The Hill's Morning Report — Biden tackles age, hostage negotiations

Editor’s note: The Hill’s Morning Report is our daily newsletter that dives deep into Washington’s agenda. To subscribe, click here or fill out the box below.

From birthday celebrations to high-pressure negotiations, President Biden is teeing off a packed Thanksgiving week. 

The president turns 81 today, a fact that’s sure to inspire mixed emotions among his supporters. Biden was already the oldest president ever on the day he took the oath of office in 2021. If he wins reelection and serves a full second term, he would exit office at the age of 86.

Biden’s allies are confronting voter anxiety — reflected in early polls — that the president could lose in an increasingly likely rematch next year against former President Trump. In a recent New York Times/Siena College poll of battleground states, 71 percent of respondents — including 54 percent of his own supporters — said Biden was “too old” to be president. In contrast, 39 percent said the same about Trump, who is 77.

Politico reports there are deep concerns that the campaign’s largely hands-off approach to Biden’s age — and focus on his accomplishments instead — isn’t enough to assuage voters’ fears. Some donors are directly urging top campaign aides to go on offense, leaning even harder into Biden’s age as proof of his wisdom. They are hoping for more humor from “Grandpa Joe.”

“I think everyone knows it’s an issue, and we have to address it,” said Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, adding it’s important to “emphasize [that] it gives him more wisdom and experience, how he’s navigated this difficult problem in Ukraine.”

“He’ll keep on doing the job, campaigning with vigor and demonstrating to the American people his energy level, which is quite robust,” Klain said.

The White House has no plans to mark today’s occasion with a lavish party; Biden will celebrate privately with family in Nantucket later this week (The New York Times).

▪ The Hill: The Biden campaign is ramping up its offensive against Trump, targeting the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination as a rematch between Trump and Biden appears increasingly likely.

▪ NPR analysis: As Biden celebrates his birthday, candles on the cake are adding to a problem.

BIDEN AND U.S. OFFICIALS ARE WALKING A DELICATE TIGHTROPE when it comes to addressing Israel’s offensive in Gaza as it stares down a potential deal to release dozens of hostages from Hamas while emphasizing “real concern” for an Israeli operation eyed in the coastal enclave’s southern tip. Deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer on Sunday tackled the aftermath of a weekend report indicating that a deal was close to being reached for a five-day pause in fighting in exchange for the release of some of the 239 hostages in Gaza who were captured on Oct. 7 (The Hill).

Reporting by The Washington Post indicated that a U.S.-brokered deal would free dozens of women and children as well as allow an increase in much-needed humanitarian assistance for civilians, including fuel. Finer was careful to remain cautious that the deal is not yet done.

“[W]e are closer than we have been to reaching a final agreement, but that on an issue as sensitive as this and as challenging is this, the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed really does apply. And we do not yet have an agreement in place,” he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”

Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, said Sunday that he was “hopeful” that a deal will be completed “in the coming days” to free at least some of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Israel, meanwhile, is shifting the focus of its military campaign to southern Gaza, where it will likely face the hardest stage of the six-week-old war after its forces largely succeeded in taking control of the enclave’s north. But amid a deepening humanitarian crisis, they have only partially destroyed Hamas’s military capabilities and haven’t captured or killed many of its top leaders (The Wall Street Journal). The U.S. cautioned Israel on Sunday not to embark on combat operations in the south until military planners have taken into account the safety of Palestinian civilians.

Gaza’s Hamas-run government said at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombardments since the start of the fighting, including at least 5,500 children. The civilian death toll in Gaza is “staggering and unacceptable,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said Sunday, appealing again for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire (Reuters).

▪ The Washington Post: A midnight trip into northern Gaza reveals a shattered warscape.

▪ The Hill: An Israeli-linked ship was hijacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, with 25 hostages taken.

▪ CNN: Al-Shifa Hospital’s neo-natal babies are heading to Egypt by ambulance.

▪ The New York Times: At least 24 were killed in a strike on Gaza school run by the U.N. Nearly 7,000 people were sheltering at the school, according to the U.N. Another school had been struck on Friday.

