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By RYAN LIZZA, GARRETT ROSS and ELI OKUN 
11/08/2021 01:32 PM EST
Updated 11/08/2021 02:20 PM EST
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A new op-ed in the NYT says Joe Biden won because he was the “moderate alternative” to Bernie Sanders and the “antidote” to Donald Trump. But after a good start combatting the pandemic, voters have rejected the president’s “embrace of parts of the Bernie Sanders/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playbook.” | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
A big political loss generates a lot of advice.
Most of it just reinforces everyone’s priors. Progressives will tell you TERRY McAULIFFE lost because he didn’t motivate the base. Moderates insist he didn’t pay attention to swing voters.
That latter view is distilled in a new op-ed co-authored by Mark Penn in the New York Times that seems laboratory-designed for hate reading on lefty Twitter.
Let’s hear him out …
Penn says JOE BIDEN won because he was the “moderate alternative” to BERNIE SANDERS and the “antidote” to DONALD TRUMP. But after a good start combatting the pandemic, voters have rejected the president’s “embrace of parts of the Bernie Sanders/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playbook.”
Some of the issues Penn identifies as hurting Biden are familiar (immigration, inflation) and some are more surprising (eliminating cash bail).
He zeroes in on climate change and an expansion of popular entitlements, which he argues could be winning issues if they weren’t buried in the fog of the reconciliation process, especially the debate over the bill’s total price tag.
Penn, and co-author Andrew Stein, remind Biden of a lesson his top political aides used to talk about obsessively during the 2020 primaries: “53 percent of Democrats classify themselves as moderates or conservative.”
As an adviser to BILL CLINTON, Penn was famous for focussing on the concerns of suburban swing voters. He coined the term “soccer moms” to describe the demographic key to Clinton’s 1996 reelection. So not surprisingly he has paid close attention to what happened in northern Virginia on Tuesday: “[T]he flight from the Democrats was disproportionately in the suburbs, and the idea that these home-owning, child-rearing, taxpaying voters just want more progressive candidates is not a sustainable one.”
Penn argues that “Yelling ‘Trump, Trump, Trump,’” is not enough for a Democrat to win and emphasizes that Republicans are now maintaining — and expanding — their Trump-era gains among blue collar voters while Democrats are not keeping their Trump-era gains in the suburbs.
“While many rural and working-class voters are staying Republican,” he says, “the message from last Tuesday is that the Democrats have gone too far to the left on key issues for educated suburban voters.”
His prescription for Biden? “[S]tronger borders, a slower transition from fossil fuels, a focus on bread-and-butter economic issues (such as the price of gas and groceries), fixes to the supply chain fiasco that is impacting the cost of goods and the pursuit of more moderate social spending bills.”
Penn does not wade deeply into the specific policies of the Build Back Better agenda, but he advises Biden to make sure to include what he identifies as two popular proposals, “expansion of Medicare benefits for dental and vision and family leave,” which, after a lot of hand-wringing about the left damaging Biden, puts Penn squarely on the side of none other than Sanders.
Good Monday afternoon. TRIVIA TIME — On Friday, we asked which U.S. presidents served as governor of Virginia before winning the nation’s highest office? The answers: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. The winner: Mike Egilsson (with a shoutout to Justin McCarthy, the first person to note that Tyler ascended to the presidency after the death of William Henry Harrison).
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(IR)RECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES
WAITING IN THE LOBBY — While some big industry lobbyists — chief among them the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — oppose the proposed tax increases in the reconciliation package, a host of other U.S. companies from General Motors to Amazon are sitting out the fight because they back climate provisions included in the bill, WSJ’s Brody Mullins and Emily Glazer report. “In years past, companies typically gave priority to public policy matters that affected their bottom lines, such as opposing tax increases and new regulations. Now, more companies are wading into other issues such as community policing and funding for social services.”
DAILY MANCHIN — David Corn is back with another buzzy scoop for Mother Jones on Sen. JOE MANCHIN: The West Virginia Democrat is reportedly shopping a book deal. “In between negotiating sessions that have raised his profile in Washington and across the nation, Manchin has held multiple conversations regarding this book project, according to people with knowledge of this endeavor. And the project has reached the stage of a book proposal being drafted. Manchin has discussed whether the best time to present a proposal to publishers would be during the ongoing drama over the Build Back Better legislation or after a final deal is reached.”
CLIMATE FILES
OBAMA TAKES GLASGOW — Former President BARACK OBAMA went to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this morning to offer the Biden administration some backup on the world stage, CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere and Paul LeBlanc write. “‘Of course, back in the United States, some of our progress stalled when my successor decided to unilaterally pull out of the Paris Agreement in his first year in office. I wasn’t real happy about that,’ Obama said. But he said these lost years are not reason to lose faith in the power of what global cooperation can achieve, or even in the U.S.’ commitment to climate. … ‘Not only that, but the rest of the world stayed in the deal. And now with President Biden and his administration rejoining the agreement, the U.S. government is once again engaged and prepared to take a leadership role.’”
WHAT WILL COME OF IT? — As the global climate summit in Glasgow stretches into its second week, there’s been lots of talk. But the question remains: What exactly will be accomplished? NYT’s Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman take a look at the two options: “There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction,” they write. “Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, as the Swedish activist GRETA THUNBERG put it, the conference has mostly consisted of ‘blah, blah, blah.’”
