Sep 8, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🥞 Good Sunday morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,182 words ... 4½ minutes.

1 big thing: Biden's big bad-news problem
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Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Of the 22 stories about Joe Biden that got the most social media play in the last two weeks of August, 21 were negative, Axios' Neal Rothschild writes from exclusive NewsWhip data.

  • So were 77 of the top 100.

The big picture: While stories about Biden may be generating more interactions (likes, comments, shares) than his 2020 rivals, it's largely because he's getting ripped apart in those pieces.

  • Social media has never been kind to moderation, and Biden is getting a lot of incoming from both sides of the political spectrum.

Why it matters: As Biden maintains his perch atop the 2020 field in the polls, both the right and the left have incentives to chip away at his position with intense scrutiny and attacks.

  • Starting in August, Biden has been pummeled online for gaffes.
  • The gaffes have continued, as has the negative coverage around him.

Between the lines: Among the 23 stories in the top 100 that were neutral or leaned positive about Biden, no storyline appeared twice.

  • That indicates there haven't been clear threads of Biden's candidacy that are sparking significant enthusiasm among supporters.

Explore the interactive data

📊 A Warren gain puts Biden (27%), Sanders (19%) and Warren (17%) atop the field in ABC News/WashPost's latest poll. (ABC's Gary Langer)

  • The rest of the field is in single digits.
2. Out-of-state abortions become more common

While abortions are down in the U.S., the share of women who had abortions out of state rose by half a point as states passed stricter laws and the number of clinics declined, an AP data analysis finds:

  • 276,000 women terminated pregnancies outside their home state between 2012 and 2017, according to data AP collected from state reports and the Centers for Disease Control.

In pockets of the Midwest, South and Mountain West, the number of women terminating a pregnancy in another state rose considerably over six years.

Number of abortion clinics by state:

Graphic: AP
3. Trump's Taliban secret

President Trump tweeted "that he canceled secret meetings with major Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan, set for [today] at Camp David, and discontinued peace negotiations after a U.S. soldier was killed," Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs and Nick Wadhams report.

  • Behind the scenes: "The president had grown frustrated with the peace negotiations. His national security adviser, John Bolton, thought an agreement in principle that had been reached was inadequate and reminded Trump of the potential pitfalls."
  • "So Trump tried to hammer out an accord personally by inviting the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for talks with him."

"While the Taliban delegation never made it to the U.S., Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the most senior Taliban leaders, would have been among those at Camp David," Bloomberg reports.

  • "That would have produced the extraordinary scene of a U.S. president sitting down with a commander of the militant force American troops have fought for years."

Sneak peek: Gen. James Mattis, former SecDef, will join The Cohen Group in October as senior counselor, the firm's chairman, former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen, will announce tomorrow.

4. Desperation rises in Bahamas
The sun sets on Hopetown in Elbow Key Island, Bahamas. Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

The World Food Programme estimates 70,000 people in the Bahamas need food and shelter, Reuters' Nick Brown and Zach Fagenson report from Nassau:

  • In Marsh Harbour, where 90% of buildings were destroyed, thousands of people were living in a government building, a medical center and an Anglican church that survived.
  • They had little-to-no access to water, power or sanitation.

Evacuations, some by ferry, were slow.

  • Families split up: "A cruise ship with more than 1,000 evacuees arrived in south Florida ... Some had small children or aging relatives who they hoped to find safe lodging for before returning to try to repair or rebuild." (Reuters)

"Private forecasters estimated that some $3 billion in insured property was destroyed or damaged in the Caribbean."

5. More Dems embrace assault-weapon buyback
Cory Booker and Kamala Harris at the New Hampshire Democratic convention in Manchester yesterday. Both photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Several 2020 Dems — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke — are embracing mandated "buybacks" of assault weapons, Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur writes from the New Hampshire Democratic convention.

  • Why it matters: "[S]egments of the party are throwing caution to the wind on gun control, backing aggressive measures that seemed unthinkable in mainstream circles even a year ago."
  • A buyback program would mean people were required to turn in assault weapons, but would be paid.

Sahil tweets: "BIDEN, SANDERS, WARREN and BUTTIGIEG aren’t calling for forced buybacks — they want to ban [new] sales of AR-15-style guns and make it optional to sell the ones currently in circulation to the government."

Andrew Yang and Elizabeth Warren at yesterday's convention. Both photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images
6. Trump manager sees dynasty
Brad Parscale speaks in California yesterday. Photo: Chris Carlson

Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, predicted yesterday that the president and his family will become "a dynasty," AP's Mike Blood reports from the California Republican Convention in Indian Wells.

  • "The Trumps will be a dynasty that will last for decades, propelling the Republican Party into a new party," Parscale said.
  • "One that will adapt to changing cultures. One must continue to adapt while keeping the conservative values that we believe in."

P.S. National Journal's Josh Kraushaar writes in his "Against the Grain" column that "Trumpism Will Last Long After Trump Leaves Washington":

  • "At this pace, the number of Republican retirements would approach the historic number of exits (34) that foreshadowed the Democratic wave of 2018."
  • This latest wave doesn't herald a change in House control, but instead a tectonic change in the Republican Party: "Nine of these 14 retirements come in safe Republican districts ... And most of the retirees ... are privately uncomfortable with the changing direction of their party."
  • The bottom line: "[E]xpect a growing number of new candidates ... to reflect our political moment: ideological, bombastic, and eager for a partisan fight."
7. Epstein enablers finally held accountable
Joi Ito speaks during the New Yorker Festival 2015. Photo: Anna Webber/Getty Images

Dozens of rich and influential men surrounded Jeffrey Epstein. They knew that what they were doing was wrong. That's why they were so secretive about it, Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon writes.

  • On Friday night, a blockbuster report by the New Yorker's Ronan Farrow revealed that MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito accepted more than $8 million tied to Epstein.
  • Yesterday, Ito resigned from the Media Lab, the New York Times Co. board and the MacArthur Foundation board.

The bottom line: Epstein's enablers continue to withhold straight answers.

8. Dorian now in Canada
Photo: Kaitlin McKeown/The Virginian-Pilot via AP

Eric Young paddleboards with his daughter, Emily Ruth, 5, through post-Dorian streets in the Larchmont neighborhood of Norfolk on Friday.

  • At least five deaths in the Southeast U.S. were blamed on Dorian, per AP.
9. 🏈 Vegas' new Super Bowl favorite

"The Patriots are once again the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl in February 2020," jumping past the Chiefs on the same day New England signed Antonio Brown, arguably the best wide receiver in the league, to a one-year contract, Sports Illustrated reports.

  • Boston Globe: "When Bill Belichick woke up on Saturday morning, Antonio Brown was still a Raider. But one Instagram post and YouTube video later, the Raiders decided they had had enough, and finally released the talented but temperamental receiver. Six hours later, Brown became a Patriot, signing for one year and $9 million guaranteed, with a chance to make up to $15 million."
10. 1 pup thing
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Above, Leonardo the corgi wears a shark-fin life jacket while playing in the Thunder Bay Wave Pool at the Bow Wow Beach Doggie Day at Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado.

  • Below, behold watersliding dogs:
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
Mike Allen