Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — Midterm jitters grip GOP

There are 78 days until Election Day and Republicans are worried. 

The GOP strategy to flip both the House and Senate based on public discontent with President Biden’s policies and the economy is being tested in the runup to Labor Day, according to recent polls and the hand-wringing witnessed in the last week among Republicans (including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky).  

The biggest headwind as well as asset is former President Trump, leader of the Republican Party, who dominates headlines about the 2020 election, the Jan. 6, 2021, probe and classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago when the FBI fetched them on Aug. 8. Trump’s penchant for ignoring the GOP’s hoped-for concentration on inflation, domestic energy, crime, illegal immigration and the dreaded IRS has exasperated many GOP leaders.

The 45th president, almost certain to seek the presidency in 2024 and closely branded with his candidate endorsements this year, is now concerned he could be blamed if Democrats do better than expected in November. He will wait until after the midterms to announce his candidacy, NBC News reports

Other complications for Republicans this fall: Americans are uncomfortable and confused about legal and state legislative approaches to restricting abortion (Time), and the Supreme Court’s withdrawal of a constitutional right has mobilized female voters. Separately this month, some GOP Senate candidates in key states have faltered, leading to a discussion about “candidate quality” in states Republicans still hope to flip. 

The Associated Press: Kansas recount released on Sunday confirmed referendum results in favor of abortion rights.

The Associated Press: Pro-Trump candidate victories in blue states threaten GOP hopes in November when moderate Republicans had been eyeing a different strategy. 

All this early tea-leaf reading cheers Democrats who see some breaks in their direction, albeit with zero margin for error, reports The Hill’s Max Greenwood. Democrats say voters who may be swayed this fall hear more about policies that improve their lives from their side of the aisle than from Republican candidates, who get pinned down with Trump-triggered questions about the last election rather than this one. Biden and members of his party point to declining gas prices and the new, sweeping climate, health and tax law that includes popular provisions such as lower-cost prescription drugs that were opposed in lockstep by the GOP.  

Yahoo News: New polls show Democrats could “win” the 2022 midterms. Should you believe them?

NBC News: Falling gas prices could rise anew, warn oil traders, industry executives and former administration officials.

New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who leads Democrats’ efforts to retain House control, said Sunday that he is heartened by “a summer of strength [while] the other side has had a summer of stumbles.” 

“Republicans don’t have a plan. They have a ploy,” said the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

Here’s what else we’re watching this week:

Monday: In Italy, campaigning picks up speed this week after a summer of voters’ seaside preoccupations ahead of a general election on Sept. 25. The Economist and GZero Media report that the race to replace Mario Draghi’s fallen government boils down to one essential question for Italy, with potential repercussions for Europe: whether Giorgia Meloni, 45, ultra-nationalist leader of the Brothers of Italy party, becomes the next prime minister.

Tuesday: Two high-profile New York House primaries are in the spotlight (The Hill and The Associated Press). … Florida holds its primary. … Will he or won’t he be compelled to testify in Georgia? On Sunday, a three-judge panel with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily paused a judge’s order that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appear before a special grand jury in Atlanta on Tuesday as part of a Georgia criminal investigation of alleged attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss. The panel’s instructions to the district court judge: Reconsider whether the subpoena to Graham should be partially quashed or modified because of protections granted to members of Congress by the U.S. Constitution (The Associated Press).

Thursday: Facing a deadline, the Department of Justice must propose to a Florida magistrate judge any redactions it would make to an affidavit supporting a search warrant of Trump residence, as the judge weighs publicly releasing portions of the affidavit. … The president and first lady Jill Biden headline a Democratic National Committee event in Maryland close to the nation’s capital.  

Friday: With all eyes on inflation and economic demand, the government releases its report on U.S. consumer spending in July. … Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivers a much-watched speech at the Jackson Hole, Wyo., economic forum convened by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


Related Articles

The Associated Press: Trump’s long shadow keeps 2024 hopefuls away from the Iowa State Fair.

The Washington Post: 2024 meets 2022: Trump, Pence, others ramp up for allies in midterms.

The Hill: Trump pushes for release of an unredacted DOJ affidavit despite risks.

MSNBC opinion, Hayes Brown: Why Trump and the media both want the DOJ’s Mar-a-Lago search affidavit released.