FORMER FIRST LADY ROSALYNN CARTER, wife of former President Jimmy Carter, died Sunday afternoon in her home in Plains, Ga., She was 96. The Carter Center said in a statement that the former first lady passed away about two days after she entered hospice care (The Hill).


Javier Milei, a libertarian candidate with radical solutions to Argentina’s economic crisis who has drawn comparisons to Trump, won Sunday’s presidential runoff.

▪ Ukrainian troops fighting through a stalemate notched a victory last week by securing a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, pushing Russian troops back from another front as Moscow struggles to make ground.

Sam Altman, the co-founder of ChatGPT parent OpenAI who was ousted as CEO in a chaotic boardroom coup Friday, is joining Microsoft, the startup’s biggest financial backer.

Morning Report’s Alexis Simendinger will be back in your inboxes Tuesday.


Politics Rosalynn Carter 070723 AP David Goldman

© The Associated Press / David Goldman | Former first lady Rosalynn Carter, pictured with former President Jimmy Carter in 2017, died Sunday in Plains, Ga. She was 96.

A LONGTIME MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE: Former first lady Rosalynn Carter was widely regarded for her political shrewdness, drawing particular praise for her keen electoral instincts, down-to-earth appeal, and work on behalf of the White House. Over the course of her public life, she devoted herself to several social causes, including programs that supported health care resources, human rights, social justice and the needs of elderly people. Carter was diagnosed with dementia in March, which the Carter Center said the family was hoping to help destigmatize (NBC News).

“Twenty-five years ago, we did not dream that people might someday be able actually to recover from mental illnesses,” Carter said at a mental health symposium in 2003. “Today it is a very real possibility. For one who has worked on mental health issues as long as I have this is a miraculous development and an answer to my prayers.”

The Carters marked their 77th wedding anniversary in July. As of 2021, their marriage became the longest for a first couple in U.S. history, surpassing George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush’s 73 years of marriage. Her husband celebrated his 99th birthday last month after himself entering hospice care in February. Carter is the oldest former living president in U.S. history (The Hill).

“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said in a statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”

▪ The Washington Post: On their 75th anniversary in 2021, the Carters celebrated a record-setting love story back where it all started.

▪ The Hill: Bipartisan lawmakers honored Rosalynn Carter as a “beacon of humble charity.”

SEN. JOE MANCHIN’S (D-W.VA.) FLIRTATION with a third-party presidential bid after announcing his retirement from the Senate is sparking anxiety among Democratic senators who warn that Manchin would make a big mistake if he challenges Biden. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports an independent run could result in what they view as the nightmare scenario of electing former President Trump to a second White House term. Manchin last week didn’t rule out the possibility of running for president on the No Labels ticket or another independent platform.

“I think it would be very, very unfortunate if Joe Manchin decided to do that,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said of a possible Manchin presidential run. “I know he’s a supporter of President Biden and has been an important person here in the U.S. Senate in terms of getting things done. And he knows that if he were to step in [to the race] that it would make it much more likely Donald Trump would be president again and I know Joe Manchin doesn’t want that.”

THE BATTLE FOR SECOND: In a GOP race where Trump leads by a huge margin, the interest increasingly lies in the runners-up. The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in The Memo that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been rising in the polls, seemingly putting her on course to supplant Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as Trump’s main rival. Haley is already ahead in New Hampshire but still lags DeSantis in national polls and in Iowa. At the same time, there are real doubts that either candidate can reel in Trump’s vast lead.

▪ The New York Times: DeSantis has a two-pronged approach in Iowa: Hit Trump on abortion, and get personal.

▪ Axios: While Haley has been making inroads among big GOP donors, DeSantis continues to raise significant cash in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses, netting $2 million for his presidential run in 48 hours last week.

EXPERTS WARN VOTER FRUSTRATION could result in reduced turnout next November, but building intense opposition to the other party’s candidate may uplift the numbers. The Hill’s Jared Gans reports turnout has been trending up in the most recent presidential elections. About two-thirds of eligible voters participated in the 2020 presidential election between Trump and Biden, the highest turnout in more than a century. But polls have regularly shown throughout the 2024 election cycle that many voters do not want a rematch. 

