Morning Report — Debate night: Will Biden or Trump win?


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There has been so much media buildup ahead of tonight’s debate, we hesitate to do more than mention that it begins at 9 p.m. EDT on CNN, will be carried by other networks — and ends around 10:30 p.m. 

President Biden spent days preparing at Camp David, eager to draw more voters his way in a contest that’s basically tied, according to polls. He wants to best former President Trump on substance, temperament, clarity and vision. The voters Biden needs to woo are fence-sitters with misgivings about Trump.

The former president, who is not shy about denouncing the president in personal terms and inventing dark narratives, seeks to stir doubts about the incumbent while appearing to be quick, energized, unflinching — a tough guy. Only 72 percent of voters who said they cast a ballot for Biden four years ago say they approve of the job he is doing as president. And voters overall say they now trust Trump more on the issues that matter most to them, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday.

House Democrats say they’re rooting for Biden to throttle Trump during the debate. The president “should be aggressive,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), a former head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “He’s got a great record to run on, and he should call out Trump appropriately for what he’s not able to do — that he doesn’t have a plan.”

Likeability coupled with a plan for the future are qualities that historically win over debate audiences. 

What are some of the obvious pitfalls? The economy. Age. Immigration. Biden is never described as a dazzling communicator and many of his policies are opaque to Americans. Trump is described as squeezed within his party on abortion, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and contraception. Republican challengers spent a primary season warning voters that Trump sows chaos. Oh, and he lost the last election and is a convicted felon.

Ahead of the debate, here are five things to watch.

▪ The Hill’s Niall Stanage with The Memo: Trump, Biden brace for a debate that could reshape the White House race.

▪ The Wall Street Journal (video explainer): What Biden’s and Trump’s past debate performances tell us about the 2024 face-off.

Reminder: A second presidential debate is months away, on Sept. 10, hosted by ABC News. Between tonight and post-Labor Day, the Republican National Convention meets in Milwaukee and the Democratic National Convention takes place in Chicago.


3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY: 

▪ Price increases have slowed, but getting used to new price levels could take time for consumers. How did we get here?

▪ The International Space Station will end its longtime orbit of Earth in a few more years and NASA has contracted with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company to build a vehicle to do it. Price tag: $843 million.

▪ Don’t expect multivitamins to prolong life, according to scientists who looked at long-term results for 390,000 adults.


LEADING THE DAY

Leading SupCrt 062323 AP Nathan Howard

© The Associated Press / Nathan Howard | The Supreme Court may be poised to temporarily allow emergency abortions in Idaho when a woman’s health is at risk, according to a mistakenly uploaded opinion reported by Bloomberg News Wednesday.

COURTS

Social media: The Supreme Court handed the Biden administration a major procedural victory Wednesday, rejecting a legal challenge to the government’s contacts with social media platforms. The 6-3 majority left fundamental legal questions for another day. The court ruled that those who opposed the administration’s policies and appealed did not have standing to sue. In a vigorous dissent to the social media ruling, Justice Samuel Alito accused the White House of trying to “coerce” Facebook by seeking to moderate misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on the platform.

Abortion: The Supreme Court may be poised to temporarily allow emergency abortions in Idaho when a woman’s health is at risk, according to Bloomberg News, which reported Wednesday that a copy of an opinion briefly appeared on the court’s website. It was unclear whether the document was final, and a spokesperson for the court declined to confirm what had been posted.

“The court’s publications unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the court’s website,” spokesperson Patricia McCabe told The New York Times. “The court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course.”

The opinion, published by Bloomberg, indicated that a majority on the court had agreed to dismiss the case as “improvidently granted.”

The Supreme Court in a 6-3 opinion Wednesday struck down part of a federal anti-corruption law that makes it a crime for state and local officials to take gifts valued at more than $5,000 from a donor who had previously been awarded lucrative contracts or other government benefits thanks to the efforts of the official.

More rulings: The high court will issue opinions this morning and Friday as it continues to wind down its term.

The Hill: The Justice Department told the Supreme Court it wants justices to deny former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon’s emergency appeal seeking to avoid a four-month prison sentence for his conviction in 2022 of contempt of Congress. Bannon’s incarceration is set to begin July 1. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said House GOP leadership will file an amicus brief supporting Bannon’s appeal because Republicans assert that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “abused her authority when organizing the Select Committee” to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Bannon defied a subpoena to testify to the panel.

