MOVE OVER ALEC, THERE’S A NEW DONALD — You know you’ve arrived as a national political figure when you get impersonated on “Saturday Night Live.” Last night, GLENN YOUNGKIN got the SNL treatment in a sketch that had the governor-elect sidestepping questions about critical race theory and introducing a concerned Virginia parent (“When my son brought home the book ‘Beloved’ by TONI MORRISON, I put down my copy of ‘Fifty Shades…’ and said, ‘NO!’”).
But the thing that really makes it worth watching is DONALD TRUMP, or more precisely, the show’s new impression of him by rookie cast member JAMES AUSTIN JOHNSON. It’s an uncanny likeness — better than any Trump impression we’ve seen — that captures not only his mannerisms and vocal tics, but his jigsaw-like thought pattern as he speaks. Expect to see a lot more of it — and for Trump to notice as 2024 approaches. Watch the sketch
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS ISN’T STAYING THERE — There are two important political stories out of Nevada this morning, each with implications for national politics.
— First: GOP medagonor MIRIAM ADELSON is reemerging from her political hiatus.
- What happened: Though she’s kept a low profile since the January 2021 death of her husband, casino magnate SHELDON ADELSON, Miriam is “staging a return to politics, positioning herself to be a force in the 2022 midterms and beyond,” reports Alex Isenstadt.
- Who she met with this week: House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY, NRSC Chair RICK SCOTT (R-Fla.) and a coterie of 2024 hopefuls, including Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS, former VP MIKE PENCE, Texas Sen. TED CRUZ, former Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. NIKKI HALEY.
- Reminder: In three of the last five U.S. elections, the Adelsons “were the biggest donors to federal candidates and super PACs.” In the 2020 campaign, they “gave more than $91 million to bolster former President Donald Trump’s reelection effort, making them Trump’s biggest financial backer.”
— Second: An intraparty feud is roiling Nevada Dems, with potentially huge fallout in 2022.
- What happened: A war between former Senate Majority Leader HARRY REID’s political machine and the pro-BERNIE SANDERS forces who’ve taken over the state party — spurring “a flurry of resignations, embarrassing headlines and the creation of a fully operating shadow party” — is dividing Democrats in the swing state on the eve of the midterm elections, reports Holly Otterbein.
- One major effect: “The clash in Nevada has also left the coordinated campaign for top Democrats in the state without precious voter data, robbing Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO and Gov. STEVE SISOLAK of a key asset before they both face reelection next year.”
- Reminder: JOE BIDEN carried Nevada by just 2 points in 2020, and Dems cannot afford to lose Cortez Masto’s seat if they want to retain their Senate majority.
Good Sunday morning, and thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.
HOW THE SAUSAGE WAS MADE — On Saturday, Ryan and Eugene took you behind the scenes as Biden and Speaker NANCY PELOSI wrangled enough votes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF). Today, we have some more details:
— How Pelosi teamed up with the Congressional Black Caucus to break the moderates-vs.-progressives impasse. On Friday, members of the CBC went to the speaker’s office with a suggestion to help bridge the gap: pass the BIF immediately while holding a procedural vote on the Build Back Better plan (BBB) that would set it up for a mid-November vote. Pelosi agreed. Her strategy: “House leaders figured the liberals of the Progressive Caucus would be more receptive to African American members than them — even though most of the group of Black members who carried the compromise forward were also members of leadership or Ms. Pelosi’s lieutenants,” report NYT’s Jonathan Weisman and Carl Hulse.
From there, Pelosi began the arm-twisting. Pelosi called Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-Wash.), “who told her she had 30 members of the caucus who would vote down the infrastructure bill. Ms. Pelosi … questioned her figure, and Ms. Jayapal quickly revised it down, to 25.” As Jayapal convened a closed-door CPC meeting, she forced members to leave their phones on a table outside the room to prevent leaks. But that didn’t stop Pelosi from calling: “She wanted her voice mail messages urging members to vote yes waiting for them when they finally emerged.”
— Biden personally told moderate leader JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-N.J.) to specify a deadline by which mods would agree to vote on BBB, so as to soothe progressives’ anxieties, report WaPo’s Sean Sullivan, Marianna Sotomayor and Tyler Pager. They did — no later than the week of Nov. 15 — and it helped.
— And here’s a telling anecdote from WaPo on Biden’s mindset: “On the sidelines of a climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Biden exchanged pleasantries with Indonesian President JOKO WIDODO, who asked him how he was doing. ‘So far, so good,’ Biden replied. He added: ‘There’s this old joke. A guy jumps off [a] 100-story building. As he passes the 50th floor, they asked him how he’s doing. And he says, “So far so good.”’”
