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Beto O'Rourke at a rally in Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Among the younger 2020 candidates, Ohio swing voters think Donald Trump should be most concerned if Beto O'Rourke is the Democratic nominee — but they're not sure he can beat him.

Between the lines: This was another takeaway from the Engagious/FPG focus group I watched last week. Participants were shown 2-minute video clips from O'Rourke, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, and Pete Buttigieg and asked to score them based on who Trump should be most concerned about heading into his re-election.

  • Although these voters — who have flipped between parties in past presidential elections — ranked Beto as the biggest threat among the four candidates, they only scored him a 5.7 out of 10.
  • Castro and Buttigieg tied at 3.8 and Gabbard came in at 2.1.
  • In the latest Morning Consult poll, Beto ranked higher than these other candidates, too.

Why it matters: That's still not great for Democrats. Their reactions to the candidates, including Beto, show the personality traits these candidates need to shed to win over some swing voters in Ohio.

What they're saying: After watching Beto's announcement video, participants described him as "overdramatic," someone who is trying to "offer too much," and a candidate who just tells you "what you want to hear."

  • Others described him as "unrealistic" and "boring."
  • After watching videos for these four candidates, the voters were asked to rate, on a scale from zero to 10, whether they think the Democratic Party's future is dim (zero) or bright (10). The average score was just over 7, suggesting these swing voters think younger candidates like Beto are going to carry the party in a positive direction.

Go deeper: Ohio voters crave Obama

Go deeper

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

2 hours ago - World

Biden huddles with European allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin call

Putin in the Kremlin. Photo: Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik via Getty

President Biden will seek to convince Russia's Vladimir Putin in a phone call Tuesday that the price of invading Ukraine would be steeper than anything he's faced in the past.

Driving the news: Biden held a call on Ukraine this evening with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., while Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer America's "unwavering support."