‘As an American, you are in it with them’


**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: ‘As an American, you are in it with them’ - McSally needs a miracle to close gap with Sinema - Lame duck agenda includes border wall, Mueller probe - Audible: Pork chops are good - Don’t mess with Sonny

‘AS AN AMERICAN, YOU ARE IN IT WITH THEM’
The time between Election Day (or, this year, Election Week) and Thanksgiving already feels like an eternity. As we wait through this political twilight period after the vote and before the lame duck Congress, maybe you’d like to snack on some nuggets.

- The likelihood that Democrats could win the Senate seat in a recount in Florida is rock-bottom low. Gov. Rick Scott leads incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by 12,602 votes out of more than 8 million cast. It may not sound like much, but there have been only two major races in modern history where outcomes were changed by a recount – 2008 in Minnesota’s Senate race and 2004 in the Washington gubernatorial contest. In both instances, the margin was less than 300 votes when the recount began. At this point, both sides are engaging in the kind of tactics and rhetoric that will likely do nothing to change the outcome and do a great deal to suggest to voters that the system is corrupt.

- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has a problem. The Mississippi Republican is in a runoff with former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy, who is seeking to become the first African American Senator from the Magnolia State since Reconstruction. She edged Espy by less than a point on Tuesday because she also had a Republican challenger. The state is overwhelmingly Republican and the vote is just two weeks away so it should be an easy win. But on Sunday, an activist posted video from a previous campaign stop in which Hyde-Smith joked that she was so fond of a supporter, “if he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Joking about hangings in a state that saw thousands of black Mississippians lynched is bad. Doing so in a contest with a black man is worse. Her press conference to address the issue today compounded the error as she refused to apologize and tersely repeated “I put out a statement yesterday and I stand by that statement.” Gov. Phil Bryant tried to bail her out, but Hyde-Smith would not yield. She’s still favored to win, but she could hardly have started the runoff contest more poorly.    

One of the most notable effects of the election of 2016 has been in expanding the horizons of what is possible in American politics. What happened in the midterm elections was right on track with expectations – big gains for House Democrats, modest gains for Senate Republicans – but we were much more circumspect about the likelihood of that outcome because of the low-probability outcome two years ago. That tendency is going to make life more interesting for Democrats in 2020. The winner of the party’s nomination will likely be a current or former governor or senator – just as it has in each presidential election since 1924. But because Republicans nominated and won with the former host of the Celebrity Apprentice it will be harder for party leaders to shuffle low-probability candidates off the stage – like a West Virginia state senator who just lost a congressional race by a dozen points. 

- Mark Penn is getting some payback against Hillary Clinton, who blamed him and his team for her 2008 presidential defeat. Penn was her chief strategist for that misadventure and there has been bad blood ever since. Today, Penn dropped a WSJ column on Clinton’s head declaring that not only was he certain she would run a third time but that she would cruise to the nomination as a liberal firebrand. **snort** We’d be tempted to say that Penn’s grasp on the Democratic primary electorate is about as good as it was a decade ago, but this appears to be just some pretty rank trolling from an old enemy. It may be remotely possible that Clinton would run, but the idea that she would “easily” win is a joke. Her husband is a pariah and Democrats are notably recoiling from her.

- It was too bad that such a significant moment in history as the centenary of the end of World War I was marred by bitterness among allies. President Trump made a political mistake in skipping the memorial service for American war dead because of rain and then sitting out the procession of world leaders. But neither was it strong for French President Emmanuel Macron to offer a disquisition on the difference between nationalism and patriotism in his remarks. Fifty million troops were killed or wounded in the Great War, and it wasn’t nationalism that caused it. A main cause was entangling alliances among failing empires which had provided stability for many long years but were no longer able to keep the peace. Another root cause were the patriotic passions of the French to avenge the Franco-German War of 1871. We would also point out that prior to that, French patriotism was involved with causing a great deal of human misery thanks to periodic 19th century wars of conquest.    

- Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, had a pretty great week. Despite having begun the cycle as a longshot in a competitive primary, he handily won election to Congress from a suburban Houston district. Crenshaw also got to go on “Saturday Night Live” to accept the apology of Pete Davidson, one of the players on the show, who had joked that the eyepatch Crenshaw wears because of combat wounds suffered as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan made Crenshaw look like “a hitman from a porno movie.” Crenshaw has been all class throughout the media kerfuffle surrounding the insult, steadfastly refusing to demand retribution. (The WaPo profile is a great read.) But Crenshaw outdid himself on Saturday with a call to action for civilians. Rather than telling veterans “thank you for your service,” Crenshaw encourages us to say “never forget.” “When you say ‘never forget’ to a veteran,” he said, “you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them.” Amen to all that.      

THE RULEBOOK: THE ENEMY GETS A VOTE 
“The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack. They will, in fact, be ever determined by these rules, and by no others.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 41

TIME OUT: BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH!
Smithsonian: “The common poppy, Papaver rhoeas, is an annual plant in the Papaveraceae family. It produces seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for as long as 100 years. Since the seeds need light to grow, they only germinate in disturbed soils. Trench digging, bombs, and mass cemeteries decimated Europe’s landscape during World War I, causing millions of poppies to bloom on the disrupted soil. Imagine the contrast between the horrors of war and the beauty of red poppies blanketing the European countryside. What we can only imagine now was once reality to Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. In 1915, McCrae noticed poppies blooming on a battlefield in Belgium, inspiring him to write the war poem ‘In Flanders Fields.’ The poem references the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers: ‘In Flanders field the poppies blow//Between the crosses, row on row//That mark our place, and in the sky,//The larks, still bravely singing, fly,//Scarce heard amid the guns below.’”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 

Average approval: 42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -11 points
Change from one week ago: no change 
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve - 57% disapprove; ABC/WaPo: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 40% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 53% disapprove.]

MCSALLY NEEDS A MIRACLE TO CLOSE GAP WITH SINEMA 
Arizona Republic: “Democrat Kyrsten Sinema widened her lead again over Republican Martha McSally on Sunday, a pivotal day in the U.S. Senate race as the number of uncounted ballots dwindled. Sinema expanded her lead to 32,292 votes — a 1.5 percentage-point lead — as of 6:20 p.m. Sunday, according to updated counts posted by the Arizona Secretary of State. Her campaign manager predicted her victory was inevitable. The lengthy vote-count process, which has continued long after the polls closed Nov. 6, is mostly due to the need to verify signatures for voters who vote by mail. The Arizona Republic estimates about 215,000 ballots remain to be counted statewide. To remain competitive, McSally needs to outperform all of her previous showings in Maricopa County, the state's most populous area and one that Sinema has dominated. Sinema's campaign manager wrote in a statement that McSally would need a miracle to pull out a win.”

Abrams still vows to fight on as she faces mathematical elimination - AJC: “The unsettled race for Georgia governor tightened over the weekend as Democrat Stacey Abrams prepared litigation to force the counting of more provisional ballots, while Republican Brian Kemp’s campaign said her refusal to concede was ‘a disgrace to democracy.’ The clash heightened as a cache of 5,500 provisional and mail-in ballots were reported that showed Kemp’s lead over Abrams shrinking slightly to about 59,000 votes. Some came from counties that days earlier reported all votes had been tallied. The newly-reported votes overwhelmingly tilted to Abrams and triggered a wave of celebration for Abrams’ supporters. But she still needs to net about 22,000 votes to force a Dec. 4 runoff, and there aren’t many votes that have yet to be reported. It’s unclear, however, just how many votes are still outstanding. Kemp’s campaign said there are so few remaining that it’s mathematically impossible for Abrams to win, but the Democrat said there’s a larger cache of votes still unreported.”

