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By TARA PALMERI
10/17/2021 11:01 AM EDT
A new hypersonic missile test has “all the elements of a Sputnik moment” in the nascent U.S.-China cold war. | Andy Wong/AP Photo
Reminder: HBO’s “Succession” returns tonight for its third season.
A SIGN O’ THE TIMES — Superman has long been known for championing “truth, justice and the American way.” Now, DC Comics is changing that motto by cutting out the whole “American way” thing. His new mantra, per Variety: “truth, justice and a better tomorrow.” (Expect this to be TUCKER’s opening monologue Monday.)
SPOTTED: STEVE RICCHETTI, Rep. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-Pa.) and EU Ambassador STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS in the POTUS box at the Kennedy Center on Friday taking in “Hadestown,” a musical about hell, climate change and nature healing itself. Speaking of which …
THREE TOP SUNDAY READS …
1) Democrats are considering a new carbon tax in response to Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) gutting the reconciliation bill’s central climate proposal, report NYT’s Coral Davenport and Luke Broadwater.
The idea has been batted around for years, with supporters ranging from lefty environmentalists like Sen. RON WYDEN (D-Ore.) to scholars with the conservative American Enterprise Institute. But, as the NYT writes, the concept could be “politically explosive. Industries could pass along their higher costs, leaving President [JOE] BIDEN and fellow Democrats vulnerable to claims that they are raising taxes on the middle class, at a moment when inflation and energy prices are rising.” Also, there’s no sign that Manchin would be on board with a carbon tax, either.
2) FT scooped what is almost certain to be the most consequential story you’ll read this weekend: “China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise,” report Demetri Sevastopulo and Kathrin Hille. “The missile missed its target by about two dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised. … ‘We have no idea how they did this,’ said a fourth person.”
It has, in the words of our own Blake Hounshell, “all the elements of a Sputnik moment” in the nascent U.S.-China cold war. Adds JEFFREY LEWIS, better known on Twitter as @ArmsControlWonk: “This is how arms races work. We put a missile defense in Alaska, China builds an orbital bombardment system to come up over the South Pole. It will go on like this, at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, a forever race with no finish line.”
3) Black candidates for Senate are enjoying “an unprecedented cash windfall that stands to reshape” the chamber, writes our own Maya King. The Q3 numbers are staggering:
That enormous cash pile amounts to “a dramatic turn of events for a group of candidates who have traditionally struggled to raise the huge sums of money necessary to win marquee statewide elections,” Maya writes.
Companion reading: “Dems find their anti-Rubio warrior in Val Demings,” by Marc Caputo: “[Demings’] fundraising haul provided a sudden burst of hope to Florida’s beleaguered Democrats, who reveled at the idea of a cash-flush Senate nominee whose star power sparked the imagination of Democrats across the country. The problem, however, is that the recent road to the Senate is littered with Democratic candidates whose talent for minting money from national online donors masked weakness back home.”
Good Sunday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.
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DEMS IN … WELL, YOU KNOW — Here’s a sample of headlines about the Biden administration over the last day:
— “‘We’re done’: Immigration advocates stage walk-out on Biden administration,” by Alex Thompson: “Dozens of immigration advocates walked out, virtually, on top Biden officials Saturday in protest of the administration’s decision to continue border policies enacted during the Trump administration, according to several people who were in the meeting. … The activists read a statement accusing the administration of ‘playing politics with human lives’ and said they could no longer ‘come into these conversations in good conscience.’”
— “Advocates worry Biden is letting U.S. democracy erode on his watch,” by WaPo’s Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager and Amy Gardner. “Activists want Biden to provide a loud, clear voice against [Republican-enacted voting restrictions and Trump’s continued lies about the 2020 election], from prime-time speeches to regular denunciations of especially egregious actions. Beyond that, they say he should throw himself into passing voting rights legislation and more aggressively go after states that are politicizing their election systems.”
Speakeasy: “DERRICK JOHNSON, president of the NAACP, said the administration’s lack of urgency about safeguarding democracy, especially by shoring up voting rights, is ‘appalling … I have heard from many of my colleagues and members that the lack of priority around voting rights will be the undoing of the legacy for this presidency.’”
SUNDAY BEST …
— Rep. ADAM KINZINGER (R-Ill.) on whether the Jan. 6 select committee will subpoena Trump, on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “Just speaking quite honestly, if we subpoena, all the sudden, the former president, we know that’s going to become kind of a circus. So that’s not necessarily something we want to do up front. But if he has pieces of information we need, we certainly will.”
— ANTHONY FAUCI on Texas Gov. GREG ABBOTT’s vaccine-mandate ban, on “Fox News Sunday”: “I can understand perhaps what the governor is trying to do, but I think when you’re in a public health crisis, sometimes unusual situations require unusual actions, and in this case it’s things like mandating. … I’m not comfortable with telling people what they should do under the normal circumstances. But we are not in normal circumstances right now.”
