The Hill’s Morning Report — Shaky start: DeSantis’s 2024 launch marred by glitches | The Hill
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made his long-expected official entry into the 2024 Republican presidential race Wednesday, presenting the most serious challenger to the frontrunner, former President Trump. His announcement was a long-time coming, with DeSantis considered an expected candidate for months ahead, but it wasn’t without surprises and glitches.
DeSantis officially kicked off his campaign in a Twitter livestream hosted by billionaire owner Elon Musk, but the site’s servers were apparently overloaded, crashing repeatedly. Twenty minutes into the “broadcast,” the candidate had yet to speak (CNBC).
“I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” DeSantis said during the livestreamed audio announcement.
The social media campaign launch marked a contrast with DeSantis’s usual playbook, which seeks to position the 44-year-old as a conventional candidate, a true conservative champion of the right with experience in governance in his home state and a slate of ideological legislative victories under his belt. Unencumbered by legal challenges, unlike Trump, and significantly younger than both the former president and President Biden, DeSantis on Wednesday sought to make the differences clear.
For all of DeSantis’s political strengths, there are still big challenges. Despite his rising star status among Republicans, much of the GOP’s conservative voter base remains deeply loyal to Trump. At the same time, the former president has racked up a long list of endorsements from elected officials — a list that includes at least half of Florida’s Republican congressional delegation.
DeSantis’s botched Twitter campaign launch was the subject of some teasing during a Fox News interview Wednesday night, though the jokes were mainly at Twitter’s expense. At its highest point, the Twitter Space had just more than half a million listeners, a number that pales in comparison to the nightly prime-time shows on the network.
“I can’t promise you that I won’t crash, but Fox News will not crash during this interview,” Fox’s substitute host Trey Gowdy said to DeSantis (Politico and The Hill).
As The Hill’s Max Greenwood writes, DeSantis’s formal entrance into the race sets off a new, more volatile phase of the primary season, putting the Florida governor in direct contention with Trump, who has attacked DeSantis relentlessly for months in hopes of stalling any perceived momentum.
▪ Politico: “It turned out to be a mistake”: Botched rollout puts DeSantis on his heels.
▪ NBC News: Musk and Twitter problems overshadow DeSantis’ campaign launch.
▪ The Hill: DeSantis’s 2024 rivals pile on over tech issues with campaign launch.
▪ CNN: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary field, but many voters are open to supporting other candidates.
In the Memo, The Hill’s Niall Stanage breaks down five takeaways from DeSantis’s glitch-ridden campaign launch.
Faced with tough odds, DeSantis and his allies are preparing to launch a major counter-offensive against Trump, reports The Hill’s Max Greenwood. His Wednesday announcement kicked into gear a national political operation that has been in the making for months, yet DeSantis is entering the race on weaker footing than some Republicans had hoped, with polls showing him running an average of 30 points behind Trump, leaving the governor with the daunting task of making up critical lost ground.
And then there’s the criticism DeSantis faces from other Republican candidates, who are hoping to overtake Trump and likely will need to peel off a swath of DeSantis’s voters to build their winning coalition. As strategists told The Hill’s Brett Samuels, a number of challengers — from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to conservative author Vivek Ramaswamy — are spending time attacking the Florida governor, and not necessarily Trump.
“Ron DeSantis does not have a natural base. He has a natural base in Florida. So you can attack Ron DeSantis, and it’s not going to hurt you in Iowa or New Hampshire,” former Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) told The Hill. “But Trump has a real base, and if you attack Trump, you’re alienating Trump’s voters.”
Still, as The New York Times reports, a key political group supporting DeSantis’s presidential run is preparing a $100 million voter outreach push as part of its $200 million overall budget. The effort is part of an on-the-ground organizing operation that intends to hire more than 2,600 field organizers by Labor Day, funded by a pro-DeSantis super PAC called Never Back Down that believes it can sell the Florida governor as the only candidate to take on — and win — the cultural fights that are definitional for the Republican Party in 2024.
▪ New York magazine’s Intelligencer: DeSantis squandered his best chance against Trump.
▪ The Washington Post: How Trump’s rhetoric has become increasingly radical.
Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is sending mixed signals about a potential 2024 presidential bid as questions surface about DeSantis’s viability in the primary. As The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports, Youngkin raised eyebrows last week when his political arm rolled out a video that had all of the trappings of a presidential campaign spot. And Monday, Axios reported that the governor was considering a 2024 bid after he said last month that he would not be getting on the presidential campaign trail in 2023.
🎤Haley will headline a CNN live town hall event in Iowa on June 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Jake Tapper will moderate.
▪ NPR: Trump instructed to obey court rules ahead of Manhattan criminal trial next spring.
