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Biden puts Trump at center of his message again

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.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden after a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden after a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, on April 24, 2023.Susan Walsh / AP

If it’s TUESDAY… President Biden announces bid for re-election in campaign video… Biden speaks to organized labor group at 12:30 pm ET in D.C… Vice President Kamala Harris attends a rally for reproductive rights at 6:45 pm ET at Howard University… Nikki Haley delivers abortion speech at headquarters of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America in Northern Virginia… Writer E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegation against Trump goes to trial in New York… And Fulton County D.A. says she’ll announce charging decisions in Trump probe later this summer.

But FIRST... Exactly four years ago, Joe Biden made Donald Trump the center of his message when he announced his presidential bid, seizing on the 2017 violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s “fine people on both sides” remark.

“We are in a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said back then.

And that’s the essence of his video announcing his re-election bid today, putting the focus once again on Trump and Trump-ism.

“When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are. The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer.”

Biden’s isn’t making his re-election announcement on policy. Or on a forward-looking vision. Or on the hopes of a new generation.

Instead, he’s running against Trump and Trump-ism — which is the message that built his winning coalition in 2020.

And it’s the message Biden is banking on to sustain that coalition in 2024, despite all of the political headwinds he’s facing.

After all, just look at the two most unpopular individuals and groups our most recent NBC News poll:

  • The Black Lives Matter Movement: 38% positive, 40% negative (-2)
  • Joe Biden: 38% positive, 48% negative (-10)
  • The Democratic Party: 36% positive, 46% negative (-10)
  • The Republican Party: 33% positive, 43% negative (-10)
  • Donald Trump 34% positive, 53% negative (-19)
  • The MAGA Movement: 24% positive, 45% negative (-21)

 Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 15 points.

That’s former President Donald Trump’s lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new national NBC News poll of Republican primary voters. 

Trump leads DeSantis 46% to 31% with no other candidate in double digits. Former Vice President Mike Pence sits at 6%, followed by three candidates at 3% (former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson) and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy at 2%. 

While Trump does best with voters without a college education and those who see themselves as “very conservative,” DeSantis performs his best with younger voters and those who say they support the Republican Party primarily over Trump. 

Read more on the Meet the Press Blog

Other numbers to know

72 hours: The length of a ceasefire negotiated between dueling forces in Sudan that was expected to start at midnight Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said.

1 in 5: The estimated share of election workers next year who will not have experience working in a presidential election, per a new survey from the Brennan Center for Justice. 

6: The number of months that a Michigan election clerk was sentenced to house arrest on Monday for breaking a seal on a ballot box in her own election.

360: The number of Bed, Bath & Beyond stores that will remain open after the company filed for bankruptcy on Sunday.

1.425 billion: India’s projected population at the end of April, according to the United Nations, meaning that it will eclipse China’s population and become the most populous nation in the world. 

Eyes on 2024: Haley to lay out abortion stance

As the abortion issue is continuing to divide the GOP presidential primary field, one candidate is taking time on Tuesday to lay out her position. 

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is traveling to Arlington, Va., to deliver what her campaign has billed as “a major policy speech on abortion.” Haley, the only woman in the GOP presidential field, is expected to focus more on how Republicans should talk about the issue, rather than what exactly they should say, stressing that Republicans should be more compassionate, per the Washington Post. 

Haley has described herself as “pro-life” in the past. After she launched her campaign in February, Haley told the TODAY Show, “We need consensus on this because I want to save as many babies as possible and I want to support as many moms as possible. Is that consensus 15 weeks? Is it ten weeks? Is it six weeks? I don’t know what that is, but we need to figure this out for the good of these babies and for the good of the moms.”

Her speech comes as GOP-led states across the country have sought to limit the right to an abortion. On Tuesday, North Dakota GOP Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill into law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape or incest.

In other campaign news…

“I am not a candidate”: During his trip to Japan, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to questions about the presidential race by saying, “I’m not a candidate, so we’ll see if and when that changes.” That trip is funded by a group that has rankled some Republicans, NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez reports. Meanwhile, the AP reports on how some DeSantis allies are getting restless and want him to jump in officially

Back in Florida: Florida Republicans are preparing to pass an immigration bill that would allocate millions of dollars to DeSantis’ program that relocates migrants to Democratic strongholds, NBC News’ Matt Dixon reports.

Megadonor musings: It’s not clear if GOP megadonor Kenneth Griffin, who previously supported DeSantis’ re-election as governor, will jump in to fund a DeSantis presidential bid if the governor decides to run, the New York Times reports.

Friends no more: The Trump campaign put out a new video online that needles DeSantis for struggling in his gubernatorial bid before Trump’s endorsement, and for running ads during that primary that showed his infant in a MAGA onesie and him teaching his children to “build” Trump’s border wall. 

A Treasure State treasure: Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm, endorsed Trump Monday on a podcast. 

Hot indictment summer?: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Williams said in a new letter that she would announce her charging decisions in the probe into attempts by Trump and his allies to interfere in the 2020 election later this summer

Trump trial: civil trial is beginning Tuesday in write E. Jean Carroll’s case against Trump. She claims Trump raped her in the 1990s, which Trump has denied. NBC News’ Dareh Gregorian and Adam Reiss report that it’s unclear if Trump will testify.

Sounding like a presidential candidate: Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie told The Daily Beast that “I am the viable Trump alternative” in the GOP primary race, adding that “I intend to be the nominee.” Christie has not officially announced a bid. 

Hello (lieutenant) governor: California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis announced she plans to run for governor in 2026, when incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is term-limited from running again. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

The so-called “Tennessee Three,” the three Democratic legislators who faced expulsion for protesting against gun violence on the state House floor, visited the White House on Monday and pushed for more action on gun control. 

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed cases against oil companies to proceed in state courts, in a blow to corporate interests. 

Susan Rice, President Biden’s chief domestic policy adviser, is stepping down from her position.