— Arkansas Gov. ASA HUTCHINSON on Trump’s attempts to focus the GOP on the last election, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “Relitigating 2020 is a recipe for disaster in 2022. Let’s talk about the future. The election is past. It’s been certified. The states made decisions on the integrity of each of their elections and made improvements where need be. It’s about the future. It’s not about the last election. And those kind of comments are not constructive.”
— Transportation Secretary PETE BUTTIGIEG on why the U.S. isn’t deploying the National Guard to help with truck driver shortages and supply chain issues, on “Meet the Press”: “Right now, we’re focused on some other steps that we think are making a difference, including my department working with the state DMVs to cut some of the red tape for issuing commercial driver’s licenses. Look, we’re constantly going to reevaluate all of our options.”
BIDEN’S SUNDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY: The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft launches Saturday with a three-person crew on its way to a six-month stay at a new space station China’s building. | Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
VIRGINIA GOV. RACE
— West Palm Beach, Fla., doesn’t typically see a lot of politicking for the Virginia gubernatorial race. But on Saturday, the DNC paid for a plane to fly near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, dragging a banner that read: “Why won’t Youngkin let Trump campaign in Va.?” Photo, via Josh Holmes
— TERRY MCAULIFFE is continuing to call in the big guns to help pump up Dem enthusiasm. Today, he’s holding a “souls to the polls” event with STACEY ABRAMS, and more than 300 predominantly Black churches in the commonwealth will “hear from Vice President KAMALA HARRIS … in a video message that will air during morning services as part of an outreach effort aimed to boost McAuliffe,” CNN’s Dan Merica and Eva McKend report.
In the video, Harris asks parishioners to vote “today” after the service finishes, talks up McAuliffe’s record as governor and recalls her childhood attending Oakland’s 23rd Avenue Church of God. With video
Thought bubble: Isn’t this exactly the type of thing — a clearly partisan political use of churches for electioneering — that enrages Democrats when Republicans do it? If instead of a video from Harris backing the Macker in Black churches, would this feel different if it were a video from MIKE PENCE talking up GLENN YOUNGKIN during white Evangelical services? Writes conservative Christian thinker DAVID FRENCH: “The blatant mixing of religion and politics, not only sullies religion, it escalates polarization into increasing religious conflict.”
CASH DASH — The joint fundraising committee launched by Reps. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) and MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) for their campaign tour “is nearly broke,” writes Mother Jones’ Russ Choma. “The PAC has $13,000 in cash.”
GERRYMANDER WATCH — On Friday, Illinois Dems unveiled a new congressional map that would give them control of 14 of the state’s 17 House seats. “But privately, some national Democrats felt even that didn’t go far enough,” and are now pushing for an even more aggressive map that would leave Republicans with just two seats, report Ally Mutnick and Shia Kapos.
— Meanwhile in Texas, the newly drawn, heavily GOP congressional map — which critics decried for underrepresenting people of color — could be headed back to the drawing board. Texas Tribune’s Alexa Ura reports that late Saturday night, the state House altered the map to both restore a Latino-majority Central Texas district and prevent two Black Houston-area Reps. — SHEILA JACKSON LEE and AL GREEN — from being pitted against each other. But early this morning, the state Senate rejected those changes. The two chambers will have to sort it out before the special session ends Tuesday.
ON WISCONSIN — Trump called on former Wisconsin Rep. SEAN DUFFY to run for governor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Molly Beck reports. “He would be fantastic!” Trump said in a statement Saturday. “A champion athlete, Sean loves the people of Wisconsin, and would be virtually unbeatable.” Duffy, a former contestant on MTV’s “The Real World,” retired from Congress in 2019 to attend to a major health issue experienced by one of his children, and has since worked as a commentator on Fox News.
VACCINE POLITICS — Around the country, the Republican governors fighting against Covid-19 vaccination mandates have seen noticeably lower approval ratings on their handling of the pandemic, writes Lisa Kashinsky. And they’re not concerned about it. That’s according to a new study from the Covid States Project, whose “authors believe the public’s support for vaccine requirements is real, as is its distaste for those opposing the measures.”
A WHOLE LOTTO NOTHING — States have spent at least $89 million on lotteries aimed at boosting Covid vaccination rates — and new research suggests they didn’t work, reports Insider’s Erin Schumaker. Among the reasons why: Americans’ beliefs about vaccines are too deeply rooted for a reward to be effective. Read the underlying research at the JAMA Health Forum
LIVING FREE AND DYING — New Hampshire offers a particularly interesting microcosm of the vaccine fight’s political stakes for Republicans: It’s a relatively moderate state where misinformation about science could turn off independents, but its powerful libertarian streak provides ammo against mandates. AP’s Michael Casey takes a look at the battles roiling the state party, where a top legislative committee chair had to resign after saying the vaccines were like “organized mass murder” and Gov. CHRIS SUNUNU finds himself walking a tricky tightrope.
