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The 2024 presidential race is being shaped by instability at home — and abroad

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
A week after Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failed, First Republic Bank is considering a sale following a dramatic 60 percent drop in its stock price over the past week. The bank also received $70 billion in emergency loans from JP Morgan Chase and the Federal Reserve.
A First Republic Bank in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday ... Wall Street rescues First Republic Bank with $30 billion infusion. ... China’s Xi is set to visit with Russia’s Putin next week. ... The Trump team previews its indictment pushback (if Manhattan’s D.A. does indict the former president). ... Bernie Sanders backs progressive Brandon Johnson in next month’s Chicago mayoral runoff, per NBC’s Natasha Korecki. ... And a poll finds a potentially competitive Mississippi governor's race this fall.

But first: It’s been an especially unstable week in the country. 

Collapses and near-collapses (like with First Republic Bank) rocked the banking industry.

A Russian jet fighter jet intercepted a U.S. drone over the Black Sea.

Tensions with China are on the rise, with China’s and Russia’s leaders set to meet next week. 

Inflation, while cooling, remains stubbornly high.

And migrant border crossings — from Canada — have increased tenfold, NBC’s Julia Ainsley and Didi Martinez report.

Instability also has been taking place across the globe.

It’s in Israel (where democracy is under stress), in France (with protests across that country), in Great Britain (which has had three prime ministers in less than a year) and of course in Ukraine (where war continues). 

Add them all up, and they raise the possibility that 2024 could become a commander-in-chief contest, as well as race about which presidential candidate can be the most stable force in unstable times.

That’s definitely an opportunity for incumbent President Joe Biden. But it’s also a potential challenge since it’s all happening on his watch. 

One other observation about inflation and the banking troubles: We can’t forget how much of this is all related to the recovery from the pandemic.

Are they temporary bumps in the road back to normalcy? Or something much more ominous?

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 49%

That’s the share of Democrats in new Gallup data who say they’re more sympathetic to the Palestinians in their conflict with Israelis, the first time in Gallup’s data (since 2001) either party has been more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to the Israelis. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats say they’re more sympathetic to the Israelis.  

That’s different from independents — 49% are more sympathetic to Israelis, while 32% are more sympathetic to the Palestinians. And it’s dramatically different than Republicans — 78% are more sympathetic to Israelis, while just 11% say they’re more sympathetic to Palestinians. 

There’s also a significant generational divide in the data: While Boomers have the highest net sympathy toward Israel, the Silent Generation and Generation X are also significantly more likely to sympathize with Israel, but millennials are evenly divided. 

Read more from Gallup here

Other numbers to know:

68: The number of senators who supported a procedural vote to advance the legislation that would repeal the military force authorizations for Iraq wars from 1991 and 2002.  

2,000: The number of migrants who crossed the northern border from Canada into the U.S. between Oct. 1 and Feb. 28, compared with just 200 in the same period the previous year.

2.5 tons: About how much natural uranium is missing from Libya, according to a United Nations watchdog

More than 1,200: The number of women who died during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth in 2021, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number dipped to 733 in 2022’s preliminary data (the number is expected to be revised upward).  

More than 2,200: The number of teenagers who overdosed between July 2019 and Dec. 2021, per a CDC report. 

$30 billion: The amount a group of leading banks deposited into First Republican Bank to help with its liquidity issues. 

$34 billion: About how much of Silicon Valley Bank’s loans (out of $74 billion) were to borrowers who were buying or carrying their own securities

$1.3 million: How much House Oversight Chairman James Comer alleged that Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and at least two relatives were paid by an associate tied to a Chinese energy company.

Eyes on 2024: Trump team previews indictment pushback 

Donald Trump’s legal troubles continue to cast a shadow over his campaign, with a potential indictment looming in a case involving hush-money payments made to an adult film star who said she had an affair with Trump. 

The former president’s team is preparing to go on offense if he is indicted, targeting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and painting an indictment as “part of a coordinated offensive by the Democratic Party,” the New York Times reports. Trump’s spokesman Stephen Cheung previewed that strategy, saying in a Thursday night statement, “If the Democrats can do this to President Trump, they can do it to you.”

“Americans will not tolerate Radical Left Democrats turning our justice system into an injustice system to influence a presidential election, which is all they want to do,” Cheung later added. 

Trump has said he would stay in the race if he is indicted. It remains to be seen if his current and potential rivals will pressure him to drop out.

“It’s a free country, everybody can make their own decision,” former Vice President Mike Pence, who hasn’t jumped in the race yet, told reporters in New Hampshire Thursday night when asked if Trump should step aside if indicted, per NBC News’ Emily Gold, Megan Lebowitz and Christopher Cicchiello.

Trump, meanwhile, is making a forward-looking pitch to voters, NBC News’ Allan Smith and Jonathan Allen report. He’s laying out a slew of policy proposals called “Agenda47” that “mixes new, recast and recycled planks — some of which simply didn’t get much attention in the last election — to give his campaign a fresher look,” they write.

In other campaign news: 

There’s more: The hush-money case isn’t Trump’s only legal headache. News broke on Thursday that a special grand jury in Georgia investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election heard a previously unreported phone call between Trump and then-Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. And the Washington Post reports Friday that prosecutors investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have obtained a report commissioned by Trump’s campaign that undercut his falsehoods about the election.

No longer a hawk: NBC News’ Henry J. Gomez, Phil McCausland and Jonathan Allen explore Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ evolution on defense issues.

Harris takes on DeSantis: Vice President Kamala Harris criticized Ron DeSantis’ recent comments that the war in Ukraine is a “territorial dispute,” telling the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, “If you really understand the issues, you probably would not make statements like that.” 

Sunshine divide: Florida’s 20 Republican House members are “clearly wary of choosing sides” between Trump and DeSantis, Politico reports.

Setting a date: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the Washington Examiner he’d decide whether he’ll join the Republican presidential primary field in the next two months. 

Mayer may run: Republican businessman Scott Mayer tells that he is considering running for Senate against Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Mayer said he isn’t sure if he’s willing to spend his own money, noting he would likely have to spend between $10 and $20 million on the race. 

Santos mulls re-election: New York GOP Rep. George Santos told the Associated Press he is a “maybe” on running for re-election.

Sparks fly in the Windy city: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson in Chicago’s mayoral race on Thursday. The same day, Johnson and his opponent, former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas, sparred at a debate where each candidate was allowed to ask the other a question.

Supreme Showdown

With just over two weeks to go before Wisconsin’s contentious state Supreme Court election, there were a few developments in the race this week.

Face to face: Both candidates — Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Justice Daniel Kelly — are preparing for what appears to be their only debate, which will take place in Madison on Tuesday. 

National attention: Earlier this week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she is endorsing Protasiewicz in the race. The race is officially nonpartisan, but Protasiewicz is the more liberal candidate in the race, running with the support of many Democrats.

The spending race: Since the Feb. 21 primary, which eliminated two additional candidates, Protasiewicz’s campaign has been outspending Kelly and the groups backing him on TV campaign ads, according to AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm. Since the primary, Protasiewicz’s campaign has spent over $4.5 million on ads, while Kelly’s campaign hasn’t spent any money on TV ads. Yet the groups backing Kelly have spent a combined $4.3 million on the airwaves so far.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

The positive relationship and cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. in the drug war has deteriorated, NBC News’ Ken Dilanian reports

A group allied with former President Donald Trump has been training Republican congressional staff on how to conduct oversight over the Biden administration, Politico reports.