Biden blows away competition; Harris, Warren rise

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

On the roster: Biden blows away competition; Harris, Warren rise - Early states may matter even more in crowded field - Senate map favors GOP retaining control, but… - I’ll Tell You What: A stale wind’s gonna blow - Pizza vape  

Monmouth University: “Among a field of 24 contenders, [Former Vice President Joe Biden] currently has the support of 33% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters. This marks a small increase since he entered the race, from 27% in April and 28% in March. The rest of the field is tightly grouped below the clear front-runner position. [Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders] has the support of 15% of Democratic-identifiers, which represents a decline over the past few months from 25% in March and 20% in April. [California Sen. Kamala Harris] has 11% support, similar to 8% in April and 10% in March. [Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren] stands at 10%, compared to 6% in April and 8% in March. Other candidates receiving support in the poll include South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6% (8% in April and less than 1% in March), [Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke] at 4% (4% in April and 6% in March), and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar] at 3% (1% in April and 3% in March).”

Warren vies for virality - Vox: “Elizabeth Warren is giving people a new reason to pick up their phones when a call comes in from an unknown number: She might be on the line. It’s a way for the Massachusetts Democrat to thank her backers. It’s also a savvy political strategy to highlight and spread her grassroots support. Warren ignited a viral moment over the weekend when she replied to a tweet from comedian Ashley Nicole Black asking whether the 2020 candidate, whose 2020 mantra is that she ‘has a plan for that,’ has a plan for her love life. ‘DM me and let’s figure this out,’ Warren, seemingly out of nowhere, replied. Warren apparently followed up with a phone call, Black said Monday on Twitter. … Black isn’t the only one Warren is calling — she’s making a habit of dialing many of her supporters, and ‘Elizabeth Warren called me’ is turning into a meme.”

Discloses corporate work - WaPo: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren worked on more than 50 legal matters during her career as a professor at Ivy League law schools, charging as much as $675 an hour to advise a variety of clients, from people with asbestos disease to a corporation facing possible liability over ruptured breast implants. Warren’s presidential campaign released a list of 56 cases on her website on Wednesday night, revealing a far higher number of cases than Warren (D-Mass.) had previously disclosed and lending detail to an aspect of her career that she rarely discusses in public. When she first ran for the Senate in 2012, Warren came under pressure from her Republican opponent and the news media to discuss her legal work. At the time, she released a list of just 13 cases without saying whether it represented a full accounting; at least one other case came to light during the race.”

Gillibrand offers ‘Family Bill of Rights’ - Politico: “Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has built her presidential campaign around protecting women and families, and she's filling out specifics with a new ‘Family Bill of Rights’ policy, a set of proposals to improve maternal and children’s health care and broaden access to child care. Some of the programs included in Gillibrand's new policy rollout are ones she has already supported in the past, like a national paid family leave program. But Gillibrand is adding new elements as well, saying she’d require health insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization, an expensive procedure that’s not often covered.”

Booker proposes special White House post for abortion rights - Politico: “Sen. Cory Booker on Wednesday unveiled a plan to create a new White House office focused on ensuring women have access to abortion and to end federal restrictions on funding for the procedure. … Booker would set up a new White House Office of Reproductive Freedom, a sign that abortion rights and other reproductive health issues would be elevated in his administration. The New Jersey Democrat also aims to loosen longstanding restrictions on federal funds so more low-income women would have access to abortion and other family planning programs. He also wants to make it easier for women to receive free contraception under their health insurance plan.”

Politico: “The 23 candidates chasing the Democratic nomination are piling up events and plowing resources into the four early presidential states… The campaigns are loath to discuss the primary season map in terms of must-win states or contests they don’t think they can win. But already the outlines of their strategies are showing. … As the adage goes, Iowa doesn’t always pick the winners, but it almost always picks the losers. That’s likely to be truer in 2020 than ever before. … For a top-tier candidate who performs poorly in Iowa, New Hampshire stands to provide a lifeline. And if a lower-tier candidate surprises the field in Iowa, New Hampshire will become the instant reality check. … At the moment, Nevada is considered the most wide open of the four early nominating states. … Four candidates have the most riding on South Carolina, home to the South’s first primary: Bernie SandersCory BookerKamala Harris and Joe Biden.”

