Bernie joins Biden at the top

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On the roster: Bernie joins Biden at the top - Senate adopts rules to begin impeachment trial - House Dem group endorses veteran candidates - Need a cop, just find the donuts

BERNIE JOINS BIDEN AT THE TOP
CNN: “Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has improved his standing in the national Democratic race for president, joining former Vice President Joe Biden in a two-person top tier above the rest of the field, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. The poll marks the first time Biden has not held a solo lead in CNN's national polling on the race. Overall, 27% of registered voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents back Sanders, while 24% favor Biden. The margin between the two is within the poll's margin of sampling error, meaning there is no clear leader in this poll. Both, however, are significantly ahead of the rest of the field, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14% and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 11%. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg lands at 5% in the poll, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Andrew Yang each hold 4% support. … Sanders has gained 7 points since the last CNN poll on the race in December.”

Warren continues to drop - Monmouth University: “Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to be divided over who they want to face Trump in 2020. The top contenders include Biden (30%, from 26% in December), Sanders (23%, from 21%), and Warren (14%, from 17%). The next tier consists of Mike Bloomberg (9%, from 5% in December), Pete Buttigieg (6%, from 8%), and Amy Klobuchar (5%, from 4%). Yang is at 3% (identical to 3% in December), while none of the other five candidates included in the poll tops 1%. … Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, three candidates lead the field in overall favorability. They are Biden (73% favorable and 21% unfavorable, similar to 76%-20% in December), Sanders (72%-24%, similar to 74%-21% in December) and Warren – although her favorability has dipped in the past month (66%-20% now, compared with 76%-15% in December).”

Despite apology, the Social Security fight continues - CBS News: “Bernie Sanders may have apologized to Joe Biden for an op-ed a surrogate wrote calling Biden ‘corrupt,’ but the two are continuing to argue over their records on Social Security. Late Tuesday night, Sanders tweeted, ‘Let's be honest, Joe. One of us fought for decades to cut Social Security, and one of us didn't. But don't take it from me. Take it from you.’ He attached a video clip of then-Senator Biden on the Senate floor from 1995… The video Sanders tweeted seemed to come in response to a video released by the Biden campaign earlier in the evening, which argued that the former vice president has always looked to protect social security. The video also took direct aim at Sanders, saying that he had dishonestly misrepresented Biden's record.”

Team Sanders keeps quiet after Clinton attack - Politico: “Bernie Sanders’ campaign remained largely — and uncharacteristically — quiet Tuesday in the wake of fiery attacks by Hillary Clinton. Privately, Sanders’ aides and allies feel that Clinton is trying to bait them after she reiterated in a Hollywood Reporter article that ‘nobody likes’ the Vermont senator, and refused to commit to supporting him if he wins the primary. In her remarks, published two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, they see a political establishment that is trying to stop him as he rises in early-state polling. … Sanders’ campaign told staffers internally to not discuss Clinton’s comments, and Sanders released a statement saying he is focusing on impeachment and that ‘together, we’ will defeat President Donald Trump. His aides are also urging his online fans to volunteer for him instead of tweeting about Clinton.”

Biden snags another four endorsements from black lawmakers - Politico: “A quartet of black lawmakers endorsed Joe Biden for president on Tuesday, giving the former vice president his 15th endorsement from the influential Congressional Black Caucus. Reps. Frederica Wilson and Alcee Hastings of Florida, Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey and Sanford Bishop of Georgia each backed Biden in a joint statement first obtained by POLITICO, casting him as the candidate who can beat President Donald Trump in November and unify the nation. … Wilson and Hastings had previously endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who suspended her presidential campaign last month, while Payne originally backed home-state Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who dropped out of the race last week.”