THREE TOP SUNDAY READS …
— Americans are flush with cash and jobs. So why do they think the economy is awful? “This is the great contradiction that underlies President Biden’s poor approval ratings, recent Republican victories in state elections and the touch-and-go negotiations over the Biden legislative agenda,” NYT’s Neil Irwin writes. “The reasons seem to be tied to the psychology of inflation and the ways people assess their economic well-being — as well as the uneven effects that rising prices and shortages have on different families. It may well be shaped by the psychological scars of the pandemic, one manifestation of this being an era of exhaustion.”
— The courts have blocked Biden’s vaccine mandate (for now). On Saturday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay on the president’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers, which was scheduled to take place Jan. 4, per the AP. “The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, said it was delaying the federal vaccine requirement because of potential ‘grave statutory and constitutional issues’ raised by the plaintiffs. The government must provide an expedited reply to the motion for a permanent injunction Monday, followed by petitioners’ reply on Tuesday.”
— Democrats just got their clocks cleaned, but no one seems ready to change anything. “The difficulty conducting a postmortem after an election like last week’s is that the losses were so widespread that it’s hard to pin defeat on any one thing,” David Siders reports. “Democrats were reading Virginia like a Rorschach test. Progressive Democrats saw the election as a rebuke of the corporate wing of the party and Clintonesque Democrats like [TERRY] MCAULIFFE. Centrists saw it as a revolt against the ‘wokeism’ of the left. For rural Democrats, the election confirmed that Democrats need to focus more on voters outside of cities. For urban Democrats, it confirmed the need for Congress to pass legislation that might appeal to the party’s base.”
Related reading: NYT: “Democrats Thought They Bottomed Out in Rural, White America. It Wasn’t the Bottom” … AP: “Local Democrats warn party: Growing Republican wave is real” … WaPo: “Virginia Republicans rise from the ashes while Democrats ponder what went wrong”
— Gottheimer on getting the CBO analysis and moving forward on BBB, on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “We received a slew of data this past week from the Treasury Department and from the White House and some early Congressional Budget Office analysis. We’re expecting to receive more in the next seven to 10 days. We expect it all to match up with what was presented, and we will move forward. … That is what I believe will happen. … We all agree that the reconciliation package, the Build Back Better legislation, is critically important for our districts.”
— CEDRIC RICHMOND on getting the reconciliation bill through the Senate, on “Fox News Sunday”: “Sen. [JOE] MANCHIN has been a partner. He’s a lot more conservative and everybody sees that, but he’s been a willing partner to come to the table with constructive dialogue, and we’re confident in where we will go with our Build Back Better framework. We’re optimistic we’re going to get it done.”
— Sen. MARK WARNER (D-Va.) on whether McAuliffe would have won if Dems passed infrastructure earlier, on “State of the Union”: “I think if we could have been talking about that win, and showing the kind of job creation that actually has been taking place, things might have been different.”
— Rick Scott on Trump’s place in the political landscape, on “Meet the Press”: “First, I hope Democrats continue to be obsessed with Donald Trump. I think Terry McAuliffe would probably run his campaign differently. … I think what we have to do is we have to say, we would love Donald Trump’s endorsement. If you’re a Republican, you want his endorsement. But you’re going to win on the issues.”
— White House chief of staff RON KLAIN on Democrats’ political struggles, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “It’s been a rough and tough year. And we knew it would be. President Biden has said this all the time. We’re in a yearlong effort to dig out of the holes we were left in. … But I think what the American people are going to see is we have put in place the strategies, the actions, to turn that around.”
— Energy Secretary JENNIFER GRANHOLM on whether Biden would consider using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to counteract high gas prices, on “State of the Union”: “That’s one of the tools that he has. And he’s certainly looking at that.”
BIDEN’S SUNDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ SUNDAY — The VP has nothing on her public schedule.
WHERE THE MONEY GOES — NYT’s Shawn Hubler, Emily Cochrane and Zach Montague have a breakdown of how and where exactly the infrastructure money allotted from Congress will be spent in the “once-in-a-generation chance to overhaul the nation’s public works system” across states in need.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — GOP SEIZES ON IMMIGRATION FOR 2022: The NRCC is out with a new set of poll numbers on immigration, showing how they plan to seize on the issue in 2022. Some of the language in the polling is charged — as in questions about “granting amnesty to illegal immigrants” — but that, as much as the responses, is an indicator of the messaging the GOP aims to use in the midterm elections. Get a first look here
2022 WATCH — GOP New Hampshire Gov. CHRIS SUNUNU told Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser that he would likely make a decision about whether he will run for the Senate “in the next week or so. Maybe sooner.”
2024 WATCH — Meanwhile, former New Jersey Gov. CHRIS CHRISTIE told Steinhauser and Robert Sherman that he would only jump into the GOP presidential primary in 2024 if “I think I can win and I think I can make a difference.” He also said the GOP needs to move on from the 2020 election: “We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections. No matter where you stand on that issue, it’s over.”
