The TAKE with Rick Klein
While Trump, of course, isn't on the ballot this fall, the Democrats in the most closely contested statewide races of 2021 are acting as if he basically is.
In Virginia, where early voting in the governor's race starts next week, former and would-be-future Gov. Terry McAuliffe is portraying his Republican opponent as something of a Trump clone. A sampling of recent campaign fundraising appeals warns of "Trump's comeback," and asserts that Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin would "do to Virginia what Donald Trump did to our country."
In California, where voting in the recall election concludes one week from Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been singling out the best-polling Republican vying to replace him, conservative talk-show host Larry Elder.
"They found someone, remarkably, that's actually to the right of Donald Trump -- actually wants to go further in many respects than Donald Trump," Newsom told ABC's Zohreen Shah over the weekend.
Democrats' messaging has crystallized in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to let stand, at least for now, the Texas anti-abortion law. All three Trump-appointed justices voted as part of the 5-4 majority to allow the law to go into effect.
Both McAuliffe and Newsom are running in states with sizable though by no means overwhelming numbers of Trump voters. President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points last year, and carried California by 29.
It would be shocking if either McAuliffe or Newsom win by margins even close to that large, and there are reasons both anecdotal and historical to think Democrats are right to be worried about the races.
Yet whether or not they're trying to do it, the races will test the endurance and energy of the Trump base. That's been dangerous territory for Democrats over the past few years.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
On Labor Day, the Department of Justice announced it will enforce protections for people seeking and providing reproductive health care services. It comes as the agency crafts a strategy to challenge Texas' restrictive abortion law.
Attorney General Merrick Garland pointed to the FACE Act, which prohibits the obstruction of patients and providers of reproductive health services, including abortion care.
"The department has consistently obtained criminal and civil remedies for violations of the FACE Act since it was signed into law in 1994, and it will continue to do so now," wrote Garland.
The White House has also pledged to look for ways to combat the effects of SB8, though Biden's Chief of Staff Ron Klain didn't have many details when asked Sunday on CNN.
"We are going to find ways, if they're at all possible, and I think they are possible, we are going to find ways to make a difference for the women of Texas to try to protect their constitutional rights, yes," Klain said.
Amid public outcry from abortion rights groups, abortion providers and Democratic groups, there are also concerns that other states could attempt to replicate the Texas law.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
As the midterm primary season begins to take shape post Labor Day, the potential contours of the 2024 Republican presidential primary are also appearing to fall into place, with GOP governors' handling of the pandemic coming to the forefront of the possible outlook.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend, Maryland's two-term Gov. Larry Hogan -- one of a handful of Republican executives leading blue states -- criticized the COVID-related messaging coming from the White House. "I was fairly critical of President Trump when I thought that they were bad on messaging, when I thought they were doing things wrong and not providing the assistance that we needed in the states, and I've been (doing) the same thing with the Biden administration," Hogan said.
"We're getting some mixed messaging out of the administration, out of the CDC, the FDA and the White House, and we need clear guidance on these booster shots because it undermines the credibility of it," the term-limited governor added. As a cancer survivor, Hogan received his third vaccine dose in late August.
Hogan's criticism of leaders from both parties stands in sharp contrast to the Trump-aligned actions of other potential 2024 hopefuls like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis. With more than 80% of eligible Maryland residents having received at least one vaccine dose, the move could also allow Hogan to distance himself from being pulled into a possible politically negative pandemic narrative.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast: Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Washington Correspondent MaryAlice Parks on the federal unemployment benefits expiring for millions of Americans. Then, ABC's Elwyn Lopez is on the ground in New Orleans where thousands are still without power. And ABC's Shannon Crawford offers a preview of the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed after touring Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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