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On the roster: Can Texas Democrats keep from overheating - Time Out: It really tied the room together… - GOP lawmakers try to talk Trump out of tariffs - As Mueller closes in, former Trump aide melts down - But he doesn’t roll on Shabbos
CAN TEXAS DEMOCRATS KEEP FROM OVERHEATING
WaPo: “The congressional primary season kicks off Tuesday with the Democratic Party facing an unexpected question: Do they have too much of a good thing? Emboldened by widespread anger with President Trump and wins in gubernatorial and Senate races last year, record numbers of Democrats are running for Congress. While this cascade of candidates reflects the high level of enthusiasm in the party out of power, it has deepened divisions, stoked fresh rivalries and prompted meddling by Democratic officials that has fueled controversy. These uncomfortable developments have raised questions about the party’s preparedness for the next stage of the campaign. … ‘The good news is that energy is not a problem,’ said former congressman Steve Israel of New York, who chaired the House Democratic campaign arm. ‘The bad news is you’re trying to manage the energy of a nuclear weapon — there’s so much of it.’”
Texas holds first 2018 primary amid surge of Democratic voters - Fox News: “The midterm election season officially kicks off on Tuesday, when Texas voters head to the polls for the nation’s first primary of 2018. With early voting already suggesting a record turnout for Democrats, and widespread speculation about what effect an endorsement by President Trump will have on Republican candidates, the Texas primaries are being looked at as both a bellwether for the rest of the nation - and a sign the red state could be turning purple more quickly than expected. ‘What these primaries really boil down to is one issue: Trump versus anti-Trump,’ Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, told Fox News.”
Bush heir in a battle, despite kowtowing to Trump - Fox News: “Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush also got Trump’s endorsement, with the president saying the nephew and grandson of two former presidents ‘backed me when it wasn't the politically correct thing to do, and I back him now.’ Unlike Cruz, Abbott, Patrick and Paxton – incumbents who are expected to easily win the GOP nomination in their campaigns – Bush is facing a tough battle against his predecessor in the land office, Jerry Patterson. A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that when voters were allowed to be undecided, Bush mustered only 36 percent of the vote in his race. It remains to be seen whether a Trump endorsement will hurt or help Bush. But either way, it puts the politician in a strange situation as he tries to merge the backing of the anti-establishment president with that of his storied political family. The Bush dynasty was built on moderate conservative policy positions, and was strongly against Trump in the 2016 race, where George P.’s father, Jeb, ran against him.”
Cochran retirement creates turmoil in Mississippi politics - Clarion Ledger: “Sen. Thad Cochran’s retirement does not come as a big surprise, but it is nonetheless sending shock waves across the Mississippi political landscape. The only thing that is absolutely certain from the fallout is that Gov. Phil Bryant will call a special election for the remainder of Cochran’s term, and the election will be held on Nov. 6, per state statute that requires it to be on the same date as the already scheduled general election. Past that, a number of critical questions remain — not the least of which are, ‘Whom will Bryant appoint as interim senator?’ and, ‘Will Chris McDaniel drop his challenge against Sen. Roger Wicker to run for Cochran’s open seat?’”
Shalala former U. of Miami president, Clinton cabinet official, runs for House - Miami Herald: “Donna Shalala, the former University of Miami president and Health and Human Services secretary, is officially running as a Democrat to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, according to Federal Election Commission paperwork filed Monday. Shalala, 77, has never run for elected office, but her presence shakes up a crowded Democratic primary in a district that includes most of Miami Beach, downtown Miami and coastal Miami-Dade County. The district favors Democrats, as Hillary Clinton defeated President Donald Trump by 19.7 percentage points there in 2016. Shalala did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.”
Pence hits the road - Politico: “Vice President Mike Pence will continue his campaign-style blitz around the country this week as Republicans scramble to stave off what they fear could be a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections. … The trips reflect a strategy of mixing official events to promote tax cuts with campaign events for Republican candidates. Pence is slated to travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Tuesday to tout tax cuts as part of an event sponsored by America First Policies… He’ll then travel to Nebraska to campaign for Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. Pence will travel to Kentucky on Wednesday to campaign for Rep. Andy Barr, who faces a potentially tough reelection fight in 2018, and participate in another America First Policies event on tax cuts. On Friday, Pence will travel to Ohio for another America First Policies event on taxes in Cleveland and campaign for Rep. Steve Stivers.”
