Biden takes a moral-victory lap

Biden takes a moral-victory lap

Updated: 2 months, 29 days, 22 hours, 56 minutes, 50 seconds ago
Biden takes a moral-victory lap

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IT’S OFFICIAL: The Georgia Senate race between Democratic Sen. RAPHAEL WARNOCK and Republican HERSCHEL WALKER is heading to a runoff election scheduled for Dec. 6 after neither candidate secured 50% of the vote. If current returns in Arizona and Nevada hold, the race will decide the Senate majority. Warnock, of course, is no stranger to high-stakes runoffs — that’s how he won his seat in 2021. Georgia Senate results

WHAT’S BEEN CALLED — Republican Sen. RON JOHNSONwins reelection over Democrat MANDELA BARNES … DCCC Chair SEAN PATRICK MALONEYloses in a stunner to Republican MIKE LAWLER … Democratic Kansas Gov. LAURA KELLYwins reelection … Democrats MATT CARTWRIGHT and CHRIS DELUZIO win Pennsylvania House races … Republicans MARC MOLINARO and ANTHONY D’ESPOSITO triumph in New York House races … Republican DERRICK VAN ORDEN flips retiring Rep. RON KIND’s rural Wisconsin seat

THE LATEST COUNTS, as of 1:50 p.m. —In Nevada: Republican ADAM LAXALT leads Democratic Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO 49.9% to 47.2% … In Arizona: Democratic Sen. MARK KELLY leads Republican BLAKE MASTERS 51.4% to 46.4% in the Senate race, while Democrat KATIE HOBBS leads Republican KARI LAKE 50.3% to 49.7% in the gubernatorial contest … Republicans have secured 203 House seats, and are currently leading in 19 more races. The NYT forecast model projects that Republicans are likely to win 224 seats. Joe Biden smiling while pointing to the crowd.

Biden will speak to reporters at 4 p.m. | Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO

BIDEN SPEAKS — It has become de rigueur for presidents, following midterm elections, to stand in front of cameras, acknowledge the results (thrashings, typically) and take questions from reporters about their implications. For weeks, White House correspondents have been pushing President JOE BIDEN’s administration to follow that precedent.

Officially, the White House was coy about scheduling a news conference, saying only that Biden would address the American people after the midterms without promising a particular format. Behind the scenes, aides and allies pushed back on reporters, dismissing the need for a Q&A session if neither the House or Senate were called.

But today at 4 p.m. in the State Dining Room, Biden will stand and deliver — and take questions from dozens of reporters — after Democrats defied expectations of a sweeping “red wave” last night.

It’s an outcome that not even the most optimistic White House hands thought would happen. As Dems’ fortunes appeared to sag after a summer burst of excitement, Bidenworld began to tamp down expectations. Aides would routinely point out to reporters how rough it usually is for the president’s party in the midterms.

As election night wore on and it became clear Democrats would beat those expectations, the mood on the White House campus grew increasingly exuberant. Aides gathered in a “coordination room” in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where aides came and went for periodic updates, sharing deets on a night that far surpassed their expectations. (They also spent quite a bit of time “making fun of [KEVIN] McCARTHY’s no-show at his party,” one source told us.)

We’re told the president is likely to address how — despite the historic headwinds, inflation and everything else — his party kept things close. And there’s a chance he takes a swipe at the pundits and prognosticators that predicted massive rebuke of Democrats last night. As chief of staff RON KLAINput it this morning: “Never underestimate how much Team Biden is underestimated.”

To be clear, it’s still very likely the House will go to Republicans, which will cause a myriad of headaches for the administration, and the Georgia runoff means the Senate — and Biden’s ability to efficiently staff his administration — could hang in the balance for another month.

As our colleagues Chris Cadelago and Myah Ward put it in their piece just posted: “The surprising results represented one of the best midterm elections for a party in power in nearly a century. Yet while it gave the White House a considerable psychological and political boost, it doesn’t exhaust the questions the president and his team face.”

“Biden’s own political future remains deeply uncertain … [and] will have to make a choice about whether to run again for office. Allies say they expect Tuesday’s results to embolden his belief that he deserves a second term.”

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HOW DEMS FLIPPED PENNSYLVANIA — “‘Stomach-churning’: How Fetterman survived a stroke — and more — to beat Oz,” by Holly Otterbein and Natalie Allison. “Most voters across the country believed the U.S. was in a recession. [The JOHN FETTERMAN] campaign settled on a strategy to weather that strong tide by seizing on one of Oz’s ultimate top weaknesses: his paper-thin ties to the state. The thinking went that if Fetterman’s team could show that the Donald Trump-endorsed Republican was a wealthy, out-of-touch carpetbagger who didn’t understand average Pennsylvanians, then it could make the case that he wouldn’t fight for average Pennsylvanians when it came to inflation, either. …

“‘Democrats were in the shitter,’ said [spokesman JOE] CALVELLO. ‘But if we can say, ‘Look, this guy doesn’t even know how to fucking shop’ — a reference to an infamous video that Oz shot where he called a vegetable tray ‘crudité’ and garbled the name of the supermarket — ‘it helps you push back against the economy.’”

