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Analysis | Democrats criticize Biden privately, back him publicly. Sound familiar?

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Analysis | Democrats criticize Biden privately, back him publicly. Sound familiar?


For years, Democrats mocked Republicans for their politically craven fealty to former president Donald Trump.

They rolled their eyes when their Republican colleagues claimed they just hadn’t seen the latest tweet. They talked knowingly about how, behind closed doors, many Republicans conceded that, yes, they wished Trump would just disappear — Rumpelstiltskin-style, in a poof of smoke — never to be heard from again.

But now, they’re borrowing a page from the Republican playbook.

Following President Biden’s halting and politically damaging debate performance on June 27, Democratic lawmakers and strategists who regularly lambasted Republicans are offering one, often painfully candid, assessment in private (Biden cannot beat Trump and needs to step aside) and a different, less-than-truthful one in public (Biden had “one bad night,” but he’s up for the job of beating Trump).

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They have also begun offering variations of the “I just need to see more of Biden to feel confident in supporting him” excuse — their version of the fail-safe Republican “I didn’t see the tweet” chestnut.

“We’ve spent years shaming Republicans for blindly following Trump off the proverbial cliffs, especially when it meant an electoral disaster for their party, like the cycles of 2018, 2020, and 2022,” said Michael LaRosa, a former Biden White House communications official. “It turns out, we’re just as loyal to the name or leader of our party, as well, even if it invites political risk for everyone in the party running on the ballot.”

In an op-ed in the New York Times on Wednesday, actor George Clooney, a prominent Democratic donor, also said the quiet part out loud, calling on party leaders “to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw.”

“We love to talk about how the Republican Party has ceded all power, and all of the traits that made it so formidable with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, to a single person who seeks to hold on to the presidency, and yet most of our members of Congress are opting to wait and see if the dam breaks,” Clooney wrote, before urging Democrats to “speak the truth.”

Of course, the situations are hardly analogous. With Trump — who can be bullying, cruel, misogynistic and routinely traffics in racist tropes and falsehoods — issues of character are what have long repelled Republican voters and officials alike.

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During the 2016 presidential race, an “Access Hollywood” video emerged of Trump boasting about groping women, and more than a dozen women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. Last year, a New York jury found that Trump sexually abused and defamed the writer E. Jean Carroll and, more recently, another New York jury convicted him on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He also refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, encouraging his supporters to do the same — a decision that ultimately contributed to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

By contrast, Biden’s only sin in the minds of his supporters right now is aging, and publicly grappling with the indignities and fragility of entering his ninth decade.

“I reject the scale of Biden’s failures compared to Trump’s — it’s just not a comparison,” said Tim Miller, a former Republican strategist and ardent Trump critic who works as a writer for the Bulwark website.

But, Miller added, he nonetheless sees similarities between his former party and how Democrats are handling the current moment.

“The gap between private and public as a means of self-protection, of career protection, is very similar — shrouding that careerist unwillingness to say the truth in some fake, high-minded notion that they’re doing the right thing in private,” Miller said.

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Even here, Democrats on the whole are being more candid than many Republicans beholden to Trump. So far, 12 House members and one senator have called for Biden to step aside as the party’s presidential nominee, and several other lawmakers from both chambers have gone public with their concerns. On Wednesday, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pointedly told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Biden — who has repeatedly said he has no plans to bow out — needs to make a “decision” on whether he is running for president.

During the Trump years — and even now — the Republicans who dared to publicly utter what many of their colleagues privately whispered could almost be boiled down to a lonely trio: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. (The two House members no longer hold office, and Romney is retiring when his term ends at the end of this year.)

Will Ritter, co-founder of Poolhouse, a center-right ad agency, said that during Trump’s presidency, the constant message from Democrats was “‘brokered convention,’ ‘25th Amendment,’ ‘protecting the party,’ ‘protecting democracy.’”

Now, however, Ritter said, the Democrats “are headed over a cliff,” and the new message has become “one bad night” and “he’s always had a stutter” — a reference to comments from Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a co-chair of Biden’s campaign, who said Tuesday that Biden has long had a stutter and should not be held to “too high a standard.”

“We’re getting honest talk from George Clooney, and cute word games from almost every elected Democrat,” he said.

