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With another trip to a swing district, Biden seeks to shore up his agenda and Democrats

President Biden listens to McHenry County College President Clint Gabbard while touring a manufacturing lab at the school Wednesday in Crystal Lake, Ill. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
President Biden’s visit to suburban Chicago on Wednesday was like a number of his recent trips — to a politically competitive district where he could promote both his domestic agenda and his party’s prospects in next year’s midterm election.

In Crystal Lake, Ill., a conservative enclave in the blue state, Biden toured a lab and day-care facility at McHenry County College and spoke to a couple hundred people about his proposed federal investments in workforce training, community college costs, and preschool and child-care subsidies. He also put in a plug for the area’s congresswoman, a top Republican target.

“This woman here, hang on to her,” Biden said, looking at his side to Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood.

This was Biden’s third such visit to a House battleground in eight days, as the White House has married the president’s summer sales pitch for his infrastructure plans in Congress to Democrats’ political spadework ahead of the 2022 election.

He traveled last week to La Crosse, Wis., represented by Rep. Ron Kind, one of just six Democrats to win last fall in congressional districts where former President Trump edged Biden. There he sought to build support for his bipartisan agreement with a group of Republican senators to invest $1.2 trillion over eight years in traditional infrastructure projects. And Biden spent Saturday celebrating the country’s progress against the coronavirus during a visit to a cherry orchard in Antrim County, Mich., in the district of Rep. Jack Bergman, a Republican whom Democrats would love to unseat after Biden fell just short of winning the area.

Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015, said Biden’s broad appeal makes him a political asset for his party: “When I was chairman, we had some national Democrats we’d send to bright blue districts to rev up the base and others we’d send to purple districts to appeal to moderates. Biden was effective in both.”

Biden’s appearances in swing districts, in Israel’s view, are crucial for Democrats to retain control of Congress — but only if he succeeds in selling his agenda.

“Democrats are going to keep or lose the majority based on their ability to win in about 16 swing districts,” Israel said. “If a Democratic agenda is viewed popularly in those districts, they’ll hang on to the majority. Having a popular president with popular ideas appearing in those places is a win-win.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters Wednesday that the president’s visit to Underwood’s district was “in part because [she] is a registered nurse” and an advocate for the healthcare expansion Biden seeks as part of his second, “human infrastructure” proposal, which Republicans oppose.

In a speech at the college, Biden — “explainer in chief,” Psaki dubbed him — said the federal government, by subsidizing two years of both preschool and community college, would help working families and boost the economy in the long run.

“To truly deal everybody in this time, we need to invest in our people,” he said, drawing a contrast with the tax cuts under the Trump administration that mostly benefited wealthy households and corporations.

And he was blunt about the benefits of extending a new child tax credit: “You’ll get cash.”

Biden has emphasized his commitment to bipartisan lawmaking even as he seeks to preserve his party’s shaky grip on power. The president and his team figure that Biden, and Democrats more broadly, will benefit politically from both his apparent willingness to work with Republicans — a break from his predecessor’s hard-edged partisanship — and his ability to sell a sweeping progressive agenda.

“The things he’s talking about are already popular, and they’re even more popular when people don’t see them as being a ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican’ proposal,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Publicly, the White House has brushed aside questions about the midterm election, which typically doesn’t go well for a president’s party. When a reporter asked Tuesday whether gas prices could “become a political issue that could be damaging to the president and his party in the coming election,” Psaki scoffed. “In 18 months, 17 months?” she said. “OK.”

Yet the White House’s early focus on pushing policy in key House districts reflects Democrats’ confidence in the popularity of their agenda as well as their trepidation that losing control of Congress would greatly limit their power in the second half of Biden’s term.

“Most presidents don’t use the odd-numbered year, but Biden has changed the calendar,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who shares the concern that Republicans could triumph in 2022. “Democrats are going to have a very hard time holding the House and Senate, and there’s no time to waste.”

Republican consultant Alex Conant called the 2022 midterm election “a toss-up” and said Biden was smart to make early efforts in competitive districts. “I don’t think anyone can predict what the issues will be next year,” he said. For Democrats, he added, “their best hope of keeping their majorities is by getting started early.”

Jeremy Rosner, another Democratic pollster, agreed that forecasting the midterm election is harder than normal. He cited unprecedented factors such as the ebbing COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout of the Jan. 6 insurrection, as well as potentially strong economic growth — all of which could disturb the historical trend of presidents seeing their party lose ground in midterm elections.

Rosner said he’s not surprised that the White House is dismissing questions about 2022 politics. “To talk about it would be malpractice,” he said. Yet, he added, “To not think about it would be malpractice.”

Biden’s travel also suggests at least glancing attention to 2024 and his potential reelection bid. Saturday’s trip to Michigan was his third visit to the battleground state since taking office.

Staff writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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Pop mogul Simon Cowell was a racing flop with ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec – that didn’t win a penny

SIMON COWELL conquered the music world – but his foray into racing ended in disaster with an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec.

The music mogul, 62, has done it all with bands like One Direction, Little Mix and solo acts Olly Murs and James Arthur, to name but a few.

Cowell owned an 'awful' £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec - but the runner didn't win a single penny in six races


Cowell owned an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec – but the runner didn’t win a single penny in six racesCredit: PA:Press Association
Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby


Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

His Syco label – plus shows such as Britain’s Got Talent – have dominated the entertainment industry and brought him an estimated net worth of £385m.

A lover of Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby, he looked perfectly poised to strike a knockout blow in the world of thoroughbreds.

But it turns out his runner was far from No1 in the charts – and never even finished better than fifth during a doomed six-race career.

Things looked promising at the start.

Named It’s A Yes From Me, the runner was trained with the respected James Fanshawe and sent off at 8-1 for his first race in June 2014.

