December 3, 2021

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POLITICO Playbook: Youngkin’s crowds dwarf McAuliffe’s on election eve – POLITICO – Politico

11 min read

TERRY MCAULIFFE wanted GLENN YOUNGKIN and DONALD TRUMP to campaign together so badly that when it didn’t happen, McAuliffe simply invented a Youngkin-Trump event that didn’t exist.

“Guess how Glenn Youngkin is finishing his campaign?” McAuliffe told a modest crowd outside a Fairfax brewery Monday night at his final rally. “He is doing an event with Donald Trump here in Virginia.”

That was a lie. Trump wasn’t in Virginia and he never campaigned with Youngkin, though he did make the case for the GOP candidate — “fantastic guy!” — during a brief “tele-rally.”

Thirty miles away, at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds, a crowd several times the size of McAuliffe’s was waiting for Youngkin to take the stage. You got a hint of why McAuliffe was desperate to manufacture the fake Trump event. While McAuliffe has boundless energy — “Sleep when you’re dead!” he likes to say — his Monday audiences in Richmond and Fairfax, where we caught up with him, were modest and listless.

Youngkin’s were large and rollicking, with many of the trappings of a MAGA rally — a similar dad rock playlist, hats and flags and T-shirts paying homage to the former president — but, to the great disappointment of Democrats, not Trump himself.

In Richmond on Monday afternoon, McAuliffe hinted at how Trump’s uncharacteristic self-control in not inserting himself more forcefully into the Virginia race had been a bit of a letdown. “I guess from a political perspective, sure,” McAuliffe told reporters, “I think that would be great.” (Though he quickly added, “But for the sake of the country it’s time to move on.”)

McAuliffe’s final message was almost entirely negative, focused on tying his opponent to Trump. Youngkin’s pitch was more complicated. He spent far more time advocating for job training programs, fixing the Virginia DMV, eliminating the state’s grocery tax and admiringly name-checking GEORGE W. BUSH than he did talking about how he would ban critical race theory (a topic he’s leaned on plenty during the campaign to activate the MAGA base, despite the fact it’s not being taught in schools). Youngkin didn’t talk about Trump. (He didn’t have to.)

Still, Virginia is a blue state that JOE BIDEN won by 10 points, and the obvious intensity gap on display in the final days can be deceiving.

“The Virginia governor’s race is coming down to momentum against math,” note Steven Shepard and Charlie Mahtesian in the must-read of the day, in which the duo dig into the key geographic and demographic trends driving the race.

Heather Caygle, Marianne Levine and Sarah Ferris connect the dots between Democratic inaction in Congress and McAuliffe’s precarious situation across the Potomac: “Terry McAuliffe could go down in Virginia’s gubernatorial race Tuesday, and neither congressional liberals nor centrists want to take the blame.”

NYT’s Reid Epstein’s Virginia dispatch notes “it was Glenn Youngkin offering an optimistic vision for the future while Terry McAuliffe delivered harsh warnings about ghosts of the past,” a contrast that “demonstrated their shifting fortunes.”

CNN’s Dan Merica, who has covered the race for months, takes note of the apparent Youngkin-mentum: “Youngkin’s events in the final days of the campaign have been energetic, often sizable, affairs, with Republicans increasingly enthusiastic that they have a shot to win their first statewide race in Virginia in more than a decade.”

You can find everything you need to know about today’s election in Virginia, as well as the other 2021 contests, right here, including POLITICO’s beloved election night live chat, which will begin when polls close at 7 pm.

We’ll be hitting both Virginia candidates’ parties tonight and will have a deep dive on the results for you Wednesday morning. One of the only things that McAuliffe and Youngkin both mentioned Monday night — and we agree — is that the Virginia race will have an enormous impact on the direction of American politics in the coming months.

Good Tuesday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

POLL: POPULAR STUFF DROPPED FROM BBB — For months, the White House has been touting the programs in its original Build Back Better plan as popular with the American people. Our latest POLITICO/Morning Consult weekly poll bears out their optimism. But there’s also bad news for the administration: Some of their most popular ideas didn’t make it in the current framework, including adding dental and vision to Medicare, allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and providing free community college.

The poll asked respondents to choose their top five most important components of the original Build Back Better package. These proposals made top five lists most frequently:

Paid family and medical leave, which was also excluded from the current framework, didn’t make as many top five lists, but it is still broadly popular. Seven in 10 respondents said they support it, including 82% of Democrats, 68% of independents and 58% of Republicans. Toplines Crosstabs

BIDEN’S TUESDAY: The president just delivered remarks at the “Action on Forests and Land-Use” event at COP26.

