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TRUMP’S MIDNIGHT IN AMERICA SPEECH
CLEVELAND – Speaking to the country at what he said was “a moment of crisis for our nation,” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took his audience on a tour of a dark and dangerous America teetering at the brink.

“We don’t have much time,” Trump said. But we do have one hope: Electing him before it’s too late.

Trump vowed to break through the “carefully-crafted lies and the media myths” that portray America as a safe, peaceful and prosperous country. The truth, Trump said, is that urban crime, terrorism, illegal immigration and unfair trade deals “threaten our very way of life.”

We’ve had “morning in America,” but as one attendee at the Quicken Loans Arena observed, Trump was talking about the nation at midnight.

What made Trump’s description of “poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad” even more ominous was that the true extent of the danger is being hidden. He said powerful interests are conspiring against ordinary Americans to not only perpetuate the problems for the benefit of the elite, but also to hide the extent of the calamity.

Trump’s pledge to “ignored, neglected and abandoned” average Americans was that he, as a master manipulator of the “rigged” system, would be their advocate.

“I am your voice!” was his repeated war cry as Trump vowed to do battle against the claque of international corporations and their political puppets who he said are intentionally allowing criminals, terrorists and immigrants to destroy the country and it’s once prosperous middle class.

“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Trump said.

America has become Gotham City and Trump is ready to stop being billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and start being Batman.

The solutions Trump offered could hardly be unpopular given that the burden fell only on the wicked. What person would oppose peace, prosperity, patriotism and “law and order?” What remains to be seen is whether enough voters agree with his depiction of the world.

If you are a voter who believes that things are off course in America and need to be fixed this was not the speech for you. If you believe that it is 1968 all over again, then this was your candidate.

This is in part a reflection of the growing dominance of social media and of Trump as its candidate. In the world of 2016, your vision of America can be carefully curated to meet your assumptions of the state of the union as dire or recovering. A Facebook homepage or Twitter feed can be pruned to affirm either world view.

In Philadelphia next week, Democrats will create an alternate reality in which things are good but not great and only one more election away from bursting forth with prosperity and harmony for the land. 

Hillary Clinton wants you to believe that we are almost there. Trump wants you to believe that it’s almost over.

Most persuadable voters probably don’t belong in either of these two camps. Trump’s challenge, on which he made a hefty down payment Thursday, is to convince more people that things are worse than they think. Clinton’s own onerous task is to make them believe that things are better than they really are.

The backdrop for this pitched battle between a final hope in the face of oblivion and a technocratic nudge towards modest improvement is the endless character assaults between the two candidates.

Clinton and Trump each say the other is unfit for office. But for Trump, Clinton is merely a symptom of the larger conspiracy against his voters. She is “a puppet,” not a supervillain. The end is near and she is just the final push that America needs to tumble over the cliff.

For Clinton, Trump himself is the crisis. Her predictable warning next week will likely be that his wicked reign would put the world at risk. She will tell you that Trump is not Batman, but rather The Joker. Whatever you think of her, Democrats will argue, she is the nation’s last hope to stop Trump from taking power and bringing chaos.

Neither Trump nor Clinton is running as the candidate you like. They each want to be the candidate you’re afraid not to vote for.

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SCOREBOARD
Average of national presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3.8 points
Generic congressional vote: 
Democrats +2.8

POWER PLAY: PHILLY PREVIEW
Democratic strategist Joe Trippi gives Chris Stirewalt a preview of what to expect from the Democrats big gathering next week in Philadelphia. Will the Democrats experience the excitin,if somewhat chaotic, convention the Republicans did? Or will it be a pretty perfunctory experience? Trippi and Stirewalt break it down on our final day in Cleveland. WATCH HERE.

THE JUDGE’S RULING: WHAT IF THE FIX WAS IN?
Fox News’ Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asks what if the fix for Hillary Clinton was in at the Department of Justice from the start: “What if the Department of Political Justice never subpoenaed anything from Clinton? What if it never convened a grand jury to seek and hear evidence against her? What if the FBI requires a grand jury to subpoena documents and tangible things? What if it is highly irregular for a major FBI criminal investigation to be undertaken without a grand jury?”

BUT THE LOCAL TACO BELL IS KILLIN’ IT
Denver Post: “[The town of Hugo] on Colorado’s Eastern Plains warned its residents not to drink, bathe in or cook with its tap water on Thursday because officials said multiple preliminary tests of the water came back positive for THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. Residents were told not even to let their pets drink the water. There have been no reports of illnesses or any symptoms of impairment from drinking the water, officials said at a news conference Thursday evening. Deeper tests, which could be completed Friday, are needed to verify the presence of THC and to determine the level of contamination, if any.”

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.