COVID TOPS GUN DEATHS AMONG COPS — Covid “has become the leading cause of death for officers despite law enforcement being among the first groups eligible to receive the vaccine at the end of 2020,” CNN’s Ryan Young reports. “The total stands at 476 Covid-19 related deaths [among law enforcement] since the start of the pandemic, compared to 94 from gunfire in the same period.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
AMERICANS HELD HOSTAGE IN HAITI — “A group of 17 U.S. missionaries including children was kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday,” reports the AP. “The missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage, according to a message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.” Live updates from the NYT
MADURO MAD, DECLARES TALKS BAD — AP’s Joshua Goodman reports that “Venezuela’s government said Saturday it would halt negotiations with its opponents in retaliation for the extradition to the U.S. of a close ally of President NICOLÁS MADURO who prosecutors believe could be the most significant witness ever about corruption in the South American country.”
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
FOLLOWING THE MONEY — Who helped fund Jan. 6? JULIE JENKINS FANCELLI, daughter of the founder of the grocery store chain Publix, donated $150,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association’s nonprofit Rule of Law Defense Fund that WaPo’s Beth Reinhard, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger report was “intended in part to promote the rally” in Washington.
CLINTON UPDATE — Former president BILL CLINTON is expected to be released from the hospital today, CNN’s Kim Berryman, Jamie Gangel and Natasha Chen report. “Clinton received several calls from well-wishers Saturday, including Vice President KAMALA HARRIS, former President GEORGE W. BUSH and Clinton’s own former Vice President AL GORE.”
PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION — “On the trail of Maryland’s fugitive zebras,” by WaPo’s Maura Judkis
STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What’s really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who’s up, who’s down, and who really has the president’s ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider’s guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe today.
Joe and Jill Biden had a date-night dinner at Fiola Mare on the Georgetown waterfront.
Seung Min Kim, fresh off her ride as “distinguished alumni award winner” in University of Iowa’s homecoming parade, had great seats to watch the Hawkeyes’ devastating loss to Purdue.
Also in good seats Saturday: Ted Cruz for the Houston Astros’ blowout game two ALCS loss to the Boston Red Sox, and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for the Braves’ walk-off victory over the Dodgers.
Mary Trump has very strong opinions about the lack of an Oscar for Severus Snape.
Preet Bharara did a CNN hit from the back of a van.
IN MEMORIAM — “Former U.S. Rep. Benishek, who represented northern Michigan and U.P., has died at 69,” by The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke: “[Dan] Benishek, a Republican from Crystal Falls, championed military, veterans and conservation issues while in office from 2011-17, targeting the Department of Veterans Affairs, spending he considered wasteful and policies that were frustrating veterans.”
— Mary Toya, the mother of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, died. “We celebrate Mary Toya’s long life and are grateful for her 25 years of service to Native students as a member of the Interior team within Indian Affairs,” the department said.
TRANSITIONS — Brandon Wear is now comms director at JLK Political Strategies. He previously was comms manager for Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.). … AJ Jones II will be SVP for global comms and public affairs at Starbucks. He most recently has been chief corporate affairs and comms officer at Vanda Pharmaceuticals. …
… Christina Howerton will be senior comms manager for industry affairs at the American Trucking Associations. She most recently was manager for marketing and new media at the National Health Council. … Jennifer Holtz is joining JSI as a VP of regulatory affairs. She previously was special counsel for cyber and critical infrastructure security, public safety and the homeland security bureau at the FCC.
ENGAGED — Colin Campbell, managing editor at Yahoo News and a Business Insider and N.Y. Observer alum, proposed to Sarah Jorgensen, a CNN producer, on Tuesday in La Jolla, Calif. They were introduced by Campbell’s old colleague Hunter Walker. Instapic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) (5-0) … Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) (6-0) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) … Bloomberg’s Peter Grauer … CBS’ Bo Erickson … POLITICO’s Angela Greiling Keane, Myah Ward and Jordan Wolman … Kelly Misselwitz of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) office … Diana Hamilton of the Senate Appropriations Committee … TikTok’s Michael Beckerman … NASA’s Alicia Brown … Rich Thomas of Monument Advocacy … Kaiser Health News’ Julie Rovner … Ken Baer of Crosscut Strategies … John Monsif … Morgan O’Brien … Martin Matishak … Colleen King … Matthew Green … former Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Virgil Goode (R-Va.) … Bill Steiger … Matthew Hennessy of Tremont Public Advisors … former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory … Fred Yang
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