— 7:15 a.m.: Biden will participate in a meeting on the Build Back Better World initiative.

— 9 a.m.: Biden will deliver brief remarks at an event highlighting the progress of the Global Methane Pledge.

— 10:30 a.m.: The president will deliver remarks at the “Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment” event.

— 3:30 p.m.: Biden will hold a news conference.

— 5:55 p.m.: The president will depart Edinburgh, Scotland, to return to D.C., arriving at the White House at 1:25 a.m.

THE SENATE is in, with a recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for weekly conference meetings.

THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. and at noon will take up several bills focused on small businesses and entrepreneurship. GSA Administrator ROBIN CARNAHAN will testify before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at 10 a.m.

(IR)RECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

MANCHIN’S EFF-YOU TO PROGRESSIVES — The West Virginia Democrat stole the limelight yet again Monday when he called a press conference — and promptly poked progressives in the eye. Sen. JOE MANCHIN chided the left for holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) hostage — then did the exact opposite of what progressives wanted him to do to release it: He said he may or may not vote for the reconciliation bill after all.

The hedging came as progressives have been insisting both Manchin and Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) make public assurances that if they vote for the BIF, the two moderates will also pass the party’s larger social-spending bill. Manchin basically flipped them the bird.

And yet progressives appear to be shrugging it off, a bit of a head-scratcher given how adamant they’ve long been about securing commitments from the two senators. Congressional Progressive Caucus leader PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-Wash.) told reporters Monday night that she trusts Biden when he says he can deliver 50 Democratic votes in the Senate to pass the Build Back Better plan.

“I am going to trust the president. Our members are going to trust the president. And we are going to do the job that we need to do, which is pass … both bills through the House,” she said. “Whatever Sen. Manchin says is … up to him.”

Why the sudden change? With a Democratic defeat in Virginia’s gubernatorial race today now looking like a real possibility, nobody wants to be blamed for a loss.

SO WHAT NOW? House Democrats — from Jayapal to Speaker NANCY PELOSI — are still saying they want to pass both bills this week. That is, if they can get the language finalized. Asked when that might be, Majority Leader STENY HOYER told reporters, “I wish I knew.”

Behind the scenes they’re still haggling over a few last provisions. In the meantime, the House Rules Committee will start work on parts of the bill already drafted as early as today, Pelosi announced Monday night. Burgess Everett, Sarah Ferris and Marianne LeVine have the latest here.

ALL POLITICS

INSIDE THE TRUMP-RICKETTS CORNHUSKER STATE BRAWL — Our Alex Isenstadt has a juicy read up today about the turf war between Trump and termed-out Nebraska GOP Gov. PETE RICKETTS. The headline: “Trump, the billionaire family and the bull semen baron who divides them.”

The full story is a great yarn — the deets are definitely worth your time — but here’s a taste: ““In a phone call earlier this year, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussion, Ricketts tried to dissuade Trump from anointing a political adversary, cattle-breeding executive and Trump ally CHARLES HERBSTER, in the race to succeed Ricketts as governor in 2022. … Trump leapt into the Nebraska battle last week, defying Ricketts’ wishes and endorsing Herbster in a show of force for a longtime ally.”

“The months-long saga of Herbster’s rise — and Ricketts’ efforts to halt it … illustrates Trump’s primacy in the GOP and his willingness to spurn the party hierarchy, rebuffing a prominent governor in his own state to elevate one of Trump’s original political backers, a dyed-in-the-wool loyalist who was at both Trump’s 2015 presidential campaign launch and the January 6 rally that preceded the deadly riot at the Capitol.”

SEAN PARNELL ACCUSATIONS ROIL SENATE PRIMARY — We wrote a few weeks ago that Republicans were worried more would come out about SEAN PARNELL, the Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania recently endorsed by Trump. According to the Philly Inquirer, Parnell’s ex-wife testified under oath Monday that the former Army platoon leader — whom she said suffers from PTSD — abused not only her, but also their children. From the story: “In tears, LAURIE PARNELL said that her husband …

— “[C]alled her a ‘whore’ and a ‘piece of s—’ while pinning her down.”

