**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Voters snub House members looking to move up - Trump looking beyond midterms - Giuliani: interview decision to be made within 10 days - But cheese, though…
VOTERS SNUB HOUSE MEMBERS LOOKING TO MOVE UP
Axios: “It's getting harder to be an ambitious House Republican these days. So far in 2018,Diane Black is the fifth House GOP member to run for statewide office and lose. The last time every single Republican House member who ran for other offices (Senate or governor) won their primary was in 2000. All six became the nominee in their races, but all six ended up losing the general election to a Democrat. President Donald Trump's endorsement is worth its weight in gold for Republican candidates in 2018. The only problem for Black is that she didn't get it. Instead, she was endorsed by Vice President Mike Pence and ran ads that featured clips of Trump praising her. … It may be the year of the woman in 2018, but that doesn't always extend to Republican incumbents running for higher office. Now — as Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman points out — the nominees for Black's congressional seat in Tennessee's 6th district and Rep. Blackburn's seat in the 7th district will be men.”
Lee defies the odds and the 2018 trend to win - NYT: “Tennessee Republicans chose Bill Lee, a wealthy businessman who has never served in elected office, as their nominee for governor on Thursday, spurning a conservative candidate who eagerly sought — but only glancingly received — the support of President Trump’s White House. Mr. Lee prevailed in a field of six candidates, The Associated Press reported, after a primary campaign that collectively cost Republicans about $46 million and previewed an autumn of political turbulence. He will face Karl Dean, a former Nashville mayor who easily won the Democratic primary, in the race to succeed Gov.Bill Haslam, a term-limited Republican. ‘Looking back, I never could have imagined that the road would lead here,’ Mr. Lee, appearing visibly surprised after a victory that followed a late surge in the polls, said Thursday night.”
Dems tap moderate -Tennessean: “Karl Dean easily defeated Craig Fitzhugh in Thursday's Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial primary, setting up a November general election where he’ll try to become the first Democrat to win a statewide race in the Volunteer State in a dozen years. In a landslide, Dean, former mayor of Nashville, won the Democratic nomination with around 75 percent of the vote, crushing the nearly 20 percent captured by Fitzhugh, the minority leader of the state House. … Dean will now face Republican nominee Bill Lee, a Franklin businessman. It was a sweeping victory, with Dean winning 89 of 95 counties, including more than 87 percent of the vote from his home turf of Davidson County. He also won the state’s other biggest Democratic stronghold, Shelby County, where Fitzhugh, of Ripley in West Tennessee, had stronger geographic ties.”
Blackburn, Bredesen race shapes up to be doozy - The Hill: “Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen easily won their respective party primaries on Thursday to become the nominees vying for Tennessee's open Senate seat. The two candidates will now battle in November's general election to replace Sen. Bob Corker (R), who announced his retirement last year. Blackburn, who has served in the House since 2003, won President Trump's endorsement during her primary and defeated trucker Aaron Pettigrew. Bredesen meanwhile defeated two challengers, Gary Davis and John Wolfe, who faced an uphill battle against the former governor's name recognition. … A poll of the race in April showed Bredesen with a small lead over Blackburn, despite Republican Corker's wide reelection victory in 2012 with 64 percent of the vote.”
THE RULEBOOK: ABOUT THAT...
“What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” – James Madison, Federalist No. 51
TIME OUT: IDENTITY CRISIS
NYT: “For decades, the district south of downtown and alongside San Francisco Bay here was known as either Rincon Hill, South Beach or South of Market. This spring, it was suddenly rebranded on Google Maps to a name few had heard: the East Cut. … The swift rebranding of the roughly 170-year-old district is just one example of how Google Maps has now become the primary arbiter of place names. With decisions made by a few Google cartographers, the identity of a city, town or neighborhood can be reshaped, illustrating the outsize influence that Silicon Valley increasingly has in the real world. … The Detroit neighborhood now regularly called Fishkorn (pronounced FISH-korn), but previously known as Fiskhorn (pronounced FISK-horn)? That was because of Google Maps. … Yet how Google arrives at its names in maps is often mysterious. … Timothy Boscarino, a Detroit city planner, traced Google’s use of those names to a map posted online around 2002 by a few locals. Google almost identically copied that map’s neighborhoods and boundaries, he said — down to its typos. One result was that Google transposed the k and h for the district known as Fiskhorn, making it Fishkorn.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 41.6 percent
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent
Net Score: -12 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.2 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 58% disapprove; NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist University: 39% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 40 percent
Democratic average: 48.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8.2 points
Change from one week ago: No change
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: Dems 51% - GOP 39%; NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist University: Dems 47% - GOP 40%; Fox News: Dems 48% - GOP 40%; Suffolk University/USA Today: Dems 45% - GOP 39%; CNN: Dems 50% - GOP 42%.]
