Top of the Hour

Good morning from Hotline. Today we’re monitoring the fallout from President Biden’s disastrous debate performance, reporting on new polls in New Mexico, and preparing for the Supreme Court’s final decision day of the term. Let’s get after it.

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PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: President Biden and his allies have spent the days since the debate “aggressively downplaying” his performance “by assailing the ‘bedwetting brigade’ of anxious Democrats, trumpeting a record influx of campaign donations and noting the long list of incumbents who stumbled during their first debates.”

Behind closed doors, they have worked to reassure nervous donors and “pleaded with concerned lawmakers to keep their powder dry,” all while “steeling themselves for a battle that could determine not only whether Biden wins the election in November, but whether he will be on the ballot at all.” (Washington Post)

The 48 hours after the disastrous debate were a “frenzied campaign within a campaign” to save Biden’s teetering candidacy. “His campaign has been criticized as insular and insistent, so the burst of activity signaled that the debate fallout had turned into a real crisis that spun those in his orbit into a frantic battle mode.” (New York Times) The president’s family “is urging him to stay in the race and keep fighting despite last week’s disastrous debate performance, even as some members of his clan privately expressed exasperation at how he was prepared for the event by his staff.” (New York Times)

RACE FOR THE HOUSE: Democrats in competitive seats “are beginning to distance themselves from” Biden “after the president's halting debate performance.” Swing district Democrats are reportedly “freaking out” about Biden’s downballot impact, and the possibility of him appearing in the district. Biden’s unpopularity has always been a point of contention in these congressional campaigns but the issue took on renewed significance after his debate performance, with many members refusing to comment on his performance. (Axios)

A new NRCC memo says the committee has been “keeping careful notes on House Democrats’ statements in support of” Biden and “their complete silence after” the debate. The memo states the NRCC will “weaponize the silence of vulnerable House Democrats with their own voting record.” It lists several examples of targeted Democrats and their reaction—or lack thereof—to last week’s debate. (Politico)

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries “has told his worried members to hold their fire for a few days to see how things shake out, according to two people who received the message,” regarding the debate performance and its potential political impact. (Washington Post)

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE: The fallout from Biden’s debate performance has also thrown Senate Democrats into disarray, putting their chances to hold onto their tight majority in limbo. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) campaign said in a statement that she’s “running her own race for the people of Wisconsin” while saying she supports Biden when asked whether she supported him as the 2024 Democratic nominee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) put it simply: “I focus on my race. I’m not a pundit.” (The Hill)

On the other side of the coin, Republicans, including the NRSC, look to take advantage of Biden’s performance, tying Democrats closer to the current president as they continue to outpace him in recent polling. In Pennsylvania, 2022 candidate Dave McCormick (R) put up a new ad targeting Sen. Bob Casey (D) for “expressing confidence in Biden’s leadership with the president’s halting debate performance.” (Politico)

IN THE STATES: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D), who is currently chair of the Democratic Governors Association, “defended Biden’s capability to lead the country and voiced frustration that more attention is being paid to debate performance than governing records,” at a press conference addressing flooding in the state. Walz said: “I think it’s clear that neither candidate had a very good night. President Biden could certainly have performed better and President Trump could tell the truth once in a while.” (Minnesota Public Radio)

DEMOCRATS: Biden attempted “to reassure his supporters he was up to the challenge” of running for reelection during a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday, following his sputtering debate performance the preceding night.

Biden said: “I know I’m not a young man. I don’t walk as easily as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong and I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.” (Raleigh News & Observer) The Biden campaign launched a new ad, titled “I Know,” featuring some of Biden’s comments at the Raleigh rally. The ad will air on TV and digital platforms in swing states, and will target younger and diverse audiences. It will appear on ESPN, TNT, Bravo, FX, Freeform, and Comedy Central. (release)

