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On the roster: Another incumbent falls - White House scrambles as Trump pummeled on Russia - Trump son-in-law shakes up struggling campaign - Punxsutawney Joe? Biden emerges to take questions - Spud duds
ANOTHER INCUMBENT FALLS
AP: “Five-term Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton was upset in Tuesday’s Republican Party primary by Lauren Boebert, a pistol-packing businesswoman, ardent defender of gun rights and border wall supporter who wants to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Boebert won after a campaign in which she accused Tipton of not being sufficiently pro-Donald Trump even though the president had endorsed Tipton, and even though Tipton is the Trump campaign’s co-chair for Colorado. … She will run in November’s general election against Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state lawmaker who won the Democratic nomination… Tipton defeated Mitsch Bush in the 2018 election to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses a swath of southern and western Colorado. Tipton became the fourth House member to lose renomination bids this year. Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Denver Riggleman of Virginia, and Democrat Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, have already been ousted by challengers.”
A renegade with a taste for conspiracy theories - NYT: “Lauren Boebert, a political novice and gun-rights activist who has spoken approvingly of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon, claimed an upset primary victory on Tuesday night against Representative Scott Tipton of Colorado… Ms. Boebert, 33, is the owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., and has gained attention in recent days for defying pandemic restrictions by keeping her restaurant open. She previously grabbed headlines for confronting a former Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, over his pledge during an appearance in the state to seize assault rifles. ‘I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,’ Ms. Boebert, who encourages employees in her restaurant to openly carry guns, told him during a town-hall meeting in Aurora. … More recently, Ms. Boebert defied state orders against opening her restaurant until the Garfield County sheriff obtained a cease-and-desist order against her.”
Hickenloooper coasts to win - Politico: “Former Gov. John Hickenlooper won Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary in Colorado and will face Sen. Cory Gardner, one of the most vulnerable Republican senators on the ballot this fall. Hickenlooper defeated Andrew Romanoff, leading him, 59 percent to 41 percent, in the early returns when The Associated Press called the race within a half-hour of the end of voting. Hickenlooper entered the race as the favorite after consolidating significant support from national and Colorado Democrats against Romanoff, the former state House speaker running on a more liberal platform. …[The] Colorado Senate race was the most significant contest on Tuesday because the state is essential for Democrats’ path back to the Senate majority. Hickenlooper entered the race last summer after his brief presidential bid, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately endorsed him along with a handful of candidates who dropped out of the race to get behind Hickenlooper.”
Huntsman trailing as vote trickles in - Salt Lake Tribune: “Early election results in Utah’s closely watched race for governor show a close contest between Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. On election night, partial statewide ballot results showed Cox with 37% of the vote to Huntsman’s 34%. Former House Speaker Greg Hughes trailed behind at 21%, while former GOP Chairman Thomas Wright brought in about 8%. Changes to this year’s primary election in light of the COVID-19 outbreak mean it may take some time to determine a winner in the four-person race, however. It’s unclear how many outstanding ballots are yet to be counted, and election results won’t be final until the official canvass is complete in three weeks.”
Bright red Oklahoma embraces ObamaCare expansion - NYT: “[In] Oklahoma, voters narrowly approved expanding Medicaid coverage to at least 200,000 lower-income adults, according to The Associated Press, an affirmation of Obamacare in an overwhelmingly Republican state. The results, coming as the state battles the coronavirus pandemic, was a repudiation of President Trump and Republican state leaders who had opposed the Medicaid expansion and who supported a court case seeking to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature health care plan. … And in Oklahoma, the Medicaid ballot measure that passed on Tuesday was the latest Democratic-led push on health care to succeed in a red state, following other efforts in states including Utah, Nebraska, Idaho and Maine, which at the time had a Republican governor and is now led by a Democrat. Thirteen other states, mostly in the South, have not yet expanded Medicaid. Republicans have often fought such measures because of financial worries and their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which stipulates that the federal government cover most of the cost of any Medicaid expansion.”
THE RULEBOOK: IT ISN’T
“IT IS not a little remarkable that in every case reported by ancient history, in which government has been established with deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been committed to an assembly of men, but has been performed by some individual citizen of preeminent wisdom and approved integrity.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 38
TIME OUT: AND WE’LL HAVE FUN, FUN, FUN...
