Welcome to POLITICO’s West Wing Playbook, your guide to the people and power centers in the Biden administration. With help from Allie Bice.
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And, like that, 2024 begins.
Former president DONALD TRUMP is expected to announce his bid for a second White House term in a matter of hours. But don’t expect President JOE BIDEN to say much about it or the 2024 Republican primary in general — at least for the coming months.
Most aides say they’d prefer Trump not to run because they see him as a danger to the republic. But they also recognize the political opportunity in his expected announcement and the prospect of a messy Republican primary. Biden himself dropped his own mask of indifference during last week’s post-election press conference, telling a reporter who asked about a possible RON DESANTIS-Trump battle: “It’d be fun watching them take on each other.”
Over the next few months, the White House will be deferring to the Democratic National Committee when it comes to dealing with Trump and the rest of the Republican field. Whoever winds up as the GOP nominee, Democrats intend to make them pay for embracing Trump’s policies and excusing his worst behavior, aides said.
Quietly, however, the White House and the DNC are taking some early steps to prepare for the Biden re-elect campaign. There are discussions about having multiple, allied super PACs with one or two dedicated to Black and Latino media, according to a senior Democrat. Two other Democrats confirmed that there are general discussions about an outside paid Latino media effort but said it was unclear if it would be through a super PAC or some other entity.
The White House and the DNC have also worked together to solicit resumes for some senior roles in the re-elect, according to five Democrats familiar with the matter. Biden advisers have zeroed in on the re-elect headquarters in Philadelphia, although a final decision has not been made, according to four of those Democrats. And some White House officials have already expressed interest to senior aides about joining the campaign.
White House spokesman ANDREW BATES said, “these claims are inaccurate,” without elaborating further.
“We’re aware there is no deficit of people who speculate,” he said, “but very few individuals are actually knowledgeable about anything of that nature.”
Many Democrats don’t expect a Biden decision to come imminently. Biden himself is known to be Hamlet-esque in settling on these types of matters. Plus, the White House is wary of the financial burdens that come after the president officially declares for re-election. Currently, the DNC pays for political events, but the White House can fudge what is technically a political event or just a political event with political upside. That becomes more difficult once Biden declares, and the bills can quickly add up. Some former Trump White House officials believe they made a mistake by filing for re-election on day one because of the campaign money it ended up costing them the first two years.
So until then, the White House will largely be relying on the DNC to do the electoral blocking and tackling. The committee is launching a coordinated 2024 response effort that will hound multiple GOP hopefuls, according to a person familiar with the operation.
The DNC, which has also been monitoring former Vice President MIKE PENCE‘s book tour blitz, just announced plans to embed press staffers in the four states at the front of the primary calendar as well as in Florida, home turf for both Trump and DeSantis.
It’s the earliest the DNC has ever put communications staffers on the ground in a presidential cycle, according to a press release announcing the moves.
As for early messaging against Trump, both the DNC-run @JoeBiden account and the White House-run @POTUS account published videos today that focused on the president signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill after Trump’s inconsistent efforts to focus on the issue.
As Biden said in one of his videos: “My predecessor promised infrastructure week. It never came.”
US MESSAGE — Are you interested in working on the Biden re-elect? We want to hear from you! And we’ll keep you anonymous. Email us at [email protected].
Which president pardoned a turkey during the ceremonial Thanksgiving tradition and said “let’s keep him going?”
(Answer at the bottom.)
WAKE UP CALL: Biden awoke Wednesday morning in Bali, Indonesia, to news that Russia’s aerial assault on Ukraine may have gone awry, with two missiles striking eastern Poland. While Pentagon officials said they were in the early stages of investigating the attack — possibly the first direct strike against a NATO member since the war began — Biden spoke with Polish President ANDRZEJ DUDAaccording to the White House.
RELATED: POLITICO’s NatSec Daily today: “Poland hit. Russia to blame?”
