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Rubio says the GOP needs to reset after 2020

After the 2020 election, Republicans need to rebrand their party as the champions of working-class voters and steer away from its traditional embrace of big business, Sen. Marco Rubio said in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Rubio told me he is leaving the door open for a 2024 presidential run — so his comments are some of the earliest signals of how the GOP contenders may try to acknowledge President Trump's successes while finding their own path.


  • "The future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial working class coalition," said Rubio.

The big picture: The election wasn't the full-scale repudiation of Trump that many people expected. He got 70 million votes — the second most of all time — and the party made gains in the House.

  • And Trump's 2016 win wasn't just a rejection of Hillary Clinton. It was also a vote of no confidence in the Republican establishment and traditional party orthodoxy.

Rubio said Republicans have long believed in and supported the free market, "but the free market exists to serve our people. Our people don't exist to serve the free market."

  • He added that working class Americans are now largely against big businesses “that only care about how their shares are performing, even if it's based on moving production overseas for cheaper labor."
  • "They're very suspicious, quite frankly, dismissive of elites at every level. And obviously that's a powerful sentiment."

Democrats, who are beginning to analyze their failure to connect with Hispanic and Latino voters, have also begun dissecting this new schism.

  • Andrew Yang, speaking on CNN Thursday, said working class Americans would "flinch" on the trail when he told them he was a Democrat. "There is something deeply wrong when working class Americans have that response to a major party that theoretically is supposed to be fighting for them," he said.
  • "In their minds, the Democratic Party unfortunately has taken on this role of the coastal urban elites who are more concerned about policing various cultural issues than improving their way of life ... This to me is a fundamental problem for the party."

The bottom line: "We still have a very strong base in the party of donors and think tanks and intelligentsia from the right who are market fundamentalists, who accuse anyone of who's not a market fundamentalist of being a socialist to some degree," Rubio said.

  • "If the takeaway from all of them is now is the time to go back to sort of the traditional party of of unfettered free trade, I think we're gonna lose the [Trump] base as quickly as we got it. ... We can't just go back to being that," he added.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

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President of Soros foundation leaves amid speculation of potential Biden role

Patrick Gaspard, who served as ambassador to South Africa under President Barack Obama, is stepping down as president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, fueling speculation that he'll join the Biden administration, potentially as Labor secretary.

What to know: Before his stint as ambassador, Gaspard was Obama's political director in the White House, drawing upon his experience in the labor movement to advance Obama's legislative agenda on health care and financial services reform.

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House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

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Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.

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Over 13 million people are receiving pandemic unemployment assistance expiring on Dec. 26

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

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The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

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U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as rate of recovery slows

Axios Visuals. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot"

The government's top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci said Friday that he "absolutely" will accept the offer from President-elect Joe Biden to serve as his chief medical officer, telling NBC's "Today" that he said yes "right on the spot."

Why it matters: President Trump had a contentious relationship with Fauci, who has been forced during the pandemic to correct many of the president's false claims about the coronavirus. Biden, meanwhile, has emphasized the importance of "listening to the scientists" throughout his campaign and transition.

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