party has a massive problem this morning.

A House Democrat from Texas Tuesday became the first in his party to publicly urge President Biden to step down as the nominee to allow another Democrat to run against former President Trump.

He urged Americans to call their members of Congress “right now” to let them know if they agree or disagree.

FLOODGATE: Although White House and Biden campaign representatives have denied the president will exit the race, Tuesday’s uproar opened a floodgate for likeminded members of the party to publicly air their fears that Biden, 81, will lose to Trump, 78. Former Biden rivals in 2020 added to the voices urging Biden to let someone else become the party nominee to battle Trump. Most elected Democratic officials who backed Biden going into the debate have not shifted positions.

But discussions beyond the president’s insular circle of advisers are beginning. Some on Capitol Hill are angry that the White House has not reached out to leaders before now. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), widely credited with helping Biden win crucial South Carolina and the nomination in 2020, said he plans to speak with the president this week to share what he’s hearing. “I’m gonna tell him what I really feel,” he told NewsNation’s “The Hill.”

Vice President Kamala Harris would be the most logical replacement and the party would be under tremendous pressure to select her as its new nominee for a host of reasons, including her presence on the ticket, her sway over party resources and a new poll.

Harris pushed back during a CBS News interview Tuesday. “Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once and we’re going to beat him again,” she said.

The Hill: Democrats wrestle with whether Harris would be stronger than Biden.

Some Democratic governors who have supported Biden publicly are in tough positions as their names make the rounds as potential replacements. The president plans to meet today with governors and congressional leaders.

DAMAGING OPTICS: Public second-guessing has put intraparty disputes on display, raised doubts about Biden and Harris among voters and donors and added uncertainty to down-ballot House and Senate Democratic races. The White House initially blamed a cold for Biden’s troubles. His explanation changed to travel fatigue.

CNN: Some top Democrats want Biden out of the race this week.

The Hill: ABC News will tape an interview Biden for broadcast Friday and Sunday.

“There’s a large and increasing group of House Democrats concerned about the president’s candidacy, representing a broad swath of the caucus,” a Democratic House member told CNN.

We are deeply concerned about [Biden’s] trajectory and his ability to win. We want to give him space to make a decision [to step aside], but we will be increasingly vocal about our concerns if he doesn’t,” the lawmaker added.

Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) said 1968 was in the back of his mind as he became the first to publicly urge Biden to step aside Tuesday. “I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson. Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw,” he said.

Doggett, 77, while pressing Biden to retreat, said the president failed during last week’s debate to showcase Democratic accomplishments and challenge Trump’s “many lies.” The lawmaker said Biden sought the presidency in 2020 as a “transitional” candidate to make way for a new generation of leaders.

“We have a very good man who served and devoted his life to public service in Joe Biden. And now, let’s call on him to give the ultimate sacrifice of saying that he will step aside because that’s the best way to save our country, our democracy from autocracy,” Doggett told NBC News.

Within hours, Democratic Colorado candidate Adam Frisch followed Doggett’s example and called on Biden to be replaced as the nominee. Frisch is vying to win a district previously held by conservative Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a Trump ally.

TERROR ABOUT TRUMP: Democrats’ simmering anxieties erupted after the president’s wobbly, at times incoherent debate — combined with trailing poll numbers in key states. Democrats were shaken by Trump’s ease in gliding past a GOP primary field and the shrugs from Trump supporters following his criminal convictions. The former president has rattled analysts with the success of his legal strategy, several recent Supreme Court opinions that favor Trump, and the candidate’s brash appeal to Black, Latino and female voters.  

The New York Times: Biden’s lapses are said to be increasingly common and worrisome.

Four years ago, Biden imagined a shorter horizon in politics. “I view myself as a transition candidate,” he said during an online fundraiser in March 2020. “Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” he told a Detroit rally that spring. His one-term idea was soon abandoned as a political hindrance. It would have made him an instant lame duck with Congress, pressured running mate Harris and created uncertainty in the minds of voters who wanted to move past Trump amid a pandemic and global economic shock.

Biden is the 2024 presumptive nominee in part thanks to the assistance of a national party that overhauled its nominating calendar to shuffle the order of states. South Carolina went first in a bow to the party’s diverse coalition. Biden’s campaign wanted an early debate with Trump to jolt his lagging poll numbers. He got the debate he wanted, but not the boost.

Early post-debate polls (and there will be more released soon) show the president took a hit with registered voters.

