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Buffeted by headwinds at home and calls to curtail bloodshed among Palestinian civilians with a cease-fire, President Biden marked his 81st birthday Monday amid uncertainties in the Middle East and a wobbly political future ahead.
You are reading: Morning Report — Biden support slips amid Israel-Hamas war
Biden opposes a cease-fire in Gaza but supports pauses in Israel’s attacks against Hamas as part of a proposed hostage accord, described for weeks as inching closer to agreement between Israel and Hamas, but still not concluded. It would swap some hostages taken into Gaza on Oct. 7 for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
The U.S. backs temporary pauses in the fighting to allow additional humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and to allow more of the injured and newborns to exit the war zone for medical care in Egypt and elsewhere in the region.
Asked twice Monday by reporters if a hostage deal was near, the president answered in the affirmative.
“I BELIEVE SO,” Biden said, declining to say more. He gestured with crossed fingers.
Hours later at a Democratic fundraiser that raised half a million dollars, Vice President Harris was interrupted inside a private Los Angeles residence as she approached the podium by someone who shouted in favor of a cease-fire.
A new poll released by NBC News and Public Opinion Strategies showed Biden’s overall job approval stuck at 40 percent, accompanied by an erosion of support among younger voters whom he and other Democratic candidates will need to mobilize next year.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff told NBC he could not recall another time when foreign affairs not involving U.S. troops transformed the American political landscape. On Sunday he described the Public Opinion survey results as “stunning because of the impact the Israel-Hamas war is having on Biden.”
YOUNGER U.S. VOTERS are less supportive of Israel’s aim to destroy Hamas, protesting specifically the civilian death toll in Gaza. And their eroding support for Biden, based on the economy, foreign affairs and his age, has cost him.
But Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates cautioned in relation to the NBC poll that Biden has time to bring disaffected Democrats and younger voters back into the fold before Election Day 2024. “These are people who have a proven track record in voting for Biden and Democrats,” he told NBC.
Hamas thus far has released four hostages, Israel has rescued one and the bodies of two were found near Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Israel, the United States and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas, have been negotiating a hostage release for weeks. Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said Sunday that the sticking points were “more practical, logistical.”
▪ Reuters reports from the chief of Hamas Tuesday that the militant group is near a truce agreement with Israel. Al Jazeera TV reports the sticking point is how long a truce would last for delivery of aid into Gaza and the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
▪ The Hill: Where things stand on a potential Israel-Hamas hostage deal
SECOND SENATOR BACKS CEASE-FIRE: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Monday called on both sides in Gaza to agree to a cease-fire. “To endure, the ceasefire and the following negotiations must accomplish other essential objectives, including the release of all hostages and a massive influx of humanitarian aid,” he said. Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin previously advocated for a cease-fire. Demonstrators Sunday continued to pressure Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), turning to protests outside her home to back a cease-fire. And some Senate and House Democrats are talking about adding conditions to pending U.S. aid to Israel.
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:
▪ Former Biden White House chief of staff Ron Klain will be chief legal officer for Airbnb. Klain, whose extensive résumé includes years as chief legal officer at venture capital firm Revolution, which was started by AOL founder Steve Case, left the West Wing early this year at the president’s two-year mark.
▪ Biden, Vice President Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Monday launched new accounts on the social media platform Threads, owned by Meta, days after the White House condemned Elon Musk’s endorsement of antisemitic content in a post on X, the platform he owns (formerly Twitter). Musk’s comment sparked public criticism and alienated prominent advertisers.
LEADING THE DAY
© The University of Virginia / UVA Center for Politics | Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Morning Report asked Larry Sabato, the founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, for his take on recent trends in the 2024 presidential race, including the rise of Republican Nikki Haley.
Alexis: Larry, what’s your take on Haley’s recent surge in her bid for the GOP nomination?
Sabato:If anybody’s going to consolidate the Trump-doubter wing of the GOP, it’s probably Haley. She still has a lot of obstacles to overcome, and the undercard contest isn’t over yet, but Haley’s the only one showing real upward movement in early states and national polls.
Alexis: On the stump and in debates, Haley relishes going after President Biden. Is her relative caution about skewering former President Trump head-on working for her?
Sabato:Closer to the early contests, Haley has to sharpen and use the big knives on Trump. Wielding a tiny scalpel won’t work. It’s a tough task to pull in the lion’s share of backers of the other non-Trump Republicans, which she’ll eventually have to do. Even more, she’s not going to get the nomination if she doesn’t win over a decent portion of those who have initially said they prefer Trump. Granted, walking this line without tripping isn’t easy, and she’s also got to be careful not to give too many pro-Trump comments that will hurt her in a general election, if she makes it that far.
