Fox News Halftime Report

Bernie's swan song begins

Jennifer Griffin reports from Washington, D.C.

 

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On the roster - Bernie’s swan song begins - Dubya back in the game - Rubio leans towards a run, GOP insiders say - Save yourself, no really

BERNIE’S SWAN SONG BEGINS
In Sen. Bernie Sanders’ address Thursday he said a lot of things, except that he would concede his bid for the Democratic nomination. But on the heels of his meeting with Hillary Clinton, subsequent matching statements, and his promise that he would do everything he could to defeat Donald Trump the signs that the end is near couldn’t be clearer.

So why not drop out now?

Well, there are two schools of thought on that.

One is that Sanders is trying to hold on to as much leverage as he can to make his policy positions part of the party platform and institute changes in the primary process. The idea is that the longer he remains in the race the more Clinton and the party will concede for the sake of the much coveted word this cycle: unity.

But that theory has some holes in it.

A prolonged holdout by Sanders actually weakens his hand. Supporters like Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., the first member of congress to back Sanders, have started to throw their support behind Clinton. The small donations that once poured in have dried up. And the much-reported massive rallies have dwindled with time and are now absent.

All this to say Sanders’ momentum doesn’t look quite as threatening as it did back in March, or even May. Any hope that Sanders could win, or pose some sort of mathematical challenge based on delegate count, ended with the California primary 10 days ago.

Not to mention President Obama’s endorsement for Clinton this week…

Which is exactly why those in the second school of thought believe Sanders remaining in the race is a strategy to benefit Clinton and the Democrats more than anything else.

In this notion, the longer Sanders remains in the more his fire continues to burn out on its own, leaving Clinton in better graces with his supporters than if she appeared to force him out while he still had momentum. Clinton appears as the magnanimous candidate letting her challenger run his own course instead of the political powerhouse choking the competition, and Sanders doesn’t look like he cut and ran. Everyone wins.

The cordial meeting the two candidates had this week seems to show that is exactly what’s happening. Since Clinton has officially secured presumptive nominee status Sanders is no longer a distraction from her general election strategy or a threat of division within the party. His presence in the race doesn’t hold the same ire for her it once did.

But remember, Sanders is not a dyed in the wool Democrat and he doesn’t feel obliged to abide by any party’s rules. Although his campaign has said they’re no longer recruiting superdelegates it doesn’t mean the independent, socialist-turned-Democratic-challenger will bow out quietly.

So however long he remains in the race, how he bows out will be on his terms regardless of party unity or strategy.

TIME OUT
On this day in 1885, a ship sailed into New York harbor carrying 350 individual pieces of cargo that would become one of America’s most iconic symbols: the Statue of Liberty. Since that time Lady Liberty has welcomed immigrants through Ellis Island, bid farewell to thousands of troops going “over there,” witnessed an attack on the city to which she lights the way, and seen the same city rebound with spirited purpose.

As President Ronald Reagan said at the statue’s centennial celebration: “[W]e too dare to hope -- hope that our children will always find here the land of liberty in a land that is free. We dare to hope too that we’ll understand our work can never be truly done until every man, woman, and child shares in our gift, in our hope, and stands with us in the light of liberty.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

SCOREBOARD
Average of national presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +5.8 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.2

DUBYA BACK IN THE GAME
NYT: “After eight years of largely abstaining from politics, former President George W. Bush is throwing himself into an effort to save his party’s most vulnerable senators, including several whose re-election campaigns have been made more difficult by Donald J. Trump’s presence at the top of the ticket. In the weeks since Mr. Trump emerged as the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Mr. Bush has headlined fund-raisers for two Republican senators and has made plans to help three more. Among them are Senators John McCain of Arizona, who was one of Mr. Trump’s earliest targets of derision, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire… Next week, he will appear in St. Louis at a fund-raiser for Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. And similar events are being planned for Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rob Portman of Ohio.”

RUBIO LEANS TOWARDS A RUN, GOP INSIDERS SAY
WashEx: “Marco Rubio is leaning toward running for re-election, say Republicans monitoring the senator’s movements for signs of a decision…The Florida Republican is now re-considering, motivated in part by Sunday’s jihadist terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead plus the shooter. But Republican insiders are predicting that Rubio will in fact jump into the race because they believe there have been smoke signals for weeks indicating he planned to change course…Perhaps telling, it’s GOP operatives in Florida who are most convinced that Rubio is going to run. Rubio’s team has been organizing and preparing to launch a 2016 Senate campaign for weeks, one veteran Florida Republican strategist said.”

And Dems are ready - The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a video this morning attacking Rubio for his absence in the U.S. Senate showing they are already preparing for the Florida senator’s potential reelection bid in the Sunshine State.

IN COVERAGE
Fox News Sunday –
Chris Wallace hosts Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss gun restrictions in wake of the Orlando shootings, and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski talks the 2016 race on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Howard Kurtz breaks down how the media covered the biggest news stories, including Bill Hemmer on his experience reporting from Orlando. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. and a reairing at 5 p.m. ET.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Clinton, Trump Twitter wars wage on - WashEx

Major companies pull sponsorship from GOP convention - The Hill

How game theory helps explain Trump’s strategy - WaPo

Hillary pushes DNC towards general election focus - Time

Over 50 State Dept. employees call for a regime change in Syria - Fox News

AUDIBLE
“Election days come and go but political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end.” -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in his live webcast Thursday.

SAVE YOURSELF, NO REALLY
[Victoria, British Columbia] Times Colonist: “Vancouver firefighters, eager to deploy two new boats, were disappointed last week when one of the vessels was, ironically, damaged by fire during transport…The two boats, worth approximately $1.5 million apiece, were custom built for Vancouver in Kingston, Ont., by MetalCraft Marine to replace the fire department’s two aging water craft…But as the long-awaited, 43-foot vessels were being transported to Vancouver by tractor trailer last week, there was a malfunction with the packaging…There is no concern that the boat is unsafe because of the fire [Vancouver Fire and Rescue spokesman added] adding that the vessel had been taken apart to transport.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“You can keep all the Muslim immigrants you want away from our shores. It will make no difference. In the end, the only thing that will work – as it worked to a large extent with al Qaeda – you have to go after them where they live, and drive them out.” -- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up 
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