Fox News Halftime Report

Trump effect hits Dem primaries, not GOP

Chris Stirewalt

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On the roster: Trump effect hits Dem primaries, not GOP - Rosenstein backs Mueller, vows ‘full independence’ - Russian attack on election system hit 39 states - No bill in sight, Senate backs off ObamaCare cuts hype - Next topic: New technologies in counterfeiting

TRUMP EFFECT HITS DEM PRIMARIES, NOT GOP
President Trump 
has no discernable heirs within his own party, but the number of his progeny in the Democratic Party keeps growing.  

Time and midterms will tell the political consequences of Trumpism on the Republican Party. But, we have yet to see any marked shift in the direction of the party beyond its chief executive. 

Democrats, however, have been absolutely roiled by the dawn of Trumpism. 

Witness the Common Wealth of Virginia, which holds its gubernatorial primaries today. 

The Republican frontrunner is Ed Gillespie, an establishmentarian if ever there was one. After working his way up through the party ranks, Gillespie turned in a term as RNC chairman and as a senior advisor to George W. Bush in his second term. Gillespie is a conservative, but no firebrand. 

Mannerly, moderate-sounding and ideologically moored, Gillespie sounds nothing like Trump. The Trump-sounding candidate in the race is Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart, who rose to fame for a controversial crackdown on illegal immigration and lost his gig as Trump’s state chairman for attacking the party establishment too vociferously. 

But there’s been no indication of a groundswell of support for Stewart, despite the marshalling of pro-Trump media outlets and the populist GOP grassroots. 

What gives? Why is a Bushy considered comfortably ahead of a guy who used the term “cuckservative” to attack his opponent? The answer looks the same as it has with other mini-Trumps who tried to replicate his success on state and district levels.

There were no Trumpian standouts in 2016, and in special elections since then, the Republican establishment has been chugging along like they have never even seen a red hat. We can attribute this partly to Trump’s singular nature, but also to the fact that, as also evidenced by the legislative and policy priorities of the party, the GOP base remains the same as it ever was: older, white voters with a heavy dependence on college-educated suburbanites. 

If Gillespie can win in Virginia, it calls into question the ability of Trump to punish Republicans who don’t back his agenda. Until there are credible mini-Trumps whom the president can help win primaries, his ability to threaten members of Congress is minimized. 

You can go all the way back to House Speaker Paul Ryan crushing his primary challenger, a man praised by Trump, in August of 2016. Without scalps, Trump has no war party. 

While Republicans are doing their best to ignore the scalding turmoil of Trumpism, Democrats can hardly look away. 

The early favorite to win the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nomination was Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a blue-ribbon specimen of an Old Dominion Democrat: fiscally conservative, socially moderate and with a clear pro-business approach. 

Virginia has a long history of picking moderates of both parties, but particularly a brand of Democrats who like to work across the aisle and hew to the middle, like their current senior Senator, former Gov. Mark Warner

In the age of the “resistance” though, it might not be enough. 

Former Rep. Tom Perriello was neck-and-neck with Northam according to the very limited polling available on the race. Perriello is a hardcore liberal who owes his single term in Congress to Barack Obama’s enormous success with young voters and African American voters, both of whom are in plentiful supply in a district that stretches from UVA’s Charlottesville down to the North Carolina border. 

Former Rep. Robert Hurt turned Perriello out in 2010 like U.S. Grant ran Jefferson Davis out of Richmond.   

Certainly we can attribute the competitiveness of this race to demographic changes in Virginia where liberal northern counties have outpaced the growth of conservative southern ones, and also so the same trends within the Democratic Party that made Bernie Sanders competitive nationally in 2016. 

Even so, Northam shouldn’t be having such trouble with a Bernie bro backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren D. Mass., in a state where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic primary by 29 points. Virginia didn’t go hard left in one year. 

But as the blue team increasingly arranges its party around maximal opposition to Trump, whom many in the minority party see as a usurper bent on destruction, Democrats are not exactly acting like themselves. 

Perriello’s single best score on attributes in that May poll that showed him ahead of Northam was on this question: “Who do you think would do more to stand up against Donald Trump?” Perriello won by 8 points. 

We may know that how the governor of Virginia acts toward the president is likely a matter of almost no significance in practical terms, but the fact that it is so much on the minds of Virginia voters is still revealing. 

Trump is a tonic for the activist left of the Democratic Party. When the world seems like it’s on fire, who wants a moderate dribbling from a watering can when you could have a Bernie clone turning on the fire hose of social justice? 

It will be very hard for Republicans to take back the Virginia governor’s mansion if Northam wins his primary. But Gillespie’s chances would dramatically improve with the still-moderate general electorate if he draws Perriello for the finals. 