NEW MEXICO: An internal poll (June 19-24; 600 LVs; +/-4%) for former Bridgewater Associates executive Nella Domenici (R) and the NRSC, conducted by 1892 and shared exclusively with Hotline, found Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) leading Domenici within the margin of error, 46%-42%. 10% were undecided. A corresponding poll from March had Heinrich leading, 48%-36%. The poll of the presidential race found Biden leading former President Trump by just 2 points, 49%-47%, in a theoretical head-to-head, with 5% undecided. In a six-way race, Biden led Trump by just 1 point, 43%-42%. Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) had 8%, 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein 3%, Libertarian Party nominee Chase Oliver 2%, and Constitution Party nominee Randall Terry had 1%. The remaining 3% were undecided. (Hotline reporting)

SENATE POLLING ROUNDUP: An EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan (June 21-26; 600 LVs; +/-4.0%) found Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-07) and former Rep. Mike Rogers (R) statistically tied. Slotkin received 44% and Rogers received 42%. 14% were undecided. (release)

In Montana, a Torchlight Strategies poll sponsored by the GOP-aligned Common Sense for America PAC (June 22-26; 649 RVs; +/-3.9%) found former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy (R) ahead of Sen. Jon Tester (D), 47%-41%. Other candidates received 3% and 7% were undecided. (release)

In New Jersey, a co/efficient poll (June 26-27; 810 LVs; +/-3.42%) found Rep. Andy Kim (D-03) leading hotelier Curtis Bashaw (R) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D) as an independent candidate. Kim led at 39%, Curtis at 33% and Menendez at 3% with 25% undecided. In a head-to-head matchup between Kim and Bashaw, Kim led, 41%-34%. 25% were undecided. (release)

REPUBLICANS: Trump’s advisers “are planning to drastically scale back and simplify the official platform of the Republican Party, according to a memo sent to the party’s platform committee. … The decision to cut the size of the platform sharply—the most recent one adopted by the party, in 2016, ran nearly 60 pages—is likely to prompt skirmishes among some conservatives and party activists who have spent years haggling over the document’s language.” (New York Times)

LA REDISTRICTING: Justice Samuel Alito gave the group of Black voters plaintiffs “until July 30 to submit arguments on why the high court should decide whether to back the Legislature’s map from January, which drew districts that could lead to two Black and four White representatives; draw a different map; or return to the 2022 map that elected five White Republicans and one Black Democrat.” If the Supreme Court takes up the case next term, it would rule on whether the map adheres to the Voting Rights Act. A federal court ruled this spring that the new map—made by a Republican Legislature—constituted a racial gerrymander, but the Supreme Court ordered a pause on the ruling for the cycle. The Supreme Court recently ruled in a South Carolina case that “judges should defer to state legislatures on whether the intent in redistricting was political, which is allowed, or racial, which is not.” (New Orleans Advocate)

PA-10: Rep. Scott Perry (R) shared—and later deleted—an antisemitic image on his campaign Facebook page earlier this week, “underscoring a broader pattern in which the Pennsylvania Republican has espoused conspiracy theories and used inflammatory rhetoric while in office. … The image depicts a scheming cabal of stereotypically Jewish bankers with hooked noses and thick beards gathered around a Monopoly board that sits atop the hunching backs of a group of naked figures.” Perry captioned the post, “Says it all…” The image first appeared in 2012 as a street mural in London, and it has been widely denounced as antisemitic. Perry’s campaign said it removed the image after “contacting several members of the Jewish community” and realizing it was considered antisemitic. AIPAC’s PAC recently stopped online fundraising for Perry after he voted against an aid package to Israel. (Jewish Insider)

AZ SEN: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-03) “will announce an expanded reservation in his fight for the competitive Arizona seat. His team will announce a nearly $22 million investment across broadcast and cable, the largest on the Senate map so far this cycle.” (Politico)

NEVADA: The Nevada Secretary of State’s office announced Friday that the citizen-led initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution led by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom has qualified for the November ballot, after county election officials verified more than 127,000 signatures, more than the roughly 102,000 needed. In Nevada, efforts to amend the state constitution “must be approved by voters twice, so it would head to the 2026 ballot if a majority of voters approve the measure in November.” While abortion is already legal through 24-weeks in Nevada “because of a 1990 referendum that can only be overturned by a majority vote of the people,” the amendment would provide additional protections. (Nevada Independent)

In the Senate race, 2022 candidate Sam Brown (R) is out with a new ad clarifying his stance on abortion. The ad, using footage from his NBC News interview back in February, features Brown specifying he believes in exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. The ad ends with him declaring he is “not going to support a federal abortion ban.” (Punchbowl News)

   Bonus Episode: Unpacking Debate Performances

Hotline editor Kirk A. Bado and Cook Political Report with Amy Walter founder Charlie Cook unpack the first presidential debate and discuss Biden's widely panned performance.

