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13 Янв 2021, 15:43
Inside Joe Biden’s plan to avoid a midterm ‘shellacking’

Democrats under Barack Obama and Joe Biden were so badly pummeled in their first midterm elections that Obama famously called it a “shellacking.”

Ten years later, now President-elect Biden is hellbent on avoiding a repeat.

History isn’t on his side. Allies are concerned about his political strategy. And the party is worried about fundraising in an era where Donald Trump is not on the ballot.

In preparation for the 2022 midterms, the president-elect is fusing his political operation with the Democratic National Committee. He is also considering sending a top communications staffer — among those discussed are top campaign spokespeople Andrew Bates and T.J. Ducklo — to the DNC for the next several months as an embed before that person heads to the White House themselves. The idea is to help ensure the DNC is integral to the Biden operation, a source close to the campaign said in an interview.

Biden is also empowering his former campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, with his political portfolio in and out of the White House. Dillon, herself a former top national party staffer, is steering DNC meetings in the run-up to the election of a new chair and officers later this month.

She’s brought in an ally, Emmy Ruiz, to become Biden’s White House political director. Longtime Biden confidant and incoming senior adviser Steve Ricchetti will also advise Biden on politics.

Biden is also committed to pumping resources into state Democratic parties that atrophied during the Obama years, according to a Biden official, cognizant of the shortcomings of the last Democratic president’s approach. Rather than build out his own infrastructure, like Obama did, his team is in conversations with battleground state directors about the upcoming midterms and preparing to bulk up outreach to rural voters, with early conversations about having Agriculture secretary nominee Tom Vilsack serve as a possible surrogate.

The strategizing comes as the Democratic Party navigates a new, unsettled landscape, with lingering questions about whether Biden intends to run for a second term. The stakes are high for the party, which must figure out how to keep a congressional majority in both houses and also contend with reapportionment in two years.

No modern president has had a successful first midterm absent George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11. After Obama’s “shellacking,” Trump was pummeled during the 2018 elections. But although history is unkind, Democrats say it’s too early to predict doom for Biden already. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the president-elect cannot “govern through the prism of maintaining majorities,” but at the same time, must advance concrete agenda items if he wants to have success in 2022.

“If you do small things and you do the bare minimum, you’re probably going to pay a price for that. It’s bad for the country and bad politics,” said Plouffe. “There will be polls saying, ‘voters only want Biden to deal with the pandemic.’ You can’t govern based on that. On climate change, on taxes, on voting rights on any number of issues, you’ve got to make progress in these first two years.”

But there is also some cautious optimism in the party. Senior Democrats predict that Biden is less prone to suffer the same political setbacks as his predecessors, including the man he served as vice president.

“He’s a different person than Obama,” said former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Obama was very unique; he had a gift of communication. He could speak as well as anyone who’s ever held the presidency. Joe Biden is someone who is coming to the presidency as well prepared as anyone can be.”

Much of the success of Democrats in the midterms is tied to the legislative agenda they pursue before it — a reality that hasn’t escaped Biden’s allies and advisers.

Biden is preparing to push populist themes, like larger stimulus checks and mass vaccination programs for Covid-19 relief. Democrats believe they are the kinds of policies that could bring more immediate political returns than a sweeping overhaul of the health care system, which became a short-term liability for the party in 2010.

The focus on opening schools, small businesses and stadiums by the fall “is ultimately going to dominate the 2022 cycle in the same way that health care did in 2010,” said Tom Perriello, the former Democratic congressman from Virginia, who lost his seat that cycle.

“You need to deliver results that you can point to. If the original House version of the Affordable Care Act passed in the first 100 days, we would have all been fine in 2010,” Perriello said. “We would have had cheaper negotiated drug rates, for example, and by the fall of 2010, we could point and say, ‘You’re paying less for prescription drugs today.’ … That’s something you can run on it.’”

For Democrats, there are fears that getting a handle on the pandemic — while immensely difficult in its own right — will not be enough politically. Paul Begala, the famed Bill Clinton adviser, said the mantra of the 1992 campaign — “It’s the economy, stupid.” — still applies today.

“Taming Covid is necessary, but not sufficient,” Begala said. “Creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs by fixing bridges, repairing water systems, updating the grid, retrofitting buildings — a Biden jobs agenda can help stave off the midterm slump.”

But a popular agenda — even one that creates jobs — still has to be communicated to voters. And that requires an effective campaign infrastructure to be in place. On that front, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said there’s room for improvement.

A powerful Democrat from South Carolina who is close with Biden, Clyburn said that Democrats should expand their map in two years and invest more heavily in local canvassing and less in TV ads.