Alexis: If the former South Carolina governor finishes second behind Trump in Iowa or New Hampshire, or both, how might that alter the GOP nomination, considering Trump’s current strength in polls?
Sabato: Winning Iowa and New Hampshire would help her a great deal, and she’d probably have the one-on-one contest she seeks. Yet that doesn’t guarantee her the nomination. Republicans in other states may be less likely than usual to defer to the lead-off contests since Trump has a strong grip on so many GOP voters.
Alexis: Haley beats Biden in some recent hypothetical head-to-head match-ups in polls. Should Democrats be worried? What are respondents trying to communicate a year from Election Day?
Sabato: Yes, Democrats should be worried. That is a useless admonition since Democrats always worry about everything. But looking at Haley in isolation, she’s got a youthful, experienced profile that could unite Republicans and present real problems for President Biden in November. Of course, Haley has plenty of vulnerabilities, too, not least her various positions on abortion rights.
The Hill: The Biden campaign takes aim at Haley over abortion.
Democratic advisers believe Biden should recalibrate his economic message to resonate with voters next year, write The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Julia Mueller. He’s been touting Bidenomics along the campaign trail, tying his name to his economic agenda in an attempt to take credit for a healing economy with a reelection slogan of “finish the job.”
But inflation, which is up worldwide, and interest rates remain high, even as U.S. gas prices have eased. Democrats say many Americans have not yet experienced benefits of the administration’s legislative achievements aimed at creating jobs, bolstering key industries at home, lowering prescription drug prices and making inroads to tackle climate change. Biden’s handling of the economy continues to poll poorly, and voters insist the economy was better off under Trump.
Voters in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District will cast ballots today to decide who fills a House vacancy. The Hill’s Mueller reports former Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) resigned from Congress in September, citing his wife’s illness, after six terms representing the Beehive State. Voters will decide whether Democrat Kathleen Riebe, a state senator, or Republican Celeste Maloy, a former Stewart staffer, will join the Utah delegation.
▪ Trump’s personal physician, in a Monday letter tweeted by a Trump aide, wrote that his September physical exam of the former president, 77, found his “overall” health to be “excellent.” The doctor offered no data or specifics. “His cognitive exams were exceptional,” wrote family medicine specialist Bruce Aronwald of New Jersey.
▪ A second Trump presidency would mean gun violence worsens, the Biden campaign asserts.
▪ Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump ally, over the weekend called for a new House select committee to examine events of Jan. 6, 2021, to investigate lawmakers who served on the original Democratic-led panel, as well as some witnesses.
▪ A Fox News Nov. 30 debate between Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will be live from Georgia and moderated by Sean Hannity.
▪ Texas State University has been selected for the first presidential debate on Sept. 16, 2024.
▪ Three in five registered voters believe Biden knew of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings when the elder Biden was vice president, according to a mid-November emailed survey conducted by the Harvard Center for American Politics, Harris X and The Harris Poll. … The same survey found that independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has high name recognition, leads 2024 White House candidates with a 52 percent favorability rating.
▪ Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele told MSNBC during a weekend interview that in his view Trump deserves to be jailed for consistent public comments attacking judges and court officials.
▪ House Republicans are quarreling and their campaign arm fundraising has slowed. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised slightly more than $5 million in October, about half of what it raised at the same point in past off-year cycles.
▪ Senate Democrats continue to try to knock down criticisms of Biden’s poll standing and advice to replace him on the party’s ticket less than a year before Election Day.
▪ Progressives have pitched Biden officials and Democratic leaders in recent months on endorsing a plan to expand Americans’ Social Security benefits.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House holds a pro forma session at 11 a.m.
The Senate convenes a pro forma session at 10 a.m.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. Biden at 11 a.m. will hold a West Wing meeting about countering illicit fentanyl shipped into the United States. The president and first lady Jill Biden will depart the White House at 5:10 p.m. to travel to Nantucket, Mass., where they will arrive at 6:50 p.m. to remain for the Thanksgiving holiday. 🎄(While they are away, the White House will be decorated by an army of volunteers ahead of the holiday season.)
The vice president is in Los Angeles for the Thanksgiving holiday and has no public events.
© The Associated Press / Mariam Zuhaib | Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) at the Capitol in February.
The CEOs of Discord, Snap and X, formerly known as Twitter, were issued subpoenas to compel them to testify at a Dec. 6 hearing on online child sexual exploitation. The Senate Judiciary Committee said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew are expected to voluntarily testify at a future hearing but it is not clear when.