“These are two well-known individuals, and most people’s views are made up about them,” said William Howell, a professor in American politics at the University of Chicago. “And so the relevant question isn’t for the vast, vast, vast majority of people, ‘Do I vote for Trump or do I vote for Biden?’ It’s, ‘Do I vote at all?’”


▪ In an interview with The Hill, Kari Lake said she is looking to hit the reset button with the Republicans she isolated during her gubernatorial bid last cycle as she vies for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) seat next fall.

▪ New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy is a former Republican from Virginia. And she could be New Jersey’s first female senator.

▪ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday endorsed Trump’s comeback campaign for the White House, while lauding the former president’s border policies.

▪ Advocates are urging political leaders to prioritize Black male voters to keep them from staying home on Election Day 2024. The demographic, some say, is too often overlooked and their concerns dismissed.

▪ Democrats are already gearing up for Virginia’s 2025 elections after the party’s successful showing earlier this month in the state’s off-year contests. 


The House holds a pro forma session on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The Senate convenes a pro forma session on Tuesday at 10 a.m. 

🎂 The president is 81 today. Happy birthday! Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. At 11:15 a.m., the president will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey on the South Lawn.

Vice President Harris is in Los Angeles. At 10:45 a.m. PT, she will receive the President’s Daily Brief. She and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak at a campaign reception at 5:30 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden will receive the official 2023 White House Christmas Tree at the White House at 3 p.m.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.



A PRESSURE COOKER: House Republicans are finally getting a break from each other over Thanksgiving after a grueling, contentious legislative stretch that saw two fights over how to avoid a shutdown, three weeks without a Speaker, and even an allegation of a jab to the kidneys. But when they come back, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) won’t have an easy time corralling the fractious, razor-thin majority. Before the House left the Capitol, Johnson said at a press conference that he hopes his conference will be more cohesive and effective after a break (The Hill).

“This place is a pressure cooker,” Johnson said. “Everybody can go home, we can come back, reset,” and then: “We’re going to map out that plan to fight for those principles.”

HIGH ON JOHNSON’S PRIORITY LIST: A supplemental package to aid the war efforts in Ukraine and Israel, as well as make changes to the U.S. immigration system, which lawmakers want to pass by the end of the year. While both chambers moved quickly last week to pass bipartisan legislation averting a shutdown, they left assistance for the two war-torn countries up in the air. There’s now plenty of uncertainty about how Congress will proceed after lawmakers return from their break (The Hill). 

“I don’t think there’s one simple way it’s going to move,” said Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. “It’s all in play.”

The ambitious timeline would mean striking a deal that satisfies the funding requested by the Defense Department, while creating an immigration measure that not only provides resources for border security but includes policy changes that appease conservatives without alienating Democrats. The House has already passed a Republican aid bill for Israel, but it relies on cuts to the IRS and does not budget for humanitarian assistance — both of which the White House and Senate Democrats find untenable (NBC News).

▪ The Hill: Hispanics warn of a dangerous trap in Ukraine-for-border talks.

▪ NPR: Money for Ukraine is losing Republican support in Congress.

Manchin’s planned exit from the Senate is delivering a blow to the eroding dealmaking sector of the upper chamber, as compromise becomes devalued and partisanship wins out at the ballot box. The Hill’s Al Weaver reports that his retirement is the latest in a list of senators known for their give-and-take exiting the chamber and being replaced by more partisan figures. It’s a trend that is showing no signs of ebbing anytime soon. 

“We all as a party should have a vested interest in strengthening Americans confidence that Congress can function and get broad consensus around solutions to problems,” said John LaBombard, a Democratic strategist at ROKK Solutions and former top aide to Sinema and former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “That happens when you’ve got people in the middle who are more willing to find a way to get to ‘yes’ on bipartisan solutions than they are worried about their party’s base.”