The Hill’s Sunday talk shows roundup: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the Justice Department should share with Congress some information from the affidavit leading to the FBI search of Trump’s residence, even if it is kept under seal. 

The Hill: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said she is focused on keeping election deniers out of office. “I think it matters that much,” she told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview broadcast on Sunday.


LEADING THE DAY

STATE WATCH

In a case of local politics with international overtones, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, announced on Sunday he became the latest elected official from the United States to visit Taiwan amid tensions with China. Holcomb and a delegation that included Indiana’s commerce secretary were in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei to kick off an “economic development trip” in Taiwan and South Korea, following Biden’s signing of the bipartisan CHIPS Act and the recent announcement that Taiwan-based semiconductor company MediaTek will open a design center in Indiana, the governor’s office said in a statement. “I appreciate the warm welcome to Taiwan from Douglas Hsu, Taiwan Director of North American Affairs,” Holcomb tweeted (CNN).

The Associated Press: Republican governors blame Biden’s federal policies for high gasoline and food prices and warn constituents the economy is headed for recession. At the same time, they take credit for job gains the same policies helped spur in their states.

The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports that state ballot measures are the new battlefield for voter decisions about abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision sending the question to all 50 states. Ballot decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, California, Vermont and Montana are ahead in November. Polls show most Americans support some form of abortion access, and reproductive rights advocates are eager to take the issue directly to voters. Bans and restrictions on abortion (in some states with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of a pregnant child or adult) have motivated female voters across party lines (The Hill) and spurred big Democratic investments in campaign ads supporting reproductive rights (The Associated Press).

The Hill: Republicans in some states are actively opposing environmental, social and governance investing, supported by Democrats, arguing the focus is anti-free market.

Voters defunded most of the financing for the only library in a rural western Michigan townduring an uproar over books with LGBTQ themes (The Wall Street Journal). The library asked the community to restore the money to keep it operating and has raised $100,000 (NBC News).  


IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION

Biden on Sunday shared concerns about precarious conditions at Ukraine’s Russia-held nuclear power plant during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The foursome also spoke about ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Europe is alarmed about a potential catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine and the potential risks to citizens well beyond its borders. Johnson’s staff in London said the prime minister and Germany’s chancellor, like Biden, “stressed the importance of ensuring the safety and security of nuclear installations and welcomed recent discussions on enabling an IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] mission to the Zaporizhzhia facility.”

Financial Times: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Macron agreed on Friday that IAEA inspectors could visit the Zaporizhzhiaplant from Ukrainian-held territory. Clearing technical experts to assess the safety of the plant would require a reliable cease-fire.

■ Seeking to act where Congress did not this year, Biden and his administration are planning executive actions to battle climate change, including new regulations on emissions from vehicle tailpipes, power plants and oil and gas wells (The New York Times). White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said Biden’s regulatory moves, combined with the climate provisions in the newly enacted Inflation Reduction Act, and action from states, could bolster the U.S. goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by the end of the decade. The Biden administration is coming under pressure from environmental groups to take unilateral actions, even as Biden’s use of his executive sway is certain to be challenged in court by conservative attorneys general who have argued the administration has overstepped its authority on climate change.

■ Biden is poised before Labor Day to hit the road to promote Democrats’ sweeping climate, tax and health care law with the midterm contests in mind. Salesmanship amid the public’s late-summer distractions by a president whose job approval ratings hover at around 40 percent is viewed as politically essential — and a challenge (The Hill). Reuters and The Washington Post report why some Democratic candidates want Biden to stay away from their contests.

Ahead of the president’s planned, pre-Labor Day trip to an Intel Corp. plant location near Columbus, Ohio, veteran Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) last week released a campaign ad telling constituents she “doesn’t work for Joe Biden. She works for you.” Her seat is rated as a “toss-up” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Kaptur, first elected to the House in 1982, has during past election cycles shown an ability to create distance when necessary between herself and Democratic presidents. Trump won Ohio decisively in 2020. 


OPINION

■ Trump’s Senate candidates say better call Mitch (McConnell): Struggling nominees in swing states turn to the Republican leader to save their campaigns, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3QSQmxe

■ The greatest obstacle to returning to the Iran deal isn’t Iran, it’s Congress, by Jonathan Lord, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3PzKGah


WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a pro forma session. It will reconvene on Sept. 13.

