What to Know in Washington: GOP Debate Doesn’t Reset Rankings

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Republican presidential candidates unleashed barbs on the economy, abortion and crime in the first primary debate of the campaign season last night. But their attacks did little to reset the dynamics of the race because they largely left frontrunner Donald Trump untouched.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie was an exception when it came to taking direct aim at Trump’s conduct, continuing the withering criticism he’s been doling out on the campaign trail. But the audience’s boos in response to his attacks suggests Christie’s lines, while memorable, won’t vault him out of the tier of candidates registering in only single digits in the polls.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

The candidates, conscious of how slamming Trump might alienate voters they need to win over, instead trained their fire on President Joe Biden. They skewered him principally on his handling of the economy — the issue Biden plans to make the centerpiece of his reelection bid. Even as inflation eases, voters are still feeling the sting of consumer-price increases that reached a four-decade high last year, leaving an opening for Republicans to win over swing voters on this issue. Read more from Nancy Cook.


  • Bloomberg News presents the key takeaways from the first Republican presidential debate. Read more.
  • Each of the eight contenders on stage in Milwaukee sought to break from the crowded field and present themselves as someone who could beat Biden in a general election, with many praising Trump but saying he couldn’t retake the White House. Read more.
  • Meanwhile, DeSantis pledged to send US special forces into Mexico to destroy fentanyl labs, disrupt cartel operations and stop the lethal drug from crossing the border. Read more.

More in Politics & Probes

Trump and His 18 Racketeering Co-Defendants: Here’s the Latest

Trump is expected to turn himself in to authorities in Atlanta today to be booked on criminal charges over his efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat— the fourth time the former US president will surrender in a criminal case as he campaigns for the White House.

  • Rudy Giuliani surrendered to Georgia authorities to be booked on charges that he conspired to keep Trump in office after he lost the 2020 election, before calling the case a “travesty” in broadcast remarks. Read more.

Biden Trolls Republicans With ‘Dark Brandon’ Ads on Foxnews.com

Biden’s re-election campaign is placing ads on Fox News’s home page throughout the day Wednesday targeting Republican presidential candidates’ positions on abortion and other issues ahead of the party’s first debate.

On Lawmakers’ Radars

BGOV OnPoint: NDAA Set For Negotiation After August Recess

Lawmakers are gearing up to negotiate the annual defense policy bill this fall and pave the way for passage by the end of the year.

Palm Springs’ Congressman in Crosshairs as GOP Nixes Gay Funding

Rep. Ken Calvert‘s (R) California district was redrawn at the beginning of the decade to include Palm Springs, a desert oasis that’s a magnet for celebrities, golf players, retirees — and a large gay community.

House Lawmakers Call on EPA to Support Diversity Negotiation

More than 40 House members called on the EPA to bargain in good faith with its biggest union over a diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) article in ongoing contract talks.

McHenry Urges SEC to Rescind New Private Fund Management Rule

House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) urged the SEC to rescind its new rule regarding private fund management, according to a statement.

Biden’s Climate Agenda

Top Environment Enforcement Cop Aims to Meet the Climate Moment

The EPA is going to steer dramatically more resources toward cracking down on methane emissions and the illegal importation of banned refrigerants, according to the agency’s top law enforcer.

Biden Trims Gulf Oil Lease Area to Protect Rare Whale Habitat

The Biden administration plans to auction 67 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas development in a lease sale next month, cutting 9% from the initial proposal.

Neighbors Don’t Want to Be ‘Test Dummies’ for Biden’s CO2 Plan

The Biden administration announced last week that Calcasieu Parish, La., will be one of the first sites in the country to become a direct air capture hub, causing residents of the area that’s already popular among petrochemical facilities to worry about possible side effects.

China, US Climate Envoys Discuss Cooperation Via Video Wednesday

China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua had a video meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry yesterday, Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a statement.

Also Around the Administration

White House Pans Trump Universal Tariff Plan as Welfare for Rich

Trump’s proposal to impose a “universal baseline tariff” on all goods entering the US would spike inflation and tamp down on economic growth, the White House said Wednesday.

Powell to Map Final Steps in Inflation Fight at Jackson Hole

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to map out final steps in the US central bank’s campaign to tame inflation, and reinforce its commitment to finishing the job, when he speaks tomorrow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Business Lobby Struggles to Thwart SEC Cyber Breach Disclosures

Business lobbyists are struggling to soften new SEC rules that require publicly traded companies to quickly disclose cybersecurity breaches.

FDA Taps EPA Vet to Lead Food Program After Formula Crisis

Former US environmental official James Jones was named the FDA’s top food regulator as the agency recovers from a bruising controversy over its role in a nationwide shortage of infant formula.

Drugmakers Tap Big Law Attorneys to Fight Medicare Price Program

Major drugmakers have assembled an army of top attorneys from the nation’s most prestigious firms to take down Medicare’s drug price negotiation program, hoping to take advantage of experience gained in health litigation, arguments before the Supreme Court, and policymaking inside the federal government.

Defense, Foreign Affairs

Yevgeny Prigozhin, Who Led Wagner Mutiny, Is Presumed Dead

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man who led a mutiny that posed the biggest threat to President Vladimir Putin’s almost quarter-century rule, is presumed dead.

  • The plane crash that presumably killed the Wagner founder has restored Vladimir Putin’s reputation as Russia’s unchallengeable leader for many of the country’s elite, even as the cause of the disaster may never be fully established. Read more.
  • But the fate of the Wagner Group, the mercenary company behind Putin’s murkiest operations from Africa to Ukraine, is in now doubt. Read more.
  • Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy rebuffed criticism that Ukraine’s military is too thinly stretched and should be massed for a single attack to achieve a breakthrough of Russian lines. Read more.

Biden to Host Costa Rica Leader for China, Migration Talks

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To contact the reporter on this story: Katrice Eborn in Washington at keborn@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com

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