The Washington Post: In five battleground states, county-level officials have tried to block the certification of vote tallies — which election experts worry is a court-focused test run by Trump allies to try to thwart a Democratic victory in November.


MORE IN POLITICS

Former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) was sitting in his car in a parking lot last month when he received a call from an unlikely number: Biden. Duncan — a lifelong Republican who has never voted for a Democrat in his life — had just formally endorsed the incumbent. The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports Biden’s call to the former lieutenant governor signals the importance of such endorsements as he tries to win independents and undecided voters to his side ahead of November.

In the coming months, the campaign will lean heavily on Duncan, and figures including former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who endorsed Biden Wednesday. Kinzinger’s endorsement is part of a larger ramp-up of big names expected to become regular faces for Biden in television ads and on the stump ahead of and through the Democratic National Convention.

“This election is about the 10 percent who will either sit on the couch or get out and vote,” Duncan said in an interview with The Hill. “I want to do anything I can do to beat Donald Trump so I can get my Republican Party back. If it takes campaigning for Joe Biden, and doing commercials and speeches, I’m ready to take my medicine and get my party back.”


2024 Roundup:

▪ Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said Wednesday he’ll be disappointed if Trump doesn’t pick him to be his running mate. “I’m human, right?” Vance told Fox News. “So, when you know this thing is a possibility, if it doesn’t happen, there is certainly going to be a little bit of disappointment.”

▪ CNN will be put to a high-profile test when the network hosts Thursday night’s prime-time debate — the first nationally televised clash between the two men of this year’s election and the 2024 campaign’s biggest media moment to date.  

▪ Here’s a question likely to be part of the debate Thursday: Are you better off today than you were in 2020?

▪ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declines to publicly bash Biden, whom he’s known for decades from their overlap in the Senate and their collaborations during the Obama-Biden years. McConnell, who has endorsed Trump for president, called Biden a “good guy” during an event in Kentucky this week.


WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 9 a.m.

The Senate will convene at noon Friday for a pro forma session. Senators return to Washington on July 8.

The president begins his day at Camp David with the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. He will travel at noon to Atlanta for a debate with Trump from 9-10:30 p.m. EDT hosted by CNN. First lady Jill Biden will accompany the president. They will depart for Raleigh, N.C., following the debate and remain overnight.

Vice President Harris will meet with staff. She’ll deliver remarks during a virtual campaign event this evening.


ZOOM IN

Zoom In Cori Bush 031224 AP Jacquelyn Martin

© The Associated Press / Jacquelyn Martin | Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and her primary challenger, Wesley Bell, are locked in a dead heat in what is expected to be a competitive primary in August.

CONGRESS

HOUSE PROGRESSIVES face the biggest threat to their power in years after Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) became the first Squad member to lose reelection Tuesday. In New York’s Democratic primary, he was defeated by moderate George Latimer in a race that became defined by the inflamed intraparty tensions over the Israel-Hamas war.

Members of the left are also staring down the possibility of a second major defeat in August when Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), another Squad member, will face a strong primary challenger, raising questions about the influence progressives will hold in Congress going forward (The Hill).

“Losing a member of the [Congressional Progressive Caucus] does chip away at the progressive movement,” said Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.). “A lot of times [you] take a few steps forward and you take a few steps back and you keep going forward.”

▪ Politico: The Squad is shrinking. Now what?

▪ USA Today: A new poll shows Bush’s opponent, Wesley Bell, leading by 1 point.

A BIPARTISAN DATA PRIVACY BILL is splitting House Republicans and pitting the chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee against House GOP leadership. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) are spearheading the American Privacy Rights Act, a long-awaited bill that would create federal comprehensive data privacy regulations.

The committee will debate the bill, which would be a major career accomplishment for McMorris Rodgers, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the year, during markup today (The Hill).

The Washington Post: Paris Hilton recounted her experiences of institutional child abuse before the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday and urged lawmakers to better support children in foster care.


