**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Can Obama rescue ailing Hillary? - Trump to call for feds to pay six weeks maternity leave - David Duke hogs limelight on deplorables fight - Audible: No wonder she’s so thirsty - Now it’s called the hobo 5k
CAN OBAMA RESCUE AILING HILLARY?
President Obama has not been this popular since 2009, at least according to his job approval rating.
But how much of that is transferable to his designated successor, Hillary Clinton? As he hits the campaign trail for her today in Pennsylvania, that question hangs heavy in the air like aroma of a cheesesteak from John’s Roast Pork.
To understand the heritability of Obama’s current popularity we must first consider its origins.
Things are getting better in a number of ways. As the Census Bureau reported today, 2015 saw the first increase in median wages since 2007. It’s been a long time coming, but a gain of more than 5 percent is the kind of boost that gets voters feeling better about the shape of things. Gas prices remain low. Stock prices remain high. The job market remains steady.
Nor has there been a successful domestic terror attack since the Orlando massacre in June. While there are many, and maybe multiplying, threats around the globe, Obama has mostly weathered the criticisms surrounding his policies for ISIS and Russian aggression. Obama took heat for go-slow strategies, but seems to have muddled through so far.
But Halftime Report would hold that this is more about what Vice President Joe Biden likes to say: “Don’t compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative.” Given the historically high levels of dissatisfaction with the major party nominee’s this cycle and a campaign season that feels like a cross between an episode of “Veep” and “Tales from the Crypt.”
Obama’s low-key leadership may be looking better to Americans who previously imagined a much different menu of options in 2016. Because in truth, there is plenty for Americans to be displeased about with Obama. Obamacare is falling apart like knock-off Rolex. Racial tensions are at a generational high. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran looks like an increasingly bad bargain.
And, most of all, the sense of decline that wreathes so many American communities – manifested in drug addiction, abandonment of work, parental obligations neglected and rootlessness -- seems to be getting worse and not better.
One of the other reasons Obama may be more popular is that he has been in short supply, for a change. Until Trump, no public figure had dominated the national discussion the way Obama did from 2007 to 2014. His health plan, his shirtless beach pics, his dog, his cigarettes, his birth certificate, his fiscal cliff, his wife’s shoulders, his golf outings, his push for gun control, and on, and on, and on…
Trump having replaced Obama as the media obsession has allowed Obama to rebuild some of the esteem he lost during seven years of overexposure. Now he wants to cash in his restored political capital to help elect a Democratic successor to keep his legacy intact.
And lord, does she need him.
We once thought that Bill Clinton would be his wife’s surrogate-in-chief. But as the prospective First Gentleman has shown, he is hardly in possession of his once-prodigious gifts.
Bubba is fine to pinch hit for his stricken spouse with donors, in interviews and even at a rally this week in Las Vegas. But she needs more than he can deliver, especially with increasingly loud voices discussing the possibility of her having to drop out of the race.
Rather than the march to a landslide victory that some Clintonistas were contemplating just a few weeks ago, her grasp of even the nomination she won three months ago looks a little tenuous. She needs backup and more than her able, amiable running mate, Tim Kaine, can provide.
Team Clinton has a plan to show that she is up to the challenge of running for and serving as president, trying the novel approach of transparency with the release of medical records on Thursday and presumably her engaging in various feats of strength on the campaign by week’s end. Last time, they had her open a pickle jar, maybe now she’ll box a kangaroo or split a fence post with an ax.
Though Obama can deliver major benefits to Clinton, particularly in her bid to mobilize black, Hispanic, young and upscale suburban voters his help is not an unalloyed benefit. Not only does he further affix his stamp on Clinton, robbing her of the chance to run as a candidate of change, he also may see his own popularity diminish.
If Americans are liking Obama better these days because he’s off the front page and above the political fray, he may remind them what they didn’t like about him at the end of last year when his approval ratings were stuck in the low 40s.
