Rarely are local, national and international politics as intertwined as they will be this week for President Joe Biden. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
THE GREAT MISMATCH: President JOE BIDEN’s average approval rating is at a new low (43.4%), and his average disapproval rating is at a new high (50.7%), according to FiveThirtyEight. The 7.3-point gap is the widest it’s been all year.
CNN’s Harry Enten notes that one big problem for Biden is the gulf between the economic issues Biden is talking about and what voters want him to address. A recent CBS poll found two top issues of neglect: Sixty percent of Americans want Biden to pay more attention to inflation, and 57% want him to pay more attention to the U.S.-Mexico border.
A ‘TIPPING POINT’ WEEK — The next nine days are the most important of Biden’s young presidency: He needs to rescue his legislative agenda in Congress, rescue his party’s political candidates in two states and rescue America’s leadership on climate policy in Scotland.
The White House is hoping for a virtuous cycle of developments that will help accomplish all three goals: Securing a deal on the reconciliation bill could help Democratic candidates in Virginia and New Jersey. The climate provisions of the final deal will tell world leaders at next week’s COP26 how serious the United States is when it comes to reaching Biden’s stated emissions goals.
Rarely are local, national and international politics as intertwined as they will be this week.
— This afternoon, the president will promote BIF and BBB in Newark, N.J., which holds a gubernatorial election Nov. 2. The incumbent Democrat, Gov. PHIL MURPHY, has gone from a 26-point lead over Republican challenger JACK CIATTARELLI in May to a 6-point lead in a poll released last week. Biden’s presence in the deep blue state follows a Newark appearance by none other than BARACK OBAMA on Saturday. While nobody seems to think Murphy will lose, we have heard repeatedly from New Jersey pols that there is a serious lack of enthusiasm among Democrats in the state.
— On Tuesday, Biden stumps for the far more endangered TERRY MCAULIFFE in Arlington, Va., where the gubernatorial race is now tied.
The White House wanted to have a final deal on the sweeping reconciliation package clinched Sunday after Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER had a breakfast meeting with the president in Wilmington, Del. Instead, it was another day of inconclusive talks. (“Progress, but not there yet,” a senior White House official told Playbook.) So Biden will begin his tour of the two big 2021 electoral battleground states without a deal in hand.
— On Thursday, Biden leaves for Rome, where he will meet with Pope FRANCIS and attend the G-20 Leaders’ Summit. Sunday is Oct. 31, when a recent extension of transportation funding programs expires — making it the soft deadline for passing both Biden’s infrastructure bill, which includes a long-term renewal of the law, and the still-incomplete reconciliation bill.
— On Nov. 1, Biden will be in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).
“The president looked us in the eye, and he said: ‘I need this before I go and represent the United States in Glasgow. American prestige is on the line,’” Rep. RO KHANNA (D-Calif.), who recently met with Biden in the Oval Office, said on Fox News on Sunday, speaking of the climate provisions in the reconciliation bill. So far Biden does not have what he needs.
— The day after COP26 begins in Scotland, it’s Election Day in Virginia and New Jersey.
When Biden arrives back in the U.S. a week from Wednesday, his political, legislative and international standing will have been transformed by the outcome of this week’s events.
RECONCILIATION MUST-READ OF THE DAY: Jennifer Scholtes, Marianne LeVine and Alice Miranda Ollstein have a comprehensive overview of what’s in and what’s out of the Dems’ reconciliation bill as negotiations near completion.
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Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.
MEDIA MOVES — This morning, POLITICO announced two major new hires:
— JONATHAN LEMIRE will join POLITICO as White House bureau chief starting in November. Additionally, he will be the new host of MSNBC’s “Way Too Early.” Jonathan joins us from the AP, where he covered the Trump and Biden administrations.
— MAX TANI will join our West Wing Playbook team in December. Since 2018, Max has written for The Daily Beast, where his scoop-hungry reporting has set the media world ablaze. (“Yes, he occasionally would break an item about the happenings here at POLITICO,” write editor-in-chief Matt Kaminski and White House editor Sam Stein. “No, we did not hire him so that he’d stop doing that.”)