TRUMP LOOKING BEYOND MIDTERMS
Politico: “Officially, President Donald Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania was intended to boost Republican Lou Barletta’s long-shot Senate campaign. But Trump’s own sagging fortunes — and the importance of the state to his 2020 reelection hopes — were top of mind. … Even as some Republicans shrug off the race and look elsewhere to protect their Senate majority, the president remains closely engaged in the state. Trump wants to help Barletta, an early and enthusiastic supporter of his presidential bid. But Trump’s own approval numbers are underwater in the state, which he won by just 1.2 percentage points, and keeping his base motivated through the midterms is critical to laying the groundwork to compete there again in 2020. ‘It's a 2020 effort that you're also getting some mileage on for 2018,’ said one former administration official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. ‘Barletta's campaign just can't find the right gear. Is this the kind of thing that can springboard him? Sure, it might be able to.’”
The biggest names in Ohio’s special election? Trump and Pelosi - Politico: “The home stretch of Tuesday’s special House election here has turned into not just a barometer of the national political environment heading into the midterms, but a referendum on the parties’ two top leaders: Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. The president’s decision this week to inject himself into a district — split between rural voters who support him and well-educated suburbanites who are trending away from him — effectively puts him on the ballot alongside GOP hopeful Troy Balderson. And Republicans are going all out to bind Democrat Danny O’Connor to Pelosi, their favorite liberal bogeywoman. … While Balderson tends to his base, O’Connor has been trying to win over the independents and Republicans necessary to compete in solid-red territory in the Columbus suburbs. He has rejected popular liberal platforms, like a single-payer health care system and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. O’Connor also repeated Lamb’s tactic of promising to reject Pelosi as leader, airing his first and closing TV ads on calling for a ‘new generation of leadership.’”
O'Rourke makes things interesting in battle against Cruz - Cook Political Report: “This race in a state that isn’t usually competitive for Democrats in statewide races has generated an unusual amount of attention. Most of it is thanks to U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee, who is running an unconventional yet successful campaign that has piqued the interest of Democrats around the country against Sen.Ted Cruz. … The result is a closer than expected contest that moves to the Lean Republican column. In many ways, O’Rourke is running a very modern campaign that thrives on social media. He has visited all 254 counties in the state at least once, posting parts of his journey on Facebook where he has 354,000 followers. O’Rourke has 255,000 followers on Twitter, and a very active Instagram account. He doesn’t have a pollster or a media consultant. … O’Rourke has also proven to be a very adept fundraiser. As of June 30, he had $23.8 million receipts for cycle … Suffice it to say that O’Rourke has made incredible progress in a pretty red state, at least when it comes to running for statewide office. … Whether it ever gets to Toss Up remains to be seen.”
Donations to liberal fundraiser tops $1 billion for 2018 cycle - USA Today: “The online fundraising platform ActBlue this week surged past the $1 billion mark in contributions to Democratic candidates and causes in this election cycle. The fundraising milestone, shared first with USA TODAY, offers a sign that the liberal activism fueled by President Trump’s election isn’t slowing down. The group predicts donations will top $1.5 billion by year’s end, double the amount the fundraising clearinghouse processed in the 2016 election cycle. By comparison, it took ActBlue nearly 12 years — from its founding in June 2004 until March 2016 — to raise its first $1 billion. The average donation this cycle: $34. … ‘Small-dollar donors are funding the resistance,’ Erin Hill, ActBlue’s executive director, said in an interview. ‘People initially said: ‘This can’t be sustained,’ but it very much is.’”
GIULIANI: INTERVIEW DECISION TO BE MADE WITHIN 10 DAYS
Politico: “President Donald Trump and his legal team are likely to decide whether to grant special counsel Robert Mueller an interview with Trump within a ‘week to 10 days,’ Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Thursday. The former New York City mayor said Trump’s legal team will spend the weekend contemplating a new set of parameters proposed by Mueller for an interview with the president, then make a decision shortly thereafter. … He added that the team is still considering declining an interview altogether, despite what he described as Trump’s ongoing desire to meet with Mueller. The two sides remain deadlocked over whether Mueller will get to ask Trump about possible efforts to obstruct the FBI’s investigation of Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. Giuliani said he and Trump’s other attorneys are studying the latest proposal from Mueller that offered to narrow the set of obstruction-related questions the special counsel's team would ask the president. That proposal, per Giuliani, would also permit Trump to provide written answers to some inquiries.”
Bookkeper testifies Manafort kept her in the dark about offshore accounts - WaPo: “Paul Manafort’s bookkeeper described how Manafort’s finances hit a rough patch around 2015 and — with unpaid bills mounting — he and partner Rick Gates tried to inflate income to get a loan. … Heather Washkuhn, managing director at California-based Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno, testified she had access to Manafort’s personal and business bank accounts, managed his spending and also oversaw several of his properties … ‘He was very knowledgeable,’ Washkuhn told the jury. ‘He was very detail oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid.’ The testimony is important because Manafort’s defense team hopes to rebut allegations of Manafort’s financial wrongdoing by portraying him as the victim of his partner in his political consulting firm. One of Manafort’s attorneys argued in his opening statement that Richard Gates controlled Manafort’s business finances and manipulated his boss to line his own pockets. He portrayed Manafort as so busy with his political consulting work in Ukraine and elsewhere, he didn’t have time to manage his business affairs.”
