Biden and Trump's Pennsylvania events frame midterms for both parties: The Note

Candidates will be getting plenty of company and attention in the next 10 weeks.

August 30, 2022, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's getting increasingly difficult to envision either a Democratic or a Republican Senate majority that doesn't include the open seat in Pennsylvania in November.

Races up and down the ballot in the state are likely to render judgment on the political calculations driving leaders in both parties -- and major figures are acting like they know it.

President Joe Biden will be just outside his native Scranton on Tuesday, in a visit to Wilkes-Barre designed to highlight police funding and anti-crime efforts, ahead of a Thursday primetime speech in Philadelphia on what the White House is billing as the "continued battle for the soul of the nation."

The president will be back in the state for the third time in a six-day span when he spends part of Labor Day in Pittsburgh -- marking the unofficial kickoff of fall campaigning in the same city he launched his presidential campaign in three years ago.

In between Biden's visits, former President Donald Trump will also be in Wilkes-Barre Saturday night for his first rally since the FBI search warrant was executed at his Florida home. Among the candidates slated to attend: GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.

Oz has been a central figure in the recent GOP debate over "candidate quality," though Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he has "great confidence" in Oz's ability to win the race.

With Oz's campaign against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman having recently turned nasty over issues related to Fetterman's health, Fetterman is still easing back into campaign-trail mode after suffering a stroke right before his primary victory in May. His campaign says he will see Biden in Pittsburgh -- though specifically indicating that it will be to press Biden on marijuana legalization.

While the Senate race might be overshadowing the governor's race, state Sen. Mastriano is a Trump-loyal election denier who helped lead efforts to overturn the 2020 race and protest its results. He also favors a ban on abortion -- a fact that Democratic challenger Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, is highlighting in his campaign.

Candidates are generally fond of saying they are running their own races and are not reliant on surrogates. But in Pennsylvania, at least, they will be getting plenty of company and attention over the next week -- and the nine that follow.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House Aug. 26, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House Aug. 26, 2022.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has made recent high-profile moves that have arguably fueled speculation he could run for president in 2024. Those same choices, however, could damage his credibility in some circles -- with labor and progressives -- that have supported him.

After hundreds of farmworkers marched this week more than 300 miles to the statehouse, Newsom said he couldn’t support legislation that would give them more options to vote in union elections. “We cannot support an untested mail-in election process that lacks critical provisions to protect the integrity of the election, and is predicated on an assumption that government cannot effectively enforce laws,” a spokesperson said in a statement, in part.

The legislation, advocates argue, is important to a worker’s right to organize because current votes to unionize must take place in person, leaving employees subject to intimidation.

"He once asked us for our vote," a farmworker named Lourdes Cardenas told The Sacramento Bee. "We are asking him right now. We are parents and families as well as him and we deserve respect, equality and benefits."

Newsom also recently vetoed legislation that would green light so-called safe-injection sites for drug users in the state's largest cities. He'd previously signaled openness to a piloting program for sites that allow supervised drug injection but said in his veto letter that he was "acutely concerned about the operations of safe injection sites without strong, engaged local leadership and well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans."

Some have interpreted that veto as politically motivated, but Newsom has indicated he'd be open to a more limited program.

He has also said that he isn't interested in running for president, but that hasn't stopped him from further building his national profile by using political capital to weigh in on this year's midterm elections. He pledged $100,000 to Florida Democratic nominee Charlie Crist, who is challenging Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

PHOTO: California Gov. Gavin Newson speaks during a news conference in Palo Alto, Calif., March 2, 2022.
California Gov. Gavin Newson speaks during a news conference in Palo Alto, Calif., March 2, 2022.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, FILE

The TIP with Abby Cruz

Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O'Rourke said Sunday he was taking a break from the campaign trail after being diagnosed with a bacterial infection over the weekend.

"After feeling ill on Friday, I went to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio where I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. The extraordinary team there — from custodians to nurses and doctors — gave me excellent care and attention, including IV antibiotics and rest," O'Rourke said in a statement sent by his campaign.

The former Texas lawmaker had been on a 49-day campaign tour of the state, where he is holding 70 public events in more than 65 counties in the lead up to November's election between him and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

"While my symptoms have improved, I will be resting at home in El Paso in accordance with the doctors' recommendations," O'Rourke said in his Sunday statement. "I am sorry to have had to postpone events because of this, but promise to be back on the road as soon as I am able. I cannot thank the amazing women and men at Methodist enough for the treatment I received."

The day after announcing his illness, O’Rourke spoke at back-to-back virtual events, giving a lengthy talk at both. He also addressed his current health when asked on the “Black Texans for Beto” call.

"Thank you for asking about my health," he said. "You know, I took a turn for the worse on Friday and got pretty sick with an infection -- bacterial infection -- and luckily, thanks to the great team I work with, got to a hospital in San Antonio, Methodist Hospital, got some great care there for a couple of days. And I'm back here in El Paso recuperating on antibiotics and getting some rest, so thank you for asking. I hope to be back on the trail again very soon."

PHOTO: Beto O'Rourke speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Humble, Texas, Aug. 24, 2022.
Beto O'Rourke speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Humble, Texas, Aug. 24, 2022.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

49. That's the number of Republicans and Democrats who have decided to call it quits in the House. But in a bullish sign for Republicans, far more Democrats than Republicans are leaving: 31 Democrat members versus just 18 Republican members. Read more from FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley , on why Republicans stand to gain -- especially in the competitive seats vacated by Democrats.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with the latest on the Justice Department's review of documents seized from former President Trump's Florida estate. ABC's Pierre Thomas leads us off. Then ABC's Trevor Ault reports from Mississippi as flooding prompted rescues and evacuations. And, ABC's Britt Clennett discusses concerns of nuclear fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.


  • The president delivers remarks about reducing gun crime in Wilkies-Barre, Pennsylvania, beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will participate in the U.S. special operations change of command ceremony for Army Lt. Gen. Bryan P. Fenton and Army Gen. Richard Clarke in Tampa, Florida.

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