GOP leaders step into Biden's way on COVID: The Note

Partisan lines are hardening as quickly as fundraising pitches can be written.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Debates over masks and mandates might make it seem like 2020.

It might also well be a taste of 2024. President Joe Biden's admonition that lawmakers who are blocking vaccine requirements should "get out of the way" accomplished nothing of the sort -- and may have had the opposite reaction.

DeSantis and other potential presidential contenders who are Republican governors -- including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem -- have sought to one-up each other when it comes to establishing themselves as champions of personal liberty before and now during this troublesome period of the pandemic.

New polling shows Biden's trust in handling the pandemic slipping among voters. Quinnipiac University numbers out Wednesday found the president's approval on COVID at 53% of Americans -- down a dozen points since May.

Biden aides, meanwhile, have begun calling out states, including Texas and Florida, where the delta variant is contributing to spikes in cases. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday "that's not meant to be political," and is simply "meant to convey that more action is needed in some part of the country."

Of course, it is political. Republican leaders don't need the contradictory messaging of former President Donald Trump to make resistance to vaccine and mask mandates a mantra, and skepticism of conflicting advice from scientists crosses party lines.

Now with the concept of "vaccine passports" gaining currency in some localities and businesses, partisan lines are hardening as quickly as campaign fundraising pitches can be written.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

After the announcement of the devastating findings in the state Attorney General's report on Cuomo's misconduct and an avalanche of calls for him to resign, state lawmakers could move toward impeachment.

The New York State Assembly, where Democrats hold a vast majority, needs 76 votes to proceed with impeachment. According to ABC News' Aaron Katersky, at least 82 of the state Assembly's 150 members are in favor authorizing an impeachment trial. This as Cuomo clings to power with no sign of voluntary resignation.

If impeached, Cuomo would be the second New York state executive to face impeachment. The first was William Sulzer who is the only New York governor to be impeached and convicted. His removal followed accusations of campaign finance fraud in 1913.

If Cuomo were to be removed from office, it would make way for the state's first female governor. As laid out in the New York's constitution, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would immediately become the acting governor during an impeachment trial. If Cuomo is convicted, she would continue in that role through the end of his term.

The assembly's judiciary committee is slated to meet Monday morning to discuss their impeachment investigation.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

Four Republicans vying to oust California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized his response to the coronavirus pandemic in a debate Wednesday night on some of the top issues facing the state.

The candidates who joined Newsom all opposed mask mandates, but their solutions to curbing the spread of the virus and its variants differed.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer encouraged viewers to get the vaccine (he and his family got it) but said he does not support mask mandates in schools, which are currently in place ahead of the 2021 school year.

Businessman John Cox took a different approach, saying he doesn't support mandates or believe that people who have had the coronavirus should get the vaccine, because they have antibodies that protect them against it.

Former Congressman Doug Ose and state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley both pushed back against mandates, saying they have faith that Californians can make the right decisions for themselves and their families. Kiley took the opportunity to call out Newsom's response directly, saying the governor was "bright lights and cash giveaways," in an attempt to conceal a broken state government.

THE PLAYLIST

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released the results of an investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's history of alleged sexual harassment. The report found evidence that Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women and created a hostile workplace. He apologized but flatly denied the allegations. Cuomo is now facing overwhelming pressure to resign from numerous elected officials, including President Joe Biden. According to a snap poll following the report, 59% of New Yorkers said Cuomo should resign. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew talks about what the report means for Cuomo and the political future of New York. https://53eig.ht/3fc3zR7

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson each appear on ABC's "Good Morning America."
  • President Joe Biden receives the president's daily brief at 9:30 a.m. The president and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander civil rights leaders at 11:30 a.m. Biden delivers remarks on his administration's steps to strengthen American leadership on clean cars and trucks at 3 p.m. The president and vice president deliver remarks after a bill signing to award congressional gold medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and those who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6.
  • The Senate Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing on domestic terrorism and extremism at 10:15 a.m.
  • The White House COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials hold a briefing at 11 a.m.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona hold a briefing at 1 p.m.
  • Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Fauci participate in a virtual roundtable at 1 p.m. with student leaders who have been champions in getting other young people in their communities vaccinated.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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