Biden's 'soul of the nation' argument gets refresh via Trump: The Note

His prime-time speech bookends one of the more peculiar days in a strange era.

September 1, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Joe Biden announced his candidacy with a vow to restore the "soul of the nation" so long ago that then-President Donald Trump hadn't been impeached once much less twice -- and back then, Trump still had the power to declassify documents.

Biden is back in his native Pennsylvania on Thursday for a prime-time speech that will bookend one of the more peculiar days in a strange era of politics.

Hours earlier, Trump's lawyers will be in a Florida courtroom arguing for a "special master" to review materials seized from the former president's home at Mar-a-Lago. The request itself had the effect of unleashing a trove of new information from the Department of Justice that points toward a possible obstruction case -- Trump denies wrongdoing -- in addition to the federal probe of Trump's handling of classified documents themselves.

Jan. 6 and the election denialism fomented by Trump isn't directly connected to this set of potential legal woes facing the former president. But while Biden is deferring comment on the case being handled by his attorney general, his Philadelphia speech on Thursday will more broadly seek to incorporate the news of the last few weeks as well as dominant themes of the last several years.

The speech is also an attempt to raise the stakes of the midterms that will be met by GOP efforts to keep the races grounded in pressing economic concerns. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is pre-butting Biden with a Scranton speech on Thursday on what his team is calling Biden's "assault on the soul of America."

McCarthy and his allies have toned down their attacks on the FBI and Justice Department as their demands have been fulfilled for more information about why the search warrant was authorized -- and not in ways that make Trump look like he's telling the truth.

New polling from Quinnipiac University points to some reasons Trump allies may have gone quieter. The poll found 59% of Americans saying they think Trump acted inappropriately in how he handled classified documents -- with 50% saying he should face criminal charges.

President Joe Biden salutes as he boards Air Force One to take off en route to Avoca, Pennsylvania, in Joint Base Andrews, Md., Aug. 30, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

A crisis continues in Jackson, Mississippi, where much of the city remains without safe drinking water -- relying instead on outside aid -- and there is no clear end in sight.

President Biden spoke Wednesday with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba after approving an emergency declaration to assist in the state's response efforts. Lumumba, in an interview with ABC News Live, pointed to a lack of investment in his city, which is more than 80% Black.

"We've had great disparity in the funding of the resources in Jackson compared to other portions of our state over generations," he said.

According to the White House, $75 million has been made available to Mississippi this fiscal year through the bipartisan infrastructure law to make improvements to water systems throughout the state. Mississippi also received millions in funding through the American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief. When asked by ABC News Wednesday about how that money has been utilized, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said that much of it hadn't.

"They largely have not been spent in most municipalities and they largely have not been spent at the state level yet. But they certainly are available and will be available to the various entities in the coming days and weeks," Reeves said.

It's a reminder that while the Biden administration touts policy wins like the infrastructure law in the lead up to the midterms, federal funding can be slow to reach the communities that it aims to help.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba speaks at a press conference regarding the city's recent flooding and water infrastructure issues in Jackson, Miss, Aug. 29, 2022.
Hannah Mattix/Clarion Ledger via USA Today Network

The TIP with Lalee Ibssa

In Georgia's Senate race, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is distancing himself from President Biden as he fights for reelection, locked in a tight battle against former football star and GOP nominee Herschel Walker.

When pressed by ABC News at a campaign stop in Union City on Tuesday, Warnock wouldn't say if he supports Biden coming to Georgia to campaign for him.

"Frankly, I'm not focused on who I'm campaigning with but who I'm campaigning for," Warnock said. "That's why I spend time in places like Union City. Before this stop, I was in Newnan -- a place that folks don't expect Democrats to show up -- because I'm determined to represent all the people of Georgia."

That campaign strategy marks a departure from just last year, when Biden campaigned in Georgia for Sens. Warnock and Jon Ossoff during their runoff elections. It also comes at a time when other vulnerable candidates in battlegrounds have distanced themselves from the White House, despite Biden's recent legislative wins and approval numbers slowly climbing up. New polling from Quinnipiac University shows Biden's approval rating at 40% -- a 9% increase from last month.

While Warnock's ties to the president are on full display in the Senate, where FiveThirtyEight found that he voted with Biden 96% of the time, out on the campaign trail he is emphasizing bipartisanship. At campaign stops, he often raves about an amendment in the infrastructure bill he worked on with Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, which aims to expand Interstate 14 from Texas to Georgia.

"I didn't mind partnering with Ted Cruz for a few minutes to get something done for Georgia … I will work with whomever I can work with for a little while to do whatever I need to do because I work for you," Warnock told voters on Wednesday in Cobb County.

Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks with supporters in Newnan, Ga., Aug. 30, 2022.
Robin Rayne/ZumaPress

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

67. That's the percent chance Democrats have of winning the Senate per FiveThirtyEight's 2022 midterm election forecast. But maybe you disagree with that assessment. Well, now is your chance to don FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver's hat and play with the FiveThirtyEight forecast and make your own predictions in our interactive forecast. Think Republican Herschel Walker will actually win Georgia's Senate seat? Feel free to make that selection -- and more! -- to see how it affects the FiveThirtyEight forecast.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Thursday morning with new details from the Justice Department on the Mar-a-Lago search. ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams leads us off. Then ABC's Sony Salzman explains everything you need to know about the updated COVID-19 booster shots. And ABC's Martha Raddatz reports on the death of a sailor during Navy SEAL training.


  • President Biden delivers a primetime speech at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. ET.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris travels throughout North Carolina to discuss the Inflation Reduction Act. She will tour a senior care facility, meet with members of the National Panhellenic Council and attend a Democratic National Committee finance event.
  • At 10:30 a.m., Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host an enhanced honor cordon and meeting for Danish Defense Minister Morten Bodskov at the Pentagon.
  • First lady Jill Biden will deliver opening remarks at a White House launching an apprenticeship ambassador initiative to celebrate employers, colleges and entities across the country working to expand registered apprenticeships. The first lady, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Susan Rice, the domestic policy adviser, will deliver remarks at 2 p.m. ET.

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