“We did door-knocking, that’s how we won Georgia. That’s how we win in the midterms,” Clyburn said. “If you do it in the midterms the way you did last November, we will lose the majority.”

Though he is one of Biden’s most prominent allies, Clyburn was critical of the decision last year by the Biden campaign to halt door-knocking amid the pandemic. The campaign later reversed course, but Clyburn still blamed Jaime Harrison’s November loss to Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina Senate race on a lack of canvassing work.

“Jen O’Malley’s — all I’m saying is, is that her kind of politics? I don’t know,” he said of Biden’s campaign manager. “I remember her doing an announcement and we raised holy hell during the campaign.”

Those who have worked with O’Malley Dillon say that the criticism that she’s not attentive to organizing is off base. They note her own personal history in the field and that she was trying to balance the demands of a campaign with the realities of Covid.

“She’s just second to none when it comes to building a scaled field effort,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action and Stacey Abrams’ 2018 campaign manager. Groh-Wargo had brought in O’Malley Dillon to coach field staff and train local operatives in that campaign. “You have to make choices, and the Biden team was clear — all Democrats were clear in the general election — our No. 1 goal was to keep people safe, period. So up and down the ballot, Democrats were incredibly cautious on door-knocking.”

The Biden team is already connecting with battleground states operatives, including in Wisconsin, where a U.S. Senate seat and governorship are up for grabs in two years.

Ben Wikler, the Wisconsin Democratic Party chair, said he’d been in direct contact with the president-elect’s staff to talk “about the necessity for ongoing support and engagement for state parties and they are totally on the same page.”

Lauded for the work he’s done to build up the state party, Wikler said the Biden team shared his approach and, in fact, was already building on the existing state-level infrastructure.

“It’s worth underscoring, typically when a presidential campaign rolls in, they sweep the dishes off the table before setting up the new places,” said Wikler. “With the Biden campaign, they deeply integrated with infrastructure that state parties have been building for years.”

In many ways, Democrats say, Biden is the antithesis to Obama. The latter was never a creature of party politics. He shunned the DNC and, instead, launched a separate entity, Organizing for America, that essentially competed with the committee. Biden, by contrast, is a 78-year-old creature of Washington and is poised to work hand-in-hand with the party. O’Malley Dillon is sitting in on DNC discussions about officers and the next chair, a role Harrison is expected to assume, according to two sources close to the discussions.

Many of those comparing Biden and Obama as heads of the party concede that they arrived from very different places and at times in their careers that are hard to juxtapose. Obama ran against the Clintons — and all of their relationships and accrued power — before opting to create his own political apparatus.

The party suffered financially during the Obama years and kept its leadership despite severe losses in 2010. At the end of 2010, the DNC was $16 million in debt and had $9 million on hand.

Today, the DNC emerged from the presidential election with no debt and, as of a December filing, had $24 million on hand; though fundraisers warn they’re confronting donor fatigue and are embarking on an era in which Trump isn’t an omnipresent boogeyman to rile up donors.

“We broke every fundraising record in the history of politics, but that’s not sustainable,” said Rufus Gifford, Biden campaign deputy manager who served as DNC finance director at the start of the Obama administration. He said of efforts moving forward: “Party fundraising is a completely different animal than running against Donald Trump. It’s going to be tough, but it’s nice when you’re not starting in the red.”

As a model for the midterm elections, Democrats and Biden officials point to the Georgia Senate run-offs that gave the party a Senate majority for — in all likelihood — at least the next two years.

Biden’s team steered nearly $20 million to help Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock claim the Senate seats, including hard dollars and dedicating staff support and voter data. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who made a combined three trips to Georgia ahead of the November election, returned to the state in the closing days of the January runoff. President-elect Obama faced a similar decision late in 2008, and while he dispatched field organizers for that Senate runoff in December between GOP then-Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin, Obama refused to spend much of his own political capital on the election, and didn’t travel there late in the campaign, despite Democrats’ hopes of notching a 60-seat filibuster-proof Senate majority.

“We have learned lessons from the past,” a Biden official said. “Things did not work as smoothly and the work was not as closely aligned, and the president-elect wants to ensure there is cohesion and a seamless, productive working relationship that will support not only his agenda, but also lift up state parties and political candidates up and down the ballot.”

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16 Янв 2021, 11:05

Гонщик команды «КАМАЗ-мастер» Антон Шибалов рассказал о столкновении с вертолетом, которое произошло на заключительном этапе ралли-марафона «Дакар-2021».