Trump ally McCarthy stands to benefit if GOP loses House - The Hill: “Republicans say House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a clear path to succeeding Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) in November — if Republicans lose the House and he runs for minority leader. The California Republican would need just a majority vote of the GOP conference and not 218 votes — a threshold he couldn’t meet during his failed bid for Speaker in 2015 — to become minority leader. And that threshold is within reach for someone considered President Trump’s closest ally on the Hill, who regularly travels the country raising cash for his colleagues, several GOP lawmakers said. ‘Hopefully in November, we’re talking about a third term for Speaker Ryan,’ said one House GOP lawmaker. ‘But if that’s not the case, I think Kevin’s the guy, and that comes from a more conservative member.’”
Cory Gardner’s time of testing - Politico: “Senate Republican campaigns chief Cory Gardner might've had the easiest job in Washington — if only Hillary Clinton had won. Instead, the centrist-minded Coloradan has found himself in one of the toughest predicaments in town: leading the Republican battalion in what’s instead shaping up as an anti-Trump Democratic wave election, while at the same time trying to cut legislative deals with some of the senators he’s campaigning hardest to defeat. Gardner is going to need bipartisan accomplishments to survive his own swing-state reelection race in 2020. It’s not exactly what the sunny, glad-handing [he] was signing up for when he put in for the job just before the 2016 election. ‘He’s a brave man,’ said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman and now the party whip.”
Deep pocketed business man joins Conn. governor race - NBC Connecticut: “David Stemerman is prepared to spend millions of his own money to ensure he is the GOP nominee for governor and eventually sitting in the governor’s office. ‘I will pursue a race that I believe will lead to victory and my personal financial support will be one of the ways that we will get there,’ said the Greenwich resident during one of his first interviews as he pursues Connecticut’s highest elected office. Stemerman is joining a crowded GOP field that now exceeds a dozen announced and exploratory candidates.”
THE RULEBOOK: HOLD YOUR GROUND
“Here, my countrymen, impelled by every motive that ought to influence an enlightened people, let us make a firm stand for our safety, our tranquillity, our dignity, our reputation.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: IT REALLY TIED THE ROOM TOGETHER…
Today in 1998, “The Big Lebowski” debuted in theaters and became a minor movie miracle. Collider: “The Big Lebowski was not a hit movie when it was released. Despite being Joel and Ethan Coen’s follow-up to their award-winning Fargo, it actually made less at the box office, earning only $17 million. And yet time and fans have been incredibly kind to The Big Lebowski... The film also speaks to how the Coen Brothers maintain their sense of identity without becoming stale or predictable. The safe move after Fargo would have been to do either a much bigger movie, using their newfound critical success to go mainstream, or perhaps just do something in the vein of Fargo—macabre humor, bumbling criminals, and an ode to human decency. … Instead,
Lebowski is a much stranger movie, far more comfortable with the comically absurd. … At its core, The Big Lebowski is about a profoundly lazy man having to do something difficult and failing repeatedly. It’s genius.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 38.6 percent
Average disapproval: 56.4 percent
Net Score: -17.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.2 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 37% approve - 58% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 38% approve - 60% disapprove; CNN: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; Marist College: 40% approve - 53% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 37.6 percent
Democratic average: 49.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 11.6 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 2.6 points
[Average includes: USA Today/Suffolk: 47% Dems - 32% GOP; CNN: 54% Dems - 38% GOP; Marist College: 46% Dems - 39% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 53% Dems - 38% GOP; IBD: 46% Dems - 41% GOP.]
GOP LAWMAKERS TRY TO TALK TRUMP OUT OF TARIFFS
Weekly Standard: “Republicans in Congress are desperately trying to talk President Donald Trump down from his proposed tariffs, lest they have to consider a legislative check on the White House instead—a move that some lawmakers say isn’t feasible. House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed back on Monday against Trump’s plan to impose a 25-percent tariff on steel and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum. Most Republican lawmakers have been quick to oppose to the proposed tariffs, which they fear could spark a trade war and cause harm to various American industries and consumers, as well as undermine the economic gains Republicans expect from their tax bill. The tariffs were put forward in the name of national security and supposedly are intended to punish China, but the White House has left it open that they could apply across the board, without exemptions for close trading partners or allies. Canada would be hurt the most by the shift, for example, as it is the primary exporter of steel and aluminum to the United States—China ranks eleventh.”