LAME DUCK AGENDA INCLUDES BORDER WALL, MUELLER PROBE
WSJ: “Congress returns this week for the final two-month stretch that is expected to be dominated by a fight over spending and immigration and a power struggle over the special counsel’s Russia probe. In the wake of Tuesday’s elections, Democrats’ coming takeover of the House means each party has reasons to compromise this year and reasons to hold out. The biggest question is whether Congress will be able to reach a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown when funding for the Homeland Security Department and a handful of other agencies expires at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 8. President Trump has threatened repeatedly to shut down parts of the government if lawmakers don’t agree to fund more construction of a wall along the border with Mexico. While Democrats have insisted they oppose building a physical border wall, they also have said they want to wrap up this fight before next year, when they assume control of the House. … The relevant House spending bill would provide $5 billion for the wall, while the Senate bill authorizes $1.6 billion. … Republicans this year face similar incentives to cut a deal but also pressure to stick with the president.” 

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Whitaker seeks to reassure anxious Republicans on Mueller Bloomberg

Former Starbucks CEO Schultz hires pricey politicos for 2020 - CNBC

Hatch to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom Roll Call

Chad Pergram: House Dems promise tougher gun control measures, but advocates may have lost ground in the Senate - Fox News

Ratcliffe, Gowdy said to be in consideration for attorney general NBC News

Steve King claimed audio would exonerate him from report he called immigrants “dirt.” It didn’t - WaPo

AUDIBLE: PORK CHOPS ARE GOOD 
“Oh God. I’m just walking by. If it weren’t Delaney there — I’m walking by, I got a pork chop, I was walking by, I saw Delaney. I said, ‘Aw, I’ll stop.’ I should have known better. I should have kept walking.” – Former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s reaction to reporters surrounding him at the Iowa State Fair in August, in a profile about Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., in the NYT.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I know it's not my profession, and there's tons of people smarter than me making the claim, but I just don't see how any states with close Senate/House races will be favorable for Republicans in 2020. Donald Trump is extremely unlikable by a spectrum of voters… If there's a strong Blue Team candidate at the top, I don't see how close states this cycle/purple states like Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Maine withstand the anti-Trump fever, especially when a voter is already comfortable with the Democrat at the top. I don't know if the GOP would be better served with a different candidate, either. The anti-anti-Trump freak out would surely sink them.” – Jack Whiteman, St. Louis

[Ed. note: That’s a mighty big “if!” Yes, if Democrats have a strong candidate, they will be in a pretty good position to do what has been done only times in the past century: defeat an incumbent president seeking a second full term. I generally think that it’s better to tailor an electoral strategy to a candidate than the other way around. But I tend to think that the real battleground in 2020 will again be the Upper Midwest. Democrats would be well-advised to have a candidate who can score there.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

DON’T MESS WITH SONNY
CTV News: “A North Carolina man has survived a black bear attack outside his home by punching the animal in the nose. Sonny Pumphrey had a lucky escape on Tuesday afternoon when he went out to his driveway and discovered three bears in his yard. It appeared to be a mother and two cubs. But while the cubs ran off, the mom remained. … Stunned, Pumphrey reacted with reflex and started punching. ‘I hit her right dead on the point of the nose the first shot and when I did, she went down and started trying to bite me right here,’ he said. … Pumphrey’s wife Betty was inside their North Carolina home about to start dinner when she heard the commotion. … [Their] dog started barking and with Pumphrey and Betty screaming, the bear ran off. Afraid it may return, Betty got a gun from the house and fired into the woods. Pumphrey suffered a bite to his hip and bruises. … Pumphrey will have a series of rabies shots in the coming weeks, but admits he’s lucky to be alive.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Winning is great. You get to hoot and holler, hoist the trophy, shower in champagne, ride the open parade car and boycott the White House victory ceremony (choose your cause). But, as most who have engaged in competitive sports know, there’s nothing to match the amplitude of emotion brought by losing.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 29, 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.