What's really at stake in 2018

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On the roster: What’s really at stake in 2018 - Time Out: Nose goes - Giuliani clarifies statements on Stormy payment - Poll: Voters judge Trump less on issues, more on conduct - What’s Swedish for outraged?

WHAT’S REALLY AT STAKE IN 2018
National Journal: “This 2018 election is a relative rarity. Sure, congressional elections come every two years, but it is really unusual for the majorities in the House and Senate to actually be teetering on the edge. Usually one party goes into an election with a strong, if not prohibitive advantage, but with a change in power fairly unlikely. Control of the House has flipped three times in the past 25 years… What happens now? A micro-political, race-by-race House analysis suggests that Democrats are headed for pretty substantial gains, perhaps in the 30-seat neighborhood (30 seats would be seven more seats than they need to get to 218). The limitation is that the micro approach works well in normal ‘all politics is local’ elections, but it chronically understates party gains and losses in wave years—when the political sum is greater than the parts. It dramatically understated Republican gains in 1994 and Democratic gains in 2006, for example; when dominos start tumbling in wave elections, they have a cascading effect. A more macro-political analysis, factoring in national and statewide polling and what appears to be a wave, suggests something more like a 40-seat Democratic pickup.”

White House enters fight to replace Donnelly in Indiana Senate - Fox News: “The senate race in Indiana is soon going to get some personal attention from the White House. President Trump will stump for the Republican Senate nominee in South Bend just two days after the primary. Being his home state, Vice President [Mike] Pence will join him to throw the weight of the executive branch behind the candidate. ‘The political wing of the White House, I think, is looking at this as the most important race in the country,’ said Mike Braun, one of the candidates. The incumbent, Democrat Joe Donnelly, has been targeted by the White House as one of several red-state obstructionists. Trump carried Indiana by 19 points in 2016. So, a Democrat in solid Trump country is seen as vulnerable and a potential pick-up in the Senate for the Grand Old Party.”

Blankenship rolls out new ad attacking McConnell -
Axios: “Don Blankenship, a Republican running in the West Virginia Senate primary, doubled down on his racial attacks towards Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, transportation secretary Elaine Chao, in a new ad, saying McConnell's ‘China family has given him tens of millions of dollars.’ The big picture: The West Virginia race is shaping up to be America's wildest Senate primary as Blankenship has repeatedly slammed McConnell and Chao. Blankenship responded to criticism of his ad, telling Roll Call's Simone Pathe: ‘We're confused on our staff as to how it can be racist when there's no mention of race...Races are negro, white Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian. There's no mention of race.’”

Michigan GOP candidate’s ad shows him ‘hunting terrorists’ in Iraq - Fox News: “Candidates talk about bringing terrorists to justice all the time. One Republican candidate is now providing video evidence that he’s been there, done that. An exploding missile – as recorded by an aerial camera attached to an Apache helicopter flown over Iraq by Michigan Senate hopeful John James – covers the first five seconds of a campaign ad set to start airing on television Tuesday. ‘Hunting terrorists in the skies above Baghdad, there are two things you need,’ James narrates. ‘Faith in God, and a Hellfire missile.’ The veteran-turned businessman is hoping to challenge incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in the fall, but first faces an Aug. 7 primary against fellow GOP hopeful Sandy Pensler.”

Top-spending and raising Dem drops out of Va. House race - Roll Call: “A Democratic challenger who has raised and spent more than any candidate in Virginia’s 5th District this cycle has dropped out of the race to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Tom Garrett. Roger Dean ‘RD’ Huffstetler, who spent nearly three-quarters of the roughly $1.1 million he raised through the first filing quarter, according to the Federal Elections Commission records, suspended his campaign Thursday and announced he is endorsing Democratic primary opponent Leslie Cockburn. ‘Democrats in the Fifth District have made it loud and clear through local caucuses that they want Leslie Cockburn to be our nominee to take on Tom Garrett this fall,’ Huffstetler said in a statement.”

