Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, senior White House correspondent Gabe Gutierrez reports on the efforts from Joe Biden’s campaign and White House to win over voters from Puerto Rico. Plus, “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker has an exclusive interview with former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Why Biden is betting big on voters from Puerto Rico

By Gabe Gutierrez

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Ricans on the island can’t vote for president this November. But those who are from the U.S. territory and now live on the mainland are becoming a major priority for Joe Biden’s campaign. 

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday visited Puerto Rico for the first time since taking office, touting the Biden administration’s support for the island as it continues to rebuild following several hurricanes.

The trip comes as Biden’s campaign has been investing more in Latino outreach much sooner this election cycle — and it’s not just focusing on the usual wide-reaching outlets like Univision and Telemundo.

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The campaign is already airing ads on WAPA-TV, a major station in Puerto Rico, contrasting Biden’s record with Donald Trump’s on health care costs and reproductive rights, hoping the message will find its way back to the mainland. It is also running ads on local radio stations on the island and across the U.S. targeting Puerto Ricans and Latinos more broadly. 

“People that are part of the diaspora receive their information from it,” said one campaign official familiar with the strategy. “We’re being intentional.”

The Puerto Rican diaspora on the U.S. mainland is increasingly gaining political clout ahead of the 2024 election. The crucial swing state of Pennsylvania has the third-largest population of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. — about 500,000 — behind Florida and New York. 

The rising number of Puerto Ricans in central Florida — a key area in a perennial swing state — has drawn plenty of attention from campaigns in previous elections. But with Florida leaning further to the right in recent years, Democrats are placing a greater emphasis on Puerto Rican voters in the more narrowly divided Pennsylvania.

Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, a former city council member in Philadelphia who’s now working with Boricuas Con Biden, a group organizing Puerto Rican voters for the president, said that the campaign engaged with the Latino community overall in Pennsylvania too late in 2020, but she’s encouraged by the early outreach this year.

“The Puerto Rican/Latino community is not only growing, but electing people in all corners of the state,” she said. “So we become that margin that others don’t look at that’s going to make the difference if the campaign engages us — and ties our reality to the future of our country.” 

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What worries Stephen Breyer about America’s democracy

By Kristen Welker

It’s been almost two years since Stephen Breyer stepped down from the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s been more than a year since his last TV interview. 

But I sat down with Breyer this week to discuss his new book, “Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism,” as well as his thoughts on the Supreme Court, American politics and the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. 

In our interview, Breyer talked about what worries him about the state of this country’s democracy.

WELKER: Do you worry that too many people have lost the ability to listen in this country? 


WELKER: And where does that leave us?


WELKER: What does that potentially mean for the state of this country’s democracy?

BREYER: Hey, look, there are two sides to many things. One, you said United States of America? Hey. This is, in part, the United States of America. So, the United States of America? We used to think, and I still think, that maybe we’re not listening as much as we should.

Breyer also said the infamous leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was “unfortunate.” I also asked him about reports that prior to the leak, discussions among the justices were coalescing around a compromise that would have left Roe in place, while imposing a ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

WELKER: Did you think that a compromise was possible before the leak? Around 15 weeks?

BREYER: I usually hope for compromise.

WELKER: So you were hopeful there could be a compromise?

BREYER: You want to put words in my mouth. I’m careful what I say on this. Because I say our interests are different. I don’t want to make news. I’ve written what I’ve thought. If you think there is news in here or in the dissent, go right ahead. But I don’t want to say something and make an issue.

WELKER: Just to be clear though. Did you think a compromise was possible?

BREYER: I always think it’s possible. I always — I always think it’s possible, usually up until the last minute.

At a time when the Supreme Court is at the center of the 2024 election, Breyer’s words carry weight. Two of the biggest issues voters will grapple with this November are reproductive rights and the direction of America’s democracy. 

Be sure to tune in Sunday to “Meet the Press” for more on Breyer’s thoughts about Roe v. Wade, guns and the Trump-related cases before the Supreme Court.

🗞️ Today’s top stories

  • 👀 Here we go again? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., filed a motion to oust Speaker Mike Johnson just as the House voted to avoid a government shutdown. It’s unclear how the House will act on the motion, but Greene said it was “more of a warning than a pink slip.” Read more →
  • 🤏 Shrinking majority: Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., announced he would resign from Congress early, in mid-April, a move that will leave House Republicans with a razor-thin 217-213 majority. Read more →
  • 💰 Trump’s cash crunch: Trump’s social media company will go public in a merger that could net the cash-strapped former president an eventual windfall of $3 billion or more. Read more →
  • 💰 Trump’s cash crunch, cont.: Trump also claimed he has “almost” $500 million in cash, undercutting his lawyers’ claims that he would not be able to comply with the $464 million judgment against him in the New York civil fraud case. Read more →
  • ⚖️ “Follow the money”: The New York Times explores Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump. Read more →
  • 🏡 Garden State skirmish: The main fight between the two main Democratic Senate candidates in New Jersey isn’t over policy, but over the literal ballots they will appear on. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who’s facing federal bribery charges, said he’s “hopeful” he could run for his seat as an independent if he’s exonerated. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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