Joe Biden, Kamala Harris jump in on 2021 races: The Note

·5 min read

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The road to 2022 goes through 2021, and this tenuous political and societal moment will showcase national trends. Plus, more involvement from national players.

President Joe Biden is set for his first in-person campaigning since taking office, with a Friday evening event alongside Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe just outside Washington in Arlington, Virginia.

McAuliffe captured the Democratic nomination and now hopes to recapture the governor's office by rallying behind the Biden agenda -- against a Republican former President Donald Trump has been praising of late.

It comes days after Vice President Kamala Harris confirmed that she will campaign for her longtime friend and home-state governor, Gavin Newsom, in the recall effort he's seeking to fend off in California.

PHOTO: In this April 5, 2021, file photo, Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom visit the Upper San Leandro Water Treatment Plant in Oakland, Calif.  (Jacquelyn Martin/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: In this April 5, 2021, file photo, Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom visit the Upper San Leandro Water Treatment Plant in Oakland, Calif. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP, FILE)

The White House is pushing simple framing around the Biden agenda -- "more jobs," "tax cuts" and "lower costs," per a messaging document obtained by ABC News -- that belies concerns about all three of those items and more.

Biden has been able to demonstrate, if not runaway popularity, remarkable polling stability. His average job approval rating over his first six months in office has ranged from 51% to 55%, a smaller range than any modern president, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis published this week.

It's not clear, after another topsy-turvy, week, whether Biden's political prescription will move major legislative action -- or whether his leadership style will continue to make the right kind of progress against COVID-19.

But if Democrats hope to run on Bidenism in the midterms, it will get its first tests before the calendar turns.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

While children remain largely unvaccinated with them returning to the classroom over the next few weeks, Florida's Republican governor is setting the stage for another round of mask politicization.

"We want our kids to be able to be kids, we need them to be able to breathe," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday. "It's terribly uncomfortable for them to do it."

In his remarks, DeSantis said he would fight any federal attempts to mandate mask-wearing in schools. There are no such attempts in the works.

PHOTO: In this July 1, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden, right, looks at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a briefing with first responders and local officials in Miami on the condo tower that collapsed in Surfside, Fla. (Susan Walsh/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: In this July 1, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden, right, looks at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a briefing with first responders and local officials in Miami on the condo tower that collapsed in Surfside, Fla. (Susan Walsh/AP, FILE)

DeSantis' indignant flouting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance -- which calls for all unvaccinated people older than 2 to wear masks indoors -- could put schoolchildren at risk while the more contagious delta variant spreads.

"If I were a parent in Florida, that would be greatly concerning to me," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in response to a question about DeSantis' comments from ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers.

What will Biden do about it? The answer for now is not much.

Psaki indicated Biden would continue to speak out and urge Americans to follow public health guidance while the Food and Drug Administration is working toward authorizing the vaccines for children under 12. She conceded that decisions about mask-wearing and other COVID-related measures are made on the local level.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The Texas political landscape has been dominating headlines for the past few weeks, and now the state has a major runoff election on the horizon fueling its impact on Washington.

With two Republicans in the matchup for the state's 6th Congressional District, the outcome is guaranteed to further narrow Democrats' majority in Congress, but the importance of the winner's relationship -- or lack thereof -- to former President Donald Trump remains in question.

PHOTO: In this Jan. 3, 2019 file photo, Susan Wright, center, holds the Bible for her husband Ron's swearing in to the 116th Congress. Ron Wright died on Feb. 8, 2021, two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19. His wife is now running for his seat. (Susan Walsh/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: In this Jan. 3, 2019 file photo, Susan Wright, center, holds the Bible for her husband Ron's swearing in to the 116th Congress. Ron Wright died on Feb. 8, 2021, two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19. His wife is now running for his seat. (Susan Walsh/AP, FILE)

One of the contenders, Susan Wright, has had Trump's endorsement since before the crowded primary election took place in May. She also recently received the backing of Sen. Ted Cruz, who said he wants to see Wright bring "Texas values to the Washington swamp." Meanwhile, state Rep. Jake Ellzey is moving ahead with the backing of Trump-adjacent supporters like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

With Friday marking the last day of the contest's early voting period, it also remains to be seen whether third-party party spending -- primarily from the Club For Growth against Ellzey -- will leave any early imprints on the race. Despite those blows, Ellzey heads into Tuesday's matchup with a major fundraising advantage.

ONE MORE THING

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot back at House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday, saying the Jan. 6 select committee is "deadly serious" after McCarthy accused Pelosi of an "egregious abuse of power." McCarthy on Thursday continued to insist that Pelosi's decision to veto two of his appointees is unprecedented. "I checked with the historian," McCarthy said following Pelosi's news conference.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who tells us what we should know about masks and breakthrough cases amid a delta variant-fueled COVID surge. ESPN's Pablo Torre breaks down the NFL's new strict rules around vaccinations. And ABC News foreign editor Kirit Radia explains what challenges Haiti will face after the funeral for its assassinated president. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

President Joe Biden travels to Arlington, Virginia, Friday to participate in a campaign event for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at 7:45 p.m. First lady Jill Biden travels to Tokyo to attend the opening ceremony of the 2021 Olympic Summer Games at 7 a.m. ET. She travels to Honolulu on Saturday.Sunday on ABC's "This Week": Anchor George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one exclusively with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Plus, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joins "This Week" exclusively Sunday. And the Powerhouse Roundtable discusses all the week's politics with former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie, former Chicago mayor and ABC News contributor Rahm Emanuel, former DNC chair and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile and host of PBS' "Firing Line" and CNN contributor Margaret Hoover.Also on "This Week": ABC News, in partnership with ABC Owned Television Stations and NewsOne, chronicles one week of gun violence in America. Led by Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, "One Nation Under Fire" gives a humanizing look at this relentless trend, explores the root causes of violence and the victims and others impacted by these shootings. According to The Gun Violence Archive, which has been an invaluable resource for this project, there have been 262 gun violence deaths between July 17 and July 22. "One Nation Under Fire" puts faces to the victims, explores the circumstances, the root causes of gun violence and where we go from here.

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back Monday for the latest.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris jump in on 2021 races: The Note originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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