Biden’s VP delays are nothing new. This time, there may be an upside

WASHINGTON — After Joe Biden promised to decide on his vice presidential pick “the first

WASHINGTON — After Joe Biden promised to decide on his vice presidential pick “the first week in August,” we’re still waiting for a moment that seems to have been “closing in” for days now.

NBC News reported over the weekend that the choice could come “in the middle of [this] week or sooner,” although aides warned that the only real deadline for Biden was the beginning of the Democratic National Convention. And the New York Times wrote last night that aides are preparing for an announcement in “the middle of the week” — while noting that Biden “has not been known for his punctuality so far in the presidential race and the timeline could well slip again.”

The sliding deadlines come as no surprise to anyone who lived through Biden’s deliberations over his own presidential runs in 2004 (when he eventually decided he was too late to launch a bid), in 2016 (when he concluded he was “out of time” to run, citing the recency of his son Beau’s death) and 2020 (when he blew past a handful of self-imposed deadlines before finally jumping in.)

But despite the frustration the delay is causing among some allies inside and outside of the party, there could be some upsides for Biden keeping things up in the air for a few more days.

First of all, President Trump is currently stuck in an unfavorable news cycle — at least until another story jolts him out of it. It doesn’t cost Biden much to let Trump continue to face questions for a few more days about the ongoing legislative stalemate over a coronavirus relief bill, the confusion over his executive orders on jobless benefits and the payroll tax, his dubious statements about children’s susceptibility to the virus, and the angry debate about the fate of college football during a pandemic.

A Biden announcement later in the week also shortens the time for stories about any backlash from allies of those not chosen — and it maybe prolongs a bit of momentum heading into a convention that could be (necessarily) a little underwhelming after the pandemic forced it almost entirely online.

It’s been a general rule ever since Biden became the presumptive nominee — and since the coronavirus started taking a toll on the president’s ratings — that Biden usually benefits from not being the number one political story on any given day.

Once the VP pick leaks, that person (and her relationship with Biden) will dominate the rest of the week.

Tweet of the Day

A majority of Americans aren’t confident that the election will be fair

We wrote last week that it’s unsustainable for a democracy when a majority lacks faith in the president to handle a crisis.

But one thing that might be even less sustainable for a democracy? Our latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll shows that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — do not have confidence that the 2020 elections will be held “in a fair and equal way.”

And just 14 percent(!) say they’re “very confident” in the fairness of the election.

President Trump has done plenty to sow skepticism in the results. He has continually said without citing evidence that mail-in ballots are fraught with corruption, and he suggested yesterday that Democrats are “meddling” in the election by promoting voting by mail. Add to that another round of intelligence indicating that foreign actors are eager to promote their preferred candidates in the contest, as well as bipartisan concern about slowdowns in the U.S. Postal Service.

The poll finds, by the way, that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to express skepticism about the fairness of the election. About two-thirds (65 percent) of Republicans say they’re not confident in the election, compared with 46 percent of Dems.

In an environment this polarized, what does it say about the possible aftermath of the election if only one In seven Americans is prepared to put complete faith in the results?

2020 Vision: The Democratic National Convention lineup, as it stands now

Hot off the presses this morning from Morning Joe, here’s the (tentative) lineup of speakers for next week’s speeches.

Worth noting: Organizers note that this list will change, slots could be rearranged, and speakers will be added. But here’s where the plans stand now:

Monday: Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Gretchen Whitmer, Andrew Cuomo, Jim Clyburn, John Kasich, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Amy Klobuchar, Bennie Thompson, Doug Jones, Gwen Moore

Tuesday: Jill Biden, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chuck Schumer, Sally Yates, Lisa Blunt-Rochester

Wednesday: Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Tony Evers, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Gabby Giffords, The VP Nominee, Barack Obama

Thursday: Joe Biden, The Biden Family, Cory Booker, Gavin Newsom, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, Chris Coons, Kamala Harris

Two primary contests worth watching today

It’s another Tuesday and, yes, voters are, in fact, still voting — in primaries and runoffs!

Voters are heading to the polls for contests in Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. There aren’t any big Senate showdowns, but there are some interesting races to watch down the ballot.

Here are the two House contests in particular that we’re keeping an eye on.

