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Biden’s age v. Trump’s alleged crimes: Poll finds liabilities for both frontrunners

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.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump at the presidential debate in Cleveland
Joe Biden and Donald Trump at the presidential debate in Cleveland, on Sept. 29, 2020. Olivier Douliery / AP file

Happening this Wednesday: Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in Florida… Ron DeSantis faces challenge of governing while running for president, NBC’s Alec Hernández writes… President Biden updates the federal government’s response to Idalia and the Maui wildfires at 1:45 pm ET… NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard reports on the brewing 14th Amendment discussion about Donald Trump… And Francis Suarez becomes first Republican to drop out of 2024 presidential race.

But FIRST... The two overwhelming frontrunners to face off in next year’s presidential general election — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump — both have significant liabilities with the American electorate, according to the latest AP-NORC poll.

And the two major political parties from which they hail appear to be burying their heads in the sand when it comes to these liabilities.

(Remember those six GOP presidential rivals who raised their hands that they’d still vote for Trump as their nominee if he’s convicted? Or what about the fact that Dem Rep. Dean Phillips’ call for a real primary challenge to Biden has fallen on deaf ears?)

For Trump, it’s the indictments and allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

A clear majority of adults — 53% — say they approve of the federal indictment charging Trump for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and another majority — 54% — believe his actions did more to threaten democracy than defend it.

For Biden, it’s his age.

A whopping 77% of Americans — including 69% of Democrats — say Biden, who is 80 (and will turn 81 in the fall), is too old to effectively serve another four-year term as president.

That compares with 51% who say the same of Trump, age 77.

Make no mistake: Trump, overall, fares worse in this poll than Biden does.

Fifty-two percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Biden, versus 62% who have a negative opinion of Trump.

And a combined 54% say they definitely or probably won’t support Biden if he’s the Democratic nominee, while 63% say the same of Trump if he’s the GOP nominee.

Still, it’s eye-popping when seven-in-10 adults in the poll say they don’t want to see either Trump or Biden run for president.

But here we are.

Headline of the day

The number of the day is … 75

That’s how many days Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, before becoming the first candidate to end his campaign on Tuesday.

“While I have decided to suspend my campaign for president, my commitment to making this a better nation for every American remains,” Suarez wrote in a statement posted on X, the social media site previously known as Twitter. 

Suarez failed to make the first GOP primary debate last week, putting him in a bind after he had previously suggested candidates who don’t meet the polling and fundraising thresholds for the debate should drop out of the race. “I don’t think candidates should just sort of linger around if they don’t have a credible path,” Suarez said at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month. 

Other numbers to know

90 degrees Fahrenheit: The temperature of some coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, which could help strengthen Hurricane Idalia as it nears Florida.

$47 billion: The estimated value of “losses or questionable payments” of pandemic unemployment between March 2020 and Sept. 2021, the Labor Department estimates.

10: The number of drugs Medicare announced Tuesday that will be subject to price negotiations under the Inflation Reduction Act.

900: The number of pregnancy resource centers in the Southeast, more than a third of all such centers in the U.S., which often do not offer comprehensive types of medical care but are eligible for millions of dollars in tax credits in some states, the 19th News reports.

3: The number of fundraisers Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has planned in Pennsylvania next week, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

33: The number of years prosecutors are hoping Proud Boys Leader Enrique Tarrio will be sentenced to prison on Wednesday for his actions on Jan. 6.

Eyes on 2024: Brewing ballot drama

As former President Donald Trump’s attempts to interfere in the 2020 election and his actions on Jan. 6 are litigated in court, another battle is brewing in the states.

Election officials are gearing up for potential challenges to Trump’s spot on the presidential ballot based on the 14th Amendment, which says no person can hold public office who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion … or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” 

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes told NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard that his office is “taking this very seriously.” 

“We need to run an election,” Fontes said. “We need to know who is eligible, and this is of incredible national interest. We aren’t taking a position one way or the other.”

Election officials in New Hampshire have also been inundated with calls from Trump supporters over the issue, NBC News’ Emma Barnett reports. New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan recently told Barnett that he is “not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot.”

Scanlan and state Attorney General John M. Formella issued a joint statement on Tuesday, per Barnett, saying neither of them has taken a position on the issue, and Formella’s office “is now carefully reviewing the legal issues involved.”

In other campaign news…

Scooting along: NBC News’ Sarah Dean delves into how North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is grappling with his Achilles tendon injury while also trying to make the second GOP primary debate.

Christie’s warning: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie warned that Republicans will lose in 2024 if Trump is the nominee. Meanwhile, a pro-Christie super PAC launched a TV ad in New Hampshire that appears to be one of the first to feature Trump’s mug shot. 

Pence-mentum?: Some GOP donors are giving former Vice President Mike Pence a “second look” after last week’s debate, Politico reports, noting Pence had one of his best single fundraising events this week.

No Labels’ path: No Labels organizers are trying to figure out how to select their potential presidential and vice presidential candidates, conducting focus groups and weighing hosting televised town halls or debates, per the Washington Post. And Politico reports that a former Trump donor is now advising No Labels.

MI-SEN: Former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers is expected to jump into the open Michigan Senate race, and could announce his run next week, per the Detroit News. 

Cruz’s impeachment takes: Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who is up for re-election next year, told The Messenger that Biden should be impeached, removed from office and face jail time if he is guilty of taking bribes. He also called for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ and Attorney General Merrick Garland to be impeached.

A Rhode Island special: Politico delves into next week’s special primary election in Rhode Island’s 1st District, which has become a “proxy war” for the Democratic Party.

“Tainted Tate Reeves”: Democrat Brandon Presley’s campaign is continuing to hammer Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves on the airwaves, launching a new ad Wednesday that blasts Reeves over a state welfare fraud scandal.

Buckeye ballot battle: Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights and five others filed a lawsuit over the approved language for an abortion rights ballot initiative, arguing that the language is a “naked attempt to mislead,” per NBC News’ Megan Lebowitz.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced on Tuesday that he’s being treated for Multiple Myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate student was charged Tuesday with fatally shooting a professor on campus.

Federal law enforcement agencies are investigating a group of Uzbek nationals who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and were assisted by a human trafficker with connections to a “foreign terrorist organization,” per NBC News’ Michael Kosnar. 

Trump’s former attorney Sidney Powell pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges in a Georgia election interference case.