ELSEWHERE

International Kenya 062624 AP Patrick Ngugi

© The Associated Press / Patrick Ngugi | In Kenya a day after protesters stormed parliament, President William Ruto said he won’t sign into law a finance bill that would have raised taxes.

INTERNATIONAL

IN A SUDDEN REVERSAL, Kenyan President William Ruto said Wednesday that he will not sign a finance bill he had long said was necessary to stabilize the country’s economy, a response to the devastating protests that gripped the nation Tuesday.

Nearly two dozen people were killed and more than 300 injured in the demonstrations against the bill’s tax increases. That death toll makes it one of the bloodiest days in the country’s recent history (The New York Times).

“Listening keenly to the people of Kenya who have said loudly that they want nothing to do with this finance bill, I concede, and therefore, I will not sign the 2024 finance bill, and it shall subsequently be withdrawn,” Ruto said in an address to the country.

HOURS AFTER SOLDIERS and armored military vehicles positioned themselves around governmental buildings in Bolivia’s capital La Paz Wednesday, Bolivian President Luis Arce called on the country to “organize and mobilize against the coup d’état, in favor of democracy.” Just as quickly as it had appeared, the attempted coup, led by general Juan José Zuñiga, disappeared. Zuñiga was arrested, and his supporters in the armed forces pulled back and were replaced by police officers supporting Arce, the country’s democratically elected president.

The office of the attorney general announced it had opened an investigation into Zuñiga “and all the other participants” in the day’s events, adding that it would seek “the maximum punishment” for those responsible (The New York Times and CNN).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated his feud with Biden over the war in Gaza, accusing him of holding back arms transfers in a highly public dispute, which analysts say is meant to pressure and potentially even embarrass the White House ahead of the U.S. elections. Laura Blumenfeld, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a former senior policy adviser on the State Department’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiating team, told The Hill’s Brad Dress it was clear Netanyahu was looking to swipe at Biden.

“When you have one friend in the world, you don’t pick a fight with that friend, unless there’s a better friend coming along,” she said. “Part of this is about Netanyahu anticipating a Trump presidency and working with the Republicans in Congress to kind of box Biden in and embarrass him during the national presidential campaign.”

The Washington Post: Israel blames the United Nations for the Gaza aid crisis amid fresh reports of starvation.

A closed-door trial for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich began Wednesday in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. He denies espionage charges. He’s one of more than 10 Americans held in Russia (The Washington Post).

Russia said Wednesday it sent the United States “signals” about a possible prisoner swap for Gershkovich that Washington should consider. Observers believe Gershkovich’s trial and expected sentence are part of a Russian process that could eventually involve a prisoner trade. WNBA star Brittney Griner spent 10 months in Russian captivity before being exchanged for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in Illinois on four felony counts (France24).

The Hill: The Biden administration formally accused Cuba of profiting from forced labor Monday.


OPINION

■ Trump can’t handle the foreign policy debate America needs, by Andreas Kluth, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion.

■ Six takeaways from the big progressive losses in New York primaries, by former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), opinion contributor, The Hill.


THE CLOSER

Quiz Heat and cool 062024 AP Robert Bukaty

© The Associated Press / Robert F. Bukaty | Americans are trying to beat the heat as high temperatures sweep the Midwest and Northeast.

Take Our Morning Report Quiz

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by high temperatures across the country, we’re eager for some smart guesses about summer heat.

Be sure to email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and kkarisch@thehill.com — please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

The heat wave engulfing much of the Midwest and Northeast is due to which weather phenomenon?

  1. Drought
  2. Katabatic winds
  3. Heat dome
  4. Tropical storm

A former president cast in wax on display recently lost his cool — and his head — in Washington, D.C., amid high temps. Who suffered the melty fate?

  1. Thomas Jefferson
  2. Martin Van Buren
  3. George Washington
  4. Abraham Lincoln

Athlete accommodations at the Paris Olympics will not have air conditioning. In response, which country announced it will bring its own?

  1. Germany
  2. United States
  3. Australia
  4. All of the above

More than 1,000 people died in Saudi Arabia of heat-related reasons this month during the hajj, or Muslim pilgrimage to which city?

  1. Riyadh
  2. Mecca
  3. Medina
  4. Jeddah

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