THE RULEBOOK: KINGLY POWERS, BUT NOT A ROYAL LINE
“[The president] is to be elected for four years; and is to be re-eligible as often as the people of the United States shall think him worthy of their confidence. In these circumstances there is a total dissimilitude between him and a king of Great Britain, who is an hereditary monarch, possessing the crown as a patrimony descendible to his heirs forever; but there is a close analogy between him and a governor of New York, who is elected for three years, and is re-eligible without limitation or intermission.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist No. 69”
TIME OUT: SWEET HOME ALABAMA
Landing in Hawaii in January is no fun if you arrive in your winter attire from Buffalo to find your luggage didn’t make the journey with you. So where did that bag go? Economist: “All across America, bags routinely go missing and unclaimed, for a variety of reasons. All of them make a strange journey to a remote corner of the country and a gigantic thrift store in Scottsboro, Alabama, where they are unpacked and the contents sold to shoppers. The Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC, pictured) began as a one-man operation in 1970, when Doyle Owens borrowed a pickup truck, drove to Washington, DC, and used a $300 loan to buy his first load of orphaned luggage. Today the company has exclusive contracts with American airlines, giving it sole rights to purchase and sell detritus from flights. The UBC claims to be one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions, drawing more than a million visitors a year from around the globe.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +4.2 points
[Polls included: WaPo/ABC News, CNN, IBD, Fox News, and USA Today.]
Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +1.6 points
[Polls included: WaPo/ABC News, CNN, Boston Herald, GWU, and IBD]
TRUMP TO CALL FOR FEDS TO PAY SIX WEEKS MATERNITY LEAVE
The Hill: “Donald Trump will call for six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers in a Tuesday policy address, breaking with GOP orthodoxy. The GOP presidential nominee will outline the policy as part of a speech sketching out his child care plans as Trump reaches out to female voters. ‘Our plan… creates a bipartisan solution to the issue of maternity leave,’ a Trump aide said on a Tuesday campaign call with reporters…The campaign said new mothers will receive unemployment benefits for six weeks paid for by eliminating fraud in unemployment insurance, describing the maternity leave as a ‘safety net’ for new mothers.”
[Watch Fox: Megyn Kelly talks with Ivanka Trump tonight on “The Kelly File” after a day of joining her father on the campaign trail.]
TEAM TRUMP TRYING TO KNOCK DOWN STINGY CHARITY STORY
WaPo: “A spokeswoman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, seeking to rebut criticism of the GOP nominee's history of charitable giving, said that Trump has given away ‘tens of millions of dollars’ over his life. But spokeswoman Hope Hicks offered no details about that number, beyond saying that it included donations from the Donald J. Trump Foundation -- a charity that, despite its name, has been filled almost entirely with other people’s money in recent years. … The Washington Post has spent the past few months searching for evidence of that kind of personal donation, without much success. The Post has called 326 charities with connections to Trump, asking if they had received a gift of the nominee's own money. Between 2008 and this May, that search turned up just one gift, from 2009. It was worth less than $10,000.”
DAVID DUKE HOGS LIMELIGHT ON DEPLORABLES FIGHT
Donald Trump’s campaign is capitalizing on Hillary Clinton’s gaffe from Friday when she labeled half of Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables,” but continuing this line of attack also opens the door for the question: Who is deplorable? Well, that was a question that Gov. Mike Pence faced on Monday when asked on “Special Report with Bret Baier” if supporters like David Duke were deplorable. Although Pence has denounced Duke in the past, the Indiana governor said he would not engage in name calling. “I don’t play that game,” he said.
This set off a firestorm of criticism from Clinton’s camp. Former KKK leader Duke, however, was thrilled. The white nationalist leader thanked Pence in an interview for not participating in the “absolute controlled media.” Pence repeated his answer for not calling out Duke in a press conference on Capitol Hill today saying that he had repeatedly denounced Duke in the past and did not want his support or that of people who think like him, but he also did not want to start labeling people.
