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Biden campaign's elf-inflicted error is one it can't really afford

Image: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Biden speaks in Concord
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign stop at the IBEW Local 490 in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., June 4, 2019. Copyright Brian Snyder Reuters
Copyright Brian Snyder Reuters
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — It's political malpractice for any modern campaign to lift words, intentionally or not, for its policy plans or website.

That's especially true if you're the early Democratic frontrunner. And even more true if your 1988 presidential campaign ended in a plagiarism scandal.

But that's exactly what happened on Tuesday, when Joe Biden's campaign rolled out its climate plan — and admitted it forgot to give proper attribution.

"Several citations, some from sources cited in other parts of the plan, were inadvertently left out of the final version of the 22-page document," the Biden campaign told NBC's Garrett Haake.

Haake notes the campaign added the correct sourcing as soon as they found out about the uncited content.

One example, first flagged by Josh Nelson of the progressive group CREDO: Biden's climate plan called for making carbon capture, use and storage a "widely available, cost-effective, and rapidly scalable solution to reduce carbon emissions to meet mid-century climate goals."

But here's the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions' description of the Carbon Capture Coalition: "[I]ts goal is to make carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) a widely available, cost-effective, and rapidly scalable solution to reduce carbon emissions to meet mid-century climate goals."

(It also struck us how the toplines of Biden's climate plan — $5 trillion in public/private investment, net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 - are identical to the toplines from Beto's climate plan.)

And the Washington Post found another example on education policy — lifting a line, word for word, from the XQ Institute.

"Students who participate in high-quality career and technical education are more likely to graduate, earn industry credentials, enroll in college, and have higher rates of employment and higher earnings," the sentence read, per the Post.

More: "After The Washington Post contacted the campaign about the sentence, it added a link to the institute's publication."

Yes, this is a small thing. But it also should be alarming for Democrats.

How does something like this happen?

It's the biggest mistake yet of Biden's early 2020 campaign — a particular mistake he can't afford to make.

Biden's evolution on abortion rights

Meanwhile, NBC's Heidi Przybyla takes a look at Biden's evolution on abortion rights.


That includes, Przybyla writes, his current support for the Hyde Amendment, "a four-decade-old ban on using federal funds for abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman."

From the piece: "As a U.S. senator from Delaware, Biden voted against a 1977 compromise that allowed Medicaid to fund abortions that included exceptions for victims of rape and incest in addition to concerns for the life of the mother. While the rape and incest exceptions passed in that case, Biden voted in 1981 to again remove them, in what was the most far-reaching ban on federal funds ever enacted by Congress."

In addition: "Biden also voted several times, including in 1983, to prohibit federal workers from using health insurance on abortion services, with the only exception being to save the life of the mother."

GOP revolts on Trump's tariff threat

Senate Republicans' mood on President Trump's threatened tariffs against Mexico wasn't good yesterday, per NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell and Frank Thorp.


Here were some of their comments after meeting with administration officials at the Senate GOP policy lunch:

"They're talking about the legal argument and I think most senators are worried about the economic and political ramifications," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told reporters.

"It was an interesting legal discussion, but this is a policy discussion as much as it is about the law," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said he told the lawyers to pass on the message that there's a good chance that Congress will defeat any attempt to implement tariffs by voting to disapprove of the action, suggesting that Congress would be able to override any potential veto by the president.


Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Bernie vs. Walmart

Bernie Sanders today will be attending Walmart's shareholders meeting, where he will "present a proposal aimed at giving workers representation on the company's board," NPR writes.

On the campaign trail today

Also today: Elizabeth Warren, in Fort Wayne Ind., holds a town hall with MSNBC's Chris Hayes at 8:00 pm ET… Beto O'Rourke, in Georgia, does a town hall with NowThis at 7:30 pm ET… And Jay Inslee's in New York, where he gives a climate speech.

Data Download: The number of the day is … seven


That's the number of Republicans in the Housewho voted with Democrats on a bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.


The vote in the House was 237 - 187.

The bill is all but certain to die in the Senate, and the White House has said that it would veto the measure.

The Lid: Break on through to the other side

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when special guest star Vaughn Hillyard looked back at his recent travels with Kamala Harris and Steve Bullock as they try to boost their popularity with primary voters.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Customs and Border Patrol is stepping up its searches for undocumented immigrants on buses far from the U.S. border.


Trump says there's "always a chance" the U.S. will need to take military action against Iran.

Republicans are more than happy to keep Ken Cuccinelli out of a job, POLITICO notes.

Ali Vitali outlinesElizabeth Warren's $2 trillion "green manufacturing" plan.

The AP has new details on Cory Booker's housing plan.


Trump agenda: Trolled

A new report outlineshow well planned and funded the Russian troll operation was in 2016.

The Trump administration gave a green lightto nuclear permits for Saudi Arabia even after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Legal experts say Trump's use of an emergency declaration to impose tariffs is on legally questionable ground.

In Europe, Trump claimed that climate change "goes both ways."


Gabe Sherman gets his hands on the Trump-Maples prenup.

2020: Got an audience?

POLITICO looks at how 2020 Democrats are trying to find audiences anywhere they can.

Bill de Blasio got a union endorsement.

Steve King is fighting back against fellow Republicans who would like him to fade into the background.

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