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So, today’s DC event:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Not so long ago, Joe Biden and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy used to talk things over at breakfast in Biden’s vice presidential home at the Naval Observatory.
Biden was intent in those days on “keeping up relations with the opposition party,” as he writes in his memoir, and the new House majority leader often arrived with fellow GOP lawmakers in tow.
But now, with a potential national debt crisis looming, those morning meetings in 2015 seem a political lifetime ago as Democratic President Biden and McCarthy, the new House speaker, prepare for their first official meeting Wednesday at the White House.
“You know, when I met with him as the vice president, he was always eager to sit down and talk,” McCarthy recalled to The Associated Press ahead of the meeting. “He was always a person who would like to try to find solutions, work together.”
Biden has signaled no such open-ended hospitality this time as newly emboldened House Republicans court a risky debt ceiling showdown.
The White House gets a pair of headlines that will have Ron Klain high fiving Jeff Zients (and vice versa):
Key analysis from the New York Times:
Mr. McCarthy is expected to gather his Republican colleagues in a room beneath the Capitol on Wednesday morning to discuss the negotiations and identify red lines for raising the debt ceiling….
The Republicans’ meeting on Wednesday also serves as an effort by Mr. McCarthy to pull his restive conference in closer before the White House negotiations. The move may insulate Mr. McCarthy from the distrust that plagued Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis.
When Mr. Boehner negotiated with President Barack Obama, the discussions stoked concerns among hard-right lawmakers skeptical of the establishment-styled speaker that the two men would privately shake hands on a deal that betrayed conservative values. Mr. McCarthy is trying the opposite approach.
2024 ESSENTIAL READING
* She’s getting in it to win it:
HALPERIN SAYS: Let’s see (1) what she runs on besides bio; (2) how much money she can raise; (3) what early voting state commitments she gets and makes.
* The Washington Post with a rundown of the Republican field that is chockablock filled with these sorts of nuggets:
Some of the advisers [to other candidates] also voiced hope that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has made preliminary moves toward a run, faces early scrutiny because of his high national polling — scrutiny that could work to their advantage. They added that there is a general sense in their circles that there is enough time to learn more about how the race will play out and still attract donors, get on ballots and build campaign infrastructure….
There are also Republicans who maintain hope that Trump might simply lose interest in running; they note that he has not filed a personal financial disclosure report, asking for two extensions. But others view Trump as the most likely GOP nominee, pointing to the demonstrated base of support he has built within the party that others have yet to match….
One person advising a would-be candidate said concern about Trump’s dominance has been driving discussions with candidates and donors, who want to know how rivals plan to get around Trump. Others expressed hope that Trump will find himself in a nasty fight this spring with DeSantis that politically wounds them both.
“Everyone is getting ready in case Trump falters,” this person said. “But if he doesn’t, you have people making different decisions….”
DeSantis is expected to travel, including to Dallas for a major speech and fundraiser, as he explores a bid in the upcoming months, a person familiar with the matter said. His team is actively preparing for 2024 and has identified potential staff in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, a Republican with knowledge said. Dave Abrams, a DeSantis spokesman, declined to comment.
HALPERIN SAYS: We shall see if this is a one-candidate field, a two-candidate field, or something else entirely. Does Haley getting in cause other hopefuls to jump as well, or do they sit back and watch her as a test case? At some point, folks do actually have to start building campaign teams, raising real money, and campaigning.
* Lots of stories asking whether Trump’s fundraising capacity is functionally diminished, including by Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, which hands the mic to the Establishment to weigh in:
“It looks like the Trump money machine has gone from a Ferrari engine to a lawn mower engine,” said Mike Murphy, one of the architects of Mr. Bush’s 2016 campaign bid. “He’s still got a knuckle of support, but in every metric of support, he’s slowly and steadily declining….”
Beth Hansen, a Republican strategist and former manager of John Kasich’s campaigns for governor of Ohio as well as president, described Mr. Trump’s fund-raising totals in an interview as “anemic” for a former president.
She said the sluggish pace appeared to reflect that Mr. Trump had become less appealing to voters.
“The brand that he has was so attractive to people who were sick and tired of the status quo and sick and tired of being told they’re wrong,” Ms. Hansen said. “I just don’t think we’re there anymore as a country. And he can’t move away from it — his brand is too strong.”
HALPERIN SAYS: Team Trump knows it has a potential problem here, but the key will be how they do after revamping vendors and hitching 2023, Q1 fundraising efforts to actual campaigning. If those efforts don’t pan out, it is a game changer for the whole race.
* Politico’s separate news break about how Trump’s Super PAC is getting ready to go after his rivals with paid media has this eye-popper:
Budowich, who heads the pro-Trump super PAC, did not specify an exact date for when the group would start airing ads. In a statement, he said that “MAGA Inc., through deep opposition research, tested messages, and a significant war chest, is building a GOP primary guillotine that will welcome every challenger with swift and decisive force.”
HALPERIN SAYS: There is a mixed history of Republican Super PACs taking out targets; ask the aforementioned Mr. Murphy what happened to Jeb’s $100 million. But it would be a fascinating chess move if Team Trump spent early in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina on negative ads about DeSantis – and then see how Team Ron responded.
* The Washington Post’s glowing profile of Pennsylvania’s new governor Josh Shapiro tells you why I think he just might emerge as the frontrunner for ’24 if Biden ends up taking a pass.
HALPERIN SAYS: The “opportunity, responsibility, and community” of Bill Clinton, combined with the “hope and change” of Barack Obama and the nachas of Joe Lieberman.