The TAKE with Rick Klein
A then-rival once memorably predicted that Donald Trump would be a "chaos president."
Now, in this first voting season of Trump's post-presidency, the label still applies. In next week's primaries in battleground states, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Trumpism is brawling with itself inside the Republican Party.
The former president's endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz for Senate in Pennsylvania may have done enough damage to his main opponent to open the door to a third candidate -- Kathy Barnette -- who is attacking both of them as "globalists" who don't represent the MAGA movement.
While Barnette's personal story is compelling, it has enough holes being poked into it that Trump and establishment Republicans are united in worrying she could cost the GOP a Senate seat this fall.
If things weren't confusing enough, Trump now looks to be hedging his bet on Oz. He issued a statement Thursday saying Barnette "will never be able to win" the general election -- but also stating that if she adequately explains who she is and where's she's from "she will have a wonderful future in the Republican Party -- and I will be behind her all the way."
Meanwhile, Trump's pick for North Carolina Senate appears to have solidified the candidate's lead in the GOP primary. But Trump is almost alone among prominent Republicans in trying to save the career of Rep. Madison Cawthorn in a race where the state's two U.S. senators have abandoned him and where many of his House colleagues are ready to cut him loose.
Remarkably, Cawthorn is not the only 26-year-old Trump is backing in a competitive primary next week. He has also endorsed Bo Hines, a former college football standout who just moved across the state into the district he's running in -- to the dismay of local conservative activists who say they know too little about his background or his politics.
One upshot is that GOP donors are spreading millions in a dizzying array of directions. Prominent outside groups find themselves sometimes aligning with Trump, sometimes with entities close to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy -- and sometimes, as in Pennsylvania -- against both.
Intraparty primaries in the red states that have already voted may prove to have been largely academic for questions of party control since they will mostly send Republicans to Congress anyway. But the stakes start to change with the next set of states up -- and the main fights are again not Trump-vs.-never-Trump but over what it means to be MAGA at all.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
As parents coast to coast struggle to find formula to feed their infants, the Biden administration announced steps to help address the problem.
The White House is calling for more formula to be imported from overseas and for states to be lenient in allowing those on food assistance more varieties of formula. President Joe Biden is also calling on state attorneys general to hold companies that price gouge accountable. The announcement came after Biden spoke with leaders from formula manufacturing companies and retail giants.
The shortage, spurred by formula recalls and supply chain issues, has emptied store shelves. In a statement Wednesday, Abbott Laboratories, a major producer of formula that had to temporarily shut down a Michigan plant in connection to a recall, said it could take as long as weeks after one of their sites reopens to get the product on supermarkets shelves and into big box stores.
Prior to the announcement, House Republicans outside the Capitol Thursday blamed the Biden administration for the shortage. Some urged Biden to cut "red tape" for companies to get products out as quickly as possible.
"It is clearly due to the blatant incompetence of this White House," said Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo.
It remains to be seen if the administration's actions will be far-reaching enough or fast enough to get parents and their children the relief they need.
The TIP with Ben Siegel
With the midterm elections looming, a group of moderate House Democrats joined with Republicans on Thursday to push a bill to boost funding to local law enforcement in small and rural communities.
"We need to fund, not defund, local law enforcement, to keep them and our communities safe," Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., said at the press conference for the Invest to Protect Act, invoking Biden's State of the Union address.
The renewed push for local police funding -- for which a vote in the House could be divisive -- comes as Republicans continue to accuse Democrats of undermining policing and law enforcement funding across the country -- an attack that vulnerable Democrats say is resonating with swing district voters.
In the House, moderates have pushed Democratic leaders to take up more bills targeting issues on the minds of voters -- on everything from crime and policing to inflation and the shortage of baby formula.
For his part, Biden is set to meet Friday with police chiefs and local officials to spotlight the funding already delivered by Congress in the American Rescue Plan that has been tapped for policing and public safety initiatives.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
58. That's Sen. Joe Manchin's "Popularity Above Replacement Senator" (PARS) score, according to FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich. Nathaniel has used the latest approval ratings data from Morning Consult for every senator (and governor) in the country in an attempt to measure how much stronger (or weaker) a politician is than a generic candidate from their party would be. Manchin tops the pack for senators, but a number of Democrats in red states aren't too far behind him. Read more from Nathaniel to find out where your senator or governor ranks.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Friday morning as the nation hits 1 million COVID-19 deaths with widow and single mom Pamela Addison, who lost her husband -- a front-line health care worker -- at the beginning of the pandemic. Then, ABC's Katherine Faulders explains why the Jan. 6 panel issued subpoenas to five GOP lawmakers. And, ABC's Ines De La Cuetara details the significance of Finland applying to NATO. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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