Pa. House race becomes battle of super PAC money -  WaPo: “A six-way Democratic primary for a Pennsylvania congressional district is about to become a battle of the super PACs, with a mysterious ‘centrist’ organization attacking two of the candidates and billionaire Tom Steyer going in to beat a third. NextGen America, founded and largely funded by Steyer, announced Thursday evening that it would spend at least $100,000 on advertising in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District. The target: John Morganelli, a longtime district attorney who gained local notoriety for using state law to cut off services to undocumented immigrants. ‘In 2018, there is no room in the Democratic Party for a man who denies a woman her right to choose and who engages in hateful and dishonest dialogue about immigrant communities,’ Steyer​ said in a statement.”

Looking ahead to 2020, GOP votes to eliminate debate committee -
CNN: “Republican National Committee members voted Thursday to eliminate the body's debate committee, a small but meaningful change signaling that Republicans do not plan to sanction any primary debates in the upcoming presidential election cycle. The move could also serve as a warning to would-be Republican rivals of President Donald Trump about his strong support among party loyalists, at a moment when his approval ratings have ticked up but still remain relatively low compared with those of past presidents, leaving him politically vulnerable. John Hammond, a national committeeman from Illinois who co-chairs the RNC's subcommittee governing the primary process, explained to members that ‘times are different from a lot of perspectives’ from when the committee adopted its debate rules.”

THE RULEBOOK: **MIC DROP**
“The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22

TIME OUT: NOSE GOES  
Paris Review:David Hockney’s latest painterly passion … consists of an elaboration of his ongoing fascination with reverse perspective… [Similar to] the work of Trevor and Ryan Oakes… on the nature of bifocal vision—what it is like, that is, to see with two eyes. … Notwithstanding [the Oakes twins’] tender years, they’d been thinking about this stuff a long time… And as it happens, the ideas that seem most pertinent to Hockney’s current concerns are the twins’ theories on depth perception, which they developed when studying together at Cooper Union as they developed a system for making camera-obscura-exact drawings deploying no other equipment than their own two eyes (a facility that obviously came to fascinate Hockney). For at one point they began noticing the way that our noses are continually present in our fields of vision, though not (as one might expect) in the center of that field but rather to the two sides. Try a few experiments and see for yourself.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.4 percent 
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent 
Net Score: 
-10 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve - 48% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 41.2 percent
Democratic average: 47.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: Pew Research Center: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems - 39% GOP; ABC News/WaPo: 47% Dems - 43% GOP.]

GIULIANI CLARIFIES STATEMENTS ON STORMY PAYMENT
Fox News:Rudy Giuliani put out a three-point clarification Friday regarding comments he made in bombshell interviews this week about the hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and more… The former New York City mayor … released a statement ‘intended to clarify’ the ‘views’ he shared in interviews this week. … ‘First: There is no campaign violation. The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family.’ … Giuliani continued in his statement Friday: ‘Second: My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters.’ …  Giuliani, lastly, clarified a comment he made about the firing of James Comey. … ‘It is undisputed that the President’s dismissal of former Director Comey—an inferior executive officer—was clearly in his Article II power,’ Giuliani said Friday. … Earlier Friday, [President] Trump defended Giuliani as a ‘great guy’ who ‘just started days ago’ and said ‘he’ll get his facts straight.’”