SILVER LININGS FOR REPUBLICANS — How the GOP is comforting itself this morning (h/t Semafor’s Dave Weigel): 1) Republican candidates swept statewide races in Iowa for the first time in memory, and appear well positioned to sweep all four of the state’s House seats. … 2) The GOP’s Florida dominance was truly breathtaking, and a strong gubernatorial performance from LEE ZELDIN in New York brought along GOP gains in U.S. House and statehouse races. … 3) Republicans secured majorities on state Supreme Courts in Ohio and North Carolina, giving the GOP a leg up in future redistricting battles. … and, oh yeah, 4) Republicans might still come out of their bad night with House and Senate majorities.

THE TRUMP MOOD — NYT’s Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT): “Trump is indeed furious this morning, particularly about MEHMET OZ, and is blaming everyone who advised him to back Oz -- including his wife, describing it as not her best decision, according to people close to him.”

MITCH SPEAKS — Senate Minority Leader MITCH McCONNELL said this after ABC’s Trish Turner asked him how he felt about the election results this afternoon on Capitol Hill: “I don’t deal in feelings. The question is, they’ve got to count the votes and then we’ll figure out where we are.“

PELOSI TIPS HER CAP — @sarahnferris: “[Speaker NANCY] PELOSI speaking on DCCC call to members now, minutes after chair Sean Patrick Maloney concedes his own race. ‘Our chairman took an arrow for us,’ Pelosi told members, per source. She called it as ‘a Pyrrhic victory.’”

SOMEONE WHO GOT IT REALLY RIGHT:Simon Rosenberg. Here’s what the veteran Dem strategist told us last week: “I’m not sitting here and telling you we’re going to win. What I’m telling you is that the narrative about this election, about there being a red wave — there isn’t one. There never has been.”

SOMEONE WHO GOT IT REALLY WRONG:Henry Olsen. Here was his take for WaPo on Monday: “I predict the GOP will win the national popular vote by about 5.5 points, likely gaining between 31 and 40 House seats in the process. I also expect it will retake control of the Senate, gaining two to four seats. … Republicans will gain support in almost every voter demographic, but they will make especially large inroads among Hispanics and middle-income suburbanites.” He owned up to it this morning: “I was wrong about the midterms. Here’s what I missed.”

Good Wednesday afternoon.


CLICKER — “The 2022 midterms, as told by newspaper front pages,” by Poynter’s Annie Aguiar

THE OTHER VICTORY LAP — “‘It is not an accident’: Murdoch’s media empire celebrates DeSantis as future of GOP after midterms,” by CNN’s Oliver Darcy

HOW IT HAPPENED — “How News About Maricopa County’s Ballot-Counting Machines Went Viral,” by NYT’s Stuart Thompson, with extremely helpful visuals

— “How Trump’s bogus Election Day claims broke through Facebook and Twitter bans,” by Mark Scott

NOT MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING — “Key election deniers concede defeat after disputing Trump’s 2020 loss,” by WaPo’s Emma Brown, Amy Gardner and Rosalind Helderman

DEMS’ BIG GAMBLE PAYS OFF — “All the Extreme Republicans Boosted by Democrats in the Primaries Lost Their Midterm Races,” by Time’s Jasmine Aguilera

KNOWING THE NEXT GEN — “Anna Paulina Luna throws a coming-out party for new MAGA generation,” by WaPo’s Ruby Cramer in St. Petersburg, Fla.: “You should know the name ANNA PAULINA LUNA. In two months, it will be etched outside a congressional office in D.C., a marker of a younger, more diverse, more online generation of Trump’s Republican Party. Soon it will appear alongside names you already know, like MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.), on the rolls of the House Freedom Caucus, a hardline conservative group poised to push Trump’s agenda with even more power in a Republican House. You will find her in the halls of Congress and on Instagram, @realannapaulina or @apl, where she shares conservative headlines, gauzy selfies and Reels about online shopping to her more than 486,000 followers.”

HOW HOCHUL HUNG ON — “After Historic Win, Hochul Confronts Challenges and Some Second-Guessing,” by NYT’s Luis Ferré-Sadurní: “[New York Gov. KATHY HOCHUL] ran an expensive operation, significantly outspending [LEE] ZELDIN and nearly depleting her record-breaking $50 million campaign war chest on a constellation of television ads that sought to portray him as too extreme. She spent many months focusing on Mr. Zeldin’s anti-abortion stance before shifting her message toward crime in the race’s final stages, raising questions about whether that should have been her focus from the beginning. And she appeared to lack a sufficiently strong ground game to energize Democratic voters, especially in Black and Latino communities, as Democratic operatives noted a dearth of the typical election-season lawn signs and mailers.”

FYI FOR HOUSE LEADERSHIP WATCHERS — House Speaker NANCY PELOSI “told caucus today that she *is* still planning to travel to the COP27 climate conference today -- but only for about 24 hours, per sources,” Sarah Ferris tweets. “She'll be back by end of the week.”


