May 23, 2022

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2022 is ‘worst political environment’ of my lifetime- POLITICO

THAT ANSWERS THAT — President JOE BIDEN suggested Thursday that he was “ready to go” to Ukraine. But he’s not actually going. “He’s ready for anything — the man likes fast cars and aviators,” press secretary JEN PSAKI said Thursday night at a live taping of “Pod Save America” at the Anthem. “He’s ready to go to Ukraine. We are not sending the president to Ukraine.”

— Another bit of news from Psaki’s appearance came on the topic of the student loan moratorium: “Between now and August 31, it’s either going to be extended or we’re going to make a decision, as RON [KLAIN] referenced, about canceling student debt,” she said.

IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF THE WORD ‘WE’ IS — “We will not take it anymore,” DONALD TRUMP said in his speech on Jan. 6, 2021. “We will stop the steal.” But who was “we”? Does the word suggest a call to action? Those questions were front and center when the Jan. 6 committee interviewed former Trump aide STEPHEN MILLER on Thursday, report NYT’s Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman.

BUCKEYE ENDORSEMENT BATTLE — With Ohio’s May 3 Senate GOP primary barely two weeks away and no clear frontrunner, J.D. VANCE’s rivals are mounting an all-out effort to head off a Trump endorsement of the “Hillbilly Elegy” author, per our colleagues Natalie Allison, Meridith McGraw, Alex Isenstadt and Daniel Lippman. Trump seems intent on picking a horse in all the big GOP primaries. But several candidates are bunched together in polling in Ohio, making this one a real roll of the dice.

THE PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW: JOHN ANZALONE — On the latest Deep Dive podcast, we sat down with JOHN ANZALONE, Biden’s campaign pollster. We caught up with Anzalone in Las Vegas, where he was attending a campaign retreat for one of his 2022 clients, Nevada Gov. STEVE SISOLAK. We talked politics for two hours over breakfast on the Strip. You can listen to the show here. These are some of our favorite parts:

— On the 2022 environment for Democrats: “I think what we’re missing right now is that voters are very much in, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ [mode]. … And they don’t feel Democrats can get their shit together and get things done. And so, you know, if we’re able to do something — a skinny [Build Back Better] or whatever on health insurance costs, prescription drug costs, elderly care, child care — that’s a big deal, because it will give Democrats … a competitive advantage on what they’re doing for working families. And it’ll cut through the inflation narrative, the Ukraine narrative, the Afghan narrative, the border narrative, etc. And right now, we don’t see that and we don’t have that. …

“No one’s going to sit there as a Democratic consultant and try to bullshit you that this is anything but a really sour environment for Democrats. So we better look at the strategic ways that we can compete, right?”

— On the “myth” that needs to be broken about Latino voters: “I think that a lot of time, there’s this narrative in D.C. among Democrats that you only talk to Latinos about immigration. Like, immigration is the 12th issue that they’re concerned about. Guess what? They’re concerned about the same things everyone else is concerned about. It’s always about the economy or inflation or health care or schools.”

— On what he thinks Republicans do better than Democrats: “Republicans do a much better job of branding Democrats [than] Democrats do Republicans … We don’t do a good job of branding. But, goddamn, man, you know, critical race theory, which literally just one day popped up in the American lexicon and — it’s not taught in any public school in America — now it becomes an issue. They’re really good at branding.”

— On why Democrats should crank up the volume on an economic populist message: “We’re scared of our own shadow on taxes, and it fucking makes no sense … People do not begrudge people making a lot of money and getting wealthy; people have a problem and [are] pissed off about them not paying any fucking taxes. And why, as a party, we don’t elevate that in our messaging is beyond me.”

— On whether Biden will run again: “I have no idea. No indication that he won’t run. And I think that … a lot of us feel that if Trump runs, there’s no one else that could beat Trump [other] than Joe Biden … You go head-to-head and Joe Biden’s always ahead of him. Not by a lot — one or two points. … Even at his lowest approval rating, he still beats Donald Trump.”

— On his prediction for 2022: “It’s the worst political environment that I’ve lived through in 30 years of being a political consultant. … There’s a big difference between losing 7 and 10 seats in the House and getting your ass kicked and losing 35, 40. … I think we really have the ability to keep the Senate.”

— On one potential silver lining for Biden if Democrats lose the midterms: “Can I just say one thing, because I think this is important: REAGAN went through this. CLINTON went through this. OBAMA went through this. And they all got reelected.”