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Democrats face real questions on Biden, 2024 and party's growing divide

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 with Col. Matt Getty, Commander, 89th Operations Group, as he walks to board Air Force One for a visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., on Nov. 22, 2021, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON — There’s one big reason why stories on Kamala Harris’ struggles as VP, on President Biden’s routine medical physical and on the president’s travel (or lack thereof) have all gotten attention in recent days.

It’s a real possibility Biden – who just turned 79 – doesn’t run for re-election in 2024.

While Biden and his allies maintain he intends to run in 2024, others have their doubts.

“I hear this question get asked every day,” an anonymous Democratic campaign vet told the Washington Post. “No one ever asked that question about Barack Obama. No one ever asked that question about Donald Trump.”

And if Biden doesn’t run, it will further expose the party’s growing ideological divide – all at a time when Donald Trump has consolidated more and more power after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

In New York Magazine, liberal writer Jonathan Chait argues that the Democratic Party – as well as Biden’s agenda – is caught between an increasingly progressive left that seems to care more about slogans (like “Defund the police” and “Green New Deal”) than winning elections, and a center whose moderates have helped water down some of the president’s most popular proposals (like raising more taxes on the wealthy).

Biden has tried to straddle this divide. He joined progressives in tying the bipartisan infrastructure bill to his social safety net package. Then he celebrated infrastructure’s passage when that two-track approach fell apart after the party’s losses in Virginia. And on Monday, he sided with moderates and Republicans in re-nominating Jerome Powell as Fed chair.

But how would Vice President Harris fare with this divide? Or anyone else?

Democrats like to brag about the size of their tent – ranging from Bernie Sanders to Never-Trump Republicans like John Kasich.

But is there enough material to stretch the tent without breaking it?

Especially if Biden isn’t part of the picture in 2024?

Alex Jones, Roger Stone among latest to get subpoenaed in Jan. 6 probe

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Monday to high-profile allies of former President Donald Trump, including Roger Stone and Alex Jones,” per NBC News.

“The committee is looking at Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, and Jones, a conspiracy theorist who claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut in 2012 was a ‘giant hoax,’ in connection with a rally near the Capitol shortly before a pro-Trump mob stormed the building in early January.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

50 million: The number of barrels of oil the White House is releasing from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to address rising prices.

10: The number of swing states where the NRSC is running ads at gas stations hitting Democrats on inflation.

800,000: The approximate number of non-citizens (green-card holders or those with worth authorizations) who would be allowed to vote in New York City’s local elections under a proposal expected to pass the City Council next month.

32 percent: The rise in pediatric Covid cases over the last two weeks, per the American Academy of Pediatrics.

47,900,597: 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 148,661 more since yesterday morning.)

775,287: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,279 more since yesterday morning.)

452,657,967: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,204,133 more since yesterday morning.)

36,058,472: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 664,702 since yesterday morning.)

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

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

It's wide open in PA-Sen

On Monday, Trump-backed GOP Senate candidate Sean Parnell suspended his campaign after “a judge ruled … in favor of his estranged wife in a court fight over custody of their three children.”

And that means that next year’s Senate race in Pennsylvania is wide open – on both sides.

For Republicans, the candidates remaining include former Lt. Gov. nominee Jeff Bartos, commentator Kathy Barnette and former Trump Denmark Ambassador Carla Sands. But also look for more names to emerge considering Trump’s pick is now on the sideline.

And for Democrats, the field is diverse ideologically and geographically – Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Rep. Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the final morning newsletter of the week. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world?

President Biden tapped Jerome Powell for another term leading the Fed, but picked Lael Brainard for vice chair.

Politico reports an internal Trump poll shows him ahead of Biden in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

NBC looks at the snowball effect of the supply chain through the struggle to get seven different popular items.