Biden's 'defining moment' messaging has already shown limits: The Note
Biden gave an address from Union Station in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night.
The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Joe Biden chose to address a crisis Wednesday night that wasn't inflation or crime but is more fundamental to democracy and, arguably, harder to make tangible to voters who are already making choices in the midterms.
"We're facing a defining moment -- an inflection point," the president said from Union Station in Washington, D.C., just footsteps from the Capitol that, early last year, came under attack from pro-Trump rioters intent on overturning the election. "This is no ordinary year."
He's not wrong, and Biden is making no ordinary argument. The president connected the Jan. 6 riots to last week's attack on Paul Pelosi, and other violence and threats against officials and election workers, while calling out "extreme MAGA Republicans" who question the results of the 2020 election and refuse to commit to respecting the results in 2022 or beyond.
He has also done this before, as have his fellow Democrats in races across the country, including many that remain extremely close. Just before Labor Day, Biden stood outside Independence Hall to denounce "MAGA Republicans" as "an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic."
In some cases -- think the Pennsylvania governor's race, where the MAGA candidate has been marginalized even inside his own party -- the messaging seems to have helped. But in scores of other races that feature incumbents, as well as political newcomers -- including even a smattering of candidates who personally attended the Jan. 6 rally -- it seems not to have moved polling needles.
Biden likes to say that he's never been more optimistic about the future. His labeling of the Trump-aligned MAGA movement as a "distinct minority in America" feeds into his confidence that, in his words, the country would "meet the moment."
But just as he said his argument is "not about me," it won't be on him to define the issues that matter at this moment to voters. In that sense, Wednesday's speech raises profound questions about what comes next if the president is wrong about what will happen in less than a week's time.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
In Wisconsin's high-profile senate race, suburban women could make the difference in which candidate comes out on top.
"We have one of the most intense urban-rural divides in the entire nation," said Anthony Chergosky, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin -- La Crosse. "And that opens the way for suburban voters to decide close elections."
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and his opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, have focused on issues aimed at galvanizing women. Johnson has hit his Democratic opponent hard on crime, while Barnes has slammed Johnson on abortion access.
Ultimately, matters of the economy and inflation will likely be top of mind for voters as they head to the polls, including women who often make purchasing decisions in their households -- giving them a front-row seat to the rise in costs due to inflation. In Wisconsin and elsewhere, that could hurt Democrats.
The latest Wall Street Journal poll found that white suburban women who represent 20% of the electorate favor Republicans for Congress by 15 percentage points.
Johnson has aimed to tie Barnes to inflation and the economic policies of the Biden administration. In an interview with ABC News, Barnes said he believed his economic messaging, which includes framing Johnson as unable to relate to Wisconsin voters struggling to keep up with the cost of living, has been strong enough to get these voters to turn out for him.
"It's about rebuilding the middle class," Barnes said. "It's a message that's resonated."
In this race, which could determine which party controls the Senate, polling analysis from FiveThirtyEight has Johnson leading Barnes by four percentage points.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
Former President Donald Trump announced a slew of battleground state rallies in the last sprint toward Nov. 8, starting Thursday in Iowa. But one state is noticeably absent from his lineup: Georgia. Although the former president plans to travel to Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio to rally for Republicans across the ballot, Trump does not have an event on the books in the state that could shift the odds for the Senate majority.
One possible reason for the lack of Georgia campaigning is Trump's open feud with incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp over the fallout of the 2020 election. Last fall, Trump caused waves among Republicans when he appeared to suggest he would prefer that Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams wins over Kemp. In March, the former president took swings at both Abrams and Kemp at a rally that aimed to boost David Perdue and Herschel Walker, his picks for governor and Senate offices, respectively.
"If Kemp runs, I think Herschel Walker is going to be very seriously and negatively impacted because Republicans that happen to like Donald Trump, MAGA Republicans, are not going to go and vote for this guy Kemp," Trump told supporters at the time.
Trump has not held an event in Georgia since that rally, and Kemp went on to win his primary -- defeating Perdue -- with victories in every county across the state in May.
The last months of Walker's Senate campaign have been marred by separate accusations from two women alleging that Walker had paid for them to have abortions. Walker denied the claims and has attempted to pivot back to other issues on the campaign trail. Although the Republican frequently takes jabs across the aisle, he rarely mentions Trump when campaigning.
"Power Trip: Those Seeking Power and Those Who Chase Them" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Thursday morning with ABC's Mola Lenghi discussing the latest on the suspect in the Pelosi home invasion. Then our very own Brad Mielke speaks to experts and local officials about what happens if election deniers sweep to power in state and local races. And, a student-journalist at The Stanford Daily reports on how a man falsely posing as a Stanford student lived in dorms for nearly a year. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- President Biden delivers remarks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 3:45 p.m. ET on student debt relief.
- The president participates in a rally with New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham at 5:45 p.m. ET.
- The president participates in a political event for Rep. Mike Levin in San Diego at 9:30 p.m. ET.
- Former President Trump kicks off a sprint of battleground state rallies starting in Iowa.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back next week for the latest.