Who’s made the rounds in Iowa and N.H. so far? - FiveThirtyEight: “…[Five Thirty Eight] used local news trackers — from the Des Moines Register and New England Cable News — to tally up the number of events each candidate has held in those two states. (Note that candidates may hold multiple events per day.) So far this year, the 22 candidates that FiveThirtyEight has classified as major have already held nearly 800 events (through Sunday, May 19) in these two states — 427 in Iowa and 358 in New Hampshire. …[F]ormer Rep. John Delaney (91), businessman Andrew Yang (65) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (61) are leading the field in total events held across the two states. And this makes sense… none of the three currently holds political office, so they don’t have to balance campaigning with their official duties like most of their rivals do.”

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Republicans have to defend 22 Senate seats this cycle to the Democrats’ 12, yet the GOP remains favored to hold the chamber in large part because so many of the seats they are defending are in states that seem certain to vote Republican for president, and strongly so. Of the 22 seats that the Republicans are defending, 15 are in states that Donald Trump won by 14 points or more in 2016. The overall Senate balance of power is 53-47, meaning Democrats would need to net, at minimum, three seats to take the majority (the vice president elected in 2020 would break a 50-50 tie). What follows is a status report on the race for the Senate, divided into five storylines we’re following so far: 1. Retirements are not having a dramatic effect on the partisan odds in any race so far. 2. Chuck Schumer has struck out on some of his recruiting targets. 3. Alabama and Colorado remain the likeliest states to flip. 4. Arizona is the purest Toss-up. [And] 5. Republicans remain favored overall.”

“Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?” – James MadisonFederalist No. 14

Garden & Gun: “Frilled by a lacy crust, the onion rings at Crechale’s Cafe leave the kitchen in a wigwam stack on a white china plate. Shirrell Benton, who has worked at this throwback roadhouse on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi, for more than fifty years, moves through the dining room. … Parcooked, battered, and deep-fried, the rings cleave on first bite. … They taste, too, of kitchen knowledge, passed down from Lena Mae Ward, whom Paul and Opal Crechale hired when they opened the restaurant with their daughter-in-law Bobbie in 1956, toMary Thomas and Diane Thomas Marshall, the latest in a family line of mothers and daughters and sisters who have directed the kitchen here since 1967. … [Paul] opened Crechale’s when Highway 80 was a cross-country thruway that connected Georgia and California. … This roadside bunker is what remains of that heyday. Threats, real and metaphorical, crowd the restaurant.”

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: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -11.6 points
Change from one week ago: down 4.2 points 
[Average includes: CBS News: 41% approve - 52% disapprove; Monmouth University: 41% approve - 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 52% disapprove.]

This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss how 2020 Republican candidates plan to secure the nomination, Chris paints a picture of the podcast studio, and Dana shares what Australian TV show currently has her hooked. Plus, Chris reads some mailbag questions and Dana fires off trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

NBC News: “A key congressional committee has already gained access to President Donald Trump’s dealings with two major financial institutions, two sources familiar with the House probe tell NBC News, as a court ruling Wednesday promised to open the door for even more records to be handed over. Wells Fargo and TD Bank are the two of nine institutions that have so far complied with subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services Committee demanding information about their dealings with the Trump Organization, according to the sources. The disclosures by these two banks haven’t been previously reported. Both TD Bank and Wells Fargo declined to comment for this story. … The committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is especially interested in the president’s business relationship with Russia and other foreign entities.”

Another setback for Trump’s stonewall strategy - WaPo: “A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request by President Trump to block congressional subpoenas for his banking records, dealing the latest blow to the president in his bid to battle Democratic investigations into his personal finances. The decision in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York could clear the way for Deutsche Bank and Capital One to hand over the president’s financial records to Democrats in the House. Trump’s attorneys could appeal the decision. Attorneys for Trump, his family and the Trump Organization filed for a preliminary injunction earlier this month as part of a lawsuit seeking to block the two institutions from handing over documents to the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees.”

Bernie creeps toward backing impeachment - Politico: “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday inched closer to supporting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, saying ‘it may be time’ for the House Judiciary Committee to determine whether to start the process. ‘I do understand where House members are coming from. And you've got this guy who is refusing to respect the Constitution, equal powers, and is rejecting requests for members of the administration to come forward,’ the 2020 Democratic White House hopeful said on CNN. ‘So, you know, I think it may be time at least to begin the process through the Judiciary Committee to determine whether or not there are impeachment proceedings.’”

