Happening this Thursday: Republican-led House, in straight party-line vote, authorizes impeachment inquiry into President Biden… Senate negotiators see ray of hope in Ukraine-immigration talks… NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of Iowa shows Donald Trump scoring high marks on key qualities from likely GOP caucusgoers… And Nikki Haley campaigns in New Hampshire, while Vivek Ramaswamy is in Iowa.
But FIRST… The Biden administration is signaling that it’s willing to stand up to progressives and immigration advocates as it tries to cut a deal with congressional Republicans for tougher border policies (which the GOP wants) in return for Ukraine aid (which President Biden wants).
A senior administration official “acknowledged there will be political blowback to a bipartisan compromise on certain border policy issues but said Biden is willing to take the heat to get the deal done because the immigration system is ‘broken’ and the issue needs to be addressed urgently,” NBC’s Sahil Kapur, Frank Thorp V and Julie Tsirkin report.
The reward for Biden — if such a deal can be reached and can pass Congress — is that the president gets the Ukraine aid he desperately wants, as well as more aid for Israel, and potentially neutralizes an immigration issue that’s been problematic for him since the beginning of his presidency.
Indeed, our NBC News poll has found Democrats at an all-time low on their handling of immigration.
The risk for Biden is potentially alienating another key part of the Democratic base at a time when it’s been unraveling, especially during the Israel-Hamas war.
Per our NBC News poll last month, Biden’s job-approval rating had fallen among voters 18 to 34 (31% approval), Latinos (39%), Black voters (61%) and even Democrats who backed Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in 2020 (70%).
Maybe more alarming for Biden in the poll was his performance with these demographic groups in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup against Donald Trump, compared with the 2020 exit poll:
Voters 18 to 34: Trump +4 (Biden won 18-29 year-olds by 24 points in 2020)
Latinos: Biden +2 (he won Latinos by 33 points in 2020)
Black voters: Biden +49 (he won Black voters by 75 points in 2020)
Those are precarious numbers for a Democrat up for re-election less than 11 months from now.
Then again, coming up short on aid for Ukraine might be even more precarious for the president, since he’s staked so much on the issue.
Headline of the day
The number of the day is … 77%
That’s the share of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers who say former President Donald Trump is the candidate who would be most feared by U.S. enemies, according to a new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll. That includes 59% of those likely caucusgoers who say Trump is not their first choice for president.
The quality was Trump’s highest-rated in the poll, which tested eight attributes related to foreign and domestic policy, and asked those surveyed which candidate best embodies those qualities. A majority or a plurality of likely caucusgoers chose Trump over the rest of the GOP field for each attribute, which helps explain his commanding lead in the poll.
Trump’s other highest-rated attributes include being the candidate who would best handle the economy (68%), keep their families safest (59%) and be the strongest leader (59%).
Read more about the poll, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ highest-rated qualities, on the Meet the Press Blog.
Eyes on 2024: GOP presidential hopefuls react to impeachment inquiry
Some GOP presidential candidates voiced support on Wednesday for House Republicans’ vote to launch an official impeachment inquiry into President Biden and his son’s business dealings.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News, “I think this inquiry is justified,” per NBC’s Sarah Dean.
He added, “I think it should have been done long ago. He’s got so many issues that are clouding his presidency. He clearly would not be a great candidate for the Democrats.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told NBC’s Nnamdi Egwuonwu in New Hampshire that the president and the Biden administration were “bringing this on themselves” by not cooperating with the House GOP’s investigation.
Asked if there was enough evidence to support launching an impeachment inquiry, Christie said, “How are you supposed to make that decision if they won’t cooperate?”
The lone candidate who vocally opposed an impeachment inquiry on Wednesday night was former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who told NBC’s Jillian Frankel, “I would prefer Congress spend its time on border security and aid to Israel and Ukraine rather than pursue an impeachment inquiry.”
Notably, former President Donald Trump did not bring up the vote on the inquiry at an event in Iowa on Wednesday night, per NBC’s Frankel and Jake Traylor.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was also mum on the issue, but supported an impeachment inquiry back in June, when she told Fox News that Republicans “absolutely should” start the process.
In other campaign news …
A rivalry beyond the campaign trail: NBC’s Matt Dixon and Allan Smith examine the feud between Trump and DeSantis, writing, “Trump doesn’t want to just beat DeSantis; he wants to end his — and perhaps his family’s — political career for good.”
Trump trial: After months of fireworks, testimony in the $250 million civil fraud trial against Trump and his company wrapped up on Wednesday, NBC’s Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian report.
On the airwaves: The Biden campaign is launching bilingual TV ads targeting Latino voters that tie Trump to Venezuelan dictators Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, per The Messenger.
Texas abortion case collides with politics: The New York Times details how Democrats are seizing on a high-profile abortion case in Texas to criticize Republicans on the issue.
He’s back: Former controversial GOP Rep. Steve King, who was known for making racist remarks, resurfaced on the campaign trail Wednesday, appearing with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at multiple events in Iowa. The former congressman also hinted at a possible run for governor, telling NBC’s Alex Tabet that he “might take a look.”
He’s also back: Republican J.R. Majewski is back for a rematch against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, and this time he has some high-profile Republicans supporting his run, per the New York Times. Last year, national Republicans pulled their support when reports raised questions about his military record.
Abortion on the ballot: Florida activists pushing for a ballot measure guaranteeing abortion access before fetal viability are appealing to Republican voters as they gather signatures for the effort, NBC’s Aaron Franco and Morgan Radford report.
ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:
Hunter Biden defied a congressional subpoena to testify behind closed doors, instead giving remarks outside the Capitol where he reiterated his call to testify in a public hearing.
The Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to hear a case related to medication abortions as well as a case looking at whether those involved in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot can be charged with obstructing an official proceeding, which could affect the federal case against Trump.