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Since Biden’s debate debut, the president’s team has also lost credibility with the media — a public rupture that comes after years of Biden aides browbeating reporters for daring to broach the age of the 81-year-old president.

“The other point Republican staffers have just been laughing about is how finally the Biden administration is getting a big dose of what the normal Republican candidate faces in terms of the press,” said Elise Jordan, a former George W. Bush staffer and aide on the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who now considers herself an independent. “It’s just so much harder to deal with, and it’s not going to end, either.”

Biden, too, is exhibiting some characteristics that are shared by Trump and some other politicians. He distrusts negative polls. He has begun lashing out at “elites” and the media. He is now relying heavily on what he personally sees and hears, in situations tailored only to feature his supporters. And he has surrounded himself with a small, insular circle reluctant to bring him bad news.

Jordan said her takeaway from watching Biden’s interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos last Friday was that Biden “was absolutely Trumpish.”

“He was so arrogant and seemed to feel entitled to the office, not that it was an honor to serve, and he didn’t seem to be concerned with democracy, which is allegedly the whole reason for his candidacy,” Jordan said.

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In some ways, the about-face from many Democrats may not matter. A key voting bloc this election cycle is the “double hater” voters disillusioned with both major-party options. Nonetheless, many remain driven by negative partisanship — the belief that the other side is so cosmically awful that party tribalism kicks in and they will show up and vote for just about anyone to stop, in the case of Democrats, Trump.

LaRosa, for instance, describes himself as a Biden supporter who has never supported a challenge to Biden or a third-party candidate. But since leaving the White House, he has at times been publicly critical of Democrats and the Biden operation, and noted their strategy “for the last year has been to deny data, undermine or ridicule anyone who questions them, and wage war against the free press.”

“Now, President Biden is left without any goodwill and his message is undercut,” LaRosa said. “You can’t say that Trump is a threat to democracy while you crucify reporters for asking questions, tell us not to believe poll after poll, and manipulate the primary process to crush your political opposition.”

“It’s all,” he added, “sort of Trumpian, to be honest.”



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Transgender cyclists take top 3 spots in Washington women's relay championship

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Transgender cyclists take top 3 spots in Washington women's relay championship


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Transgender athletes won first, second and third place at a recent women’s cycling competition held in Washington.

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The annual Marymoor Grand Prix kicked off on Friday at the Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome with at least three transgender athletes taking part in a 2-person relay of the Elite Women’s division.

According to results made available on Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome’s website, the top three teams each had one biological male. They included Jordan Lothrop, Jenna Lingwood and Eva Lin.

Fox News Digital reached out to the Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome for comment.

TRANSGENDER WOMAN FINISHES IN FIRST PLACE AT NEW YORK CITY CYCLING EVENT, SPARKS OUTRAGE

At least three transgender athletes took part in the annual Marymoor Grand Prix over the weekend. (iStock)

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WASHINGTON SCHOOL BOARD PRES TAKES STAND ON GIRLS’ SPORTS AFTER TRANS RUNNER WIN: ‘WE’RE EXCLUDING GIRLS’

Lingwood, who placed second, was previously referenced in an amicus brief filed by Hannah Arensman, a 35-time winner on the national cyclocross circuit, to the Supreme Court in 2023. Arensman revealed that she had retired from cycling after being forced to compete with Lingwood and another transgender athlete.

Several cycling organizations have put in place restrictions and regulations on transgender athletes.

In July 2023, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced that it would no longer allow transgender cyclists to compete in women’s divisions if they began transitioning after puberty.

A few months later, USA Cycling announced similar restrictions, categorizing transgender athletes into “Group A” and “Group B” categories based on the race.

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Group A athletes must provide medical documentation showing a testosterone level in serum that has been below 2.5 nmol/L for at least 24 months, completed 90 days prior to the first race.

Peloton the Womens Tour Down Under UCI in 2023

The UCI previously ruled transgender athletes cannot take part in women’s races if they went through male puberty. (BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Group B athletes must complete self-identity verification request to document the change in gender identity 30 days prior to the first race.