There is a lesson here for both parties looking ahead to the 2018 midterms.

Republicans are poised to take a pretty bad beating right now, but if Democrats, having been fed a steady diet of Trump outrage, lurch in a radical direction, the GOP can at least mitigate some of its losses. 

THE RULEBOOK: INBOX
“One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 22

TIME OUT: YOU’RE GONNA BE POP-U-LAR
Atlantic: “[Mitch Prinstein] writes in his new book on that subject, Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World. … The phenomenon that was supposed to be nowhere—popularity as another childish thing, to be given up at the onset of adulthood—was, it turned out, everywhere. ‘In a very real manner,’ Prinstein writes, ‘our experiences with popularity are always occupying our minds.’ … What makes Popular fascinating is not necessarily that central thesis… It is, rather, the depth with which Prinstein explains the world in its perma-Mean Girls ways. Prinstein also makes a strong case for everlasting adolescence: He cites study after study, conducted by himself and his grad students but mostly by other researchers, all suggesting the ways that popularity imprints itself on people’s lives, far beyond the teenage years, through both its presence and its absence. Popularity affects people’s ability to find success in their careers, regardless of their intelligence or their work ethic. It affects their ability to find fulfilling friendships and romantic relationships.”

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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -19.4 points
Change from one week ago: -1.8 points

ROSENSTEIN BACKS MUELLER, VOWS ‘FULL INDEPENDENCE’  
USA Today: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein affirmed his support for Russia special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday, despite recent suggestions that President Trump was weighing Mueller's dismissal. Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last month to lead the Justice Department's wide-ranging inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and has the authority to remove him, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that he saw no cause for Mueller's dismissal. ‘Director Mueller is going to have the full independence he needs to conduct that investigation,’ Rosenstein said. … ‘I am not going to follow any order unless it is a lawful order,’ Rosenstein said, adding that it ‘would not matter what anybody said....There is no secret plan (to remove Mueller) that involves me.’ The deputy attorney general's testimony comes after Trump friend and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said Monday that Trump was considering ‘terminating’ Mueller.”

Sessions to face sharp questions on Russia contacts - AP: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is preparing for sharp questions from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse himself from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump. The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate intelligence committee should yield Sessions' most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his entire tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to step aside from the Russia probe. Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States.”

[Jonathan Swan breaks down how Sessions is expected to respond to crucial questions in the hearing.]

Ryan says let ‘Mueller do his job’ - 
Anselmian all-star Sally Persons has the latest. Wash Times: “Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday that the investigations into President Trump’s campaign are ‘important,’ but the House will continue to focus on the domestic agenda. ‘I think the best thing to do is to let [special counsel] Robert Mueller do his job. I think the best vindication for the president is to let this thing go on independently and thoroughly. That to me is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do, and that’s what I think hopefully will happen,’ Mr. Ryan said at his weekly press conference. The Wisconsin Republican said that while the investigations are important, the House has to focus on its work in the current domestic agenda.”

RUSSIAN ATTACK ON ELECTION SYSTEM HIT 39 STATES
Bloomberg: “Russia’s cyber attack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. … The new details … show the scope of alleged hacking that federal investigators are scrutinizing as they look into whether Trump campaign officials may have colluded in the efforts.” 

Senate set on Russia sanctions, but will Trump sign -
 The Hill: “The Senate has clinched a wide-ranging bipartisan agreement to slap new financial penalties on Russia and limit President Trump's ability to lift sanctions without giving Congress a chance to weigh in. … The agreement imposes new sanctions including ‘malicious cyber activity’ on behalf of Moscow, individuals supplying weapons to Syrian President
Bashar Assad's government or individuals tied to Russia's intelligence and defense sectors. The deal would also give Congress 30 days—or 60 days around the August recess—to review and potentially block Trump from lifting or relaxing Russia sanctions.” 

NO BILL IN SIGHT, SENATE BACKS OFF OBAMACARE CUTS HYPE
Politico: “Senate Republicans are aggressively trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, wary of blowing a deadline or falling short of 50 votes on a promise that has driven the GOP's political strategy for much of the past decade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still aiming for an Obamacare repeal vote in June, though his lieutenants acknowledge that deadline could slip into July. And while GOP leaders want to hold the vote as soon as possible, Republicans continue to avoid hard deadlines and say factors outside their control could strike. … The number of outstanding variables is driving the uncertainty. Individual senators continue to raise doubts about coming to an agreement, even though McConnell is telling his members that ‘failure is not an option.’ Republicans say they will go as far as they can in repealing Obamacare and making conservative policy, even though they warn the Senate parliamentarian will have final say.”