— “‘Tried to choke me out on a couch and I literally had to bite him’ to get free. ‘He was strangling me.’”

— “[F]orced her out of their vehicle alongside a highway after raging at her, telling her to ‘go get an abortion.’”

— “[O]nce slapped one of their children hard enough to leave fingerprint-shaped welts through the back of the child’s T-shirt. Her attorney gave the judge a photo as evidence.”

— “[G]ot angry at one child and punched a closet door with such force it swung into the child’s face and left a bruise. She said her husband told the child, ‘That was your fault.’”

JUDICIARY SQUARE

SCOTUS WATCH, via NYT’s Adam Liptak: “After almost three hours of lively arguments on Monday at the Supreme Court, a majority of the justices seemed inclined to allow abortion providers — but perhaps not the Biden administration — to pursue a federal court challenge to a Texas law that has sharply curtailed abortions in the state. That would represent an important shift from a 5-to-4 ruling in September that allowed the law to go into effect.”

Also: Alice Miranda Ollstein and Josh Gerstein’s five takeaways from the arguments.

Joe Biden looked … very sleepy during the opening speeches at COP26.

Roger Stone threatened to primary Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he “does not conduct an audit of the 2020 election in the state,” Insider’s Cheryl Teh reports.

Janet Yellen met Bono in Glasgow and tweeted: “It’s a Beautiful Day.”

Cori Bush said Joe Manchin’s opposition to BBB is “anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant.”

Elon Musk’s net worth jumped $24 billion Tuesday (no that isn’t a typo), to $335 billion. He is by far the world’s richest person. Jeff Bezos is second with a measly $193 billion. (h/t Bloomberg)

Huma Abedin “thought for a long time” she cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election, per CBS.

Kirsten Powers, CNN senior political analyst and USA Today columnist, has a new book out today that will appeal to many Playbookers: “Saving Grace: Speak Your Truth, Stay Centered and Learn to Coexist With People Who Drive You Nuts” (Convergent).

Tim Mak, an investigative reporter at NPR and a POLITICO alum, has a new book out today that spills the secrets of the nation’s powerful gun lobby. It’s called “Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA.” Read NPR’s review here.

Tucker Carlson tried to suggest on air that WaPo’s massive Jan. 6 investigation was a flailing response to his new series on the Capitol siege. The Post has been working on its project for months.

TRANSITIONS — Julie Alderman Boudreau is joining American Bridge 21st Century as presidential research director. She most recently was research director at the League of Conservation Voters, and is a Planned Parenthood and Media Matters alum. … Bronwyn Flores will join IBM to lead comms for the IBM Policy Lab. She most recently led comms for regtech startup Metrc, and is a Consumer Technology Association alum. … Jason Ginenthal is now VP of health care media at FleishmanHillard. He most recently was a freelance PR consultant.

ENGAGED — Christopher Kirchhoff, senior adviser at Schmidt Futures and an Obama NSC and Pentagon alum, and John Tsou, VP of marketing at OpenTable, got engaged on Saturday. The two were a year apart at Harvard but first met on Hinge in San Francisco in early 2019. Pic

— Andrew Clark, the Republican comms strategist and 2020 Trump campaign rapid response director, got engaged to creative content marketer Ryan Donovan.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Kevin Perez-Allen, VP of issue advocacy at BerlinRosen, and Rachel Tucker, senior state strategies manager at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, welcomed Lucía Alicia Perez-Allen on Sunday. She came in at 5 lbs, 13 oz and 19 inches. Pic

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Playbook’s own Eli OkunPat Buchanan … former Wisconsin Gov. Scott WalkerJonathan Stahler of Sen. Chris Coons’ (D-Del.) office … Jen DlouhyMakan DelrahimRoger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association … Fox News’ Cam Cawthorne … AARP’s Bill WalshJohn Sampson of Microsoft Azure … Melanie Tiano of CTIA … BBC’s Anthony ZurcherAaron WeinbergKevin Cirilli … WaPo’s Adam Kushner and Ava Wallace … DNC’s Alana Mounce Sofia Vilar of J Strategies … APCO Worldwide’s Jay SolomonSheyla AsenciosNatalie Johnson of Firehouse Strategies … Catherine LyonsSteven Capozzola Matt Bisenius of the American Cleaning Institute … Daniela Pierre BravoKayla BenkerAaryn Kopp Christopher Graves Celeste Lavin of HuffPost

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Send Playbookers tips to [email protected]. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.

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