History: “The last Thunderbird, Ford Motor Company’s iconic sports car, [emerged] from a Ford factory in Wixom, Michigan on July 1, 2005. Ford began its development of the Thunderbird in the years following World War II, during which American servicemen had the opportunity to observe sleek European sports cars. General Motors built the first American sports car: the Chevrolet Corvette, released in 1953. The undeniably sleek Corvette’s initial engine performance was relatively underwhelming, but it was gaining lots of attention from the press and public, and Ford was motivated to respond, rushing the Thunderbird to the market in 1955. The 1955 Thunderbird was an immediate hit, selling more than 14,000 that year (compared to just 700 Corvettes). The success of the Thunderbird led Chevrolet to continue production of (and improve upon) the Corvette, which soon became a tough competitor in the sports car market.”
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NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 39.8 percent
Biden: 50 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 10.2 points
Change from one week ago: Biden: ↓ 0.8 point; Trump: No change
[Average includes: IBD: 40% Trump - 48% Biden; USA Today/Suffolk: 41% Trump - 53% Biden; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 44% - Biden 52%; CNBC: Trump 38% - Biden 47%; NYT/Sienna: Trump 36% - Biden 50%.]
BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 40 percent
Average disapproval: 55.4 percent
Net Score: -15.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.6 points
[Average includes: IBD: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; Monmouth University: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 40% approve - 58% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 57% disapprove; CNBC: 39% approve - 52% disapprove.]
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WHITE HOUSE SCRAMBLES AS TRUMP PUMMELED ON RUSSIA
AP: “American intelligence has assessed that Russia offered militants bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan. Initial intelligence was shared with the White House and included in one of [President Trump’s] daily briefings in early 2019. In spite of that, Trump has maintained a warm relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin throughout his presidency. Trump on Wednesday dismissed the allegations as ‘Fake News.’ The White House initially said Trump wasn’t briefed on the intelligence. But on Tuesday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was indeed briefed, though there were reservations about the veracity of the allegations. ‘Make no mistake. This president will always protect American troops,’ she declared. Those words rang hollow to some who serve the military community, like Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., a Marine veteran who represents several military installations and is retiring at year’s end. ‘I’m not really sure he absorbs a lot of this stuff,’ Cook told The Associated Press of reports that Trump was briefed on the bounties. ‘He’s probably thinking about the polls.’”
Lawmakers to be briefed - Roll Call: “Two ‘gang of eight’ members on Tuesday seemed to offer different assessments when asked whether the group — consisting of the top four congressional leaders and the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees — were briefed on intelligence that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. ‘No,’ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said flatly Tuesday when asked if the group had been briefed on the matter before the New York Times and other outlets reported it this weekend. House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, however, indicated the group had received some bits of intelligence related to the matter while saying he couldn’t comment on specifics. ‘I can say that we have been kept informed over time of Russia’s malign activities in Afghanistan,’ the California Democrat said.”
Trump says he will veto defense spending to preserve Confederate honors - NY Post: “President Trump threatened to veto what is considered a must-pass $740 billion defense spending bill unless it drops a requirement introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to rename US military bases that honor Confederate leaders. ‘I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!’ the president said in a tweet late Tuesday. Meanwhile, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Wednesday announced the creation of a task force for ‘protecting our nation’s historic monuments, memorials, statues, and federal facilities.’”
TRUMP SON-IN-LAW SHAKES UP STRUGGLING CAMPAIGN
NYT: “President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has made a change in the re-election campaign’s top ranks, after the calamitous attempt at an overhyped rally in Tulsa, Okla., resulted in thousands of empty seats, officials said Tuesday night. Michael Glassner, among the original hires on the Trump campaign in 2015, will be moved from the role of chief operating officer of the 2020 re-election effort. In his place will be Jeff DeWit, who held that role in 2016 and is an ally of Mr. Kushner’s. … Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, insisted that the move was ‘not a reaction to Tulsa,’ saying: ‘Michael Glassner is moving into the long-term role of navigating the many legal courses we face, including suits against major media outlets, some of which will likely extend beyond the end of the campaign. He is one of the founding members of Team Trump, and his dedication to the success of the president is unmatched.’”