Georgia 14: As one of us wrote in First Read yesterday, the Georgia-14 GOP primary features a candidate who’s already been disavowed by leaders in her party. Marjorie Taylor Green has drawn a rebuke from GOP House leaders for comments made in a series of racist, anti-Islam and anti-Semitic videos, and she’s also gotten national attention for her flirtation with Q-Anon conspiracy theories. She came in first place in Georgia’s crowded June primary and is heading to a one-on-one runoff against conservative neurosurgeon Dr. John Cowan today. If she wins, she’s probably headed to Congress, where she’ll surely be a thorn in the side of party leaders.

Minnesota 05: Rep. Ilhan Omar is the latest member of “The Squad” to face a challenger who argues that the incumbent’s combative national profile is bad for the district’s residents. Attorney and political newcomer Antone Melton-Meaux is well-funded (in part from donations from pro-Israel groups) and has the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, although Omar retains the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as progressive leaders like Bernie Sanders. Worth noting: Two of Omar’s other “Squad” colleagues, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, have easily dispatched their Democratic challengers this year.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

5,107,696:The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 48,369 more cases than yesterday morning.)

164,151: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 647 more than yesterday morning.)

62.51 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

1.1 million: The number of those who registered to vote during the first half of June, amid protests over police killings and calling for racial justice, according to a new study.

4: The number of new COVID-19 cases found in New Zealand on Tuesday, after the country went more than 100 days without any community spread.

50 percent: The share of American adults who say they know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a new poll from Axios-Ipsos

3,355: The number of new, coronavirus hospital admissions in Florida from Aug. 2 through Monday, a new weekly record for the state.

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch heads down the Palmetto State to catch a new ad from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Here’s a list of notable figures who don’t appear in the ad: Graham, President Trump or Joe Biden.

Notable figures who do: Democrat Jaime Harrison (Graham’s opponent), Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

We wrote last week about the Republican strategy to bring soft Republicans home by trying to remind them about what they don’t like about the Democratic Party, particularly as the president’s poll numbers languish.

Case in point: Graham’s spot leans heavily on Clinton and Pelosi, two Democrats that Republicans have long invoked in negative ads. The spot also attacks Harrison on health care, taxes and abortion, issues right in the soft-Republican wheelhouse.

In red-state South Carolina, Graham is in a better position in his election than Trump is right now. But with Harrison benefitting from a fundraising surge, Graham’s election may hinge on his ability to keep those soft Republicans firmly in his camp.

The latest on the (non)-negotiations

As coronavirus relief talks have broken down on Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for Republicans to come back to the negotiating table during an interview on MSNBC on Monday:

“I hope saner voices in the Republican Party will prevail and say, ‘Sit down with Pelosi and sit down with Schumer.’’ He added, “We are not going to settle for some skimpy thing that doesn’t work” – which likely refers to the cut in the federal weekly unemployment benefit that Republicans are continuing to call for.

And as NBC’s Garrett Haake reminded us, despite President Trump saying that Democrats should be calling him to make a deal, Trump hasn’t been involved in negotiations: “Schumer & Pelosi have been engaged in daily negotiations with top WH officials for the last two weeks. Trump hasn’t spoken to Pelosi since last year.”

As for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he’s stating that Democrats have been the ones unwilling to meet Republicans in the middle (by lowering their budget for the relief fund). Here’s what he said on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon:

“Democrats say nobody gets another dime of relief unless state and local governments get about a trillion dollars in extra money. Let me say that again. Democrats are saying nobody gets another dime of relief unless state and local governments get a trillion dollars in extra money.”

Meanwhile, don’t miss this reporting in the Washington Post on how White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has drawn a hard line on issues big and small during the talks.

The Lid: Have a little faith in me

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we examined how both of the presidential candidates are talking about faith and religion.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world?

Governors are warning that President Trump’s order that requires them to shoulder a portion of expanded unemployment benefits could overload state budgets.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has remained out of the public spotlight as the debate over returning to in-person school despite the pandemic rages.

President Trump is weighing a travel ban that would temporarily bar citizens or legal residents from returning to America if there’s reasonable suspicion they were exposed to, or have, coronavirus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country has registered the first coronavirus vaccine with regulators, without publishing any data for peer review or completing Phase 3 trials, and that one of his daughters has already received it.

Facebook has thousands of pages and groups supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory with millions of members, according to a new NBC News investigation that uncovers the depth of the pro-QAnon activity on the platform.

The New York Times delves into how the coronavirus fight is playing out at Houston’s largest hospital.

New police body camera video shows new footage of the lead up to the death of George Floyd.

Lebanon’s government has resigned in the wake of protests sparked by the recent deadly explosion that killed more than 150 people.

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