Nikki Haley gets first GOP primary win and NASA’s Crew-8 mission lifts off on SpaceX rocket: Morning Rundown


In today’s newsletter: President Joe Biden faces a crucial hurdle to overcome in his State of the Union address. Nikki Haley snags her first GOP primary win. And Caitlin Clark has become NCAA Division I basketball’s overall top scorer.

Here’s what to know today.

Biden to juggle competing political demands in State of the Union address

politics political politician
Evan Vucci / AP

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech this week is expected to dive into how he’s on the side of lower health care costs, democratic freedoms and Ukraine’s fight to keep itself from being swallowed up by Russia, and that voters should unite behind him. 

These choices and obstacles facing the United States will be the theme of Biden’s third State of the Union speech, advisers say. He’ll look to ease growing unhappiness inside his own party about handling of the Israel-Hamas war and to remind voters about legislative victories. “It would be important for him to show his concerns about the future of Gaza,” said a Democratic member of Congress, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to alienate the White House. 

Tens of millions of people will tune in, meaning Biden can expect the biggest television audience he’ll get at least until the convention in August. The Super Tuesday primaries take place two days before Biden’s address, and Trump is expected to sweep the 15 contests and be a prohibitive front-runner for the GOP nomination once the votes are tallied. Biden’s poll numbers are declining and with his re-election in doubt, he has a chance to get a fresh look from an electorate that seems willing to dump him in favor of an ex-president who is defending himself against 91 felony charges.

Biden’s address has the potential to be his most important political speech so far, as he seeks to reassure voters that he’s up and ready for the job. 

Nikki Haley gets first 2024 win in the Washington, D.C., GOP primary ahead of Super Tuesday

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks
Joseph Prezioso / AFP – Getty Images

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won her first GOP presidential nominating contest, claiming her first victory in the Washington, D.C., primary, NBC News projects. Haley took 63% of the GOP primary vote to 33% for Trump. Just more than 2,000 Washington Republicans cast their ballots and because Haley got more than half of the vote, she came away with all of the district’s 19 delegates.

Haley, who won the primary over former President Donald Trump, has for weeks pledged to stay in the race through Super Tuesday tomorrow, when 15 states and American Samoa will hold nominating contests. Trump is dominating in almost all of those states in most public polling and is expected to extend his delegate lead.

Kamala Harris calls for ‘an immediate cease-fire’ as talks continue in Cairo

Vice President Kamala Harris called for “an immediate cease-fire” in the Israel-Hamas war in a speech at an event to commemorate the 59th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama. Harris referred to current negotiations for a hostage deal in her comment that there must be a cease-fire for “at least six weeks, which is what is currently on the table.” 

“This would allow us to build something more enduring to ensure Israel is secure and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to dignity, freedom and self-determination,” she said.

A White House official said the vice president was repeating the Biden administration’s recent stance, which calls for a cease-fire for at least six weeks to allow for the release of hostages held by Hamas, as well as for aid to flow through the entire Gaza Strip.

Follow here for live updates.

SpaceX, NASA successfully launch manned Crew-8 mission to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule with a crew of four on a mission to the International Space Station lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday.
John Raoux / AP

SpaceX and NASA successfully launched their joint Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They are set to return in the fall and will spend six months at the orbiting outpost.

NASA and SpaceX launched a crew of four in the Dragon spacecraft, marking SpaceX’s eighth crew rotation mission to the space station within NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The NASA astronauts are commander Matthew Dominick, pilot Michael Barratt, mission specialist Jeanette Epps and Russian Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, who is also acting as mission specialist. It is the first mission to the space station for all except Barratt, who is making his third visit. Watch the launch here. 

Politics in Brief

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is expected to issue rulings today, one of which could be the decision on whether Colorado can kick Trump off the primary. 

Texas politics: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is endorsing candidates in tomorrow’s primary who are challenging the Republican lawmakers who voted for his impeachment

Voter ID laws: Eight states enacted new voter ID laws since the 2020 election. See if your state has any new ID requirements. 

Local elections: North Carolina’s primary tomorrow is expected to set up a clash between Democrat Josh Stein and Republican Mark Robinson to be the biggest governor’s race of 2024.

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Staff Pick: A low-drama approach to a volatile candidate 

Susie Wiles disembarks Trump Force One at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport
Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

For the last three years, people close to Trump have pointed to Susie Wiles as the key behind-the-scenes figure helping Trump with his political operation. As he moves toward clinching the Republican presidential nomination, we wanted to tell readers more about Wiles and why Trump has put so much faith in her.

Wiles seldom grants interviews, and Trump world sources are usually reluctant to talk about her publicly. We secured an on-the-record interview and asked what she thinks about a variety of topics — including her famous feud with Ron DeSantis and how the campaign will run the Republican National Committee. But it wasn’t just Wiles we talked to. We heard from allies, critics and even Donald Trump Jr., all of whom shared views that we think put Wiles — arguably the most powerful aide in the GOP — in perspective.

— Jonathan Allen, senior politics reporter

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