The Note: 'Middle ground' and missteps signal Biden weaknesses

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holds a campaign event on June 4, 2019, in Concord, N.H.PlayScott Eisen/Getty Images
WATCH Biden defends saying he has 'the most progressive record of anyone running'

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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So he's for it before he might be against it?

Former Vice President Joe Biden's position on the Hyde Amendment -- a longstanding flash point involving the prohibition on federal funds being used for certain types of abortions -- now rests in an odd state of nuance.

"He has not at this point changed his position," his campaign put forward in a statement, leaving open the possibility, if not the probability, that Biden would at a later point support the provision's repeal.

Cue some of the most direct attacks on the polling front-runner by his rivals. That included #NoMiddleGround, a taunt stoked by Sen. Bernie Sanders for almost a week now.

PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden takes Virmania Villalobos, 10, back to introduce her to members of the media during a town all meeting with a group of educators from the American Federation of Teachers, May 28, 2019, in Houston. Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP
Former Vice President Joe Biden takes Virmania Villalobos, 10, back to introduce her to members of the media during a town all meeting with a group of educators from the American Federation of Teachers, May 28, 2019, in Houston.

This happened when Biden tried not to move left this week. When he did nod in the progressive direction, with a climate change policy that pays homage to the Green New Deal, a sloppy campaign copy-and-paste revived memories of plagiarism that earned another Twitter blast from President Donald Trump.

Also this week, when Biden had a brief close chat with a New Hampshire voter, he made sure he told the press directly that "she pulled me close."

Some Democrats continue to marvel at Biden's relative strength in the polls. But his campaign is showing potential weaknesses ahead of debate season that reflect a career that hasn't always moved at the same pace as the broader Democratic Party.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Biden all will be making their pitches and rallying troops alongside Stacey Abrams, a powerhouse in the state of Georgia.

Though she lost her gubernatorial bid there last year, Abrams successfully showcased the energy and growing enthusiasm for Democratic Party issues, especially among young African American voters.

Some Democrats still think winning the southern state is a pipe dream, while for others the dream is very much alive.

PHOTO: Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic response to President Donald Trumps State of the Union speech, Feb. 5, 2019. ABC News
Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, Feb. 5, 2019.

Abrams never formally conceded the governorship. She cited her frustrations with the state's election apparatus and accused her opponent of voter suppression. In the final weeks before Election Day last fall, more than 50,000 voter registrations were either put on hold or denied, and thousands of voters were incorrectly labeled non-citizens according to a local judge.

In the heavily African American Randolph County, officials proposed closing seven of nine voting locations before potentially doing so gained attention and led them to change their plans.

According to USA Today last fall, nationwide "in majority-minority urban counties, voters lost an average of seven polling places and more than 200 of the workers who help them cast ballots between 2012 and 2016. ... By contrast, in more than 1,000 counties where 90% or more of the population is white, voters in 2016 lost two polling locations and two workers on average."

The TIP with John Verhovek

The Democratic National Committee has informed Washington Gov. Jay Inslee that, despite his insistence, it will not host a debate focused on climate change. He said his campaign was told that the DNC will bar him from future debate if he participates in any other organization's climate change debate.

"The DNC has told media partners, from the start, the importance of climate change during the debates for the 2020 cycle, and frankly, it's an issue that should have been more prominent during the 2016 cycle," DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement. "While climate change is at the top of our list, the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters."

PHOTO: Wash. Governor Jay Inslee speaks about climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations, June 5, 2019, in New York. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Wash. Governor Jay Inslee speaks about climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations, June 5, 2019, in New York.

Inslee called the decision "deeply disappointing" and accused the DNC of "silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field."

He'd been pushing hard for a DNC-hosted, climate change-specific debate, and had gotten support from some 2020 rivals, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and Sanders. Inslee has already qualified for the first Democratic debate later this month on both the DNC's polling and individual donor thresholds.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast Thursday morning's episode features ABC News' Anne Flaherty, who explains why the Trump administration is scaling back migrant education and recreation programs. Then ABC News' Molly Nagle breaks down the debate among 2020 presidential hopefuls around abortion and the Hyde Amendment. And we'll hear from "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir, who caught up with D-Day veterans returning to the beaches of Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

"Powerhouse Politics" podcast Democratic Senate candidate Jamie Harrison says it's easier to beat Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because "this Lindsey Graham is a very different Lindsey Graham than the people in South Carolina sent to Washington, D.C., over the years." Harrison, who served as the first black chairman of the South Carolina Democrats, spoke with ABC News' Political Director Rick Klein and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce. https://bit.ly/2EVDqEd

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in the 75th Commemoration of D-Day in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The president then participates in a bilateral meeting and working lunch with the president of the French Republic in Caen, France.
  • Dr. Jill Biden makes a few stops at schools in South Carolina following former Vice President Joe Biden's education plan reveal in South Carolina.
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke makes a stop with Georgia Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikema Williams in Atlanta.
  • The Democratic National Committee holds its "IWillVote" Gala fundraising event in Atlanta. The "IWillVote" Gala celebrates the DNC's "IWillVote" program, which launched in 2018 and reached over 50 million voters before Election Day.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are scheduled to speak at the DNC's African American Leadership Council Summit in Atlanta.

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