Federal judge accuses Mueller’s team of lying - Fox News: “A federal judge on Friday harshly rebuked Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during a hearing for ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort – suggesting they lied about the scope of the investigation, are seeking ‘unfettered power’ and are more interested in bringing down the president. ‘You don't really care about Mr. Manafort,’ U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller’s team. ‘You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.’ Further, Ellis demanded to see the unredacted ‘scope memo,’ a document outlining the scope of the special counsel’s Russia probe that congressional Republicans have also sought. The hearing, where Manafort’s team fought to dismiss an 18-count indictment on tax and bank fraud-related charges, took a confrontational turn as it was revealed that at least some of the information in the investigation derived from an earlier Justice Department probe…”

Rokita presents resolution to end Mueller probe - The Hill: “Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), who is currently running for Senate, introduced a resolution in the House on Thursday calling for an end to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation unless evidence of collusion is produced within the next 30 days. Rokita argued the investigation needs to be resolved quickly to ‘preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions.’ Rokita added he believes it's fiscally irresponsible to drag out the probe, estimating it has cost taxpayers upward of $17 million. ‘The Mueller investigation has dragged on for nearly a year at a cost of tens of millions of dollars without producing a shred of evidence of collusion—the matter it was tasked with investigating in the first place,’ he said in a statement. ‘I expect a valid progress report within the next 30 days or the investigation should be terminated.’”

Trump’s new lawyer to replace McGahn - AP: “President Donald Trump’s new attorney, Emmet Flood, a veteran of the Clinton impeachment battles, is the leading candidate to replace the White House’s top lawyer, several people familiar with the matter said Thursday. The move would be an effort to prepare for the possibility that Democrats could regain control of the House after the November election and undertake new congressional investigations. Three people told The Associated Press that Flood is on deck to replace White House counsel Don McGahn, who has been making plans to leave for some time. But two of the people cautioned that the timing was unclear and McGahn’s departure was not imminent.”

POLL: VOTERS JUDGE TRUMP LESS ON ISSUES, MORE ON CONDUCT
Pew Research Center: “A majority of Americans find little or no common ground with Donald Trump on issues, but the share who say they agree with him on many or all issues has risen since last August. The public’s assessment of Trump’s conduct as president is little changed over the past nine months, with 54% saying they don’t like the way he conducts himself as president. Currently, 41% of the public agrees with Trump on “all or nearly all” or many of the issues facing the country, while 57% agree with him on just a few issues or virtually none. In August, just 33% said they agreed with Trump on many or all issues. The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted April 25-May 1 among 1,503 adults, finds that 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now say they agree with Trump on many or all issues, up from 69% in August. And while just 12% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the same today, the share of Democrats who say there are ‘no or almost no’ issues where they align with Trump has dropped from 77% to 58%.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Physician for VP Pence resigns amid Ronny Jackson fallout - Fox News

Change of heart? Ryan allows House chaplain to keep his position - Roll Call

House GOP ready to support Trump’s military parade - Bloomberg

Trump to appoint Bill Belichick to his ‘Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition’ - Axios

Ex-Dem IT aide’s case hit with repeated delays, as feds probe new allegations - Fox News

Missouri General Assembly enters special session to decide on impeachment of Gov. Eric Greitens - Kansas City Star

Calif. Rep. Tony Cardenas involved in allegations of sexual molestation of a teenage girl in 2007 - LAT

AUDIBLE: WE’RE JUDGING YOU

“My second favorite meat is hamburger. And, everyone says, oh, don’t you prefer steak? It’s like, I know steaks are great, but I like hot dog best, and I like hamburger next best.” – Mitt Romney speaking to a group of supporters at a “casual” dinner put on by his campaign.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

This weekend, Mr. Sunday will sit down with former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova and former White House Special Counsel, Lanny Davis. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

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WHAT’S SWEDISH FOR OUTRAGED?

HuffPost: “Sweden’s famed meatballs aren’t Swedish after all. The nation’s official Twitter account made the startling confession on Tuesday, saying the tasty treat ― great for a snack, a meal or a shopping break in Ikea ― is actually from 1,600 miles away: ‘Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century. Let's stick to the facts!’ The tweet was met with a mixture of surprise and outright disbelief, but one Internet sleuth found evidence from an old cookbook that backed the claim… The Sweden.se Twitter feed is run by the Swedish Institute, a public agency that promotes the nation. The organization has more information about how the meatballs are prepared and served as well as a recipe on its website.”

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

This article was written by Fox News staff.