Congress Manchin 111923 AP Jacquelyn Martin

© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) at the Capitol in June.



Incendiary rhetoric, performances for the cameras and gripes with the judge seem all but certain to be hallmarks of Trump’s hush money criminal trial, which is expected to take place in New York City early next year. The Hill’s Ella Lee and Zach Schonfeld report the battle will play out just steps from the state courthouse where Trump’s civil fraud case is unfolding — and which may be offering a glimpse of what’s to come.

In the hush money case, Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying business records linked to payments amounting in a combined $280,000 made to former porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to cover up allegations of an affair. While hush money itself is legal, prosecutors charged Trump over how he reimbursed his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid the women.

With easy access to reporters and cameras, courthouses have become impromptu campaign stops for Trump. Facing legal headwinds, Trump has attempted to win his cases in the court of public opinion, portraying his four criminal indictments and several civil cases as evidence of a system biased against him, regularly railing against judges, prosecutors and court staff. Now, all eyes are on whether the former president will do the same when he makes his next court appearance in the hush money case on Feb. 15, when he will attempt to get the case thrown out without a trial.  

▪ CNN: Trump will test the limits of the First Amendment at a high-stakes hearing over gag order constitutionality.

▪ USA Today: A Colorado court ruled Trump can stay on the primary ballot, but says he “engaged in an insurrection.”


❄️ Following weeks of relatively tranquil weather over much of the central and eastern U.S., a significant storm will gather rain, snow, wind and some ice just in time for some of the peak travel days ahead of Thanksgiving. A severe weather outbreak is expected across parts of the South today, with powerful storms expected from eastern Texas through Louisiana and Arkansas and eventually into Mississippi. Damaging winds, large hail and scattered tornadoes are the main concerns. 

As this storm system moves eastward, it’ll bring cool and wet weather to much of the East, and travel may be disrupted for millions of people as moderate to heavy rain falls on Tuesday and Wednesday (AccuWeather and ABC News).

METEOROLOGISTS IN CALIFORNIA are anticipating strong El Niño conditions this winter, with widespread wetness likely to drench much of the coast as soon as next month and persisting into spring. The Hill’s Sharon Udasin reports that while in the northern U.S. and Canada, El Niño tends to come with drier and warmer conditions, the South experiences increased flooding, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

This year, El Niño has already grown “quite strong in the eastern tropical Pacific and is likely to become stronger still before it peaks later this year — probably sometime this winter,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

State Watch California weather 022423 AP Marcio Jose Sanchez

© The Associated Press / Marcio Jose Sanchez | Meteorologists are anticipating storms that are likely to drench much of the California coast as soon as next month.


■ The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas, by Joe Biden, President of the United States and guest essayist, The Washington Post.

How the populists learned to love their nation’s enemies, by Max Hastings, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion.


Closer Turkeys 111923 AP Jacquelyn Martin

© The Associated Press / Jacquelyn Martin | Liberty and Bell, who will attend the annual presidential pardon at the White House today, at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington on Sunday.

And finally … 🦃 Gobble gobble! Ahead of today’s annual turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House, turkeys Liberty and Bell arrived in the nation’s capital in style.

The fortuitous fowl hail from Willmar, Minn., and were hatched as part of the “Presidential Flock” back in July. The annual “pardoning” of White House turkeys officially began 76 years ago in 1947 under former President Truman, according to the White House. Many, however, have said former President Lincoln’s clemency to a turkey in 1863 was the origin of the pardoning ceremony, though the White House said this is “likely apocryphal.”

The chosen turkeys are gradually introduced to crowds, camera lights and loud noises in preparation for the annual White House pardoning ceremony. Part of this preparation is listening to music, with Steve Lykken, Jennie-O Turkey Store president and National Turkey Federation chairman, telling reporters Sunday that the turkeys are “Swifities,” in reference to singer Taylor Swift and that “they do enjoy some Prince.”

Stay Engaged

We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger and Kristina Karisch. Follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter (@asimendinger and @kristinakarisch) and suggest this newsletter to friends!

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top