First-time GOP candidates learn walk-back lessons: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

There are pivots to the general election. Then there are lessons being taught for the first time — to candidates who may not have been here before.

Whether related or not to the recent debate in GOP circles around so-called “candidate quality,” a striking number of new-to-politics Republican hopefuls are learning the perils of political take-backs and walk-backs in the run-up to Labor Day.

In Arizona, Senate nominee Blake Masters was caught yet again — this time by reporters at CNN — removing controversial language from his website. Among the disappeared policy statements were a declaration that he is “100% pro life,” an assertion that Democrats “want to import a new electorate” via immigration and that “if we had had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today,” ABC News’ Libby Cathey reports.

In Pennsylvania, after a week where the Senate campaign has been dominated by a shot that Mehmet Oz’s campaign took at Democrat John Fetterman suggesting Fetterman might have avoided a stroke if he “had ever eaten a vegetable in his life,” Oz himself suggested that aides speaking on behalf of his campaign were not necessarily speaking for him.

“The campaign has been saying lots of things,” Oz told a Pittsburgh radio station. “My position — and I can only speak to what I’m saying — is that John Fetterman should be allowed to recover fully.”

Other first-time Republican candidates in places including Georgia and Ohio have also been sanding away some rougher edges, on everything from personal biographic details to whether they support Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s continued service in leadership, over the objections of former President Donald Trump.

Trump quite infamously changed language and positions and owned it. Whether candidates running under the banner of his movement have that same success is an open question.

PHOTO: Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz looks over at other candidates during a Republican leadership forum in Newtown, Pa., May 11, 2022.
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz looks over at other candidates during a Republican leadership forum in Newtown, Pa., May 11, 2022.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, FILE

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

A revved-up President Joe Biden delivered remarks on public safety and “funding the police” in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, but police reform supporters may argue his messaging didn’t include the same verve for addressing their position.

“I’ve not met a cop who likes a bad cop,” Biden said. “There’s bad in everything. There’s lousy senators and lousy presidents and lousy doctors and lousy lawyers. No, I’m serious. But I don’t know any police officer that feels good about the fact that there may be a lousy cop. I’m tired of not giving them the kind of help they need.”

The comment was seemingly a reference to his call for Congress to fund $37 billion for the training of 100,000 additional police officers, to clear court backlogs and to establish new grants for communities to prevent violent crime and ease the burden on officers in responding to nonviolent situations.

That plan falls short of the long-dead George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which, if it had passed, would have increased methods of police accountability.

According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, 65% of Black Americans say the increased national attention on racial inequality — sparked in part by Floyd’s murder — has not led to changes that improved their lives. The same survey also found that 95% of Black adults say policing needs some kind of change to ensure fair treatment.

While Biden was never a member of the “defund the police” camp among the left wing, the focus of his messaging on public safety has largely moved away from reform — a campaign promise made to Black voters who were crucial to Biden’s win in battlegrounds like Pennsylvania.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about the Safer America Plan at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Aug. 30, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks about the Safer America Plan at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Aug. 30, 2022.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The TIP with Paulina Tam

Biden is traveling to two key swing states — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — on Labor Day and Democratic candidates running for office there are welcoming his visit while others remain unclear on whether they’ll be by his side that day.

The White House said the president will head to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh to “celebrate Labor Day and the dignity of American workers,” which is something Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is the Democratic Senate nominee, is excited about, his communications director told ABC News.

“[Barnes’] priority is talking to Wisconsin voters and supporting the labor movement that gave his family a ticket to the middle class,” said Barnes spokesperson Maddy McDaniel, who stopped short of confirming whether he will be spending time with the president, instead saying Barnes will be at Labor Day events in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine and that his full schedule is not yet finalized.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ team confirmed with ABC News that he will be attending festivities with Biden.

In Pennsylvania, a spokesman for Democratic Senate candidate and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman told ABC News in a statement Monday that he will participate in a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh and speak with the president “about the need to finally decriminalize marijuana.”

Gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general who is in a heated battle with Republican opponent state Sen. Doug Mastriano, will also be in the city but his campaign would not confirm whether he’ll be with Biden.

“Attorney General Shapiro will be in Pittsburgh marching with the hardworking men and women of labor on Monday,” Manual Bonder, a spokesperson for Shapiro, said in a statement. “As always, we welcome President Biden back to his home state of Pennsylvania.”

PHOTO: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes participates in a televised Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Senate debate in Milwaukee, July 17, 2022.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes participates in a televised Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Senate debate in Milwaukee, July 17, 2022.
Morry Gash/AP, FILE

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

40. That’s the percentage of Latino voters who approve of President Biden’s job performance. More Black voters, 68%, approve of Biden, but as a recent NBC News poll points out, their approval of Biden is still lagging. Read more from FiveThirtyEight’s Alex Samuels on why voters of color are disillusioned with the Democratic Party and why Biden still faces a tough slog when it comes to winning back their support.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” begins Wednesday morning with ABC’s Averi Harper on both President Biden and former President Trump making a visit to battleground state Pennsylvania as the fall campaign season starts. Then ABC’s Trevor Ault details a water emergency in Jackson, Mississippi, after flooding. And professor Jason Box details his new study on melting “Zombie ice” from Greenland. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • First Lady Jill Biden participates in a meeting at 12:30 p.m. ET hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council focused on the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to strengthen the teaching profession and help grade school districts source talent to fill vacancies.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will brief at 2:45 p.m. ET

Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Thursday for the latest.

Source: ABC News

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