January 19, 2022, 2:29

Biden leans in on Trump rematch: The Note

Biden leans in on Trump rematch: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

For all the tempered optimism President Joe Biden is bringing into the holidays — around the economy, confronting the omicron variant and reviving his domestic agenda in the new year — an answer about whether he’ll run for reelection might open the widest window into his mindset about the job.

Biden told ABC’s David Muir that “yes” he plans to run for reelection, though he hedged to add a qualifier about his own health: “I’m a great respecter of fate,” he said.

Asked about a potential rematch against former President Donald Trump, Biden seemed to catch himself before answering — though not entirely.

“You’re trying to tempt me now,” Biden told Muir. “Sure. Why would I not run against Donald Trump if he were the nominee? That’ll increase the prospect of running.”

It’s a response that could play into Trump’s hands. The former president has been telling supporters that Biden’s time as president makes it more likely that he runs again — all while maintaining falsehoods about his loss in 2020.

But it’s also a response that could remind anxious Democrats about why the party nominated Biden in the first place.

It left a clear implication that Biden is most likely to run if Trump does as well.

For all the ups and very many downs of the Biden presidency, Democrats are nearly unanimous in their view that he’s better than the last alternative — while still knowing that Trump could be the next alternative as well.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

While the Biden administration’s announcement that the pause on student loan payments will continue is welcome news in many Democratic circles, it falls short of continued calls for Biden to cancel student loan debt.

In a statement, Biden cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the 90-day extension while also asking borrowers to “do their part” to prepare for payments to restart May 1.

“We know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments,” Biden said.

Xinhua News Agency via Getty ImagesSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 14, 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., applauded Biden’s announcement while restating their previous calls for Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower through executive action to “help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers and accelerate our economic recovery.” Others, like NAACP President Derrick Johnson, also echoed that call.

“If you can afford to pause student loan payments over and over again, you can afford to cancel it,” Johnson tweeted.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped the question of student loan cancellation just last week, punting to Congress to pass legislation and send it to the president for his signature. But the likelihood of student loan cancellation legislation passing in the 50-50 senate is slim to none. What is likely is that calls for loan cancellation grow louder as the new May 1 repayment date gets closer.

The TIP with Brittany Shepherd

On Wednesday, an independent redistricting committee approved the final map for the state of Arizona, which resulted in some changes from last decade’s map that could potentially destabilize incumbent Democrats, according to analysis from FiveThirtyEight.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images, FILEA replica of Liberty Bell stands in front of Arizona State Capitol Building in Phoenix, Aug. 23, 2017.

Compared with the old map, Republicans pick up one seat and Democrats lose a seat, with the district of retiring Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick flipping from competitively Democratic to competitively Republican, leaving the seat wide open for a GOP candidate to snatch. Democrats are likely to have additional challenges holding onto Arizona’s 4th District, held by incumbent Rep. Greg Stanton, with the agreed-upon map rendering a solidly blue district into a highly competitive one. The elimination of highly competitive seats is one of the most visible impacts of this decade’s round of redrawn maps, for now seemingly benefitting Republicans.

Arizona continues to command national attention with high-stakes Senate and gubernatorial races. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly faces a competitive primary, carrying no more than a nine-point lead in polling against his Republican challengers. Kelly leads by only four points in early polling matchups with the current leading challenger, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. With a term-limited GOP incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey — a target of former president Donald Trump’s condemnation — an open gubernatorial seat has made way for a crowded field and fierce competition in a state only narrowly won by Biden in 2020. Trump has yet to endorse in the Senate race (though he did attend a fundraiser for investor candidate Blake Masters) and supports former reporter Kari Lake for governor.

ONE MORE THING

President Joe Biden said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with ABC “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir that when it comes to the availability of at-home coronavirus tests in the United States, “nothing’s been good enough.”

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Start Here on Thursday morning begins with highlights from an ABC News exclusive interview with President Biden. Then, ABC’s Sony Salzman talks about the first pill authorized by the FDA to treat COVID-19. And, ABC’s Kaylee Hartung reports on the controversial 110-year sentence for a truck driver responsible for a fatal crash. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden signs into law a bill that will provide funding for research into ALS therapies at 3:30 p.m.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a briefing at noon.
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