Because of a hiccup with Ohio election law and ballots, the Democratic National Committee planned to conduct the business of nominating Biden using a virtual gathering well before the mid-August convention in Chicago. Bloomberg News reported the committee might move the virtual nomination to mid-July from early August.

The DNC drama has arrived this month, not next. 

ORWELLIAN TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES? Democratic Party donors say they’re frustrated that the post-debate recovery strategy at the White House and inside the Biden campaign appears either unplugged from political reality or purposefully opaque to buy time with supporters. “These claims that people are being told, ‘Don’t look at what you saw, that’s not real,’ that’s what George Orwell said in [his novel] ‘1984,’” one Democratic bundler told The Hill.

From Orwell’s 1949 novel: “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

HOW FAR SHOULD THE GOP GO? Will Republicans press Harris or a Cabinet member to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Biden from office? Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is among those publicly raising the highly unlikely prospect as Republicans seek to turn the table on Democrats, who for years raised the prospect of the 25th Amendment against Trump (The Hill).

3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:

▪ 🎒 The number of U.S. high school graduates is expected to peak in 2025 or 2026 and then decline for years to come — posing severe challenges to schools at all levels.

▪ ✏️ The pandemic’s babies, toddlers and preschoolers — now school-age — show signs of being academically and developmentally behind, according to scientific evidence and anecdotes from educators. The challenge is to help resilient young students catch up.

▪ 🖱 The jiggle is up: Bosses bust workers who fake computer activity.

Note to readers: Morning Report returns Friday (and our weekly quiz makes a reappearance next week). Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday! 🎇

LEADING THE DAY

© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) narrowly lost his GOP primary to Trump-backed challenger State Sen. John McGuire.

MORE IN POLITICS 

A BAD DAY FOR GOOD: Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) lost his GOP primary to state Sen. John McGuire, according to Decision Desk HQ. Good, the House Freedom Caucus chair, is the first incumbent to lose his seat this cycle. The race dragged on for days due to the slim margin separating the two candidates. Following the race call, Good said he would push for a recount (The Hill).

“In a race with nearly 63,000 votes that is separated by a 0.6% margin, Republican voters across the 5th District deserve to know that all legal votes have been accurately counted,” he announced. “We will vigorously pursue that objective over the coming days and weeks, as permitted by Virginia law.”

Amid Biden’s stunningly shaky debate performance and calls for her husband to step down, first lady Jill Biden is being thrust into the spotlight like never before. Prominent figures on both sides of the aisle have called for Biden to drop out of the race rather than face Trump. But Jill Biden, a Northern Virginia Community College professor who also sometimes doubles as her spouse’s defender in chief, made her support clear at an event held two days after the debate (The Hill).

“Joe isn’t just the right person for the job. He’s the only person for the job,” she said at a New York campaign fundraiser.

2024 Roundup:

▪ Three-quarters of U.S. voters say the Democratic Party would have a better shot at holding the presidency in 2024 with someone other than Biden at the top of the ticket, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

▪ A coalition of immigrant and Latino advocacy groups is reviving a bilingual campaign drawing connections between moderate Republicans in the House and Trump’s closest ideological orbit.

▪ Trump has not named a running mate this week. He appears eager to avoid stepping on the controversy swirling around Biden in the debate’s aftermath.

▪ Here’s how Democratic lawyers are bracing for Trump’s return: Inside the political gamesmanship taking place within Democratic attorneys general’s offices throughout the country.

WHERE AND WHEN

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

The Senate will convene Friday at 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 11:30 a.m. Biden will speak at a Medal of Honor ceremony at 4:45 p.m. in the East Room. He will meet with Democratic governors at 6:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room.

The vice president will join Biden for the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office at 11:30 a.m. and have lunch with the president.

The first lady is in the battleground state Michigan where she will highlight the Agriculture Department’s summer nutrition programs for children at a 10:30 a.m. event in Middleville. She will visit Hidden Heroes summer camp at 11 a.m. in Middleville for a Joining Forces event focused on military children. She will headline a political event at 1:30 p.m. in Traverse City, Mich.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.

ZOOM IN

© The Associated Press / Jeffrey Phelps | Former President Trump at a campaign event in Wisconsin in June.

COURTS

SENTENCING DELAY: The judge in Trump’s New York hush money trial approved a delay of the former president’s sentencing Tuesday after his lawyers asked for more time to review the potential impact of the Supreme Court’s immunity decision. Justice Juan Merchan delayed the hearing, previously scheduled for July 11, until at least Sept. 18, a week after the next presidential debate.