The Senate convenes at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday for a pro forma session during its summer recess, which ends Sept. 6.

The president is in Rehoboth Beach, Del., until Wednesday.

Vice President Harris has no public events scheduled. 

First lady Jill Biden also is in Delaware after testing negative for COVID-19 on Sunday in South Carolina, where she had been isolating.


🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.


ELSEWHERE

INTERNATIONAL

In Russia late on Saturday, a suspected car bomb attack outside Moscow killed the 29-year-old daughter of a prominent Putin ally (Reuters) and Russia opened a murder investigation (The New York Times). The intended target may have been her father, Alexander Dugin, known as “Putin’s brain,” according to the BBC. Father and daughter were at a festival and made a late decision to travel separately as they departed. A Ukrainian official dismissed accusations of Ukrainian involvement. “Ukraine, of course, has nothing to do with this, because we are not a criminal state, which is the Russian Federation, and even less a terrorist state,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Meanwhile, Russia on Sunday claimed its missiles struck Ukraine’s Odesa region, destroying an ammunition depot that supplies U.S.-made HIMARS rockets. Kyiv said a granary had been hit (Reuters).

The Hill’s Laura Kelly reports from Ukraine: From high fashion to flak jackets: Local Odesa designer now outfits Ukrainian military.

A dozen Chinese aircraft and five Chinese ships were detected operating around Taiwan on Sunday, including five aircraft that crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, according to Taiwanese defense officials (Reuters).

Japan is considering deploying 1,000 long-range cruise missiles to counter China, according to a Japanese news account on Sunday (Reuters).  

🦠Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announcedon Sunday that he tested positive for COVID-19 with a cough and fever after a week’s vacation and planned to participate on Monday remotely with an African development conference in Tunisia (Reuters).

🏔 At Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, adventurers (and there are 30,000 tourists with aspirations per year) can now chronicle their ascents in real time on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok following the installation of a new high-speed fiber-optic broadband internet network provided by Tanzania on the mountain’s slopes. Not everyone is thrilled (NBC News).

Colombia, the largest producer of cocaine in the world, wants to lead a global experiment by decriminalizing it (The Washington Post).

PANDEMIC, POX & HEALTH

The Food and Drug Administration, mindful of the start of the new school year, on Friday authorized for adolescents the Novavax vaccine against COVID-19, offering an alternative for Americans skeptical of Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA technology (The Hill). 

The New York State Department of Health over the weekend reported the first known case in the state of monkeypox in a child (the confirmed infection was not in New York City). There were a total of 2,798 confirmed monkeypox cases in the state as of Friday and 2,596 of those were in New York City (ABC News). … At least 10 pediatric cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States. … There were at least 14,115 confirmed U.S. cases of monkeypox as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first U.S. case was documented in Boston on May 19 — a reminder of the rapid spread of the virus.  

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,041,419. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 392, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of today, 78.2 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66.7 percent is “fully vaccinated,” according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker and the government’s definition. The percentage of Americans who have received third or booster doses is 32.2.

TECH & SOCIAL MEDIA

Since the 2020 election, mainstream platforms including Twitter and Facebook have applied measures to block, label and remove politicians and personalities with political impact in response to violations of company rules about dissemination of misinformation. As more candidates, elected officials and prominent influencers test the boundaries of those rules through incendiary and false posts, critics warn that tech companies need to follow through on commitments to block falsehoods and hate speech (The Hill).

The Guardian: “Dangerous misogynist” Andrew Tate, a former kickboxer and reality TV personality who describes himself as a sexist with an online following, was removed from Instagram and Facebook. He previously was banned from Twitter and TikTok.

The New York Times: Facebook and Instagram removed Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vax nonprofit on Thursday for medical misinformation.

The Associated Press: Anti-vax group in Europe thrives online, thwarts Facebook.


THE CLOSER

And finally … It’s Monday. Time to stretch. We liked this weekend photo from the European Aquatics in Rome, a competition that ended on Sunday. If these medal winners can fold themselves in midair off diving boards, the Morning Report can surely find time for some terra firma exercise this week. Inspiration!

BBC: British divers Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix and Lois Toulson won their second gold medals of the European championships.


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Tags 2022 midterms Abortion Biden Mitch McConnell Monkeypox Morning Report Russia Sean Patrick Maloney Supreme Court Trump Ukraine
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