Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — Biden, Obama to stump for Democrats as midterms near

A voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga., on Oct. 19, 2020.
FILE – A voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga., on Oct. 19, 2020. The widespread use of absentee ballot drop boxes during the 2020 election was largely trouble-free, contrary to claims made by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies. An Associated Press survey of state election officials across the U.S. revealed no problems that could have affected the results, including from fraud, vandalism or theft. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

With ​​22 days until Nov. 8, contests across the country are heating up in the last stretch before Election Day. Debates are scheduled in four states tonight, and early voting starts today in Georgia (News4Jax).

Meanwhile, President Biden and former President Obama are stumping for Democratic candidates this week as outcomes in the House and Senate go down to the wire, along with key gubernatorial contests.

In the governor’s race in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams will debate at 7 p.m. ET. The contest marks a rematch of 2018, when Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams, who sought to become the nation’s first Black female governor (U.S. News).

This year, polls show Kemp has an incumbent’s advantage. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution-Georgia News Collaborative poll last week showed Kemp leading Abrams 51 to 41 percent among likely voters.

“A lot of people didn’t know who I was [in 2018] and I was defined by a candidate who had twice as much money as I did and had the national media in her pocket,” Kemp said after a recent campaign stop. “I never could really fight through that. It’s a different story now.”

USA Today: In the tight race for Georgia governor, Black men emerge as a key voter target in Abrams’ campaign.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia governor’s race sees Abrams, Kemp rake in big out-of-state money.

In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will debate Democrat Deidre DeJear at 8 p.m. ET.

In Ohio, Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan (D) and Republican J.D. Vance will face off for a second time at 7 p.m. ET.

And in Utah, Sen. Mike Lee (R) will debate his independent challenger, Evan McMullin, at 8 p.m. ET. The state is emerging as a wildcard race in the battle to control the Senate, writes The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, with McMullin trailing Lee by only a few points.

A Deseret News-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted earlier this month showed Lee leading McMullin by 4 points among registered voters, 41 percent to 37 percent.

Lee has pleaded for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to endorse him, but Romney has declined, prompting even former President Trump to pressure Romney to back Lee. Lee has clashed with Romney often, voting against the bipartisan bills he backed on issues ranging from infrastructure to gun violence and semiconductors. And Lee has supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which Romney adamantly opposed.

In Utah, Democrats have coalesced behind McMullin — who has vowed not to caucus with senators from either party — while some Republican moderates remain undecided.

Deseret News: State of the race: Lee, McMullin butting heads in bid for U.S. Senate.

The New York Times: In Utah, a Trump loyalist sends an SOS to Romney, of all people.

Information about how to watch each debate tonight can be found HERE.

Following scandals that rocked Republican Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign in Georgia, members of the GOP are looking to Pennsylvania as the linchpin and open-seat race that could determine control of the Senate. The contest between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) and Republican Mehmet Oz has become more important within each party, writes The Hill’s Al Weaver.

One Republican strategist familiar with recent internal polling said that Oz, after trailing his Democratic opponent for months, has drawn even, boosting the party’s hopes with just over three weeks to go.

“Given the revelations around Walker in the last two weeks, Oz’s stock in combination with the race closing has risen. The trajectory of the race is just so good,” the strategist said. 

Biden on Thursday will travel to Pittsburgh to campaign for Fetterman (WTAE) and will return to Pennsylvania with Vice President Harris next week. Meanwhile Obama is set to kick off his midterm campaigning in Atlanta on Oct. 28 before heading to the Midwest on Oct. 29 to campaign in Michigan and Wisconsin (The Washington Post).

© Associated Press / Susan Walsh | Former President Obama, Las Vegas in January.

Obama on Friday sat down with former administration staffers and hosts of Pod Save America to speak about the power of voters in the midterms and Democrats’ progress on crucial issues.

“Across the board, what we’ve seen is that when Democrats have a working majority, or even really slim majority in Congress, they can make people’s lives better,” Obama said in the interview. “If you combine the deep concerns about our democracy with the concrete accomplishments that [the Biden] administration [has] been able to deliver, because we had a narrow majority in both the House and the Senate, that should be enough to inspire people to get out.”

Senate control remains a nail-biter, and while control of the House is still projected for Republicans, both parties hope to win over voters based on hot-button issues. For Democrats, that means reproductive rights and health care, while Republicans are focused on crime and the economy.

Biden is set to capitalize on the national conversation about abortion rights at a Tuesday Democratic National Committee event at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. The White House has zeroed in on the fight to protect abortion rights, pushing back on GOP efforts to enact restrictions federally and in individual states (CNN).

Earlier this month, Biden said he would not “sit by and let Republicans throughout the country enact extreme policies.”

Republicans see parents’ rights as a sleeper issue in the 2022 midterms, arguing it could swing key Senate and House races toward their party and help them win back power in Congress, writes The Hill’s Brett Samuels.   

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, experts are stressing the importance of public confidence in elections and the democratic process, warning that candidates who are election deniers on ballots across the country, coupled with misinformation about election security, pose serious threats.