Trump considers compromise with Canada and Mexico - NYT: “But the White House was devising ways to potentially soften the impact of the measures on major trading partners. … ‘We’re not backing down,’ the president said at the White House on Monday… But Mr. Trump did open the door to a compromise, at least with Canada and Mexico, which are in negotiations with the United States to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. If the two countries agree to a ‘new & fair’ Nafta, they could be exempt from the tariffs, Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Monday morning. The debate over tariffs has become a litmus test for Mr. Trump, putting his longstanding suspicion of free trade up against the equally fervent support for it among Republicans and members of his own administration.”
Cohn’s efforts to change Trump’s mind - Politico: “[Economic adviser Gary Cohn] and like-minded officials in the administration are hoping the parade of senior GOP lawmakers, donors, lobbyists and business groups loudly opposing the pending decision will convince Trump that his proposed tariffs will damage the U.S. economy. There was a growing sense among some administration officials that the best way to talk Trump out of the tariffs was to make sure he hears from people outside of the White House, since he’s ignoring advisers inside the building. West Wing aides led by Cohn, who directs the National Economic Council, are planning a White House meeting for Thursday with executives from industries likely to be hurt by big tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, two officials familiar with the matter said. The meeting is tentative and the participants have not yet been set in stone, but industries that could be hit hard by the tariffs include automakers and beverage companies.”
AS MUELLER CLOSES IN, FORMER TRUMP AIDE MELTS DOWN
Fox News: “The former Trump campaign aide who became a television spectacle Monday in a series of bizarre news interviews -- vowing to defy a grand jury subpoena and daring Special Counsel Robert Mueller to ‘arrest me’ -- is now toning down his dramatic rhetoric. … Mueller’s team requested records from him of conversations he had with outgoing White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Trump attorney Michael Cohen, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and adviser Roger Stone. But a defiant Nunberg went public with his anger regarding that request, saying: ‘Let him arrest me.’ … During one interview on CNN, host Erin Burnett told Nunberg she ‘smelled alcohol’ on his breath. Nunberg denied he had been drinking. … ‘I think he may have done something during the election,’ Nunberg told MSNBC of the president. ‘But I don't know that for sure.’”
House Intel Committee ready to wrap up Russia - WaPo: “House Republicans are backing away from plans to potentially hold former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to fully comply with an Intelligence Committee subpoena, according to people in both parties familiar with the panel’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Republican leaders of the probe emerged from a second interview with Bannon last month promising to take ‘further steps,’ potentially including a contempt citation, to force him to answer questions about the Trump administration’s transition period. But in the weeks since, people familiar with the matter say, there has been zero urgency to pursue further action against Bannon or even discuss the matter with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), whose buy-in is critical to issuing such a citation.”
Lewandowski scheduled for second interview with House Intel - The Hill: “Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is expected to appear for a second interview before the House Intelligence Committee this week as part of the panel's investigation into Russian interference, a committee source familiar with the matter confirmed. Lewandowski, who has not been subpoenaed, will speak before the committee in closed session on Thursday, Bloomberg News reported Monday. During his initial appearance before the committee in January, Lewandowski said he was not prepared to answer questions that related to anything after he left the Trump campaign in June 2016, but he said he was willing to return and submit to questioning at a later date. The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), called his unwillingness to answer certain questions at the time ‘completely unacceptable.’”
W. Va. teacher strike comes to an end: Justice announces big raise for all state employees - W. Va. Metro News
Florida Senate passes bill allowing some teachers to carry guns in schools, restricting purchases - Fox News
Federal judge in Maryland sides with Trump on DACA - Politico
Senate Dems divided over rollbacks to bank regs - The Hill
AUDIBLE: YOU SURE ABOUT THAT?