But coming last of five by 13-and-a-half lengths was unfortunately about as good as it got for the gelding.

A month’s rest followed before he was sent off at 40-1 in a six-furlong sprint at Doncaster.

But there he could only manage fifth again, and it was same at Redcar the next month.

‘Dreadfully slow’

By October that year – with further finishes of sixth and tenth – It’s A Yes From Me came second-last in a one-mile race at Kempton.

One analysis of the race warned punters the horse was ‘one to tread carefully’ with.

Well, Cowell and Ant and Dec took that advice to heart as they never raced him again.

The horse was penniless from six races, never finishing high enough to recoup some of that £35,000 investment.

It’s doubtful Cowell, with hundreds of millions in the bank, lost any sleep over that.

But Ant and Dec revealed just how bad things has got with the horse during an interview last year.

Dec said of It’s A Yes From Me: “It was awful, it was a dreadfully slow horse.

“It wasn’t a racehorse it was just a horse, because it didn’t race.

“Every time we got to the BGT studio Simon would say, ‘I keep paying stable fees on this horse, but I’ve never seen it run’.”

Cowell originally wanted to name the nag after himself, but they settled on It’s A Yes From Me when they bought it in 2013.

‘It was awful’

Dec revealed its eventual fate: “I think it got rehomed.”

Of course it’s not all been bad for Cowell at the races.

He was one of the exclusive few at the Epsom Derby in June, having a great time with partner Lauren Silverman and Piers Morgan.

And two weeks later he was at Royal Ascot – where he first discovered his love of racing.

Cowell told SunSport’s Matt Chapman during a chat at Epsom: “I’ve got my son Eric with me today.

“My mum and dad years ago used to take me to Ascot and I was probably about his age – seven or eight.

Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this year


Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this yearCredit: Getty
It's A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races


It’s A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races
The music supremo tweeted about his horse's bad start... which never got much better


The music supremo tweeted about his horse’s bad start… which never got much better

Most read in Horse Racing

“So the fact I can now bring him to the races as well is brilliant. It brings back a lot of good memories.

“Making TV shows is my passion. But racing is actually my second passion.”

He hasn’t made that passion the money-maker his music label is, but don’t rule out Cowell staging his own comeback at the track in the near future.


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Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare –
  • Gamble Aware –

Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply.

Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare –
  • Gamble Aware –
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Minnesota wildfire doubles in size, creates its own weather

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota more than doubled in size Tuesday, growing to more than 19,000 acres, after it produced pyrocumulous clouds that generated lightning and even raindrops, fire officials said.

The Greenwood Fire’s growth, most of which happened Monday afternoon, prompted firefighters to leave McDougal Lake, about 80 miles south-southwest of Duluth, officials said. Authorities fear that structures might have been destroyed or damaged.

“We had crews embedded, and as this fire took off, it was quite an effort to communicate with forces on the ground so they could get out,” said federal fire incident spokesman Clark McCreedy.

The pullout was a success, and no injuries were reported. However, downed trees and necessary cleanup mean crews have been unable to assess damage around the lake, McCreedy said.

In addition to the firefighter pullout, 159 dwellings were evacuated Monday, according to an update from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Cabins, homes and recreational sites remain under threat, the group said.

Patrick Prochaska, a Minneapolis resident who built a cabin near McDougal Lake in 2012, told NBC affiliate KARE that he watched via security camera as flames mostly bypassed his property Monday, causing minor damage.

“I was feeling very scared,” he said. “At the same time, I could see that it was not doing anything to the house, and it was kind of reassuring.”

The fire in and north of Superior National Forest has mostly performed according to the weather, fire officials said. On Monday, with dry fuel on the ground and temperatures in the high 80s, it was an expanding inferno punctuated by strobes of lightning.

“The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions,” the incident’s fire behavior analyst, Michael Locke, said in a video update Tuesday. “It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere … you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

Temperatures dipped into the mid-70s Tuesday, and the blaze mellowed. “The real story was cloud cover and cooler temperatures,” McCreedy said.

More of the same, and possibly rain, was in the forecast, giving officials hope that they might be able to close the book on an unusually active and dry fire season in Minnesota.

Experts have said climate change has set the stage for extreme weather, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere.

Firefighters — 426 were assigned to the Greenwood event — have been confronted with “prolonged, severe drought,” making parts of Minnesota look like the fire-prone West this summer, McCreedy said.

The Greenwood Fire, which was detected Aug. 15, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

So far, firefighters have scored no containment, and areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake and the Highway 2 corridor have been under mandatory evacuation orders. The federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was closed Saturday “due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources,” the National Forest Service said in a notice.

Officials set a goal of Sept. 1 for full containment.

“We’re probably going to get more of that moderating weather for the rest of the week,” McCreedy said. “That opens the door for fire crews to make progress on the ground.”

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Hiker survives grizzly bear attack at Denali National Park

A tourist from Indiana was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday night, park officials said.

The 55-year-old tourist, whose name was not released, was hiking alone in dense fog in the Thoroughfare Pass area when a mother bear and multiple cubs charged him from nearby bushes, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.

He had puncture wounds to a calf, his left ribs and his left shoulder, the agency said.

The victim used bear spray that might have cut the attack short, the park service indicated. He walked 1.5 miles to a visitor’s center where “medical personnel” vacationing at Denali treated him as a park bus driver called 911, it said.

The hiker was taken to a medical center near the park before he was transferred to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, about 120 miles away, park officials said. He was stabilized at the Fairbanks hospital, they said.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the park service said. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Grizzly bears are federally protected as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fewer than 1,500 grizzlies are left in the lower 48, but they thrive, comparatively, in Alaska, where they have a population of about 31,000.

The backcountry area of the attack is closed for one week as a precaution, the park service said.

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