In Manafort trial, the Judge cuts attorneys down to size - AP: “‘I’m not in the theater business,’ Judge T.S. Ellis asserted during jury selection in Paul Manafort’s financial fraud trial. ‘You have to be better-looking for that.’ Objection, Your Honor. The trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has plenty of drama and it’s coming from the judge. Easily exasperated, and with a sharp wit, the U.S. district judge called out attorneys for both sides this week when he heard they’d been rolling their eyes, apparently at him. The judge judged their expressions to mean, ‘Why do we have to put up with this idiot judge?’ Privately, lawyers who have appeared before him say Thomas Selby Ellis III likes to be seen as the smartest person in the courtroom, not a huge leap for a judge. With his Princeton-Harvard-Oxford education and experience spanning consequential cases in an era of war and terrorism — ‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh’s among them — Ellis is known to cut lawyers down to size, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much.”
Stone associate ordered to testify for Mueller - WaPo: “A former aide to longtime President Trump confidant Roger Stone must testify before the special counsel’s grand jury, a federal judge in Washington ruled Thursday. The judge rejected a challenge from Andrew Miller, a former assistant to Stone who tried to block subpoenas from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The redacted opinion from U.S. District ChiefJudge Beryl Howell affirming the legal legitimacy of the special counsel’s appointment does not identify Miller by name, but his attorney confirmed that the ruling is in response to Miller’s request. Howell’s ruling orders Miller to “appear before the grand jury to provide testimony at the earliest date available” and to provide subpoenaed records.”
A hoax or not a hoax? - NBC News: “Just hours after the nation’s top intelligence officials warned about Moscow’s efforts to disrupt a second consecutive American election, Trump said at a campaign rally here Thursday night that his diplomatic efforts with President Vladimir Putin ‘are being hindered by the Russian hoax.’ The two events created a split-screen effect: America's intelligence experts warning voters that Russia is trying to undermine democracy while Trump tells them it's all political chicanery. … Trump, whose operation is under federal investigation for possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice, swiftly contradicted his advisers’ conclusion in the midst of thousands of boisterous supporters here. ‘In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin,’ he said. ‘We discussed everything — I had a great meeting. We got along really well. By the way, that's a good thing, not a bad thing. That's a really good thing. Now we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, OK? I'll tell you what, Russia's very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.’”
Campaigns on their own to defend from Russian cyber threat - AP: “Kamala Harris has been the target of social media misinformation campaigns since she became a U.S. senator. Every month for the last 18 months, her office has discovered on average between three and five fake Facebook profiles pretending to be hers, according to a Harris aide. It’s unclear who creates the pages, which are often designed to mislead American voters about the ambitious Democratic senator’s policies and positions. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity, like more than a half dozen campaign officials contacted for this story, for fear of attracting unwanted attention from adversaries or scrutiny on the Senate office’s evolving cybersecurity protocols. … One thing has become clear: With the midterm elections just three months away, campaigns are largely on their own in the increasingly challenging task of protecting sensitive information and countering false or misleading content on social media.”
Trump confuses Stivers for Balderson, whom he endorsed - Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cohen lobbied for nuclear power loan after donor promised $10 million - WSJ
RNC to donors: shun the Kochs - Politico
Maryland GOP governor Hogan mulls 2020 run for President - Politico
Ivanka faces criticism after bucking her father’s policies, rhetoric - WaPo
As the economy soars, so does the deficit - NPR
AUDBILE: HOOP DREAMS
“He no more wanted to overthrow the government of Turkey than I could be in the NBA.” – Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to the Family Research Council, on the detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with GOP Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, and Director of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
BUT CHEESE, THO...
WJZ-13: “Free samples briefly turned a Costco warehouse club into a fight club for two senior citizens. The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, cites a July 26 Greenville police report saying it began when a 72-year-old man cut ahead of a 70-year-old man who was waiting for a complimentary piece of cheese. It happened again as the 70-year-old was awaiting a cheeseburger sample. First there were angry words and then a punch. Police say the cheeseburger stand worker confirmed the Hawaiian shirt-clad 72-year-old then smacked the 70-year-old, causing his hat and glasses to fly off. The 72-year-old said he felt the other man was aggressive and about to hit him. Police spokesman Donald Porter says authorities are seeking surveillance footage to sort it out, and no one has been arrested.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“When their time comes, they should refrain from moral preening. They will, by then, have invented abominations of their very own. Humans always do.” – Charles Krauthammerwriting in National Review, May 8, 2015.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Dave Sweet contributed to this report.