Though Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) office believes the 34-count conviction should stand, he agreed to adjourn the scheduled July 11 sentencing hearing so Trump can first attempt to mount his presidential immunity defense (The Hill).

A New York court Tuesday barred former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) from practicing law in the state. The penalty is based on violations of law he committed as a lawyer for Trump during a failed scheme in 2020 to keep the former president in power.

“The seriousness of respondent’s misconduct cannot be overstated,” the court said of the disgraced former law-and-order mayor. “He baselessly attacked and undermined the integrity of this country’s electoral process.”

The New York Times: Special counsel Jack Smith plans to continue two criminal cases against Trump until Inauguration Day if the former president wins, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

The Hill: The Supreme Court has indicated it will take up a case next term involving the adult entertainment industry’s challenge to a Texas law requiring pornography sites to implement age-verification measures.

ADMINISTRATION

A FEDERAL COURT has halted the Biden administration’s pause on new approvals for natural gas exports. Judge James Cain, a Trump appointee in Louisiana, approved a request from Republican-led states to lift the pause while the litigation against it plays out. The Biden administration announced in January that it would pause approvals of new permissions to ship natural gas abroad to countries that don’t have free trade agreements with the U.S. (The Hill).

In what would be the first major regulation aimed at preventing heat-related deaths on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed a rule Tuesday outlining steps employers must take to protect indoor and outdoor workers from the risk of heat illness. The rule would cover some 35 million workers but is likely to face opposition from industry groups and Trump (The Washington Post).

“The purpose of this rule is simple. It is to significantly reduce the number of work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses suffered by workers who are exposed to excessive heat and exposed to these risks while simply doing their jobs,” a senior administration official told reporters. “Whether they are making deliveries, carrying mail all day, working construction, picking vegetables, repairing power lines, doing landscaping. It’s these things that put workers at risk.”

ELSEWHERE

© The Associated Press / Phil Noble, Reuters | Rishi Sunak, pictured last month, is likely to be the third prime minister in two years to lose power in Great Britain.

INTERNATIONAL

IT’S CRUNCH TIME for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Millions of voters in Britain are going to the polls Thursday to choose a new House of Commons and a new government, and Sunak’s Conservative Party is widely expected to suffer significant losses to the main opposition party, the left-of-center Labour Party, after 14 years in power under five different prime ministers. Here’s a look at the parties, who’s leading them and what they are promising.

Reuters: The Labour Party’s lead over the Conservatives narrowed in a Tuesday poll, but Keir Starmer’s center-left party remains on course for a comfortable victory.

CNN: Britain is broken. Can anyone fix it?

CEASE-FIRE TALKS: Top generals in Israel want to begin a cease-fire in Gaza even if it keeps Hamas in power for the time being, signs of a widening rift between the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes a deal that would allow Hamas to survive Israel’s war in the enclave. The New York Times reports the generals think a truce would be the best way of freeing the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza. They also see their troops as underequipped for further fighting — and in need of recuperation in case a land war breaks out against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s deputy leader, meanwhile, said Tuesday the only sure path to a cease-fire on the Lebanon-Israel border is a full cease-fire in Gaza (The Hill).

The U.S. will soon announce more than $2.3 billion in military assistance for Ukraine, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday. The presidential drawdown authority package — a type of aid that takes munitions from current Defense Department stocks and sends them to Ukraine — would be one of the largest the White House has committed to Ukraine since Russia invaded in 2022 (CBS News).

The Washington Post: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the European Union’s most prominent critic of aid to Ukraine, visited Kyiv Tuesday and advocated for a peace plan that would see roughly a fifth of Ukrainian territory under Moscow’s control.

OPINION

■ Biden needs to be clear-eyed about the election. France and the U.K. show why, by The Washington Post editorial board.

■ Jill Biden, put your country first, by William A. Galston, columnist, The Wall Street Journal.

THE CLOSER

© The Associated Press / Richard Drew | Hungarian Professor Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, pictured in 2018.

And finally … Happy birthday to the Rubik’s Cube, the colorful puzzle that’s been stumping minds for 50 years. Invented by Hungarian architect and sculptor Erno Rubik in 1974, mathematicians and hobbyists have spent a half-century exploring the 43 billion billion permutations of his creation (The New York Times).

“A reasonably big number,” said Tomas Rokicki, a retired programmer and Rubik’s Cube enthusiast, possibly more than all the grains of sand in the world.

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