April 03, 2024

🐫 Happy Wednesday! Smart Brevity™ count: 1,297 words ... 5 mins. Thanks to Noah Bressner for orchestrating. Copy edited by Bryan McBournie.

🇹🇼 Taiwan's strongest earthquake in 25 years rocked the island during today's morning rush hour, leaving seven people dead. Get the latest.

1 big thing: Trump's "bloodbath" campaign

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., yesterday.
Former President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., yesterday. Photo: Paul Sancya/AP

Donald Trump and President Biden are painting increasingly dystopian portraits of their rival's prospective second term, sounding the alarm over the issue — immigration or abortion — that each wants to define the election.

  • Why it matters: Both Trump and Biden are deeply unpopular. But they boast decisive polling advantages in two of the country's hottest debates, Axios' Zachary Basu reports.

This week, they're intensifying efforts to wage the 2024 campaign on their party's home turf:

  • For Trump, that means a relentless focus on "migrant crime" and new rhetorical stunts spotlighting the border crisis.
  • Biden is seizing on Florida's strict new abortion law + Trump's potential support for a national abortion ban.

🔎 Zoom in: Trump campaign appearances yesterday underscored the degree to which illegal immigration has subsumed virtually every other policy issue in his platform.

  • In Grand Rapids, Mich., Trump titled his campaign event "Biden's Border Bloodbath."
  • The Trump-controlled RNC launched a website, BidenBloodbath.com, to track crimes allegedly committed by immigrants.

Biden and top surrogates mobilized after Florida's Supreme Court cleared the way this week for a six-week abortion ban to take effect, and green-lit an abortion rights measure for November's ballot.

  • Biden's campaign ambitiously declared Florida is now "winnable" due to the abortion issue.
  • The campaign began airing a new ad highlighting Trump's history of boasting about his role in overturning Roe.

🖼️ The big picture: Immigration and abortion rights are two of the top issues for swing voters — especially suburbanites.

🔮 What to watch: Activists in two swing states — Arizona and Nevada —announced Tuesday they've exceeded the signature threshold necessary to get abortion rights measures on November's ballot.

2. 📢 José Andrés' massive megaphone

A vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen after being by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
A vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen after being hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Ismael Abu Dayyah/AP

Growing outrage over an Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers — including an American citizen — underscores just how powerful a voice celebrity chef José Andrés has become, Axios' Hans Nichols and Margaret Talev write.

  • Why it matters: When Andrés speaks, Washington listens.

The 54-year-old Spanish-born chef, who became a U.S. citizen in 2013, has long propelled the city's elite to rethink their assumptions about food with an empire of restaurants concentrated in downtown D.C.

  • Now he's demanding they focus their attention on the Palestinian civilians in Gaza who are facing starvation.

Anger spread around the world as the raw facts of the tragedy became known.

  • A clearly marked World Central Kitchen convoy, having delivered 100 tons of humanitarian food to a warehouse in central Gaza, was pulverized by an Israeli strike.
  • President Biden spoke to Andrés and issued a sharply critical statement saying Israel's government "has not done enough to protect aid workers."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a rare statement of regret, saying the Israel Defense Forces are "conducting a swift and transparent investigation and we will make our findings public."

  • Breaking: The deep divides between the U.S. and Israel over Israel's planned operation in Rafah were evident in a virtual meeting between senior officials from both countries, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.

3. 👀 Scoop: George Conway gives $900,000 to Biden

Invitation to Conway reception
Obtained by Axios

George Conway, the lawyer who became an online celebrity with his anti-Trump tweeting, will headline a fundraiser for President Biden in D.C. on April 24, Democratic sources tell me.

  • Why it matters: This is Conway's first big pro-Biden event.

Conway, who's divorced from former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, wrote a check for $929,600 — the max you can give to the Biden Victory Fund. The minimum gift for the event is $500.

  • The lead hosts are Melissa Moss, a strategic consultant who's very visible around Washington, and her husband, Jonathan Silver. Susan Brophy helped organize.

4. ☀️ Mapped: America's solar leaders

Energy generated by solar and wind, 2023
Data: Climate Central. Map: Axios Visuals

California, Texas and Iowa lead the country in solar and wind power generation, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj write from a new analysis.