▪ CNN and Politico: Trump’s attorneys on Tuesday requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the investigations by the special counsel’s office into the former president’s handling of classified documents and efforts to obstruct the 2020 election. The letter comes as special counsel Jack Smith appears to be in the final stretch of his investigations.
▪ Roll Call: Left-behind polling memo shows abortion hurting outlook for GOP.
LEADING THE DAY
House Republicans on Wednesday made no real concessions to Biden and fellow Democrats on the debt limit (The Washington Post). With eight days until the U.S. is projected to be in deep fiscal trouble, Democrats are howling about GOP demands and pushing the president to reach for the 14th Amendment.
At this point, Mars and Venus still look 74 million miles apart.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who continues to express optimism that there will be no default ahead of a predicted June 1 deadline, is nonetheless leaving no daylight between his posture and that of the firebrands in his conference. Some Republicans wonder whether a later default date, such as June 9, might be more accurate and asked the administration to describe how the Treasury Department came up with the “X date.”
Asked Tuesday what Republicans were offering in order to get Democratic votes, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) replied, “The debt ceiling.” McCarthy ally and designated negotiator Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), agreed. “That’s what they’re getting” (The Washington Post).
The Hill: Meet McCarthy’s closers on debt-ceiling talks.
All Democrats in the House on Wednesday endorsed a discharge petition intended to force a debt ceiling hike to the floor for a vote — but to work, the endeavor needs five Republicans willing to break ranks with their leaders and help avert default. Historically, discharge petitions are a longshot (The Hill).
McCarthy and his allies think the ground is inching away from Biden after months of the president’s complaints that Republicans were extremists for linking America’s past obligations to a demand to shrink future spending. Yet, House Republicans are, in effect, risking everything to slay a minnow rather than a whale.
The New York Times reports the budget terrain in play at the moment represents less than 15 percent of the $6.3 trillion the government is expected to spend this year. House Republicans took the biggest drivers of spending (entitlements and military spending) off the table under pressure from Biden and for political reasons. It means they are almost certain not to produce any agreement with the president that would achieve the stated GOP goal: a dramatic reduction in federal spending and accumulated debt into the next decade. But a potential default would hurt seniors and low-income Americans instantly who rely on $98 billion in benefits scheduled to be paid to them on June 2.
The Washington Post: A debt default could hit Social Security payments first; 27 million Americans rely on Social Security for most of their income.
The Speaker told reporters Wednesday that Americans share GOP worries about runaway spending and U.S. debt. He pointed to a CNN poll published this week in which 60 percent of Americans said Congress should raise the nation’s debt ceiling if lawmakers cut spending at the same time. A Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday found a different sentiment: 51 percent of the adults surveyed said they want the debt ceiling and spending cuts to be de-linked (the survey’s margin of error was high, 5.6 percent) (The Hill).
House Republicans appear dug in, which means the White House needs backing from every Democrat, a recognition shaping the president’s negotiating strategy (Politico).
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) has urged Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to get involved in the debt talks, an unlikely choice. He has said Biden and McCarthy will be the ones to resolve the stalemate. But he inched closer Tuesday by urging the two sides to “relax,” The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports.
Progressive Caucus chair Jayapal, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other lawmakers are growing more outspoken (The Hill). They believe Biden misfired with his messaging, allowing House Republicans to pass a bill and then argue to the public that risking default to get spending cuts made sense.
Jayapal warns that progressive voters who turned out for Democrats in 2020 will stay home next year if Biden cedes ground to McCarthy.
“The president — I’m sure he’s thinking about the fact that it was a very vibrant, diverse coalition that put them in the White House, and he’s going to need that vibrant, diverse coalition again for 2024,” she said, warning about “the impact of taking a bad deal and allowing Republicans to put forward these absolutely unreasonable positions” (NBC News).
A federal judge in Boston set a May 31 hearing date for a lawsuit filed by a federal workers union contending that the 14th Amendment empowers Biden and other officials to end the impasse and borrow funds to pay U.S. obligations (Politico). The president has said he believes he has the authority to act on his own under the Constitution but has hesitated because subsequent legal challenges wouldn’t be concluded in the next week, potentially leading to a default anyway.
▪ The Hill: Here are some possible debt ceiling escape hatches for McCarthy and Biden.
▪ The Hill: GOP attack on IRS funding runs counter to deficit reduction effort.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Inside Wall Street’s playbook to prevent debt-ceiling chaos. Primary goal: keep the financial markets functioning.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, formerly a New York senator before serving as secretary of State, says Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) should not resign. Clinton cited Republican obstruction, not Feinstein’s health, asserting that conservatives would refuse to let Democrats fill her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, preventing judicial confirmations (The New York Times). … Feinstein’s staff has erected a protective cocoon around the 89-year-old senator now that she’s back in the Capitol after a prolonged illness. The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office has been enlisted to keep her workday arrival at the Capitol “closed press,” shutting doors and using the Capitol police to chase journalists out of hallways and public spaces, efforts The Los Angeles Times reports represent an “unprecedented act of restricting press freedom [that] only raises more questions.”
