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Hello, friends. I hope all are enjoying a safe and restful Independence Day weekend. I’m writing this morning from Madison, Wisconsin, where President Joe Biden will rally this afternoon. More on that to come.

3 things to know

  • President Joe Biden is hemorrhaging support from many of his once-ardent backers, joining a growing chorus of people who want to see him drop out. Meanwhile, the White House blamed the president’s busy schedule and jet lag, not his age, for his debate performance. This weekend may be make-or-break for the campaign: a big interview on ABC, and rallies in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, will put the president’s ability on display. Read more here.
  • Donald Trump won’t be sentenced on his business fraud conviction until September, following a Monday Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity. The sentencing date was previously scheduled for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Read more here.
  • Biden is also facing falling poll numbers since the debate. The latest New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday shows Biden trailing Trump by six points, 43% to 49% — a “three-point swing toward the Republican from just a week earlier,” per the Times. Read more here.

The Big Idea

No Labels warned us

The morning after last week’s debate, No Labels’ chief strategist fired off an email to the group’s supporters. “I’m angry,” he wrote. “I’m angry because a No Labels presidential candidate should have been on that stage last night, providing a viable choice to Americans who can’t possibly imagine four more years of Trump or Biden.”

For the better part of two years, No Labels prepared for this scenario. Biden was a historically unpopular incumbent. Trump was his historically unpopular predecessor. Even in late 2022, most Americans didn’t want a Biden-Trump rematch.

Enter No Labels: the centrist group established in 2010 to promote bipartisanship in Congress. It entered the fray as the vehicle for a third-party centrist to run for president. It worked to register as a political party in states across the country and get ballot access. It ran poll after poll that showed Americans desperate for another option. It pitched moderate politicians on both sides of the aisle about joining the ticket.

But they couldn’t get anyone to say yes. Not Joe Manchin, long seen as their top option. Not Jon Huntsman Jr. (when we asked if he would join the ticket, he told us no). Not Mitt Romney (he told us no, too). Not Nikki Haley (she told us no, three). Not Chris Christie or ex-Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan or ex-Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

Ryan Clancy, the group’s chief strategist, is less disappointed in those folks, and more frustrated by the outside groups — largely Democrat strategists and Never-Trump politicos — who saw the effort as a threat to Biden and worked to curtail it.

“The same groups of operatives and party elites that were trying to kill off No Labels were the same people who have been gaslighting the whole public about Biden’s condition,” Clancy told me. “It’s like, irony isn’t dead.”

Now, even some of Biden’s staunchest supporters are coming around to the idea that he may not be the best candidate to defeat Trump. But the ship has sailed on No Labels reentering the competition. In the hours after the debate, Clancy asked the group’s teams overseeing ballot access and legal operations to investigate whether it was too late to run a candidate (if a willing candidate emerged). “If a miracle happened, and the second coming of Abraham Lincoln showed up tomorrow, could there still be an opening?” he said. “It doesn’t look like it.”

The caveat here is that securing a candidate and getting on the ballot were preliminary to that candidate running a successful campaign. When No Labels pulled the plug in April, it had only secured ballot access in 23 states. There was a plan to get on the ballots in the rest, Clancy said. But after swinging and missing on candidate after candidate, there was no reasonable path forward.

“The original sin of why we’re here is because people who thought they knew better tried to short circuit the democratic process,” Clancy said.

John Holman, of Denver, Colo., right, and others with the group No Labels take part in a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 18, 2011. | Jacquelyn Martin

Weekend reads


Much has been made of Biden’s age and stamina. But what, exactly, is keeping Biden from dropping out? It’s a question best suited for Biden’s biographer, who points to the tight-knit circle of longtime aides and staffers surrounding Biden. Their identities are “wrapped up in their association with the career of one political figure. To admit his end is to provoke a crisis in their own professional life. If I’m not whispering in Biden’s ear, then what am I?” Someone Needs to Take Biden’s Keys (Franklin Foer, The Atlantic)

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox finishes his term as head of the National Governors Association this summer. On the way out, he’s opening up about the tensions within the Republican Party — and why he doesn’t find a home with either the MAGA crowd or the Never-Trumpers. “I have a very optimistic view of who we are and who we can be again, and the fact that some people have lost that optimism — I want to try to understand why, and I want to solve those problems,” he said. ‘We Are Confusing Conservatism With Anger and Hate’(Ryan Lizza, Politico)

See you on the trail.

Editor’s Note: The Deseret News is committed to covering issues of substance in the 2024 presidential race from its unique perspective and editorial values. Our team of political reporters will bring you in-depth coverage of the most relevant news and information to help you make an informed decision. Find our complete coverage of the election here.

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