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, Mike Memoli and Ghael Fobes, who cover the ins and outs of Joe Biden’s White House and campaign, report on how “freedom” has become a key pillar of the president’s re-election effort. And stay tuned for a special post-State of the Union edition of From the Politics Desk tonight.

Biden seeks to refresh FDR’s ‘Four Freedoms’ for 2024

By Mike Memoli and Ghael Fobes

When President Joe Biden launched his re-election campaign last April, the first word he uttered was “Freedom.” 

It’s a theme that will not only be a key pillar of his State of the Union address tonight, but of his re-election bid going forward as he turns his attention to a rematch with Donald Trump.

The Biden team’s focus on freedom and threats to democracy as a defining electoral issue has often invited criticism from allies, at a time when Americans’ perceptions of the economy, and of the 81-year-old president himself, are also expected to dominate the months ahead.

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Advisers understand the importance of Biden’s delivery in answering questions about his age, and agree on the need to help better connect the administration’s economic agenda and accomplishments to the improvements in voters’ everyday lives. 

But none of that will matter, aides counter, if America’s democracy falters, a reality the president will starkly warn is possible, and one his advisers say voters have already responded to.

Biden plans to invoke Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 address to Congress, which became known as the “Four Freedoms” speech, in his own speech tonight. FDR defined what he called the “four essential human freedoms” — of speech and expression, of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Biden, who has a framed painting of Roosevelt displayed prominently in the Oval Office, has offered his own version of the four freedoms for the 21st century. 

“We’ll be voting on many issues: on the freedom to vote and have your vote counted, on the freedom of choice, the freedom to have a fair shot, the freedom from fear,” Biden said during a speech near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, earlier this year. 

It’s become a consistent theme for the president, one that his advisers felt was made all too clear in the events of Jan. 6 — 80 years from the day of the Roosevelt speech Biden will reference.

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Stay tuned for a special State of the Union edition of the newsletter tonight

Keep an eye out for a special edition of the From the Politics Desk newsletter tonight, where we will be recapping and analyzing Biden’s State of the Union address, which starts at 9 p.m. ET.

 As NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald, Gabe Gutierrez and Monica Alba report, the president will begin to lay out a second-term agenda, highlighting the post-Covid economic recovery and outlining the administration’s plans to revamp the tax code, expand housing supply and reduce the federal budget deficit. He will also announce plans to add a port that will be used by the U.S. and its partners to get aid into Gaza. 

And he will aim to create a stark contrast with Trump on issues ranging from health care costs to the Russia-Ukraine war, while seeking to ease growing unhappiness inside his own party about his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, NBC News’ Peter Nicholas and Mike Memoli note.

Freshman Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama is set to deliver the official Republican response to Biden’s address.

Stay up to speed on all the latest developments with NBC News’ State of the Union live blog. And we’ll be back in your inbox tonight shortly after Biden’s address. 

🗞️ Today’s top stories

  • 🏛️ Alabama action: In vitro fertilization services are resuming in Alabama after GOP Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law protecting IVF following the state Supreme Court’s ruling that embryos are considered children. Read more →
  • 🚫 From co-sponsor to no-sponsor: Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., announced that she would no longer co-sponsor the Life at Conception Act, noting she supports IVF. The move comes two days after she advanced out of California’s top-two primary in a district that’s expected to be competitive this fall. Read more →
  • 🤫 Mum’s the word: Former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, declined to say whether he would vote to protect IVF or codify Roe v. Wade into federal law if voters in deep-blue Maryland send him to the Senate in November. Read more →
  • 💲 Who is Tim Mellon? The online news outletNOTUS has a deep dive on billionaire Tim Mellon, the biggest donor to outside groups supporting both Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Read more →
  • 🍑 Peach State push: Trump is urging longtime political aide Brian Jack to run for an open congressional seat in Georgia, part of the former president’s efforts put his imprint on the GOP’s future. Read more → 🎙️
  • Hunter and (testimony) gatherer: The House Oversight Committee invited Hunter Biden to testify at a public hearing on March 20, but it is not yet clear if the president’s son has agreed to appear. 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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