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Biden earned political capital this fall. He’s quietly spending it.

White House officials and senior Democrats believe the party’s better-than-expected fall has relieved considerable pressure on Joe Biden to act quickly on a reelection bid.
But they’re still making moves.

Biden aides have been working with outside advisers to help sketch out components of a reelection ramp up, including Obama alum Jim Messina, with whom the president has discussed polling in recent weeks, according to two people familiar with his involvement. Messina did not return calls for comment.

They are also reengaging donors and zeroing in on key staff roles and hires to fortify a unit that could operate outside the close-knit group that runs operations at the White House. They’re further along on finalizing a headquarters for the campaign, too, with Wilmington, Del., the likely destination, although Philadelphia has not been ruled out.
“We’re aware that there is no deficit of people who speculate, but very few individuals are actually knowledgeable about anything of that nature,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

Those in the White House have proceeded like Biden will run. His family will play an outsized role in making the final decision and first lady Jill Biden, initially reluctant, is said to have warmed to another campaign.

President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Dec. 6, 2022, to travel to Phoenix. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo.

There were initial family discussions over Thanksgiving in Nantucket and more are expected over Christmas. The anticipated timeline, according to those close to the deliberations, is for the campaign to launch towards the end of the first quarter of 2023 — after the president’s State of the Union address and the introduction of his budget.
Those familiar with the planning stress they feel no pressure to move more quickly. Biden world officials believe that Democratic wins in the midterm elections have quieted naysayers. More specifically, they argue the president’s fall momentum has stopped potential rivals from pushing forward.

Now any talk inside the White House about the 2024 primary has turned instead to “if he doesn’t run, what kind of circus is released?” said one Democrat familiar with the White House’s thinking.

The posture reflects a new, more confident mood among Biden and his advisers as he prepares for a likely reelection bid. Largely gone is chatter around whether Biden would step aside for a new generation of Democrats. That’s been replaced by maneuvers by the president to position himself for the rigors of another run.

Biden re-shaped the next primary schedule in his own image by He has also been traveling to key battleground states including Arizona, which he steered clear of ahead of the midterms.

“The signals are pretty strong that he’s running,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic operative who managed Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. “I don’t see any reason for an official announcement any time soon. But if you look at what he’s been doing, he’s already told us.”

Donors are still being directed to the Democratic National Committee and the outside Building Back Together outfit, and they say there hasn’t been a proactive move to start raising money for the campaign. That’s typical, some operatives said, of the post-election period when candidates and campaigns often give donors a break. But many have still seen an uptick in calls and emails from Biden aides and party allies — and hundreds of invitations have gone out to the various White House and other related holiday parties in Washington to keep supporters engaged.
Biden has also been road-testing new variations on a possible re-election pitch that combines the coming effects of three huge spending packages involving roads, computer chips and climate protections. And according to two people familiar with recent conversations, senior advisers to the president who will be closely involved in guiding an eventual campaign have been calling party operatives in recent weeks to begin conversations about convention planning and building a national field operation, something that was scaled down during the 2020 campaign due to the limitations imposed by the pandemic.

“He’s got a lot of time,” said Joel Benenson, the veteran Democratic strategist. He suggested Biden could use the coming months to further establish his footing on top priorities around the economy and downplay the need to act right away on 2024 “in a way that could be very Bidenesque and connect with families and people.”

Of the timeframe facing the president, Benenson added: “It’s the political conversation that insiders are having. I just don’t see any reason to accelerate it — on anybody’s part.”

While Biden may have more time to announce a reelection bid, it is not infinite. Biden aides have frequently pointed to the timing of President Barack Obama’s re-election announcement as a guide. That came on April 4, 2011. But the difference, some aides have reluctantly acknowledged, is that there were never any questions as to whether Obama would run again.

Senior Democrats believe if Biden were to wait too long to make an announcement, it would renew and hasten questions surrounding his age (he turned 80 late last month). They also caution that the favorable political environment he currently enjoys could shift quickly, though White House aides are bullish about the work done and how it’s shaping the landscape.