The Judge’s Ruling: To impeach or not to impeach - This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asks if the country is ready to go through impeachment hearings: “Most Democratic congressional leadership thinks impeaching a popular president would be fruitless, and might even help Trump solidify his base. These folks have argued that impeachment should not be undertaken, no matter how criminal or impeachable his documented behavior, without a broad bipartisan consensus in support of it.Has Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses? Even if he has, should the House move toward impeachment? Is the failure to consider impeachment a tacit ratification of Trump's criminal behavior? Is there a duty to impeach? Is temporary presidential popularity a free pass to avoid the legal consequences of presidential criminal behavior? Who beside Justin Amash will effectively address these questions?” More here.

As recess approaches disaster relief deal looks unlikely - Politico

Report: U.S. to send up to 10,000 troops to Mideast - AP

Look at this chart: ‘America’s largest cities are shrinking’ - Bloomberg

The name is Shinzo. Abe Shinzo - NYT

“I think you earn the nomination by winning it.” – South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg when asked by the Washington Post whether former Vice President Joe Biden had “earned” the Democratic presidential nomination by his long, loyal years of service. 

“Chris, I am predicting that Trump's 2020 running mate will be Nikki Haley for reasons you can easily relay to your readers. Mike Pence will graciously and faithfully accept a cabinet position. If this prediction comes to fruition, the Trump / Haley tickets will be practically impossible to defeat, and Nikki Haley will be perfectly positioned for the 2024 presidential race. Do you concur with the logic of such a powerful pairing?” – Dr. Tom Sharp, Lincoln, Neb.

[Ed. note: I think that depends on the relative advantages you perceive in making such a switch. I assume you believe that adding a bright, savvy, woman of color to the ticket would help Trump restore his standing with the college-educated suburban women who have consistently spurned him. Maybe she would, but whatever modest gains she made in this area would likely be offset by the fact that she isn’t as self-ablating as Pence. Pence has two great advantages for Trump. He is the avatar of the Evangelical Christians, who make up the core of Trump’s political base, and has developed an unlimited appetite for eating the various indignities visited upon him as the straight man in this madcap administration. It’s hard to see Haley being so willing to suffer in silence. I’d even go so far as to doubt that she would even want the job. I think the wisest course for Trump is to stick with Pence and do his best to try to approximate his 2016 coalition rather than a radical reinvention of the brand.]   

“I have one question regarding a response you gave to a fellow reader wherein you told us about ‘Baines Johnson Stirewalt.’ I was wondering if this name was an homage to our 36th President? If so, may I suggest the following to choose from for your next canine companion: Gamaliel Harding, S. Truman, Fitzgerald Kennedy, Rudolph Ford, Wilson Reagan, or Jefferson Clinton. I’d give the dog a break and steer clear of Hussein Obama and John Trump!  As always, I wish you and your family God’s richest blessings.” – Paul Schnie, Shoreham, N.Y.

[Ed. note: Homage may be a little strong here. Lyndon Johnson was a beagle man, and brought a pair of the hounds to the White House with him. The dogs, named Him and Her, were sired by Johnson’s previous beagle named – and I am not making this up – Beagle. After the dogs died, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover gave Johnson another beagle, which the president – again, not kidding – named Edgar. I assume the dog was wearing a wire from the start. You can read more here. I’m no great fan of LBJ. While I certainly acknowledge Johnson’s ability to get things done and admire his decision to withdraw from the 1968 election in the face of public repudiation, he was a bully and an ethical quagmire. His duplicitous mishandling of the Vietnam War alone should consign him to the bottom rungs of the presidential ladder. But because of his success in creating Medicare and Medicaid and enacting both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, Democrats will continue to revere him, if grudgingly. So the dog’s name was something of a political joke. Baines was a better dog than LBJ ever was as a man or president. Thank you for your good wishes, Mr. Schnie. I offer my fond prayers for you and yours.] 

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

Pioneer Press: “A steaming pizza billboard in Mounds View alarmed motorists and became a headache for law enforcement. The billboard, advertising for the Iowa-based Casey’s convenience store chain, is equipped with a fog machine that gives the pictured pizza the effect of being fresh from the oven. But several motorists thought what they were seeing was smoke and called 911 to report a fire. … ‘We have had several calls about it where people think something is on fire,’ said Mounds View Police Chief Nate Harder. ‘I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but one we’ve had to react to.’ … The company did shut it down for a while, the associate said, but then posted a note on the billboard assuring motorists that the billboard was not on fire and turned it back on.”

“The instinctive reaction of the Clinton campaign, again, reflecting the candidate herself is to dump. It's to hide. It's to cover. That's been the way the Clintons have operated for 30 years and that's what they ended up doing.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) speaking on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on Nov. 1, 2016.

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.