“I’m afraid that we will have a dozen elections, state-wide elections, across the country in major states that will be decided by less than 1 percent, and we’re going to have candidates denying the results, not accepting them, and I don’t think this country can live through that,” pollster Frank Luntz said on Bloomberg TV on Friday. “To go through another two years of election denial is so dangerous for democracy” (The Hill).

Democrats, too, are sounding the alarm about the possibility of Republican election deniers winning statewide office in key swing states, reports The Hill’s Caroline Vakil. Republican gubernatorial candidates such as Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Republican secretary of state candidates such as Jim Marchant in Nevada and Kristina Karamo in Michigan have gained notoriety for casting doubt on the last election, with some even suggesting they would not have certified the 2020 results.

Now Democrats and even some Republicans are worrying about the effect these candidates could have in further undermining confidence in future U.S. elections should they win office, especially as the country stares down the likelihood of another polarized presidential race in 2024. 

The Washington Post: On Lake’s campaign for Arizona governor, the mic is always hot.

USA Today: Lake won’t commit to honoring election results.

And while Trump isn’t on the ballot in 2022, the former president still looms large over the midterm elections, whether he’s campaigning for candidates or creating headlines as he faces various legal challenges.

Will Wilkerson, the co-founder of Trump’s beleaguered social media company Truth Social, who was fired on Thursday, is now alleging the firm violated federal securities laws and that the former president pressured executives to hand over lucrative shares to his wife.

Wilkerson filed a whistleblower complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission in August. He backed his complaint with emails, documents, messages and audio recordings that detailed a pattern of infighting, technical incompetence and power struggles inside Trump Media (The Washington Post and The Guardian).


Related Articles

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The Hill: In these swing states, mail-in voting changes could play a decisive role.

The Hill: Jill Biden dives into campaign mode in final weeks before midterms.

The New York Times: Democrats spent $2 trillion to save the economy. They don’t want to talk about it.

The Hill: Democrats are quietly making 2024 contingency plans ahead of the midterms.


National Security at The Speed of Sound: Hypersonics in American Defense, Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. ET

Hypersonic missiles—those able to fly up to five times the speed of sound—are crucial to U.S. national security in the eyes of American defense leaders. As great power competitors China and Russia develop and deploy the technology, where does the United States stand in the race to develop, test, manufacture and scale hypersonic missiles? Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu, NDIA Director Dr. Mark Lewis and more join The Hill to discuss the future of readiness. RSVP today.


LEADING THE DAY 

INTERNATIONAL 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a record-breaking third term in office at the conclusion of this week’s 20th Communist Party congress. In a Sunday speech that struck triumphant notes about COVID-19, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Xi offered few specifics about some of China’s most significant challenges ahead, including its economy (CNN and The Washington Post). 

“The wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi said. “Complete reunification of our country must be realized, and it can, without doubt, be realized.”

Reuters analysis: A $1 trillion headache: China’s local fiscal shortfall poses broader growth risks to the world’s second biggest economy in 2023.

NPR: Four key points from Xi’s speech.

Politico: Xi’s path to power: from outcast to “emperor.”

© Associated Press / Ju Peng, Xinhua via AP | President Xi Jinping of China on Sunday in Beijing during the Chinese Communist Party congress.

Four drone strikes hit central Kyiv this morning as Russia used Iranian kamikaze drones to attack critical infrastructure. The strikes mark the second attack on the Ukrainian capital in a week (Bloomberg News).

On Sunday, several strikes hit the Russian region of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border, leaving at least three wounded. The strikes raise questions about the security of the region, which has served as a key supply route for Russian troops. They appeared to be part of an uptick of attacks in the area. Belgorod shares a border with Kharkiv, the region of Ukraine retaken by Kyiv’s forces in September (The New York Times).

Ukrainian troops are also still holding the strategic eastern town of Bakhmut despite repeated Russian attacks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Saturday video address (Reuters).

Reuters: Gunmen kill 11 at Russian army base in new blow to Moscow’s Ukraine campaign.

The Washington Post: Iran plans to send missiles, drones to Russia for Ukraine war.

The New York Times: “Coffins are already coming”: The toll of Russia’s chaotic draft.

In the United Kingdom, members of parliament will try to oust Prime Minister Liz Truss as soon as this week, reports The Daily Mail. Truss succeeded Boris Johnson as prime minister Sept. 6 and has faced a series of controversies over proposed tax and budget proposals amid soaring inflation, which triggered policy retreats, a change in the chancellor of the exchequer and friction between the government and the Bank of England (Reuters).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that Biden has “no plans” to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during next month’s Group of 20 summit (Axios). 

Biden last week said the United States would have more to say about Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut petroleum production, knowing that some senators are eager to return in November and cut off U.S. arms sales to the kingdom based on opposition to Saudi Arabia’s support for Russia as part of OPEC and allied oil producers.

“The president did say he is going to re-evaluate our relationship with Saudi Arabia because they did side with Russia against the interest of the American people,” Sullivan said.