AUDIBLE: NO WONDER SHE’S SO THIRSTY
“She’s worked like a demon.” – Bill Clinton in a PBS interview talking about his wife’s past issues with dehydration.
N.H. PRIMARY DAY TODAY
Boston Globe: “New Hampshire voters will head to the polls Tuesday for primaries that will narrow choices in several high-profile races, including for US senator, US representative, and governor…national political observers will nonetheless be watching a few dynamics in Tuesday’s contests. The first is whether primary results show Senator Kelly Ayotte has a problem with her Republican base. The first-term senator is all but certain to win the nomination and face Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, in November. But a weak showing against her GOP challenger, Jim Rubens, a former state senator, could portend a problem for Ayotte and her GOP supporters this fall. There’s also US Representative Frank Guinta, a Republican from Manchester, who is being challenged by Rich Ashooh, a former defense industry lobbyist. A campaign finance scandal has hurt Guinta politically — enough so that earlier this year, every top Republican in the state had called for him to resign.”
Trump says even he won’t know the results of his physical until TV physician Mehmet Oz reveals them - WashEx
Trump argues that good economic indicators part of a conspiracy to help Obama - Politico
Violence at Trump’s rally in North Carolina - [Asheville] Citizen-Times
Dubya to headline fundraiser for Rubio - Tampa Bay Times
Two liberal groups back Kirk, Toomey in their Senate races - The Hill
House lawmaker issues subpoena to FBI for Clinton investigation files - AP
Dude: Dem House candidate jokes about sex with Hillary - Fox News
Bret Stephens answers his own Q & A on how a Republican can be Never Trump - WSJ
David Drucker talked to Never Trump Republicans holding strong to their pledge even as Election Day nears - WashEx
Eliana Johnson shows how Portman makes being part of the establishment work - NRO
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“So, Chris. Want to hazard a guess as to percent of Obama’s voters in the 47%, vs Trump’s in the basket of deplorables? I guess not. I would doubt the % is even close. And, if we are counting votes, much greater for Obama. And, before the press cries fascist bigot, facts are color and ideologically blind. The alt-right, clan members, racists, etc., are minuscule next to the portion of the 47% that is undeserving of their succor. Indeed, if Trump plays his card properly, the issue should help him more than Obama and Romney’s 47% remark.” – Mike Sumner, Miamisburg, Ohio
[Ed. note: Polls show that routinely about 20 percent of Americans believe in things like Big Foot and alien visitation. You could rightly say that both candidates have supporters who are kooks, right? The business of defining candidates by the nature of their supporters is a very dangerous one, which is why most candidates usually avoid it. There are plenty of racist Clinton supporters, even if polls show that racist attitudes are more broadly held among those who support Trump. Calling attention to repugnant opinions is sometimes necessary for the good of a society, but generally doesn’t do much for a person who ought to be seeking to unite the nation behind the greater good. The practical concern for Trump is this: as much as he and his team have enjoyed rallying their supporters and demonizing Clinton for her nasty notes, every day spent talking about the relative share of troglodytes dwelling in the basements of public opinion is a bad day for the Republican nominee.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
NOW IT’S CALLED THE HOBO 5K
AP: “A slow-moving train in Pennsylvania might have brought some runners' dreams of the Boston Marathon to a halt. Lehigh Valley Health Network's Via Marathon was in full swing Sunday when a slow train crossed the race course near Allentown, stopping runners in their tracks. Runner Charlie Young tells Lehigh Valley Live the race was his last chance to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. The 22-year-old Young says he and over 100 others were held up for about 10 minutes as the train crossed. He says he missed his qualifying time by 8 minutes. Video and photos show some runners scrambling between the slow-moving cars. Registration for the Boston Marathon started Monday, opening first to those who beat their qualifying time by 20 minutes. Via issued says runner times will be addressed on a case-by-case basis due to the disruption.”
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 politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.