In a comment to Fox News Digital, Independent Women’s Law Center Director May Mailman responded to the results, saying, “Males accelerate 20% faster and are 30% stronger than women with similar body mass. So this isn’t a competition, it’s a joke. Female athletes are in a tough spot, faced with either turning away from what they’ve worked for or engaging in a hopeless endeavor. To support women, the adults running the show should make women’s sports for women again and stop the madness.”

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Breaking Baz: Denzel Washington & Jake Gyllenhaal Task Up-And-Comer Molly Osborne To Make Broadway Debut As Desdemona In ‘Othello’

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Breaking Baz: Denzel Washington & Jake Gyllenhaal Task Up-And-Comer Molly Osborne To  Make Broadway Debut As Desdemona In ‘Othello’


EXCLUSIVE: Deadline can reveal that Denzel Washington and Jake Gyllenhaal will be joined by fast-rising West End actress Molly Osborne, who will play Desdemona opposite them, in the spring 2025 Broadway revival of Shakespeare’s Othello.

Upon seeing Osborne’s audition tape, Washington and others were so impressed that they are said to have expressed a keenness to cast her immediately.

Washington, soon to be seen in Gladiator 2 with Paul Mescal, will play the title character, while Gyllenhaal, currently starring in the Presumed Innocent series on Apple TV+, will take on the part of the manipulative Iago.

Othello producer Brian Anthony Moreland confirmed that both stars had seen Osborne’s reel, and pointedly reasoned that “obviously she wouldn’t be doing it if they hadn’t” seen it and approved her.

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Moreland explained that he, director Kenny Leon and casting director Duncan Stewart of ARC Casting searched widely for an artist to perform alongside Washington and Gyllenhaal.

“The role is such a heavy role in the canon of Shakespeare’s work,” Moreland remarked, and he understood that whoever was cast as Othello’s wife would be working with great “beasts,” as he put it, of the stage.

“I call them people who eat the stage, people who you can’t take your eyes off them,” Moreland exclaimed. “They devour every single moment that they’re there. They make multiple notes out of that one note,” he said, adding that on a hunch he decided to look at actors in London.

He started looking at Olivier Award-winning people, and then at who else was in their category and “well, who was their understudy? Who was their standby? Who else, who replaced them?”

Moreland smiled, then said, ”And the name that kept popping up was Molly, Molly, Molly, Molly!”

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As Moreland and his colleagues reached out to more of their theatre colleagues in London, he kept hearing the same chants.

Moreland contacted Osborne’s manager, Steven Kavovit at Thruline Entertainment and her longtime London agent Lou Coulson at Lou Coulson Associates.

Osborne, who made her London theatre debut as Tzeitel in an acclaimed revival of Fiddler on the Roof — directed, beautifully, by Trevor Nunn at the Menier Chocolate Factory (it later transferred into the West End’s Playhouse Theatre) — put herself on tape.

Leon watched it, Moreland said. “Kenny immediately called back and said, ‘That’s her!’ And I said, ‘I agree. That’s her.’ Kenny got on a plane, he went over to visit her. And he called as soon as he was done meeting with her and said, ‘That’s our Desdemona.’ That’s how we got her,” said Moreland, who was a producer of the superb 2019 production of Sea Wall/A Life that starred Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge at the Hudson Theatre.

More recently, Moreland produced The Piano Lesson with Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Brooks and John David Washington, and the current revival of The Wiz at the Marquis Theatre.

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In a statement, Leon said, “I am so excited to welcome Molly Osborne to our Broadway cast of Othello as ‘Desdemona.’ Her unique blend of heart and intellect, coupled with a natural vulnerability, makes her a truly captivating actress. I am thrilled to welcome her to our theatre community and eagerly anticipate collaborating with her on her Broadway debut.”

Osborne let out a huge sigh of relief when we met for breakfast on a recent sunny morning at the Dean Street Townhouse in Soho. “I’ve sort of been keeping it under wraps for so long,” she said, smiling brightly.

Molly Osborne

Pip Bourdillon

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She told how Kavovit, her manager, contacted her about making an audition tape.

This one just came through as a tape and as always, these things are so exciting,” but she didn’t expect anything to come of it. “You send the tape, and then forget about it, as lots of people do,” she said, noting that several months prior she had flown to New York to audition in person for something else, which she didn’t get.