Rep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomy - Chicago Sun-Times: “Democratic White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg picked up the endorsement Tuesday of Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who was also tapped to be a national campaign co-chair. Rush told the Chicago Sun-Times he was impressed by Bloomberg’s approach to the ‘economic discrimination in the black community.’ Rush, who represents the 1st Congressional District anchored on Chicago’s South Side, was a supporter of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., before she dropped out… Rush said … he was called by Democratic rivals ex-New York Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and former Vice President Joe Biden. Bloomberg and Rush did not meet when Bloomberg was recently in Chicago for his first campaign event. The endorsement came after several phone conversations, Rush said.”

THE RULEBOOK: NO GUARANTEES
“The want of a mutual guaranty of the State governments is another capital imperfection in the federal plan. There is nothing of this kind declared in the articles that compose it; and to imply a tacit guaranty from considerations of utility, would be a still more flagrant departure from the clause which has been mentioned, than to imply a tacit power of coercion from the like considerations.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21

TIME OUT: ART ALERT!
Smithsonian: “For centuries, artists have gathered together to share ideas, trade techniques, show support and to occasionally pose for one another. They have also been competitive rivals… So when a quartet of artists from a far-flung Denmark fishing village turned artist colony came together to see the unveiling of one painter’s portrait of another, there was enough skepticism, consideration and rumination to warrant a whole other work—Michael Ancher’s monumental 7-by-5 foot 1906 oil on canvas, Kunstdommere (Art Judges). Ancher’s group portrait captured a handful of Danish cultural luminaries of Scandanavia’s Modern Breakthrough movement of the 1870s and 1880s, and that only helped to make it a beloved national masterwork. Now, the artwork is the centerpiece of the third Portraits of the World exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington. The series borrows a key work from a chosen country, and surrounds it with augmenting pieces from the museum’s own collection.”

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SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 25.6 points (↑ 1 point from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.8 points (↑ 3.2 points from last wk.)
Warren: 16.6 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 8.4 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 5.6 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: CNN, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, IBD and NBC News/WSJ.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
Average approval: 43.4 percent
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -9 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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SENATE ADOPTS RULES TO BEGIN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
NYT: “A divided Senate began the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday in utter acrimony, as Republicans blocked Democrats’ efforts to subpoena witnesses and documents related to Ukraine and moderate Republicans forced last-minute changes to rules that had been tailored to the president’s wishes. In a series of party-line votes punctuating 12 hours of debate, Senate Republicans turned back every attempt by Democrats to subpoena documents from the White House, State Department and other agencies, as well as testimony from White House officials that could shed light on the core charges against Mr. Trump. The debate between the House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team stretched into the early hours of Wednesday morning in a Senate chamber transformed for the occasion… Tensions grew so raw after midnight that Chief Justice [John Roberts] cut in just before 1 a.m. to admonish the managers and the president’s lawyers to ‘remember where they are’ and return to ‘civil discourse.’”

Senate Dems debate witness trade - WaPo: “Several Senate Democrats are privately discussing the possibility of calling Republicans’ bluff on witnesses, weighing an unusual trade in President Trump’s impeachment trial: the testimony of Hunter Biden for the testimony of a key administration official. Publicly, most Democrats have scoffed at the growing GOP clamor to hear former vice president Joe Biden’s son testify, dismissing him as irrelevant to the charges against Trump and accusing Republicans of trying to distract from the allegations against the president. But behind closed doors, a small group of Democratic senators and aides has begun to question that logic, sounding out colleagues on whether to back a witness deal that could lead to testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton or other administration officials with possible firsthand knowledge of the Ukraine controversy, according to multiple Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.”

Trump says he’d ‘love’ to attend trial - Fox News: “President Trump slammed the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against him as ‘sleazebags’ during an impromptu press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday -- while saying he'd ‘love’ to attend his ongoing Senate trial back home.In the hastily called press event before Trump was to return to Washington, the president delivered an unsparing assessment of impeachment proceedings, which moved into full swing a day earlier and will resume later Wednesday with opening arguments. While making clear he's reluctant to approve any new witnesses to testify, he floated -- perhaps playfully -- the idea of personally attending the trial, if only to antagonize the Democrats.”