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
U.S. officials said the drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month was likely orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units, the latest in a series of covert actions against Russian targets that have unnerved the White House. While U.S. officials do not know if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was aware of the plans, the attack appeared to be part of a series of operations that have made officials in Washington — Kyiv’s biggest supplier of military equipment — uncomfortable, The New York Times reports. The administration is concerned about the risk that Moscow will blame U.S. officials and retaliate by expanding the war beyond Ukraine.
▪ The New York Times: The battle for Bakhmut is over. What’s next for Russia?
▪ New York magazine’s Intelligencer: Will the Ukraine war become a “frozen conflict”?
▪ CNBC: Without a hint of irony over Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin rages against countries that meddle in other states.
▪ The Hill: Half in new poll support sending weapons to Ukraine.
Twitter’s decision to censor some content ahead of the Turkish presidential election has sparked concerns that the company’s action could set a “dangerous precedent” for other authoritarian regimes who are likely to follow suit, write The Hill’s Ines Kagubare and Rebecca Klar. Last week, a Turkish court ordered the site to censor four accounts that were critical of the government, threatening to shut down the social media platform in the country.
“I think that when tech companies or social media platforms comply with censorship requests from authoritarian or autocratic governments, they risk complicity in those regimes’ repression,” said Nathan Kohlenberg, a research assistant at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund.
▪ CNN: After Turkey’s catastrophic quake, this could have been President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s last election. Instead, he’s poised to win.
▪ The New York Times: For the winner in Turkey, one prize is an economy at the edge of crisis.
■ The moral case for working less, by Simone Stolzoff, contributor, The Atlantic.
■ To promote AI effectively, policymakers must look beyond ChatGPT, by Micah Musser, opinion contributor, The Hill.
WHERE AND WHEN
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The House will meet at 9 a.m.
The Senate will convene at 12:30 p.m. for a pro forma session.
The president will receive the President Daily Brief at 10 a.m. Biden will announce at 1:45 p.m. in the Rose Garden his intention to nominate Gen. Charles Brown Jr. to serve as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joining him for the event will be Vice President Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Economic indicators: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending May 20. The Bureau of Economic Analysis at 8:30 a.m. will release its second estimate of gross domestic product in the first quarter as well as a preliminary estimate of corporate profits.
First lady Jill Biden will deliver remarks at 12:15 p.m. at the Reagan Institute Summit on Education in Washington.
The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.
➤ TRENDS & POLLS
Home sales last month beat expectations and reached a high not seen in more than a year amid persistently low housing stock, writes The Hill’s Adam Barnes. This could be welcome news for buyers and for the inflation outlook in the coming months as figures also showed a decline in prices, but analysts say the data are a mixed message for home builders with tight monetary policy from the Federal Reserve making financing more expensive.
▪ Business Insider: Housing Market Ice Age: fewer sales, higher home prices, less inventory.
▪ The Washington Post: See how prices are falling in your housing market.
Even now, only half of Americans believe humans cause climate change. As The Hill’s Daniel de Visé reports, that finding, from a new Ipsos survey, illustrates a yawning gap between science and public opinion on perhaps the most important scientific question of our time.
▪ Axios: Nearly 2 billion people are at risk from “unprecedented” climate conditions.
▪ USA Today: Climate change calls for cuts in carbon emissions. These U.S. companies are leading the way.
▪ NPR: The connection between climate change and Typhoon Mawar, threatening Guam.
Take Our Morning Report Quiz
And finally … 🧦 It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by foot coverings associated with the White House, we’re eager for some smart guesses about socks.
Be sure to email your responses to [email protected] and [email protected] — please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
Which of these leaders was panned in the national press last week for his choice of footwear, including socks, worn while in the Oval Office?
- President Biden
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
- Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
- Speaker McCarthy
Who brought bewhiskered Socks to the White House?
- Former President Clinton
- Former first lady Pat Nixon
- Former President Theodore Roosevelt
- Thomas “Tad” Lincoln
Which former president during his retirement became associated with “crazy socks,” saying during an interview, “I’m a sock man”?
- Grover Cleveland
- Herbert Hoover
- George H.W. Bush
- Gerald Ford
While supporting her spouse, which former first lady encouraged knitting or sewing socks for soldiers and was crafty enough to use her own needlework as patriotic PR?
- Martha Washington
- Edith Wilson
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- All of the above
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