On the roster: A conventional nominee for a conventional convention - New swing state polls rattle race…or do they? - Audible: Arrrr-NC - ‘Gag’ order for FBI agents on the Clinton email case - Carbs get you every time

The Indianapolis Star reports that Gov. Mike Pence has dropped his re-election bid to accept the slot as Donald Trump’s running mate.

It’s a shockingly un-shocking pick for Trump, who thrived in the primary season by endlessly disrupting the political system. Pence, a donor-class favorite who made his career out of merging social conservatism with big-business boosterism, is exactly the kind of pick you might have expected of a Jeb Bush or Chris Christie.

It’s a bid to cheer up a bedraggled base who then mostly vanishes in the general election. Like a lower energy Paul Ryan.

But maybe the GOP has finally managed to bring Trump to heel. 

Just look at the lineup for Trump’s convention.

First, let’s look at who’s not going to be on stage. Neither of the living former Republican presidents, nor John Kasich, the Republican governor of the state where the convention is being held are slated to appear.

But that’s not so different. Mitt Romney’s convention had neither former president on stage, albeit more by his choice than theirs. And Romney also did without the convention state’s Republican governor, though in that case it was because a tropical storm blew Rick Scott off the roster.

Acknowledging Trump’s deficiencies with female voters, there will be several women in the spotlight: Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Gov. Mary Fallon, R-Okla.

Trump booster Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. – sort of the yin to anti-Trump Sen. Ben Sasse’s yang –will be on hand, so will Trump critics Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. But one supposes their roles will be in their official capacities and not to lift high Trump’s sedan chair en route to the nomination.

Trump’s offerings will include a night attacking Hillary Clinton over her handling of the 2012 Islamist raid on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya. It’s unusual to give over a night to attacking a rival, but that does seem to reflect Trump’s approach of always grabbing the hottest biscuit in the basket.

There’s also the Trump family, which will play a larger role than past candidates’ clans, but that’s really only a matter of degrees. Yes, there will be some celebrities, but, again, that’s par for the course. Trump has his B listers. Clinton has hers.

Meh.

In all, it sounds like a pretty typical Republican affair, if slightly less ardent and slightly more madcap version.

With Pence, it all sort of adds up. Pence, most notable for his conventionality, would be just the right kind of running mate to unveil at a convention like this.

TIME OUT
The Atlantic: “The story of how Vincent Van Gogh sliced off his ear has always held more than a few mysteries. It was 1888, and he had moved to Arles, France, to start a collective for artists. Paul Gauguin had joined Van Gogh there, and one night in December the two argued…Van Gogh held a razor, and he possibly attacked Gauguin (or perhaps Gauguin attacked him) then in a fit of anger, depression, or hallucination, Van Gogh lopped off part of his ear, wrapped it in cloth, then handed it to a prostitute at a brothel…It was long believed Van Gogh cut off the bottom part, just the lobe. This Friday, a new exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands features a drawing made in 1930 by a doctor who treated the artist. That drawing suggests Van Gogh sliced off nearly his whole ear.”

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 +3.6 points

Generic congressional vote: Democrats +2.8

NEW SWING STATE POLLS RATTLE RACE…OR DO THEY?

In the past two days there has been a lot of swing state polling, but the various narratives building probably don’t hold much water according to FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver: “At 6 [Wednesday] morning, Quinnipiac University released a set of surveys of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania with the best polling news Donald Trump has gotten in a long time…The results run in contrast to the preponderance of national polls, which show Clinton ahead by roughly 5 percentage points, on average. And some of the other polls released today weren’t as bad for Clinton…A Monmouth University poll showed her up by 13 percentage points in Colorado, while Fox News had her up by 9 points there. And a Marist College poll, contradicting Quinnipiac, had her up 8 points in Pennsylvania…Often, it turns out, these interpretations don’t hold up to scrutiny, and a highly touted new poll won’t move the forecast much at all, or a poll that comes out the next day contradicts it.”

[A Fox News poll in Virginia also had good news for Clinton with her up by 7 points over Trump in Old Dominion.]