— In addition, TINA SFONDELES will be shifting from co-authoring West Wing Playbook to become a full-time member of the White House team, focusing on the Biden administration’s handling of justice-related issues. Read the full memo for more details on Jonathan, Max and Tina
JOIN US — Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda is in political limbo as the White House tries to reach a deal among congressional Democrats to vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Sen. MARK WARNER (D-Va.), who helped write the bill, will join Ryan on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for a live interview to discuss the fate of Biden’s legislative agenda, including the more comprehensive reconciliation package as well as Virginia’s tight gubernatorial race and what its outcome could mean for the Democratic Party. Sign up here
— 8:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 9:40 a.m.: Biden will depart New Castle, Del., for New Jersey, arriving in Plainfield at 10:45 a.m.
— 11:20 a.m.: Biden will promote his Build Back Better agenda at East End Elementary School in North Plainfield, before heading to Newark.
— 1:45 p.m.: Biden will speak about the BBB agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure bill at NJ TRANSIT Meadowlands Maintenance Complex in Kearny.
— 2:55 p.m.: Biden will leave New Jersey for Washington, arriving at the White House at 4:05 p.m.
— 5:30 p.m.: Biden will meet with Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW of the Orthodox Church and welcome his delegation to the White House.
Principal deputy press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE will gaggle on Air Force One on the way to Newark.
THE SENATE will meet at 3 p.m. to take up JIA COBB’s judicial nomination. The chamber will vote at 5:30 p.m. on the nominations of DOUGLAS PARKER to be assistant Labor secretary for occupational safety and health and MYRNA PEREZ to be U.S. circuit judge for the 2nd Circuit.
THE HOUSE will meet at noon, with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.
BIDEN’S WEEK AHEAD:
— Tuesday: The president will take part virtually in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and campaign with McAuliffe in Arlington.
— Wednesday: Biden will take part virtually in the East Asia Summit.
— Thursday: The Bidens will travel to Rome.
— Friday: The Bidens will meet with the pope at the Vatican.
— Saturday: Biden will take part in the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome.
PHOTO OF THE DAY: Workers try to divert water into drains on Sunday, Oct. 24 in Marin City, Calif., as a category 5 atmospheric river is bringing heavy precipitation, high winds and power outages to the San Francisco Bay Area.. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
TOP TALKER — In a piece that set Twitter on fire on Sunday night, Rolling Stone’s Hunter Walker reports that two planners involved in the Jan. 6 pro-DONALD TRUMP rallies in Washington are actively cooperating with House investigators and allege “that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.”
The sources claim that Reps. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.), LAUREN BOEBERT (R-Colo.), MO BROOKS (R-Ala.), MADISON CAWTHORN (R-N.C.), ANDY BIGGS (R-Ariz.), LOUIE GOHMERT (R-Texas) and PAUL GOSAR (R-Ariz.) either communicated with organizers ahead of Jan. 6, or had top staffers do so.
“Gosar … allegedly took things a step further,” writes Walker. “Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a ‘blanket pardon’ in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests. ‘Our impression was that it was a done deal,’ the organizer says, ‘that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval.’”
THE WHITE HOUSE
RELEASE THE RECORDS — Former Rep. PATRICK KENNEDY (D-R.I.) and anti-vaccine activist ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. are urging Biden to release records related to the 1963 assasination of their uncle, President JOHN F. KENNEDY, Marc Caputo reports. The records were supposed to be released last week, but were delayed until Dec. 15 at the earliest, with the pandemic cited as the reason why.
“It’s an outrage against American democracy,” RFK Jr. told Marc. “‘How the hell is it 58 years later, and what in the world could justify not releasing these documents?”
‘MIDDLE CLASS JOE’ AVOIDS THE PICKET LINE? — Workers across the country are going on strike. Biden has called himself the most pro-labor president in history and was known to join picket lines as a presidential candidate and senator. But he is mostly sitting this round out, NBC’s Shannon Pettypiece writes, “because strikes risk adding to labor shortages and supply chain disruptions that are already driving up prices as the global economy reels from pandemic strains.”
A NAME YOU SHOULD KNOW — White House counsel DANA REMUS keeps a low profile despite having one of the most important jobs in the Biden administration. Since last November, she’s handled an onslaught of legal challenges — from the very legitimacy of the vote, to the Trump administration’s blocking an official transition — but her “toughest task may lie ahead,” write AP’s Aamer Madhani, Eric Tucker and Zeke Miller: “guiding Biden as the White House supports efforts to investigate and hold accountable those involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection, while avoiding setting a precedent that could weaken the office of the presidency for generations to come.”