  • Why it matters: Solar and wind power are producing a comparatively small but growing share of America's overall energy supply.

🧮 By the numbers: Solar installations generated nearly 240,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity across the U.S. in 2023, according to the analysis by Climate Central, a climate research nonprofit.

  • That's eight times higher than 2014.
  • Wind generation hit about 425,000 GWh last year — double that of a decade ago.

More data ... Get Axios What's Next.

5. 💡 GE split ends Jack Welch era

The late Jack Welch in 2005. Photo: Thomas Lohnes/DDP/AFP via Getty Images
The late Jack Welch in 2005. Photo: Thomas Lohnes/DDP/AFP via Getty Images

The legacy of former GE CEO Jack Welch — once hailed as the "manager of the century" — lies in tatters, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.

  • GE no longer exists: Its split into three separate parts concluded yesterday. Welch's school of management has barely fared better.

Why it matters: Welch, who died in 2020 at 84, was the most important CEO of his generation — a man who was richly rewarded for using financial engineering to goose his company's share price at the expense of its employees' jobs.

  • Welch was a bona fide hero in the 1990s. Today, he's viewed much more as a creature of corporate excess.

🖼️ The big picture: Welch has been the subject of two highly critical recent biographies: "The Man Who Broke Capitalism," by David Gelles, and "Power Failure," by William D. Cohan.

  • Welch acolyte David Calhoun announced his resignation as CEO of Boeing in the wake of multiple safety lapses at the company. Another Welch lieutenant, James McNerney, was Boeing's CEO during the 737 MAX's development.

Other Welch-affiliated leaders to suffer unceremonious departures include Robert Nardelli at Home Depot, Paulo Fresco at Fiat and Larry Johnston at Albertsons.

Get Axios Markets.

6. 🤖 Musicians take on AI

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

200+ big-name musicians are calling on AI developers and digital platforms to "cease the use of artificial intelligence to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists," Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Why it matters: It's one of the strongest positions that artists have collectively taken to advocate for themselves in the AI era.

The effort is backed by Billie Eilish, Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Elvis Costello, Nicki Minaj, Kacey Musgraves, Jon Batiste, Ja Rule, Jason Isbell, Pearl Jam and Sam Smith.

7. 🏀 Caitlin Clark's ratings record

Iowa's Caitlin Clark cuts off a piece of the net after clinching a spot in the Final Four on Monday.
Iowa's Caitlin Clark cuts off a piece of the net after clinching a spot in the Final Four on Monday. Photo: Hans Pennink/AP

Caitlin Clark broke another record — most-watched women's college basketball game in history:

  • An average of 12.3 million viewers watched Clark's Iowa defeat LSU in a rematch of last year's championship game (ESPN).

It was the most-watched men's or women's college basketball game ever on ESPN, more than doubling the prior largest audience, AP notes.

  • Only one men's March Madness game this year had bigger viewership: North Carolina State's win over Duke on Sunday in the Elite Eight on CBS averaged 15.1 million.
  • The previous women's record: 11.84 million watched the 1983 NCAA championship game between Southern California and Louisiana Tech.

😲 Iowa-LSU ratings topped every World Series game last year — and all but one NBA Finals game, The Athletic's Richard Deitsch notes.

Go deeper ... A night in America: The women's NCAA Tournament had center stage. The stars, and the games, delivered in a big way.

8. 🍩 1 fun thing: Eclipse food fever

Krispy Kreme has a special eclipse doughnut from April 5-8.
Krispy Kreme's eclipse doughnut. Photo: Krispy Kreme

You can only feast your eyes on Monday's solar eclipse for minutes. But businesses are floating deals for days, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

  • Why it matters: Businesses are cashing in on the once-in-a-lifetime celestial event by offering fun eclipse-themed goodies or discounts. Some items come with free eclipse glasses.

🌑 Circular foods and brands with space-themed names are making for popular eclipse grub:

  • Krispy Kreme has a special total solar eclipse doughnut (above).
  • MoonPie is promoting "Solar Eclipse Survival kits."
  • Pizza Hut is offering large pizzas for $12 on Monday, in a deal dubbed "Total Eclipse of the Hut."

Keep reading ... Eclipse map.

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