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THE PANDEMIC
BOOSTER BUSINESS — Pfizer-BioNTech is expected to seek approval for booster shots for anyone over 18 as soon as this week, WaPo’s Laurie McGinley, Lena Sun and Tyler Pager report.
THE GRAND REOPENING — The U.S. eased restrictions on travelers from Mexico, Canada and most of Europe today, “setting the stage for emotional reunions nearly two years in the making and providing a boost for the airline and tourism industries decimated by the pandemic,” AP’s John Leicester and Travis Loller write.
TRUMP CARDS
2024 WATCH — Former President DONALD TRUMP told Fox News in an exclusive interview that he would probably announce whether he will run for president again after the midterms next year. “I am certainly thinking about it and we’ll see. I think a lot of people will be very happy, frankly, with the decision, and probably will announce that after the midterms,” he said. Trump also praised the field of potential GOP candidates. “‘But almost all of them said if I run, they’ll never run.’ He added: ‘And that’s nice, primarily because it shows a great degree of loyalty and respect.’”
MCCONNELL’S TRUMP PROBLEM — Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL appeared to break with Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. But the breakup didn’t last long. “For many of his 36 years in the Senate, Addison Mitchell McConnell III has cultivated an image as a master political and legislative tactician, a consummate insider who knows how to gain power and use it to the fullest,” WaPo’s Michael Kranish writes. “Yet in the months since the Jan. 6 attack, a different portrait of McConnell has taken shape. At 79, safely reelected last year to a seventh term and in his 16th year as the Senate’s top Republican, McConnell is nonetheless increasingly playing the role of a conflicted and compromised booster of Trump’s interests — not a leader with his own vision. … To top it all off, McConnell has pledged to vote for Trump if he’s a 2024 nominee.”
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POLICY CORNER
ZOMBIELAND — Democrats lost their majority on the Federal Trade Commission last month. But Commissioner LINA KHAN can still push through progressive policies. “That’s thanks to as many as 20 votes that former Democratic Commissioner ROHIT CHOPRA cast by email on Oct. 8 — his last day at the agency — that remain active even after his departure, according to three people familiar with the situation,” Leah Nylen reports. “The maneuver means Chopra can be the deciding vote for Democratic initiatives until as late as December, despite the agency’s current 2-2 partisan split. … A debate is raging inside the FTC whether a commissioner’s votes should count once he or she has left the agency.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
BURN(S) NOTICE — CIA Director BILL BURNS and Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN had a conversation last week, “to convey ‘serious’ U.S. concerns about Russia’s military buildup along the Ukrainian border and to attempt to determine Russian intentions,” sources tell CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Natasha Bertrand. “Assessments on Russia’s motives differ widely within the administration, with some sources telling CNN they believe Russia could be preparing for an invasion, while others suggest they are conducting an exercise, or simply trying to intimidate Ukraine.”
BECOME A GLOBAL INSIDER: The world is more connected than ever. It has never been more essential to identify, unpack and analyze important news, trends and decisions shaping our future — and we’ve got you covered! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Global Insider author Ryan Heath navigates the global news maze and connects you to power players and events changing our world. Don’t miss out on this influential global community. Subscribe now.
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
STILL IN UNIFORM — “At least five service members allegedly were part of the deadly pro-Trump mob that assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,” Military.com’s Steve Beynon and Konstantin Toropin report, and though the military has begun to take action, “most of those accused appear to still be in uniform, serving the country they allegedly attacked.”
BETTER OFF IN BELARUS? — A man who allegedly participated in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 and is wanted by the FBI is seeking asylum in Belarus, WaPo’s Isabelle Khurshudyan and Mary Ilyushina report.
PLAYBOOKERS
SPOTTED at the Washington Spirit game on Sunday night at Audi Field, where they defeated the North Carolina Courage: Dennis Rodman (whose daughter, Trinity Rodman, plays for the Spirit), Heather Higginbottom, Kara Swisher, Jade Floyd, Susan Tynan, Marla Messing and Claudia Alarco.
MEDIA MOVE — Jason Hoffman will be a field producer in Bloomberg TV’s D.C. bureau, covering politics. He currently is a White House producer at CNN.
TRANSITIONS — Rob Tappan will be managing director at the International Biometrics + Identity Association. He currently is president of the Tappan Group. … Tanya Brown is joining TargetSmart as chief revenue officer. She most recently was chief of staff at America Votes, and is a DNC alum. …
… Kyle Plotkin is joining OnMessage Public Strategies, a new firm launched by OnMessage Inc. He most recently was chief of staff for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and is a Bobby Jindal alum. … Megan Axelrod is now a regulatory policy manager for the Colorado Hospital Association. She most recently was a health and education legislative assistant for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and is a Cory Gardner alum.
WEEKEND WEDDING — Kate Stotesbery, comms director for Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), and Harry Edwards, a senior consultant at Deloitte, got married on Sunday evening in Austin, Texas. InstapicSPOTTED: Rep. Lloyd Doggett.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Mitch Relfe, manager of government relations at NFIB, and Janelle Relfe, associate director of legislative affairs at NAFCU, welcomed Perry Tynan Relfe on Friday. He came in at 7 lbs, 9 oz, and joins brother Julien and sister Eleanor. Pic
BONUS BIRTHDAY: Peter Kadzik
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of Playbook misstated the cause of death for former President William Henry Harrison. He died of pneumonia. It also misstated the affiliation of Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas).
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