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As Biden promotes democracy abroad, the home front should worry him the most

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.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden walks from the White House to Marine One as he leaves for a visit to the National Institutes of Health, on Dec. 2, 2021.Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — President Biden this morning kicked off a virtual “Summit for Democracy” — to promote democracy around the world.

But that message is being undercut by the growing democracy problem at home that’s coming from the party and former president he defeated a year ago.

David Perdue, who’s challenging Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in Battleground Georgia, told Axios that he wouldn’t have certified Joe Biden’s victory in the Peach State if he had been governor.

“Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated, and that’s all we were asking for," Perdue said.

Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. And don’t forget that Trump was telling Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2: “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

Speaking of Raffensperger, here’s Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., who’s running against him in a primary to be Georgia’s secretary of state: “I do not believe we had fair elections in Georgia,” Hice told The Atlantic.

And here’s the Republican frontrunner to be Arizona’s next governor, Kari Lake, when NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard asked her if she would have certified Joe Biden’s 10,000-vote victory in the state: “Hell no.”

Maybe today’s “Summit for Democracy” is, in part, a sly Biden subtweet at the GOP and its growing list of Trump-fueled candidates in 2022.

“Here in the United States, we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort,” Biden said today, per NBC’s Peter Alexander.

But how much constant effort is Biden going to devote to this growing problem at home?

Perdue’s turn

David Perdue’s entire rationale for his candidacy — that Kemp certifying the 2020 election results in Georgia was a mistake and hurt the GOP — is perhaps the most worrisome development when it comes to the state of the U.S. democracy.

Perdue was never a backbench Freedom Caucus member; he was the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General. He won election to the U.S. Senate before Trump’s presidency.

And he owes his Senate runoff defeat to Trump and his post-election conspiracies and controversies.

But Perdue now believes his best path back to political office is to promote the idea that Joe Biden didn’t really win in 2020.

Biden’s polling slump continues

And here’s the thing: Perdue can win a general election in 2022. So can Lake in Arizona. Ditto Hice for Georgia secretary of state.

Especially if President Biden’s numbers don’t improve from where they are right now.

Just look at the national polls over the last couple of days:

As we’ve pointed out before, these numbers are worse than Barack Obama’s in 2009-2010; they look more like Obama’s in 2013-2014.

And they’re not far off from where Trump’s numbers were in 2017-2018.

In all of those three cycles — 2010, 2014, 2018 — the party out of the White House made significant gains across the country.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

3: The number of witnesses subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee who are pleading the Fifth, complicating the committee’s efforts.

15: How many tie-breaking votes Vice President Kamala Harris has cast, more than all but four other vice presidents.

$2.1 million: How much the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced it raised in November, per NBC’s Liz Brown-Kaiser, after a disappointing month for Democrats in the 2021 elections.

167,000: The estimated number of children in the U.S. who lost their parents or caregivers to Covid.

2: The number of Senate Democrats who joined with Republicans to vote to repeal the Biden administration’s test-or-vaccinate mandate on private sector employees (West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Montana Sen. Jon Tester).

49,561,992: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 149,944 more since yesterday morning.)

796,112: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,772 since yesterday morning.)

475,728,399: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 2,485,171 since yesterday morning.)

48,896,346: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,029,726 since yesterday morning.)

60.4 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

71.8 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

Tweet of the day

North Carolina moves its primaries to May 17

Yesterday we previewed the GOP’s big NC-SEN set for March 8.

But it turns out that primary — as well as the state’s other ones — will be held on May 17 instead.

“North Carolina’s highest court on Wednesday pushed back the March election primaries for all legislative, congressional and judicial seats to give state courts time to review lawsuits claiming that the Republican-controlled legislature illegally gerrymandered some districts,” the AP writes.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The White House is considering heavy sanctions on Russia if it attacks Ukraine.

The FDA has granted an emergency authorization for an injection aimed at preventing Covid-19 among immunocompromised people.

The Biden administration plans to award three Medals of Honor to servicemembers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Virginia’s draft congressional map could leave Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in a tough spot.