For her Othello tape she read from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. “I just focused on the text and the language and on harnessing the poetry,” she said, and she recited a poem and told a funny story, all of which clearly resonated with Moreland and Leon — and Washington and Gyllenhaal.

A few weeks later, Leon was in town and had arranged to meet with Osborne at Coulson’s office.

However, Osborne spotted Leon, per chance, the night before at the West End opening of (Broadway-bound) The Picture of Dorian Gray, which starred the incredible Sarah Snook, where she was helping out the show’s Story House PR press team doing vox pop interviews on the red carpet. 

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It’s just one of many jobs the hard-working thespian takes on in between acting work. 

Leon directed Washington previously in the 2010 Fences produced by Scott Rudin (Washington won the best actor Tony], and they teamed again on the 2014 production of Raisin in the Sun for which Leon took the Tony for best director of a play.

The director talked with Osborne at Coulson’s office the following day.

“We had a really nice chat and we said goodbye,” Osborne recalled.

It was several weeks before she heard from her manager who informed her that there might be a chemistry test with Washington and Gyllenhaal. When she didn’t hear back about that, she was resigned to thinking that it wasn’t to be.

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Weeks went by until one day, when she was in Coulson’s office, she heard that Leon and Moreland had cast her as Desdemona.

She was in a daze for two days “before I then burst into tears,” Osborne said.

It’s a breathtaking moment for an actor who has never had her name up in lights before. And it’s hard to recall the last time a promising Brit was catapulted across the Atlantic to star in play opposite not one but two enormous Hollywood stars, who, by the way, are as at home on stage as they are on the big screen, often more so.

To be sure though, to paraphrase Presidential hopeful Vice President Kamala Harris, Osborne earned it before she won it.

Osborne, a native of Wivenhoe in north-eastern Essex, near Colchester, had a love for performing at a young age. With her parents’ encouragement, she moved to London at the age of 18 to study musical theater at the celebrated Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

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Her first role after graduating was in Nunn’s superb production of Fiddler on the Roof. The famed director, a former artistic chief of the Royal Shakespeare Company, makes his actors rigorously investigate the text as thoroughly as if they would a play by Shakespeare.

She later returned to the Menier Chocolate Factory to play Chana in Paula Vogel’s Indecent directed by Rebecca Taichman. Recently she has appeared in the world premiere musical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button directed by Jethro Compton at the Southwark Playhouse.

She has also appeared in PBS’ Call the Midwife and she has a role in the Prime Video series Anansi Boys, based on a Neil Gaiman graphic novel.

Her parents are artistic, she described her father as being “musical,” but they never went into the business. And her 94-year-old grandfather “still enjoys singing along to Frank Sinatra.”

At school Osborne would do plays, and she was lucky enough to have a bunch of singing lessons. “My parents would drive me back from rehearsals and they really encouraged my passion,” she said.

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I’m lucky to have seen several of her stage performances and she has always stood out. When I first saw her in Fiddler on the Roof, I remember writing down her name and made a point of keeping up with her career, as I do with scores of other future stars.

Osborne’s prepping, whenever she gets the opportunity, for her Broadway debut next year. She has read and re-read Othello to help her get inside Desdemona’s head and she has explored the psychology of love, jealousy, evil and race, the themes Shakespeare explored in the tragedy. She also visited the Imperial War Museum to help her try and understand men of war who are at war with themselves.

A video call is being planned when all the roles have been cast (some exciting names are being talked about) for the company to “meet” ahead of rehearsals early in the new year.

“I’ve been told to be ready to be in New York from January. I can’t wait to meet them and dive into it,” Osborne enthused.

“We’re delighted to have Molly,” Moreland said.

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Othello will open at a yet to be announced Shubert theater in the spring.



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Harris, Trump hold dueling events as a new presidential race takes shape

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Harris, Trump hold dueling events as a new presidential race takes shape


Vice President Harris plans to speak Wednesday afternoon at the Indianapolis convention of a historically Black sorority, delivering one of her first speeches as the likely Democratic nominee for president to women who represent the base voters she needs to energize.

Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, is set to take the stage a few hours later in Charlotte for his first rally since President Biden withdrew from the 2024 race — an event that will set the stage for Trump’s new campaign against Harris.