“This is a relationship that got built over decades on a bipartisan basis,” the president’s adviser added. “So, the president isn’t going to act precipitously — he’s going to act methodically, strategically and he’s going to take his time to consult with members of both parties, and also to have an opportunity for Congress to return so he can sit with them in person and work through the options.

Saudi Arabia’s defense chief, Prince Khalid bin Salman, on Sunday rejected assessments that the country’s oil production decision is part of its alliance with petroleum producer Russia (The Hill).

“We are astonished by the accusations that the kingdom is standing with Russia in its war with Ukraine. It is telling that these false accusations did not come from the Ukrainian government,” the Prince Khalid said on Twitter

CNN: With Saudi Arabia, what are Biden’s options?

© Associated Press / Bandar Aljaloud, Saudi Royal Palace via AP | Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Biden in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in July.

🦻 The Food and Drug Administration reminds consumers about the availability of hearing aids that can be purchased over the counter starting today at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and beginning later this week at Best Buy and Hy-Vee (CNN). Under a final FDA rule, adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss can buy hearing aids at a store or online without a prescription, exam, or audiologist fitting, according to the administration’s reminder about a new policy that it says can help nearly 30 million Americans with hearing loss, including nearly 10 million adults under age 60.

💊 Health and Human and Services Department: The president on Friday signed an executive order that directs the department to look for additional ways to lower drug costs (Axios).

🔎 Privacy and security: The president on Friday signed an executive order to implement a new framework to protect the privacy of personal data shared between the U.S. and Europe. A European court undid an earlier version of the framework in 2020. The new Privacy Shield seeks to address European concerns of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies (CNBC).

🐔 The Agriculture Department says sweeping changes would be required for chicken and turkey meat processing to reduce illnesses from contamination under proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service rules announced on Friday. Despite decades of efforts to try to reduce illnesses caused by salmonella in food, more than 1 million people in the United States are sickened every year and nearly a fourth of those cases come from turkey and chicken meat (King5).


OPINION

■ The thoughts of Chairman Xi, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3D07sVI

■ Xi’s coronation portends a hard era for China and the world, by The Washington Post editorial board. https://wapo.st/3EIQr3D

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. on Tuesday for a pro forma session. Members are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Nov. 14. ​​Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) at 9 a.m. PT will visit the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif.

The Senate convenes at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday for a pro forma session. Senators make their way back to Washington on Nov. 14.  

The president returns to the White House from Delaware at 12:20 p.m.

The vice president is in Los Angeles where she and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Celinda Vázquez of Planned Parenthood will hold a moderated conversation about reproductive rights at 3 p.m. PT at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Harris at 6:10 p.m. PT will headline a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at a private residence in Los Angeles. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in California where he joins Pelosi and Eshoo this morning in Menlo Park, Calif., to visit the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The secretary will join former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Stanford University for a conversation about various current events at 12:45 a.m. PT. Blinken will participate in a Stanford University student recruitment event at 11:50 a.m. PT. The secretary will answer journalists’ questions at 1:10 p.m. PT in Stanford, Calif. Blinken at 2 p.m. PT will visit Applied Materials Maydan Technology Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with AFL-CIO leaders. 

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


ELSEWHERE

TECH 

If Elon Musk’s deal goes through to buy Twitter for $44 billion, he apparently intends to morph the social media platform into an “everything app” he calls X. For months, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has expressed interest in creating his own version of China’s WeChat — a “super app” that does video chats, messaging, streaming and payments — for the rest of the world (CNN and KATV).

The Hill: New short-form audio app CenterClip aims to deliver “authentic, unfiltered” political commentary. 

PANDEMIC & HEALTH 

Administration officials are raising concerns about the slow pace of nasal COVID-19 vaccine development in the U.S., pointing to security risks as China, Iran and Russia approve their own nasal and oral vaccines.

Because Congress hasn’t approved more research and development funds, these types of vaccines aren’t close to entering the market, despite research. And pharmaceutical companies aren’t investing much money either, citing low profit potential (Politico). 

“Intranasal vaccines — vaccines that are variant-resistant — those are critical tools to have in the toolbox for protecting Americans, not just for Covid but also for future pandemics and also for future biosecurity threats,” Ashish Jha, the Biden administration COVID-19 response coordinator, told Politico.

CNBC: Omicron-specific COVID-19 boosters appear to work well, new data says — regardless of the side effects you experience.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,065,109. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 332, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


THE CLOSER

© Associated Press / Luca Bruno | Milan, Italy, pasta shop, 2007.

🍝  Today is National Pasta Day — as good an excuse as any for some carbo loading and comfort food. Cheap, versatile and internationally popular, pasta is a favorite almost anywhere consumers venture during times of high food prices. Customarily made with durum wheat, versions can be healthy and even gluten-free (Healthline).

Companies know that October, which is National Pasta Month, is a time for mass marketing and pasta deals, no matter the “gravy,” the meatballs or the cheese (CNET, Thrillist, Fansided).

Mangia bene!


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