“There are more complexities here than in brain surgery.” – HUD Secretary Ben Carson talking about his current job in an interview.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Mr. Stirewalt, there's something you might take into consideration in your Halftime Report re ‘Power Rankings: Dems Make Texas Interesting.’ There have been an extremely high influx of Liberals from New York and California, to name two states, and that is because thousands of new jobs have migrated to Texas. My daughter, who lives in Flower Mound, TX, a little north of Dallas, had her home on the market for 24 hours when it sold for cash to someone moving to the state for his job and he wanted immediate occupancy. She and her husband had to scramble to find a new home when they thought they had plenty of time. I've heard this same story many times in the last year. It's a fact that homes, especially new ones, are scarce after 8 years of the last administration. This is happening all over the State of Texas and I'm sure has had a lot to do with the Dems making Texas Interesting. By the way, I'm not a native Texan, I was brought up in Queens, NY, have lived here for 25 years, and love the Texas pride.” – Eleanor Simmons, Corpus Christi, Texas
[Ed. note: Great point, Ms. Simmons. Texans credit their robust economy to conservative, business friendly policies in addition to the states enormous natural resources. So what happens when a red state boom draws blue state workers? Other southern states have had similar experiences. Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia were all changed by rapid expansion and in migration. Texas gets a double demographic tsunami from both Yankees and Hispanic immigrants from Latin America to make for a very different place than it was when George W. Bush became governor 23 years ago, just after you arrived.
“Love the I Tell You What podcast. Love that you contemplating getting a dog! You commented about a beagle cross. Lol, I have a beagle/dachshund cross named Pepper. She was at the local animal shelter because she killed all the chickens of her previous family. Imagine that.... a hound variety dog that hunts! Anyway, long story short: she is the most lovable and smart dog. She just needed the ‘right’ family. Does she howl? Nope, she’s a barker at strangers only. And we don’t have chickens. Good luck finding your pet!” – Joyce Moore, Astoria, Ore.
[Ed. note: To be clear, Ms. Moore, I am in the early aspirational phase of dog receptivity. The greatest hound who ever trod God’s green earth was Baines Johnson Stirewalt, Appalachian street beagle. My man Baines found me more than I found him. We bonded over a love of Chinese leftovers and a disdain for cats. He was a true friend for more than a decade and my son’s loved him dearly after Baines adopted them too. There will never be another Baines, but I get the feeling that somewhere out there, there is some hound dog rooting through some dumpster behind some Chinese carry-out joint.]
“Chris, on the Halftime Report, you have a Scoreboard with Trumps approval rating. The current scores indicate Trumps approval rating at 38% with a disapproval rating of 56%. Those ratings would seem to indicate a popular vote percentage and as we saw from the last election, popular votes do not mean a lot in the Presidential race. Would it be possible to expand the percentages by state so we can see how it affects the actual Electoral College results? That would enable us to see how the state-by-state results would impact both his re-election possibilities and his true impact on the Republican Party. If state-by-state numbers are too difficult to secure, maybe just the purple (swing) states would be enough. For example his Pennsylvania rating would be a good indicator on how well he may need to do in another purple state. It would be interesting to track these state by state ratings throughout the year. I have one additional question for you. Do you believe the approval numbers (38%) are his ‘base’? I hope this makes sense to you and that you haven’t already deleted the e-mail.” – Gregg Stockstill, McPherson, Kan.
[Ed. note: My goodness, Mr. Stockstill, I wish it were so! State-level polling is so scattered shot at this point in the political cycle that it would be misleading at best if we included it. The kind of data you’re talking about will be more readily available in 2019 and we will certainly bring to you as it becomes available. Believe it or not, I’m already thinking about how to do 2020... As for the president’s base, I would say the right way to think about Trump’s core support is the same third of the electorate that has stuck with him through every ordeal and disaster. These are the folks that believe in the man more than any particular ideology. But one word about approval ratings: there will be plenty of people who say they disapprove of the job Trump is doing but still vote for him two years hence. Remember former Vice President Joe Biden’s line: “Don’t compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative.”]
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BUT HE DOESN’T ROLL ON SHABBOS
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Ballwin police officers were left with a mystery Saturday evening. A car had been abandoned with its hazard lights on in the middle of the street near Baxter and Holloway Roads. No driver or occupants were anywhere to be seen — as if they had disappeared into thin air. A tow truck was called to move the vehicle, and officers worked to track down an owner of this lonely car. Eventually a driver was found. Why, the officers asked, had the car been left in the middle of the road? The answer: bowling. The driver told police that the group in the car had a bowling tournament to attend. When car trouble impeded their way, they opted to ditch their defective transportation mid-street and hurry on their way to the big event. The driver was issued a citation for impeding the flow of traffic, according to Ballwin Det. Scott Stephens. Police did not release details, however, on whether the group was victorious in their bowling endeavor.”
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.