Во время заезда на 11-м спецучастке машину россиянина подбросило вверх. Грузовик задел одно из полозьев вертолета, летевшего слишком низко над трассой. Сила удара оказалась не очень большой, поэтому пилот сохранил контроль над вертолетом. После столкновения грузовик получил повреждения воздухозаборника.

«Мы сами не ожидали, впервые в жизни такое, что получилось задеть вертолет. Он спустился слишком низко, а мы подлетели на подскоке», — сказал Шибалов в интервью, опубликованном на YouTube-канале «КАМАЗ-мастер».

Также спортсмен высказался о втором месте команды в общем зачете грузовиков.

«Эмоции самые лучшие, потому что все три грузовика не подиуме, неважно, какой я, первый, второй или третий. Главное, что мы все вместе», — сказал гонщик.

Ранее было опубликовано видео столкновения «КАМАЗа» Шибалова с вертолетом.

17 Янв 2021, 23:46

На проспекте Непокоренных в Калининском районе Санкт-Петербурга произошел пожар, его удалось ликвидировать. Об этом сообщается на сайте регионального МЧС.

Пожар произошел в неэксплуатируемом складском помещении. Площадь пожара составила 400 кв. м. К его ликвидации от МЧС привлекались девять единиц техники и 41 человек личного состава.

Пострадавших в результате пожара нет. Как уточнили ТАСС в МЧС, возгорание произошло на территории овощебазы.

9 января в Василеостровском районе Петербурга произошел пожар на территории складских помещений. Пострадавших нет.

15 Янв 2021, 05:15

Death In Paradise

Rating:

Robson Green: Walking Coast To Coast

Rating:

There is nothing more British, declared Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker, than settling down to watch a cookery show with a takeaway on your lap.

To underline his point, this week's Death In Paradise (BBC1) included a contest to boil up the best crab callaloo or stew. DI Parker's looked like the contents of a blocked drain, with a few half-submerged pincers.

The crime-busting hypochondriac was only half right. We do like a cookery programme, it's true — yesterday's schedules included the Hairy Bikers making a banana tart, schoolchildren on Junior Bake Off serving cakes shaped like animals, and the inevitable marathon of Come Dine With Me on C4.

Better still, though, we love a good murder investigation. BBC2's absorbing Death In Bollywood ran for three nights this week, but I suspect most crime addicts haven't even got round to watching it yet — we've all been glued to The Pembrokeshire Murders on ITV.

Keith Allen was outstanding as the ranting narcissist John Cooper, a serial killer finally trapped by his own callousness. Covered in blood after a double shooting, he took a pair of shorts from one of his victims and was spotted wearing them, days later.

The series, co-starring Luke Evans as a dogged policeman, has been ITV's most popular drama for years, with a live audience of more than 6.5 million . . . more than tuned in to David Tennant's star turn as psychopath Dennis Nilsen in Des last year (though millions more watched it later on catch-up).

To capitalise on this, the channel followed up the three-part reconstruction with a documentary subtitled Catching The Game Show Killer. It seems that even when we already know the minutiae of a case, our appetite for murder is unlimited.

Death In Paradise belongs to an earlier genre, the sort that existed before podcasts and police procedurals. Agatha Christie would have approved of the murder method: arsenic smeared on the stem of a professor's spectacles, which he tended to chew pensively.

At first DI Parker guessed the arsenic was concocted from 70-year-old rolls of flypaper. Later, he discovered it came from an abandoned copper mine.

The BBC might be missing a trick here: they could run a week of documentaries to explain the science behind a single episode of Death In Paradise.

Tahj Miles joined the cast as trainee officer Marlon Pryce, a local conman who is bound to drive his stiff-necked sergeant, J.P. Hooper (Tobi Bakare) to fits of frustration. Josephine Jobert, who returned last week as DS Florence Cassell, might never have been away. But it's Don Warrington who could carry this show on his own, as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson, even if all the other characters were played by turtles. Or crabs, for that matter.

Robson Green had no intention of carrying the show on his own, as he ambled from Newcastle to the Irish Sea on Walking Coast To Coast (C5). At every step, he roped in fellow hikers to be his co-presenters.

On Hadrian's Wall he met cyclists, soldiers on a training yomp, treasure hunters and dog walkers. Robson has a knack for chatting to anyone, though most of his conversation is about himself: he cheerfully informed one bloke about all the TV detectives he'd ever played.

But Robson's no historian. He couldn't understand why Hadrian wanted a wall, and thought the Roman emperor must have been a bit of a bighead. Imagine! As if any egomaniac would ever become obsessed with building a wall.

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