The dueling appearances are a chance for each candidate to frame the stakes of the race as it plunges into uncharted territory, with Trump no longer running against his ideal opponent and Harris seeking to take charge of the Democratic ticket a little more than 100 days before the election. Democrats are hoping that Harris can refocus the contest on Trump’s flaws, while Republicans want to quickly define Harris and saddle her with Biden’s weaknesses.

Biden’s exit — triggered by a dismal June debate performance — has filled Democrats with new hope for November. In a Wednesday morning memo, Harris campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said the vice president is less known than Trump and Biden and “opens up additional persuadable voters,” especially in groups that lean Democratic. “This race is more fluid now,” she wrote.

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Trump’s team, meanwhile, is bracing for a “Harris honeymoon” that it says could intrude on Trump’s summer of momentum and polling gains. In a Tuesday memo, Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio predicted that Harris would see a polling bump starting in the next few days — but he said it would pass. With voters upset about inflation, the border and other issues, he wrote, the “fundamentals of the race stay the same.”

Harris plans to arrive in Indianapolis just after noon on Wednesday and deliver a keynote speech there at the Grand Boulé, the national convention of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Zeta Beta Phi is one of the “Divine Nine,” a group of historically Black sororities and fraternities that includes Harris’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Democrats are hopeful that Harris — who is Black and Indian American and would be the first female president — can motivate key left-leaning constituencies in a way that Biden did not. In interviews, Black women gathered for the Grand Boulé said they were excited about Harris’s candidacy but also nervous about her chances. They worried that voters would hold her race and gender against her.

“If you had your eyes closed and you just go based on her qualifications versus [Trump’s] qualifications, yes, she’d definitely win,” said Lora Rice, 55, from Georgia. “But they’re not going to do that.” She said Biden, “the White guy,” would have had a better shot.

Democratic leaders and delegates to next month’s nominating convention have quickly rallied behind Harris. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who made history as the country’s only female presidential nominee from a major party, voiced support for Harris in a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday.

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“I know a thing or two about how hard it can be for strong women candidates to fight through the sexism and double standards of American politics,” wrote Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016. She warned that Harris’s “record and character will be distorted and disparaged” as she runs against Trump, and that “she and the campaign will have to cut through the noise.”

In her memo, O’Malley Dillon laid out her case for confidence in Harris. She led the charge on abortion rights, an issue on which Democrats have demonstrated a clear political advantage. In Milwaukee on Tuesday, she drew the campaign’s largest crowd to date. Some $126 million in donations have flooded into the campaign since Sunday, when Biden dropped out and endorsed Harris.

O’Malley Dillon said the campaign would continue its focus on the so-called “Blue Wall” states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — as well as the “Sun Belt” battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. “We intend to play offense in each of these states, and have the resources and campaign infrastructure to do so,” she wrote.

Biden, before he dropped out, had increasingly looked to the Blue Wall as his path to victory — as other states slipped further from his grasp and as Trump threatened to put Democrats on defense in traditionally blue states. And Trump’s campaign is still trying to expand the map: The former president has another rally planned for Saturday evening in Minnesota, a state that Biden won by seven points in 2020.

Even as Trump’s campaign pivots to attacking Harris, the former president has tried keep attention on Biden.

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“Does Lyin’ Kamala Harris think Joe Biden is fit to run the U.S.A. for the next six months? She must answer the question,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media site, on Tuesday.

Biden is scheduled to give a speech Wednesday night from the White House about his decision to bow out, which came after weeks of pressure from other Democratic leaders and a debate in which Biden repeatedly appeared to lose his train of thought.

Harris heads to Houston on Wednesday after the sorority event. Trump’s team, eager to needle Harris about immigration policy, quickly highlighted her planned proximity to the southern border.

Trump has several events lined up later this week. He plans to speak Friday evening in West Palm Beach, Fla., at an event hosted by the conservative group Turning Point Action. On Saturday, he will deliver a keynote speech at the Bitcoin Conference in Nashville, underscoring his newfound interest in cryptocurrency. Trump was once skeptical of cryptocurrency but has embraced it after aggressive lobbying by executives in the industry.

Sabrina Rodriguez in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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