Q Poll raises GOP Senate hopes - Republicans have some reason to be hopeful today about their party in the Trump era. A Quinnipiac University poll out today shows Republican Senate incumbents Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania thumping their Democratic challengers. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is also ahead in the Buckeye State. Most notably, the Senate candidates are running significantly better than their party’s presumptive nominee. Can that distance survive after the intended display of unity in Cleveland next week? We’re getting ready to find out.

Anti-Trump movement rallying around new key figure - David Drucker reports that the anti-Trump movement has found a new leader in Mike Lee. WashEx: “Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is emerging as an influential figure in the Republicans’ intraparty battle over Donald Trump. Lee sits on a key panel that meets in Cleveland on Thursday and Friday to determine the rules governing the 2016 Republican convention that is set to nominate Trump for president. The senator, a constitutionalist who inhabits the GOP’s Tea Party wing, has stubbornly refused to endorse the New York businessman, citing concerns about his policies and conduct on the campaign trail. Lee’s lingering opposition to Trump could impact his actions on the convention rules committee, a panel of GOP convention delegates charged with setting the rules for Trump’s nomination.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump says Palin declined convention speaking slot - WashEx

Trump, former staffer in tabloid sex scandal battle - Daily Beast

‘Gag’ order for FBI agents on the Clinton email case - Fox News

Ginsburg regrets “ill-advised” Trump comments - Boston Globe

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., says he has been targeted by police because of race - Time

New Hillary ad asks if Trump or Clinton is better for children - The Hill

AUDIBLE: ARRRR-NC 
“Look, in many ways Donald Trump is like a pirate. He’s outside the normal system, he gets things done, he’s bold, he’s actually like a figure out of a movie… In a lot of ways, my entire career has been a little bit like a pirate.” – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News talking about how he and Trump are both political outsiders and have pirate-like tendencies.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Can’t for the life of me figure out why Pence would want this?  Trump will go down in flames as you can be sure that there are a multitude of offensive things he’ll say prior to November and Pence will be stained by his association with an unhinged, liberal Republican.  Unless he’s in such dire straits in Indiana that he can’t possibly be reelected and he’s simply hoping to add another paragraph to his obituary, this seems to be a career ending move for him.” – Mark Mazzie, East Pikeland, Pa.


“Why don’t you guys just tell everyone to vote for Hillary. These Half Time Reports are always publishing crappy stuff about Trump.  Are you wishful thinking?” – Lucy Cowgill, Scottsdale, Ariz.

 

[Ed. note: We’re just telling you what seems likely to happen – it’s like the weatherman doesn’t root for the hurricane, he just tells you which direction the storm is headed. If we were wishful thinking, though, it would certainly involve roasted meats or bacon.]

“Hello Chris: Thought you’d like to see an original version [of Wednesday’s kicker about the story behind “California Girls”] with some interesting ‘guest stars.’ https://youtu.be/7oRb9-mypxg Keep up the great work.” – Don Galamaga, Capt. USN Ret., Warwick, R.I.

[Ed. Note: Far out, man! Thank you for sharing it.]


CARBS GET YOU EVERY TIME
AP: “Police say a potato stuffed into a vehicle’s tailpipe helped lead them to a 19-year-old Connecticut stripper who’s now charged with setting fire to a business in a dispute over money. Willow Martin, of Naugatuck, was charged Tuesday with several offenses including second-degree arson, in connection with the fire last September at MTM Masonry in Prospect. She was held on $110,000 bail pending arraignment Wednesday. It could not be determined if she has an attorney. Authorities say the fire was at a business belonging to the stepfather of Martin’s best friend, who owed her money. The business’s owner found the potato in his vehicle’s tailpipe. Police processed it for DNA and tied it to Martin’s boyfriend. The boyfriend said he handled the potato, but Martin put it in the exhaust pipe.”


AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…

“I think Gingrich is the one who I think would be the best fit, not so much because he doubles down, but because he’s the most, if you like, either articulate or glib, you can have it either way.  But he has such facility with language. He can explain away anything.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

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 here.

 

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.