Campaign

The Hill’s Campaign Report — Fetterman takes a potshot ahead of Biden visit

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
LEMONT FURNACE, PENNSYLVANIA – MAY 10: Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman campaigns for U.S. Senate at a meet and greet at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport on May 10, 2022 in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. Fetterman is the Democratic primary front runner in a field that includes U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta in the May 17 primary vying to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. You can expect this newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election.   

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Pot proposal makes waves ahead of Biden trip

Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman is making headlines once again ahead of President Biden’s visit to Pennsylvania this week, calling on the president to move toward decriminalizing marijuana.

“It’s long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana,” Fetterman said in a statement. “The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support decriminalizing marijuana.”

Getting in the weeds: Fetterman’s campaign has said that the Democratic Senate candidate will speak with the president about decriminalizing marijuana when he makes a stop in Pittsburgh on Labor day. When asked about Fetterman’s comments during the White House press briefing on Monday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration had nothing to announce regarding executive action on decriminalizing marijuana.

The development comes as Biden prepares to hit the road in Pennsylvania in what is widely being viewed as a campaign trip of sorts ahead of the midterm elections.

High drama in Pennsylvania: On Tuesday, Biden will deliver a speech in Wilkes Barre, Pa., where he will discuss how his administration plans to fight rising crime. Then on Thursday Biden will deliver a prime time address from Philadelphia where is set to warn that Americans’ rights and freedoms are “under attack.” And then on Labor Day, Biden will make two separate stops in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fetterman and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro are slated to join the president in Pittsburgh on Monday.

The visits come as Pennsylvania’s Senate race in particular has garnered national headlines as Fetterman leads various polls and Republican nominee and former celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz appears to stumble. The Hill’s Julia Manchester writes about how Oz’s campaign is trying to go on offense in an effort to turn his campaign around.

Sticking with the Keystone State, a second wave of Republicans in Pennsylvania have endorsed Shapiro for governor. The group includes former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, along with former state Reps. Mario Civera, David Heckler, Raymond Bunt Jr, Rep. Jim Kelly, Beverly Mackereth, and J. Scot Chadwick.

The endorsements come as Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano has been dogged with negative headlines, most recently over a resurfaced 2014 image of him posing in a Confederate Army uniform.

GOP does damage control on abortion

It’s been about two months since the Supreme Court handed down its consequential decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. While many Republicans praised the move as what they considered rightly handing back those decisions to the states, the landscape since then has become a bittersweet one for Republicans.

That’s because there’s been signs that the issue of abortion has galvanized voters, including Democrats and abortion rights advocates. In Kansas, voters in the red state defeated a ballot measure that would have given the state legislature more authority to regulate the medical procedure in the state.

New York win thrills Dems: A special election in New York’s 19th Congressional District saw a Democrat, Pat Ryan, prevail after he focused his campaign on abortion while his Republican counterpart, Marc Molinaro, focused on the economy. Three other special elections, which favored Republicans, only saw Democrats lose by single digits, another possible sign of how Democrats are galvanized over the issue.

“I think the concept that for decades, you know, a Supreme Court fight energized the conservative base because they wanted to overturn Roe, right?” Republican strategist Barrett Marson, who previously worked on Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters’ campaign, told Caroline Vakil.

“I think you’re gonna see a flip on that, that the liberal base will get more energized about this issue because they got it taken away from them.”

Clean up on Aisle 3: Now Republicans are scrambling to tweak their messaging amid the shifting political landscape with candidates tweaking, eliminating or clarifying their views on abortion. NBC News reported Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters (R) scrubbed his website on abortion while Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen last month released a video clarifying his views on the medical procedure.

The test will be where voters will take Republicans at their word or opt to vote with Democrats. GOP strategist Doug Heye told Caroline he didn’t believe Republican candidates’ shifts on their abortion stances would hurt their standing among voters but he also said abortion isn’t what Republicans should be talking about either.

POLL WATCH

With just two weeks out from New Hampshire’s GOP Senate primary, retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc is leading by a wider margin among his Republican challengers, according to the University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll. The poll shows Bolduc with the highest percentage of support among likely Republican primary voters in the state at 43 percent followed by New Hampshire state Senate President Chuck Morse in second at 22 percent.

While President Biden has recently enjoyed some gains in his approval rating, a majority of Democratic voters still don’t think he should run for reelection in 2024, according to a USA-Ipsos poll. Among Democratic voters polled, 56 percent said they would not be for a Biden reelection bid though 60 percent polled also said they felt that, if Biden did run, that he can win in 2024.

AD WATCH

The House Republicans’ campaign arm is out with two ads today targeting Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection, over her support of the Inflation Reduction Act and for her use of COVID-19 relief funds. Fetterman’s campaign is out with a new ad highlighting his record of fighting crime as mayor of Braddock, Pa. The ad’s release comes hours before Biden’s address on crime in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. on Tuesday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s reelection campaign released its first statewide radio ad on Tuesday. The ad, titled “Cecilia,” features his wife and Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott talking about their family.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday. 

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