HEADS UP — “Federal authorities on Saturday searched the home of JAMES O’KEEFE, the founder of the conservative group Project Veritas, according to witnesses and people briefed on the matter, a day after Mr. O’Keefe acknowledged that the group was under investigation by the Justice Department in connection with a diary reported to have been stolen from ASHLEY BIDEN, President Biden’s daughter,” NYT’s Michael Schmidt, William Rashbaum, Adam Goldman and Ben Protess report.
TRUMP INVESTIGATION HEATS UP IN GEORGIA — An “Atlanta district attorney is moving toward convening a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference” by Trump, NYT’s Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset report. “The prosecutor, FANI WILLIS of Fulton County, opened her inquiry in February and her office has been consulting with the House committee, whose evidence could be of considerable value to her investigation. … By convening a grand jury dedicated solely to the allegations of election tampering, Ms. Willis, a Democrat, would be indicating that her own investigation is ramping up.”
TAKING ON THE NFL — Congress’ probe into the Washington Football Team and leaked emails that led to JON GRUDEN’s firing from the Las Vegas Raiders will likely be “a drawn-out affair,” WSJ’s Andrew Beaton and Louise Radnofsky report. “The [House Oversight Committee] on Friday called on the NFL to lift restrictions on people who might have information in the league’s investigation of the workplace culture at the team owned by DAN SNYDER. The league, meanwhile, said it had responded to the committee’s initial inquiry, and that it intended to cooperate. The back-and-forth came a day after a deadline the committee had given the league to respond to its demand for documents related to the league.”
HELP WANTED — As the economy and labor market try to make a full comeback after the pandemic, many companies are trying to make it easier than ever to get hired by totally overhauling job requirements, WSJ’s Lauren Weber and Chip Cutter report. “New data from labor-market analytics firm EMSI Burning Glass and the Conference Board, a private research group, suggest that 1.4 million jobs will open to people without college degrees in the next five years if employers continue to lower educational requirements at the current rate.”
COP26 UPDATE — The summit in Glasgow is continuing this week, but “negotiators were still struggling late Saturday to put together a series of draft decisions for government ministers to finalize during the second week of the talks,” AP’s Frank Jordans reports.
— A group of bipartisan lawmakers dropped into the summit Saturday, according to the AP, including Sens. CHRIS COONS (D-Del.), KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.), DEBBIE STABENOW (D-Mich.), TAMMY BALDWIN (D-Wis.) and JEFF MERKLEY (D-Ore.) and Rep. JOHN CURTIS (R-Utah).
— WaPo’s Maxine Joselow, Sarah Kaplan and William Booth have the read on the overall feel inside the conference this week: “The vibe is coronavirus pandemic meets the annual meeting of the World Geophysical Society. There’s virtue signaling, greenwashing and speeches in sometimes half-empty halls. … Outside? There were 100,000 people in the streets of Glasgow on Saturday, marching through the wind and rain.”
Ted Cruz accused Big Bird of engaging in “government propaganda” for a tweet encouraging Covid vaccinations of children.
SPOTTED: White House chief of staff Ron Klain dining on the Cafe Milano patio Saturday. … Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) in Edinburgh this morning. Pic
IN MEMORIAM — “Mark Glaze, Influential Gun Control Advocate, Dies at 51,” by NYT’s Clay Risen: “A decade [after he became executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety], gun violence is a winning issue for many state and local governments, the N.R.A. is in tatters and Congress is increasingly willing to stand up for gun safety — a drastic shift that many attribute to Mr. Glaze’s tireless organizing and brilliant strategizing.” His family’s announcement
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Jessica Puchala is now senior director of comms and marketing at the Diesel Technology Forum. She previously held the same position at Issue One’s The Fulcrum.
ENGAGED — David Beavers, a PhD candidate at Harvard and a POLITICO alum, and Ashley Inman, vice consul at the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, got engaged Thursday in Boston. Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) and Rick Allen (R-Ga.) (7-0) … former CIA Director David Petraeus … Sheila Nix of the Education Department … Liz Allen … POLITICO’s Elena Schneider and Sean Reilly … Michael Kratsios … Blackstone’s Jen Friedman … Caroline Tabler of Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) office … Kate O’Connor of the House Energy and Commerce Committee … MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart … Donald Kohn … Brunswick Group’s Siobhan Gorman … Brad Woodhouse of Protect Our Care … ABC’s Kaylee Hartung … Aanchal Sahay of Planned Parenthood Action Fund … former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.) (91) … George Thompson of FleishmanHillard … David Grossman … Erin Green … Jeff Bjornstad … Burson Taylor Snyder … Adnaan Muslim of Deliver Strategies … Pat Devlin … Daniel Libit
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