But, Trump said to regret listening to Kushner on criminal justice - Axios: “President Trump has told people in recent days that he regrets following some of son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's political advice — including supporting criminal justice reform — and will stick closer to his own instincts, three people with direct knowledge of the president's thinking tell Axios. One person who spoke with the president interpreted his thinking this way: ‘No more of Jared's woke s***.’ Another said Trump has indicated that following Kushner's advice has harmed him politically. This could be the final straw for federal police reform legislation this year, and it could usher in even more incendiary campaign tactics between now and November. The sources said the president has resolved to stick to his instincts and jettison any policies that go against them, including ambitious police reform.”
PUNXSUTAWNEY JOE? BIDEN EMERGES TO TAKE QUESTIONS
Politico: “Joe Biden made the short drive from his now-famous basement, jogged into the high school gym where he usually votes and excoriated President Donald Trump as failing miserably to protect the health and safety of Americans. Then, after laying out his own plan to slow the coronavirus, the presumptive Democratic nominee made what now amounts to news in this bizarre election: He opened the floor to questions from reporters, waving off aides when they tried to cut him off and marveling at how strange this has all become. … It had been nearly three months since he held his last news conference, and that one took place in a choppy virtual setting. In his absence, Biden has faced relentless badgering from the president and his allies, who accused him of hiding out at home and challenged his mental acuity. On Tuesday, Trump’s campaign took credit for smoking out the former vice president. But whatever fire they were hoping would consume him didn’t seem to catch.”
Propelled to widening lead by voters’ disdain for Trump - USA Today: “President Donald Trump is falling further behind Democrat Joe Biden in the race for the White House, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll finds – but the president's real opponent seems to be himself. Opposition to Trump is by far the biggest factor propelling support for Biden, including among those who are lukewarm to the presumptive Democratic nominee. Biden leads Trump by 12 percentage points, 53%-41%, the nationwide survey shows. In a three-way ballot test, including a third-party line, Biden leads the Republican incumbent 46%-37%. Trump continues to hold a significant edge when it comes to enthusiasm among his supporters, an important factor in turning out voters. Half of Trump backers say they are ‘very excited’ about their candidate, almost double the 27% of Biden backers who say that. … By a narrow 45%-41%, those surveyed predict Biden will defeat Trump in November.”
DEMS FORCE EXTENSION OF BAILOUT PROGRAM
USA Today: “The Senate passed a surprise extension for the Paycheck Protection Program to August 8 by unanimous consent Tuesday night, just hours before it was set to close down. The legislation would extend the deadline for when the PPP can accept applications for forgivable loans. The bill gives the Small Business Administration the authority to continue approving loans to businesses that apply. However, the House of Representatives will need to pass the legislation, and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature to keep the money flowing. Both chambers of Congress are set to adjourn for recess by the week’s conclusion.”
Trump super PAC spends to sell more corona stimulus - Fox News: “A conservative nonprofit group allied with the leading outside super PAC backing President Trump’s reelection is launching a $4 million ad blitz starting this holiday weekend to urge Congress to work with the president to pass policies that will help the nation’s economy recover after being flattened by the coronavirus pandemic. ‘America’s beginning to open up, getting back on track and, working together, America always fights back. Now America needs Congress to work with President Trump, to cut payroll taxes for American workers, bring back jobs from overseas with tax incentives, and make better trade deals to bring the economy roaring back,’ says the narrator in the spot by America First Policies.”
Senate GOP crafting counterproposal - Roll Call: “Senate Republicans are beginning to put together their own fifth COVID-19 aid package, but with no apparent Democratic involvement it’s unlikely to receive enough support to pass both chambers. ‘What I can tell you without fear of contradiction is the focus will be kids, jobs and health care,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday after a closed-door lunch with GOP senators. ‘What I can tell you without fear of contradiction is that any bill that passes the Senate will have liability protections in it.’ One section of that package is already being drafted, according to Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt. The Missouri Republican told reporters that he’s directed the panel to begin working on legislation that would provide funding for more testing, additional work on therapeutics and vaccine research.”