Senate GOP cracks down on reporter access - The Hill: “Senate officials are cracking down on media access, informing reporters on Tuesday that they will no longer be allowed to film or record audio of interviews in the Senate side hallways of the Capitol without special permission. Television reporters will now need permission from senators, the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms or the Senate Radio and TV Gallery, depending on location, before conducting an on-camera interview with a senator anywhere in the Capitol or in the Senate office buildings, according to a Senate official familiar with the matter.”

Trump to try bucking up senators - Daily Caller: “President Donald Trump is scheduled to have lunch Tuesday with 13 senators to discuss the Senate’s progress, and holdups, in repealing and replacing Obamacare. The Senate has worked for nearly a month now on its Obamacare replacement bill, which is expected to include some features of the House’s American Health Care Act but differs in other aspects, like Medicaid expansion funding and Obamacare taxes. The consensus-driven body is expected to send its bill to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring in the coming days, but will reportedly not release the scoring to the public before they vote on the measure. A vote is expected before Congress leaves for the July 4 recess.”

Mnuchin says debt ceiling breach before fiscal year ends - WaPo: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for the first time Monday said the Treasury Department only has enough money to fund the government through early September, a much earlier timeline than many analysts had projected. Mnuchin's comments, made at a congressional hearing, came in response to a question about the debt ceiling, which is preventing Treasury from borrowing enough money to cover the large gap between how much money the government brings in through revenue and how much it spends.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Trump to tout training, apprenticeships in Wisconsin with Ivanka - U.S. News

North Korea releases US citizen Otto Warmbier AP

Sessions seeks permission to prosecute medical marijuana providers ­
WaPo

Ad spending in Georgia special election approaches $40 million mark - NBC News

AUDIBLE: BRO… 
“He has to have a staff of virgins.” – Dick Morrisonetime advisor to former President Bill Clinton talking to Politico about special counsel Robert Mueller’s staffing decisions, including the hiring of some democratic voters.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I always appreciate your insights, they are helpful in shaping my thoughts on different issues. In regards to health care, likely, I agree with you, [Mitch McConnell] is laying the bricks on the road to fake repeal, and just basically replace, I understand they want the marketing win of saying it's gone, the money to use towards tax reform, but with all the Hubbub surrounding the insurance roll #s, why not phase out the taxes over time? Increase the subsides that individuals can use to buy private insurance (on a sliding scale not just the dumb flat fee for age), if it succeeds, it gets more people off Medicaid and they get better insurance, because they have private insurance and it serves as a model for future Medicare & Medicaid reform. Too why don't they create a nonprofit private company that those in the individual market can become members of (like a credit union) that they can all pool together to get a better rates by negotiating as a group? I know I'm dreaming, but if you can do this, eventually pass Tory reform etc. with things to lower premiums you can drop the credits over time, and people will still be insured. I think this is how Milton Friedman advocated for phasing out govt. programs, in steps, so that the backlash isn't too harsh. Thoughts?” – Jason Schout, Hudsonville, Mich.

[Ed. note: One of the downsides to the ongoing parliamentary trend in American governance is that politicians of both parties feel enormous pressure to jam things through for the brief moments when their team has total control in Washington. If Republicans believed that they were building the kind of majority that would last for a generation or more, they might be inclined to follow a plan like the one you described. But that’s not how they see it. Facing setbacks if not the outright loss of their majority in the House and with a president peripatetic, GOPers are treating this Congress as strictly a smash-and-grab situation. The tendency toward wave elections since 2006 has left us swirling in the dingy foam atop this sea of populist outrage. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the kind of long-term thinking you’re talking about.] 

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NEXT TOPIC: NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN COUNTERFEITING
AP: “A Wyoming college student who told officers she was working on a term paper on kleptomania after she was caught shoplifting faces three felony charges. The Gillette News Record reports 23-year-old Lydia Marie Cormaney was arrested on June 5 after trying to leave Walmart with nearly $1,900 worth of merchandise. Court records say investigators later found thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen items in her dorm room. Cormaney told officers she began shoplifting after being forced to move into a new dorm room, away from her roommate who had many of the household items. She said she was caught once when she tried to leave Walmart with three flat-screen televisions. Cormaney made an initial court appearance on June 8 and did not enter a plea. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I have nothing against Ivanka Trump. I think she's done a splendid job in a pretty difficult situation, but it’s a little rich when the Trump family is complaining about the viciousness considering what her dad called ‘Little Marco,’ ‘Lyin’ Ted’ and ‘Crooked Hillary’ as sort of three random characterizations from the campaign.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt
 is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland 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.