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The debt ceiling measure is of interest to candidates running for president

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

While the debt ceiling deal is moving ahead on Capitol Hill, some Republican presidential hopefuls are dragging the compromise President Biden helped craft in negotiations with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Here's Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Fox News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RON DESANTIS: Our country will still be careening towards bankruptcy.

MARTÍNEZ: Former President Trump said he would have taken the default despite lifting the debt ceiling himself as president. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott will have to vote on it. He says he's a no. We're going to be hearing more on this soon from some well-known Republicans who are expected to announce next week that they're entering the GOP presidential race.

FADEL: Joining us now to talk about all of this is NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Hi, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there.

FADEL: So what do you make of the politics behind how the debt ceiling vote played out?

MONTANARO: Well, it's clearly a big win for President Biden and for Speaker McCarthy, you know, notably because this bill gets both of them past the 2024 presidential election, meaning they won't have to deal with this debt ceiling crisis again during this Congress. It also helps Biden again, you know, burnish his image as a dealmaker, someone who's targeting the middle, which is really key for his reelection and something he's trying to do. And just look at who voted for this and who didn't. I mean, three-quarters of Democrats, two-thirds of Republicans voted for it. But some of the biggest names on the left and right who tend to grab most of the attention and the headlines did not. And yet, it still passed overwhelmingly.

You know, the Republican presidential candidates against this are really out of step with most lawmakers in their own party. And they represent a solid majority of Republicans in the country. But the hardest right, the most conservative, that's who these candidates are catering to in this primary. But undoubtedly, this is a big win for the pragmatists in Congress, the lower key lawmakers, who are clearly the majority. And that really does tell you something.

FADEL: Yeah. And some Republicans who would count themselves among the pragmatists are about to jump in. What's the latest there?

MONTANARO: Yeah, it's going to be a busy week next week in the Republican primary. We're expecting to see three presidential announcements. A source close to former Republican Governor Chris Christie confirmed that Christie will announce Tuesday in New Hampshire. Then we expect on Wednesday we'll see two announcements, one from former Vice President Mike Pence and the other is a name I'm sure we all immediately recognize, Doug Burgum. OK. Well, he is the governor of North Dakota...

FADEL: (Laughter) OK.

MONTANARO: ...And happens to be a billionaire. So money is not going to be an issue for him.

FADEL: This is starting to become a pretty crowded field. But the one who continues to take up most of the oxygen is former President Trump. Is there any room for these new candidates, especially Christie, considering how out of step he seems to be with Trump's base?

MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, this is a very different party than the one Christie was a star in a decade ago. So he faces an uphill battle for sure. His people are pretty clear-eyed about that when I talk to them. You know, they tell me that Christie feels like he needs to do something to try and turn around the direction of the party and where it's gone under Trump. And that takes someone recognizable and able to prosecute the case against him from within the party. Since Christie has the notoriety, they say, he should be able to meet the polling and fundraising requirements to get on the debate stage. And maybe, maybe, he catches fire in a place like New Hampshire.

But the reality is, right now, this is a Trump-DeSantis race. And we're seeing the attacks ramp up against each other. Trump has relentlessly been hitting DeSantis, calls him DeSanctimonious, attacks him on taxes, his governance in Florida. DeSantis just said yesterday, you know, laughing it off, that his whole family moved to Florida under my governorship. Are you kidding me, you know? But already they've spent tens of millions of dollars on ads targeting each other.

FADEL: NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Thanks, Domenico.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.