THUNE ALL IN ON WALKER — One of Trump’s controversial hand-picked Senate candidates is receiving the blessing of a powerful Senate Republican. JOHN THUNE, the GOP whip from South Dakota, is set to endorse HERSCHEL WALKER today, becoming the first member of GOP leadership to back the college football legend. Thune tells our colleague Alex Isenstadt in a statement that Walker is “a fighter, a uniter, and a proven winner.”
WHOSE PARTY IS IT ANYWAY? — Republicans in and out of Pennsylvania are worried about Trump’s endorsement of Senate candidate SEAN PARNELL because his messy divorce threatens to derail his chances of winning, as we reported this month.
But now CNN’s Michael Warren and Sara Murray have new details: “multiple GOP senators and donors are asking Florida Sen. RICK SCOTT, the powerful chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, about why his political consultants are also working with Parnell in the primary, according to three Republicans with knowledge of those conversations. … And now, at least one additional credible Republican is considering entering the already crowded primary, three Republican sources familiar with the field tell CNN, because of concern about Parnell.”
AMERICANS ABROAD LEFT OUT OF VACCINE PUSH — As millions of Americans line up this week to get their second or third doses of the vaccine, there is a group that is looking on with envy: Americans abroad, who have struggled to secure shots for themselves and are frustrated by the lack of help from back home, WaPo’s Dan Diamond reports. Even so, “the White House has insisted that it has no special responsibility to vaccinate Americans abroad, citing precedent that the U.S. government doesn’t provide private health care to citizens living overseas.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
STRONG WORDS ON MBS — A former Saudi official did not mince words about Crown Prince MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, who SAAD ALJABRI says pushed him out of his perch as the No. 2 in Saudi intelligence. In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Aljabri called MBS a “psychopath with no empathy” who “fears” the information that he has from his time in Saudi intelligence.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS — America’s post-9/11 response in Afghanistan was a forceful showing of troops. But in other countries, like Somalia, Yemen and Syria, the U.S. eschewed “major troop deployments in favor of spies, Special Operations raids and drone strikes,” NYT’s Declan Walsh, Eric Schmitt and Julian Barnes report in Mogadishu, Somalia. “Now that playbook is also failing. As in Afghanistan, the American mission has been stymied by an alliance with a weak, notoriously corrupt local government, an intractable homegrown insurgency and the United States’ own errors, such as drone strikes that have killed civilians.”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
WHAT MANCHIN’S OFFICE IS READING — Manchin’s stance on restricting child tax credits to certain incomes may have an especially adverse effect on his constituents, WaPo’s Yeganeh Torbati and Kyle Swenson report from Charleston. “In West Virginia, 170,000 children became newly eligible under the tax credit expansion, which was included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed in March.”
FOR YOUR (LITERAL) RADAR — The U.S. is in store for a wild week of weather, CNN’s Derek Van Dam writes. Parts of the West are under evacuation order as concerns grow over “dangerous debris flows to develop as heavy rain is forecast to fall over the recently scorched earth.” The Midwest is on watch for “tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds.” And areas on the East Coast are looking at a potential nor’easter.
FACEBOOK FILES — The next tranche of major stories from previously unreported Facebook documents is set to hit later this morning. In the meantime, NYT’s Ben Smith has the story behind those stories: how former Facebook employee FRANCES HAUGEN became “one of the greatest sources of the century” by pioneering “a new kind of journalistic network” and forcing competitive outlets to work in consortium in order to access her files.
— Speakeasy: “For the foreseeable future, I’m fine, because I did buy crypto at the right time,” Haugen says, clearing up some of the speculation about her personal finances.
— Facebook is often accused of a bias against conservatives. But documents reported on by WSJ’s Keach Hagey and Jeff Horwitz tell a different story. “They do show that employees and their bosses have hotly debated whether and how to restrain right-wing publishers, with more-senior employees often providing a check on agitation from the rank and file. … [But] other documents also reveal that Facebook’s management team has been so intently focused on avoiding charges of bias that it regularly places political considerations at the center of its decision making.”
— CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan has a helpful Twitter list that is updating with all the Facebook stories coming out.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dusted off her bartending skills during a stop at Jack Rabbit, a restaurant in Buffalo.
Norah O’Donnell is reportedly in danger of losing her anchor spot on “CBS Evening News,” moving the show from D.C. back to NYC.
Chuck Schumer posed with his head inside of a tuba.
MANCHIN GETS HIS PENCE/‘HAMILTON’ MOMENT — At a recording of West Virginia Public Radio’s “Mountain Stage” program at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night, singer Carsie Blanton called out Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who was in attendance, in a song she’d written called “Dealing to the Devil.” It’s a story about her ex-boyfriend and Donald Trump, but she shifted the dedication to Manchin over his resistance to fully extending the child tax credit, drawing cheers from the crowd. Awkward.
SPOTTED at Tony Podesta and James Alefantis’ joint birthday party Sunday night at Podesta’s Kalorama house, which featured a giant birthday cake that looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, telling the crowd that this year’s birthday cake theme was “return to normal”: David Brock, Bart Gordon, Kent Knutson, Harry Cooper, Sophia Narrett, John and Mary Podesta, Gabe Podesta, Alex Gangitano, Hastie Afkhami, Melissa Moss and Jonathan Silver, Leslie Dach and Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter.
STAFFING UP — J.D. Grom is now a senior adviser for legislative affairs for Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. He previously was executive director of the New Democrat Coalition, and is an Obama Treasury and Melissa Bean alum.
TRANSITIONS — Jan Beukelman is now chief of staff for Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). He previously was assistant USTR for congressional affairs. Previous chief of staff Emily Spain is joining investment firm KKR as a director on the public affairs team. … Natalie Edelstein is joining Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reelect as comms director. She most recently was deputy comms director for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). …
… Samantha Summers is now a senior manager of government affairs at Albertsons Companies. She previously was a senior analyst of government relations at Whirlpool Corp. … Hayley Alexander is now senior manager of U.S. government affairs and public policy at BeiGene. She previously was director of federal government relations at BIO, and is a Senate Appropriations alum. … Cindy Andrade is now an executive comms and events manager at Hilton. She most recently was a publicist for WaPo’s politics coverage, and is a POLITICO alum.
WEEKEND WEDDING — Yuri Beckelman, staff director for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, and Claudia Urrabazo, senior adviser to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, got married Saturday in Marfa, Texas. The pair met working as legislative directors in early 2015, and their first date was in June of that year at Denson’s Liquor Bar when Yuri finally built up the courage to ask Claudia out. Pic … SPOTTED: Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), James Johnson, Clare Plassche, Gianelle Rivera, Julie Merz, Bret Manley, Justin Maturo, Scott Tranter, Michael Long, Chris Marklund and Erick Sanchez.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Sarah Schakow, comms director for Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Michael Schakow, an attorney, on Oct. 12 welcomed Noam Asher Schakow, who joins big brother Jack. Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Geoff Burr … Ed Barron … James Carville … Phil McNamara … Sam Voorhees … Hamilton Place Strategies’ Bryan DeAngelis … Nate Hodson … CBS’ Jan Crawford … POLITICO’s Bill Kuchman … Brian DeBose … Josh McElveen … Matt Resch of Resch Strategies … Democracy for America’s Charles Chamberlain … Patrick Butler of America’s Public Television Stations … Elizabeth Crisp … Chuck Conconi … Brigid Ueland of the Senate Finance Committee … Kendall Heath … Ocean Conservancy’s Samantha Bisogno … Trey Hodgkins … Aaron Saunders … Bobbie Kilberg and daughter Cameron Kilberg … Adam Ukman … Nasdaq’s Joe Christinat … Richard Goldstein … Jeremy Redmon … Alisha Prather … Lauren Dunn … Russell Pandres … Rachel Craddock … Gordon Johndroe
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Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations
Jack is one of 40,000 people working on safety and security issues at Facebook.
Hear more from Jack on why Facebook supports updating regulations on the internet’s most pressing challenges, including reforming Section 230 to set clear guidelines for all large tech companies. Now we need updated privacy regulations that will set more consistent data protection standards.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this Playbook misspelled Sean Parnell’s name.