SWIFTIES: White House chief of staff RON KLAIN responded to the news that Ticketmaster crashed during the concert ticket presale for pop superstar TAYLOR SWIFT. Klain wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon: “Over my years in the public and private sectors, I’ve had people tell me: If only the government could work like business.
Well, the team at @USEdgov and @USDS built a Student Loan Forgiveness portal that processed 8 MILLION applications in the first 30 hours without a crash.”
But does this mean you’re a Swiftie, Ron?
SEE YOU AT ‘THE MANGROVE THING’: The president was set to attend a dinner and a cultural event in Indonesia Tuesday night but suddenly skipped out, according to a White House pool report. An administration official said “it’s not COVID. He just had spent a full day in meetings and needed to attend to a few things tonight (nothing urgent!). He spoke to [Indonesian President JOKO] WIDODO to send his regrets about missing the dinner and Widodo said it was not an issue.”
The official, according to the print pooler, added that “P looks forward to seeing him at the mangrove thing tomorrow,” referring to a ceremonial tree planting by all G-20 leaders before the summit ends.
THANKSGIVING PLANS: Biden is scheduled to pardon the national Thanksgiving turkey and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation on Nov. 21. The bird and its alternate were both raised near Monroe, NC
WEDDING WEEKEND: With the wedding of the presidential granddaughter NAOMI KING BIDEN and PETER GEORGE HEERMAN NEAL this weekend, WaPo’s JURA CONCIUS and ROXANNE ROBERTS dive into White House weddings of the past.
“The White House hosts hundreds of events every year, but none are as personal and romantic as a wedding,” they write. “The combination of history, grandeur and celebrity makes it a rare and unforgettable experience. But having a personal event in a public space also comes at a price.”
FIRST IN WEST WING PLAYBOOK: MARTHA GIMBEL will depart the White House in the next couple months, leaving her role as senior adviser at the Council of Economic Advisers, DANIEL LIPPMAN has learned. Gimbel, an alum of Schmidt Futures and the Joint Economic Committee who headed the CEA transition team, and her husband LEE SEYMOURa Tony Award-winning producer, plans to travel for seven months before she determines her next step.
— LYNN ROSENTHAL is joining the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health as the HHS director of sexual and gender-based violence, Lippman has also learned. She most recently was the president of the Center for Family Safety and Healing in Columbus, Ohio.
YELLEN’S TAKE: Treasury Secretary JANET YELLEN said Tuesday she doesn’t believe there’s reason to launch an investigation into it ELON MUSK‘s purchase of Twitter, after Biden said the purchase was “worth being looked at.” “We really have no basis — to the best of my knowledge — to examine his finances of his company,” Yellen told CBS News. KELLY GARRETT has more details.
SHOW ME THE MONEY: The White House is asking lawmakers to provide nearly $48 billion in funding to help Ukraine as the Russian invasion drags on, to invest in Covid vaccines and other preventive measures, and to control the spread of monkeypox, hepatitis C and HIV. Our CAITLIN EMMA has more.
Biden-Xi Talks Mark Shift in US-China Ties Toward Managing Fierce Competition (WSJ’s Andrew Restuccia, Ken Thomas, Chun Han Wong and Keith Zhai)
FBI Is ‘Extremely Concerned’ About TikTok Operating in US (Bloomberg’s Chris Strohm and Daniel Flatley)
G-20 to hold tough on Russia, urge end to Ukraine war (AP’s Seung Min Kim, Zeke Miller and Elaine Kurtenbach)
US intelligence suggests Russia put off announcing Kherson retreat until after midterm elections (CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis, Zachary Cohen and Natasha Bertrand)
JARED BERNSTEINCouncil of Economic Advisers member, at the Axios News Shapers event Wednesday at 8 am EST
President JOHN F. KENNEDY said “let’s keep him going,” after pardoning a turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House on Nov. 19, 1963, according to the White House Historical Association.
A CALL OUT — Do you think you have a harder trivia question? Send us your best one about the presidents with a citation and we may feature it.
Edited by Eun Kyung Kim and Sam Stein.