Pat Toomey continues Senate ‘candy desk’ tradition - Morning Call: “The last time the U.S. Senate was considering impeachment of a president, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum … was the latest lawmaker carrying out the tradition of stocking the drawer of the Senate’s ‘candy desk,’ located on the GOP side of Senate floor near the chamber’s busiest entrance. … Two decades later, the candy desk tradition continues in the Senate, a lucky break for the lawmakers who, for the foreseeable future, will be spending much more time at their desks in the Senate chamber than they typically do. The desk is again stocked by a Pennsylvanian: Sen. Pat Toomey, who has handled that duty since 2015. The practice dates back to 1965, when U.S. Sen. George Murphy, a California Republican with a strong sweet tooth, began keeping a treat stash in his desk that he shared with colleagues. Other Republican lawmakers took up the mantle after Murphy was defeated in 1970, forging a new tradition.”

HOUSE DEM GROUP ENDORSES VETERAN CANDIDATES
WaPo: “The ‘Second Service Coalition’ is the brainchild of New Politics, an organization dedicated to recruiting candidates with military and national security backgrounds… The group is backing candidates in some of the most competitive House races in the country: Army veteran Dan Feehan is again bidding to flip a seat in southern Minnesota after narrowly losing to Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) in 2018. Gina Ortiz Jones, who was narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican Will Hurd in 2018, has also thrown her hat back in the ring to flip Texas’s 23rd district now that Hurd is retiring. Kim Olson, an Air Force veteran, is running for Texas’s 24th district; Zahra Karinshak is running to flip Georgia’s 7th Congressional District; Jackie Gordon wants to pick up retiring Rep. Peter T. King’s (R-N.Y.) seat; and Nikki Foster is aiming to unseat Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st district.”

Progressive Dems, DCCC improve relationship - Politico: “Top liberals have reached a détente with the House Democratic campaign arm in a dispute over a policy that inhibits primary challengers to incumbents — a move intended to unify Democrats in this year’s battle to protect their majority and defeat President Donald Trump. Some of the House’s most influential progressives, including Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said they will contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, despite a contentious new rule that blacklists campaign consultants who work for candidates taking on sitting Democratic members. The decision by the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus represents a thawing of monthslong tensions with DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who had fiercely defended the policy over bitter objections from high-profile Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.).”

California special election will have two elections on ballot - Roll Call: “An unusual message will soon hit mailboxes and social media feeds in former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s Southern California district: ‘For once in your life, vote twice!’ The tagline will be featured in mailers and a digital media campaign from Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat running in the special election to replace Hill in the 25th District. The message underscores concerns that voters may be confused by multiple elections for the same office on the same day, March 3. There will be two votes: a special election to fill the remainder of Hill’s term; and a regular primary for nominees for the next full term, which starts next January. The two elections are happening on the same day as other California primaries, including the presidential primary.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Tulsi Gabbard
files defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton for $50M over ‘Russian asset’ remark - NBC News

DOJ launches commission to study ‘modern issues affecting law enforcement’ - Fox News

AUDIBLE: *BLINKS*
“I told a supporter in New Hampshire that we had beautiful flowers, but that I failed to create a vase.” – Former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson in an interview with the NYT. 

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

NEED A COP, JUST FIND THE DONUTS
WLS-TV: “The Wheaton [Illinois] Police Department got an unusual call for help Sunday. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case perhaps a thousand jokes. Video taken in Wheaton shows two police officers shoveling up donuts. The officers were called to Naperville Road where as many as 60 donuts had been left in the intersection. Officers shoveled them into buckets, stomping on them to make them fit, then took them away. It's not clear who dropped them there, or why. The person who posted the video to Twitter speculated a garbage bag of day-old donuts had ended up in the intersection, ‘possibly deliberately.’ Wheaton police have not released any further information.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It is precisely because of the glittering promise of stem-cell research that we need great care, great vigilance and great restraint as we mount the slippery slope.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on July 15, 2001.

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.