“The same coalition President Biden built to expand the map for Democrats in 2020 powered our historic midterm wins, including unprecedented youth turnout,” said Bates. “At the same time, the president galvanized independent voters with a message widely adopted across the party, highlighting the differences between his values and ultra MAGA Republicans’ agenda.”

Biden aides and allies are loath to discuss names publicly, but in recent weeks the White House has taken subtle steps to try and elevate former President Donald Trump by leaning into the rash of unfavorable storylines involving him. Many of Biden’s closest advisers anxiously believe that if the president opts against another bid, it would leave an unsettled and untested field of contenders to fend off Trump’s return. Others aligned with the effort openly revel in the idea of the former president maintaining a presence on the political landscape.

Former President Donald Trump stands on stage after announcing a third run for president at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo.

“Trump is doing a damn good job of making sure the Republican Party will be a shitshow,” said Dick Harpootlian, a longtime South Carolina Democrat and an early and loyal Biden backer.

Trippi noted the GOP writ large has the same problem it’s had now for three cycles.
“They can’t win with him and they can’t win without him,” he said, noting that if Trump’s MAGA base doesn’t turn out and a challenger like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were to defeat Trump in a primary, “God bless ’em because it’ll be the last thing they do.“

“Does anyone really believe Trump could lose the nomination and then tell his base he lost fair and square so go out and vote for the Republican nominee?” he pointed out. “So let them have that fight, because I don’t see a winner coming out of it either way.”

Biden does have some major decisions to make around the structure of a reelection bid.
Chief among them is how to balance operations between the White House and campaign headquarters when the latter finally launches. Veterans of past presidential reelection campaigns note that much of what the campaign is judged by originates at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., making it critical that trusted aides are in place and communication is smooth.

there were certain equities in limited supply, starting with the president’s time,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s longtime adviser. “There was a lot of cross pollination between the campaign and the White House.”
What Biden seems almost certain to avoid, as of now, is a high-profile primary challenger. Those discussed as alternatives, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, among others, have notably re-upped their support for him. And Biden’s play to promote South Carolina to the front of the line amounted to a show of force to close off any avenues for a long-shot challenge.

“One risk point has always been early momentum from insurgent campaigns and Biden has pretty much ended all of that,” said Jim Hodges, the former South Carolina governor.

Democrats that still harbored doubts about how successful another Biden run would be have come away from conversations with his aides convinced he will launch one anyway. And Hodges said he’s heard the same thing privately from Democratic elected officials who he’s casually been in touch with for months.


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Erdogan unveils Turkey’s first astronaut on election trail

Turkey’s first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station by the end of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday after an illness forced him to cancel several days of appearances.

Air force pilot Alper Gezeravci, 43, was selected to be the first Turkish citizen in space. His backup is Tuva Cihangir Atasever, 30, an aviation systems engineer at Turkish defense contractor Roketsan.

Erdogan made the announcement at the Teknofest aviation and space fair in Istanbul, the president’s first public appearance since falling ill during a TV interview on Tuesday. He appeared alongside Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.

“Our friend, who will go on Turkey’s first manned space mission, will stay on the International Space Station for 14 days,” Erdogan said. “Our astronaut will perform 13 different experiments prepared by our country’s esteemed universities and research institutions during this mission.”

Erdogan described Gezeravci as a “heroic Turkish pilot who has achieved significant success in our Air Force Command.”

The Turkish Space Agency website describes Gezeravci as a 21-year air force veteran and F-16 pilot who attended the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.

Wearing a red flight jacket, Erdogan appeared in robust health as he addressed crowds at the festival. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 14, and opinion polls show Erdogan in potentially his toughest race since he came to power two decades ago.

Turkey is dealing with a prolonged economic downturn, and the government received criticism after a February earthquake killed more than 50,000 in the country. Experts blamed the high death toll in part on shoddy construction and law enforcement of building codes.