Senate Majority Whip Durbin and top Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said the hearing will allow committee members to press CEOs from some of the biggest social media companies on their failures to protect children online (Reuters).
“Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered,” Durbin and Graham said in a joint statement. “Hearing from the CEOs of some of the world’s largest social media companies will help inform the Committee’s efforts to address the crisis of online child sexual exploitation.”
The Associated Press profiles Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a survivor of three close elections who wants to keep his seat in a state that could shift the Senate into GOP control.
Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R) blockade of the administration’s military nominees will get resolved soon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) predicted Monday during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
The New York Times “The Daily” podcast on Monday: “The new Speaker avoided a shutdown. Can he avoid being ousted?”
© The Associated Press / Evan Vucci | Voting rights supporters outside the Supreme Court in 2013.
A federal appeals court ruling Monday threatens to gut the Voting Rights Act in seven states and is certain to be challenged in the Supreme Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that only the federal government — not citizens and groups — can sue under a key part of the law, impacting Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota (NBC News and The Hill). Judges said the Arkansas State Conference NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel could not challenge redistricting maps in Arkansas because Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act does not provide a “private right of action.” What is the immediate impact? The opinion blocks the Arkansas groups from seeking additional voting rights for Black voters and will overturn a recent win for Native American voters in North Dakota.
GAG ORDER: A three-judge appeals court panel expressed skepticism of Trump’s attempt to throw out the gag order in his federal 2020 election subversion case, but the judges Monday did seem open to narrowing the order’s scope. The Hill’s Ella Lee and Zach Schonfeld report Trump’s legal team contends the gag order, which bars Trump from targeting key figures in his case — witnesses, special counsel Jack Smith and court staff — chills protected political speech in violation of Trump’s First Amendment rights.
That argument received pushback from the panel of three judges, all appointed by Democratic presidents, who questioned whether the real-world threats that often follow Trump’s attacks should be preempted. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed the gag order last month upon prosecutors’ request, who cited Trump’s social media posts and other comments attacking individuals involved in the case since Trump was indicted on four felony charges in August. He pleaded not guilty. The gag order is on hold until the appeals panel issues its ruling, and if the former president loses, his lawyers have vowed to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
CNN: Here are key takeaways from the tense appeals court hearing over the Trump gag order.
IN GEORGIA, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) and lawyers for a defendant in the racketeering case involving Trump will face off in court today as the state’s top prosecutor seeks to revoke his bond over incendiary social media posts.
Harrison Floyd, a leader of Black Voices for Trump who was charged alongside the former president, could see his pretrial freedom revoked over social media posts that prosecutors have portrayed as an attempt to obstruct justice by intimidating future witnesses and communicating “directly and indirectly” with co-defendants in the case. It raises questions over how Willis might approach similar concerns with Trump’s own inflammatory social media as a future trial creeps closer.
“The Trump claim to free speech is going to be stronger than the claims of any of the other co-defendants because he’s running for president,”Kay Levine, a law professor at Emory University, told The Hill. “But I still don’t think that entitles him to say literally anything — in person, at a press conference, on social media, in any other forum.”
■ Iran pays no price for bad behavior, by Yaakov Katz, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal.
■What Republicans are missing on abortion politics, according to a Republican. (The New York Times contributing opinion writer Jane Coaston interviewed South Carolina state Sen. Sandy Senn, one of three Republicans who filibustered efforts to severely restrict abortion in the state.)
© The Associated Press / Matthew Mead | Thanksgiving table in Concord, N.H.
And finally … 🦃 Holiday helpers! From travel warnings to advice about surviving relatives this weekend, everyone could use a few tips.
P.S. Black Friday is rarely what it’s billed to be.
What about those brave hosts who are basting, cooking, baking, peeling, stirring and juggling the vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, pescatarians, lactose intolerant and nut-allergic guests? Wise suggestions call for military precision, dishes prepared ahead of time, favorite recipes contributed by guests and lots of sides.
911: Turkey uncertainties? Here are some turkey hotline tips and the Butterball turkey talk-line, which offers expert advice at 1-800-butterball or text 844-877-3456. (Of small consolation, the costs of a basic Thanksgiving feast are a bit less expensive than last year.)
Worried about overdoing the calories (or just hunting for an excuse to get out of the house or away from TV)? Note: turkey tryptophan stupor is a myth. 🏃Think exercise ala Turkey Trots (road races and walks). Many communities publish calendars of Thanksgiving road races that benefit charities (including in the nation’s capital) — yet another reason to give thanks, be generous and demonstrate grace.
We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger ([email protected]) and Kristina Karisch ([email protected]). Follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter: (@asimendinger and @kristinakarisch) and suggest this newsletter to friends!