House Dems nudge forward Barr impeachment proceedings - Fox News
AUDIBLE: GRACE ALONE
“I’m often reminded that I’m a sinner too, and I fall short in so many ways. I think it’s been helpful to just remember that most people come to the table with good intentions. We all come to the table with very different experiences. And if I’m willing to hear their experience and understand their position, then instinctively I’ll get to a better conclusion.” – Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., quoted by The Dispatch.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I was talking with my girlfriend, who votes but does not stay current with the daily circus, about the presidential race. I showed her your Battlegound Power Rankings, described how Biden is clearly ahead, and how the election will come down to the toss ups. She asked me, ‘If Biden is that far ahead, Trump pretty much has no chance, right?’ I paused for a minute and said, ‘Think of a baseball game that is 6-2 in the 3rd or 4th inning. Sure, the team that’s ahead will likely win. But the rest of the game is still worth playing, because anything could happen.’ Since then I’ve been thinking about how true that analogy is (or isn’t). I’m wondering, if you had to compare it to a baseball game, what inning would it be? What would the score be? Thanks so much for writing the Report everyday. Makes understanding the news much easier and relatable. Love the quotes from Mr. Krauthammer, too.” – Kane Kyle, Columbus, Ohio
[Ed. note: Thanks, Mr. Kyle! To stick with your analogy, I’d say we're just past the halfway mark. It’s been 22 weeks since the primaries started and it’s about 17 weeks until the election. So I’d say we’re in the bottom of the fifth -- the game is official. The home team has been walking runs in and the visiting batters barely need to ever take the bats off their shoulders.]
“What changes does Trump need to make to his message to make inroads with swing voters?” – Jackson Sperry, Chaska, Minn.
[Ed. note: I don’t think it’s the message as much as the temperament. He seems like he’s an agent of chaos, particularly as he focuses on divisive, distracting issues during a period of national crisis. He’s basically letting Biden off the hook. Trump has put himself in a bad hole. The first thing is to stop digging. If I were advising him, I’d tell him to be as boring as possible for at least the next two weeks. He has bad instincts for the moment and most of what he’s doing looks like reactionary flailing. He needs to show that he can be calm and collected -- a reliable leader for uncertain times.]
“As you know, I am a faithful reader. In this epoch of destruction, chaos and potential expropriation, are we seeing the Beginning of the End of the ‘Grand Experiment?’ As humans, are we too small and mean to know that by serving our best interests, we are serving the best interests of us all. As Americans, have we become so inured to the concerns of each other that we are unable to speak with one another? I miss reasoned discourse and it makes me sad.” – Patsy Fields, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
[Ed. note: We all know that in our personal lives, we have to get to a point of sufficient discomfort to change our habits. Pain, as it is said, is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. This is the same for nations and cultures. While it is true that some fail to respond in time or are simply not equal to the task, it is the sadness you and millions of your fellow Americans feel that will provide the fuel for whatever comes next. Sick and tired of being sick and tired…. What we need most of all now are evangelists for the increasingly maligned American system. A constitutional democracy with a strong republican backbone is the best way the humans have ever found for organizing their affairs. We need to be making a strong case for truths that may be self-evident but that are in serious need of some friends.]
“While I love reading the daily email, the daily video is also a can’t miss. Going through serious withdrawals after no new shows since June 11. Please let me know that it’s coming back, we miss you and Brianna and your daily wit and insights. Missing you in Minnesota!” – Matt Ostrowski, Chaska, Minn.
[Ed. note: Updates to come! I promise!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
FreshDaily: “A spudtacular mess-up baffled shoppers and staff at Canadian Tire stores across southern Ontario this week. On the morning of Monday, June 29, customers filed into Canadian Tire stores in Lindsay and Whitby as usual, filling baskets as they browsed through the aisles. However, upon getting to a point of sale, people quickly realized that there was something completely bizarre happening. Cash register attendants were left bewildered after every single item they scanned came up reading ‘Mr. Potato Head.’ No matter what staff tried, the glitch couldn't be corrected, and workers were eventually forced to temporarily close their stores. ‘This was an anomaly that occurred only at our Lindsay and Whitby stores,’ explained Canadian Tire rep Cathy Kurzbock, speaking to Kawartha 411 News. The company attributed the unappeeling issue to a downloading error, which caused item names to instead appear the same as the popular children's toy.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“In my view, two truths must guide any decision: (1) The parents must be sovereign, but (2) the parents are sometimes wrong.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 20, 2017.
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.