DEM MEGADONOR IN DANGER — While Dems got a major boost from Tuesday’s election results, elsewhere they may have lost one of their biggest backers. Crypto-multibillionaire SAMBANKMAN-FRIED is in serious financial peril as his FTX outfit is under increased scrutiny. After news emerged that rival crypto firm Binance was going to swoop in to bail SBF’s company out, the deal is likely off, Bloomberg’s Yueqi Yang and Suvashree Ghosh report, after Binance found some holes in the ledgers. Then there’s this: “U.S. financial regulators are investigating whether beleaguered crypto-exchange properly handled customer funds, as well as its relationship with other parts of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire,” Bloomberg’s Lydia Beyoud, Yueqi Yang, and Olga Kharif report. In case you forgot, Bankman-Fried said back in May that he might spend up to $1 billion for Democrats in the 2024 cycle.

RARE SHOW OF REMORSE — “Youngkin apologizes to Pelosi over comments about attack on her husband,” by WaPo’s Gregory Schneider: “Virginia Gov. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R) has sent a handwritten note of apology to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over his comments last month that seemed to make light of the hammer attack against her husband, PAUL PELOSI. Pelosi spokesman DREW HAMMILL confirmed that she received the letter, which was postmarked Nov. 1. He provided no further details, but said Pelosi had accepted the apology.”


THE GEORGIA INVESTIGATION — “Newt Gingrich ordered to testify before Georgia grand jury investigating 2020 election aftermath,” by CNN’s Sara Murray

AT THE OATH KEEPERS TRIAL — “Informant Likely to Testify as Defense Witness in Oath Keepers Sedition Trial,” by NYT’s Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman


FOR YOUR RADAR — “Judge Dismisses Alexander Vindman’s Lawsuit Against Trump Allies,” by NYT’s Aishvarya Kavi


GRINER LATEST — “Brittney Griner moves to Russian penal colony; exact location unknown,” by ESPN’s T.J. Quinn

CLIMATE FILES — “Who’s Driving Climate Change? New Data Catalogs 72,000 Polluters and Counting,” by NYT’s Raymond Zhong


THE WESTERN VIEW — “Some U.S. and Western officials think neither side can win and see winter as a shot at diplomacy in Ukraine-Russia war,” by NBC’s Courtney Kube, Carol Lee and Josh Lederman

RUSSIA PULLS BACK — “Russia says it’s withdrawing troops from key Ukrainian city,” by AP’s Sam Mednick

ON THE GROUND — “Phantom Retreats and Stolen Bones: The War of Deceit in Ukraine,” by NYT’s Andrew Kramer


FUN WHILE IT LASTED — “Elon Musk kills the ‘official’ label on verified accounts hours after Twitter introduced it,” by Semafor’s J.D. Capelouto

QUITE THE OFFLOAD — “Musk Sells $3.95 Billion of Tesla Stock After Buying Twitter,” by Bloomberg’s Anders Melin


MOVE FAST AND BREAK THINGS — “Meta Lays Off More Than 11,000 Employees,” by NYT’s Sheera Frenkel and Adam Satariano


OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTED at ROKK Solutions’ ROKK The Vote Election Day Party at PJ Clarkes on Tuesday: Sara and Ron Bonjean, Kristen Hawn, Suzanne Beall, Lisa Hanna, Skiffington Holderness, Mark Bednar, Tammy Haddad, Tom Porter, Victor Bohm, Dave Grimaldi, Stephen Bradford, Thomas Quinn, Christin Fernandez, Senay Bulbul, Jeff Berkowitz, Cole Rojewski, Kristina Dunklin, Steve Clemons, Anu Rangappa, Brad Howard, Neal Patel, Paul Kane, Carol Danko, Liz Johnson, Brad Bosserman, Sara Conrad, Stephen Borg, Brian Sansoni, Darien Flowers, Jenette Morell and Ashley Jordan.

— SPOTTED at the premiere of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s new Hulu series “Fleishman Is In Trouble” at Carnegie Hall (and after party at Tavern on the Green) on Monday night: Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy, Adam Brody and Leighton Meester, Lizzy Caplan and Tom Riley, Claude Brodesser-Akner, Allison P. Davis, Christopher Bonanos, Olivia Nuzzi, Michael Barbaro and Lisa Tobin, Amanda Hess, Katie Rosman, Madison Malone-Kircher, Carolyn Ryan, Claire Howarth, A.G. Sulzberger, Robin Pogrebin, Sapna Maheshwari, Leslie Yazel, Heather Karpas, Sam Sifton, A.O. Scott, Jake Silverstein, Mike Benoist, Sia Michel, Gilbert Cruz, Stu Loeser, Sloan Harris, Harley Copen, Sarah Timberman, Susannah Grant, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman and Cindy Chupack.

TRANSITION — Samantha Keitt is now director of governmental, international, and public affairs for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration at the DOT. She previously was VP at Left Hook and is an SKDK alum.

WEEKEND WEDDING — Chloe Rodriguez, clerk of the House Energy and Commerce committee and a Hillary Clinton and Obama alum, and Matthew Eisenberg, account executive at CBS Television and an E&C alum, got married on Saturday in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The couple met in Los Angeles, Calif. and now live in Alexandria, Va. with their dog, Bentley.Pic …Another pic

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