 Listen to our Latest Podcast

  Paging the Hotline

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 Hotline's Graph of the Day


A new Public Policy Polling survey (June 19-20; 635 RVs; +/-3.9%) found Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) ahead of former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the first post-primary poll of the race. Alsobrooks led with 45% while Hogan had 34%. 5% supported other candidates in the race and 16% were undecided. 


 Hair of the Dog

Louis Tomlinson brought a telly to Glastonbury for England vs Slovakia” (Rolling Stone)

Our Call

Swing-district Democrats—according to recent reports—are freaking out about President Biden's debate performance and its potential effect on House races. But throughout the cycle, polls have shown House Democrats outperforming Biden in these swing districts, an indication that Biden's age and unpopularity was already a concern and that the Democratic Party is not necessarily unpopular. While it's easy to sound the alarm, the polling data from the last year show congressional Democrats slightly insulated from potential dips in Biden's numbers, at least for now. James A. Downs

 Fresh Brewed Buzz

Rhonda Massie, the wife of Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY 04), “has died, the Kentucky congressman announced Friday in a moving social media tribute to his high school sweetheart and the ‘love of my life.’” (AP)

“Conservative Supreme Court justices opened up a new avenue to challenge federal rulemaking Thursday, overturning a decades-old, landmark precedent governing when the judiciary defers to an agency's interpretation of the law.” (National Journal)

“Can a civics teacher persuade her students to believe in democracy?” (Washington Post)

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon “is set to report to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, on Monday to begin a four-month sentence for defying a congressional subpoena.” (CNN)

The Supreme Court 'running of the interns' comes to the finish line” (NBC News)

“Two giant pandas, Yun Chuan and Xin Bao, have safely arrived to their new home at the San Diego Zoo.” (Axios)

The Youngest Pandemic Children Are Now in School, and Struggling” (New York Times)

 Rooster's Crow

The House and the Senate are out.

Biden will depart Camp David at 7:30 p.m., and return to the White House at 8:20 p.m. He has no other public events scheduled.

Swizzle Challenge

President Eisenhower’s presidential library is in Abilene, Kansas.

Joe Bookman won Friday’s challenge. Here’s his challenge: Whose presidential library is located in Iowa?

The 3rd correct email gets to submit the next question.

 Early Bird Special

Neither candidate delivered a strong performance. But the stakes for Biden were much higher.
A win for conservatives, Friday’s decision on 'Chevron deference' overturns 40 years of administrative law precedent and could dramatically change how Congress writes legislation.

Sweeping privacy bill hits last-minute leadership roadblock
The American Privacy Rights Act was set for a markup Thursday, only to be shelved after opposition from GOP leadership.

The Justice Department case could set a precedent for others who have provided support to groups abroad, including in Ukraine, Gaza, and Sudan.

PLUS: NTSB sanctions Boeing, NASA enlists SpaceX to help destroy space station, SCOTUS says EPA’s air-quality policy goes too far, and allies to build Ukraine a ‘bridge’ to NATO.


“Calling somebody a ‘carpetbagger’ is saying: ‘They’re not one of us. They don’t share our values.’” — Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University Peter Loge on us vs. them campaigning (Washington Post)


“They not like us, they not like us, they not like us / They not like us, they not like us, they not like us” — Kendrick Lamar (“Not Like Us”)

Kirk A. Bado, Wake-Up Call! Editor

Associate Editor: Hannah Thacker
Senior Production Editor: Taameen Mohammad
Staff Writers: Mary Frances McGowan, Zac Weisz, James A. Downs, Nicholas Anastácio
Hotline Intern:  Abby Turner

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