While campaigning for reelection, Erdogan has unveiled a number of prestigious projects, such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and the delivery of natural gas from Black Sea reserves.


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Israelis rally for 17th week against judicial overhaul plans

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested judicial overhaul proposals Saturday in the 17th weekly rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

The demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year, and organizers plan to continue, despite Netanyahu delaying the changes last month. The leaders of the mass protests want the proposals scrapped altogether.

“We are just getting started,” read a banner that demonstrators held at the main protest in Tel Aviv, Israel’s economic hub. Smaller demonstrations were reported in several parts of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez voiced support to the Israeli antigovernment protesters in a video message aired on a large screen in Tel Aviv.

We as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice, and democracy. Yet, as many of you know, these are values that we cannot take for granted,” Sanchez said.

Protesters argue the proposed changes threaten Israel’s democratic values, hurting a system of checks and balances and concentrating authority in the hands of Netanyahu and his extremist allies.

They also say that the prime minister has a conflict of interest in trying to reshape the nation’s legal system at a time when he is on trial.

Such changes would result in weakening the Supreme Court, giving parliament, which is controlled by Netanyahu’s allies, authority to overturn its rulings and limiting its ability to review laws.

The protest gained support from the military’s elite reserve force, businesses, and large sectors of the Israeli community. But on Thursday, tens of thousands of right-wing Israelis who support the legal



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‘Total nightmare:’ As Florida insurance companies go insolvent, homeowners pay the price

Seminole county couple has three-year open claim because of insolvent insurer.

What happens when your property insurer goes out of business?

It is happening quite a bit in Florida and is leading to all policyholders paying more.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders starting in October to cover claims for insolvent companies.

A Seminole County couple has lived without a fully functioning kitchen for three years because their insurer went out of business.

Sandra Braga Alfonso said what started as a leak under her sink has turned into a three-year nightmare.

She said there was already a fight with her insurer to pay out the claim, but then the company went under and it got worse.

Alfonso has a fridge and an oven but is missing lower cabinets, a stove, her normal sink, and a dishwasher.

“It has been a total nightmare,” Alfonso said.

It started in December of 2019 with a leak under her sink, she said.

She eventually discovered water in all her lower cabinets and in the sheetrock behind the cabinets, she said.

“The insurance company gave us approval to rip everything out that was damaged and now they don’t want to pay to put it back in,” Alfonso said.

The insurance company cut a check for $4,800, she said.

Of that $4,300 went to water mitigation to prevent mold. That left about $500, not nearly enough to replace her kitchen, she said.

“We’ve tried to settle, go to mediation, everything,” she said.

Finally, Alfonso and her husband filed a lawsuit against her insurer, but after two years of hearings and motions and waiting for a court date, her insurer went out of business.

She was with Capitol Insurance, but according to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Capitol was merged into Southern Fidelity, which is now one of 14 companies in liquidation.

“I’m over it. I just want my kitchen. I just want to be able to live again. I love to cook, and I can’t,” Alfonso said.

In the last year, Florida lawmakers have had three special legislative sessions to deal with Florida’s property insurance crises.

News 6 asked Alfonso if she thinks anything is being done in Tallahassee to help consumers with their insurance issues.

“No, it’s all for the insurance company,” she said.

One of the biggest moves made in Tallahassee over the last year is the legislature doing away with what is referred to as “one-way attorney’s fees.”

That means if you sued your insurer over a claim and won, the insurance company had to pay your attorney’s fees. Without it, Alfonso said she would never have been able to sue her insurer even though in her case, it didn’t do any good.

No. My husband’s retired. He’s on disability and he’s retired we’re on a fixed income,” Alfonso said.

Alfonso has now turned to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which handles the claims of insolvent property and casualty insurance companies.

They are still negotiating the amount it will take to fix her kitchen — more than three years later.

“I owned my first home when I was 20-something years old,” Alfonso said. “I’ve been paying my insurance premiums since I’m like 25, never filed a claim and look where I am now,” Alfonso said.


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