By Chris Stirewalt
Published March 27, 2019
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On the roster: Biden bungles apology for sexism - Trump’s $1 billion 2020 strategy - Barr says ‘weeks’ to wait for Mueller report - House Dems too divided to draft a budget - Jet ski? Check. Crossbow? Check.
BIDEN BUNGLES APOLOGY FOR SEXISM
AP: “Former Vice President Joe Biden condemned ‘a white man’s culture’ as he lashed out at violence against women and, more specifically, lamented his role in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings that undermined Anita Hill’s credibility nearly three decades ago. Biden, a Democratic presidential prospect who often highlights his white working-class roots, said Hill, who is black, should not have been forced to face a panel of ‘a bunch of white guys’ about her sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas. ‘To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to give her the kind of hearing she deserved,’ he said Tuesday night… Biden’s role in the 1991 Thomas confirmation hearings is among his many political challenges as he considers making a 2020 bid for the presidency. Should he run, he would be among a handful of white men in a Democratic presidential field that features several women and minorities.”
Harris flexes small-dollar fundraising muscle - NYT: “Over the last two years, Ms. [Kamala] Harris has systematically constructed a database of donors and email addresses that raised several million dollars for her fellow Democrats, demonstrating an uncommon potency for a first-term senator, according to federal election records and interviews with numerous political strategists. Now, as she makes her own run for president, her digital following serves as a kind of stealth weapon, putting her in perhaps the best position to challenge the small-dollar fund-raising operations of two top rivals, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Those two candidates outgunned every other 2020 Democratic candidate with their roughly $6 million hauls in the first day of fund-raising, besting Ms. Harris by 4 to 1. Ms. Harris raised $1.5 million, the next-highest total in the field, from more than 38,000 donors in the first 24 hours. In a campaign in which small donations have emerged as an early proxy for viability, Ms. Harris’s team hopes her grass-roots appeal will allow her to compete at the highest level of American politics.”
Gillibrand makes 2018 taxes public - NYT: “Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York disclosed on Wednesday that she earned about $218,000 last year through her congressional salary and a book deal, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to disclose her most recent tax returns and issuing a challenge to her rivals to do to the same. In a tax return shared with The New York Times, Ms. Gillibrand stated that she earned $167,634 from her salary and an additional $50,000 through a book that she reported as business income. She paid $29,170 in federal taxes. … The release of Ms. Gillibrand’s taxes may increase pressure on the other Democrats running for president to be open about their personal finances. With the exception of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has released a decade of her tax returns — though not yet for 2018 — none of the major Democratic presidential candidates has given the public more than a highly selective look at their personal taxes.”
Tim Ryan gets closer to 2020 decision - The [Youngstown] Vindicator: “U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said he’s going to make a decision shortly on whether he’ll run for president. ‘In the next few weeks definitely got to pull the trigger one way or the other, got to make a decision,’ Ryan told The Vindicator on Monday before speaking at the Rotary Club of Youngstown luncheon. …But Ryan gave somewhat of an indication when he said he’s ‘listening to what the other candidates are saying. I’m a little concerned that I’m not hearing about jobs and health care and pensions. We’re not hearing a lot about that. I think those are the most important messages. I’m also not hearing a lot about how we’re going to be competitive as a country. We’re so divided right now that the challenges are unbelievable coming from Russia, coming from China, economic challenges.’”
TRUMP’S $1 BILLION 2020 STRATEGY
Forbes: “In the days preceding the official conclusion of the Mueller Report, Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, was on a trip to Romania, where he outlined a $1 billion dollar strategy to get the U.S. President re-elected in 2020. Parscale’s visit was received with great public interest in this mostly pro-American country located on the European Union's Eastern border. Officially appointed at the helm of Trump’s 2020 re-election efforts in 2018, Parscale had previously been in charge of the candidate’s digital marketing efforts during the 2016 campaign. Parscale delivered a talk on Thursday at the Romanian Academy with the title ‘Let’s Make Political Marketing Great Again’ in the presence of numerous personalities of Romania’s political and academic elite. … In this unlikely context so far from home, he shared fascinating details about the Trump campaign's plans to use 1.6 million volunteers in a data-driven, large-scale ground game operation to win the next Presidential election.”
THE RULEBOOK: HEAR, HEAR
“The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71
TIME OUT: WHEN 46 POINTS COULD GET YOU A CHAMPIONSHIP
History: “The University of Oregon defeats The Ohio State University 46–33 on this day in 1939 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. ‘March Madness,’ as the tournament became known, has grown exponentially in size and popularity since 1939. … For the first 12 years of the men’s tournament, only eight teams were invited to participate. That number grew steadily until a 65-team tournament format was unveiled in 2001. In 2011, the field expanded even further, allowing 68 teams to qualify for the ‘big dance.’ After four ‘play-in’ games between, now known as the First Four, the tournament breaks into four regions of 16 teams. The winning teams from those regions comprise the Final Four, who meet in that year’s host city to decide the championship. … The NCAA held its first women’s basketball tournament in 1982. The women’s tournament started with 32 teams, expanding to 64 teams before the 1994 season.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: -9.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 48% approve - 49% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove.]
BARR SAYS ‘WEEKS’ TO WAIT FOR MUELLER REPORT
USA Today: “Attorney General William Barr plans to deliver special counsel Robert Mueller's report to Congress and the public in ‘weeks, not months,’ a Justice Department official said Tuesday, offering the first indication of how soon the government would release more complete findings of the investigation. The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly, said the department has ‘no plans at this time’ to provide a copy of the report to the White House before it is made public. Lawmakers intensified their demands for access to the special counsel's full report. Leaders of six House committees said in a letter to the attorney general that they wanted to see the entire document by April 2. They asked him to turn over the evidence Mueller's investigators gathered, saying the materials were ‘urgently needed by our committees to perform their duties under the Constitution.’”
Overwhelming majority wants to see Mueller report - Quinnipiac University: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report should be made public, American voters say 84 - 9 percent in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released [Tuesday]. Republicans say 75 - 17 percent the report should be made public and every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group supports making the report public by even wider margins. Mueller conducted a ‘fair’ investigation, 55 percent of voters say, as 26 percent say it was not fair, the independent Quinnipiac University National Poll finds. … But voters are divided on another question, as 49 percent say the investigation was ‘legitimate’ and 43 percent say it was a ‘witch hunt.’ … American voters give President Donald Trump a negative 39 - 55 percent job approval rating, compared to a negative 38 - 55 percent approval rating March 5.”
DEMS SEE LIFELINE IN TRUMP’S RENEWED OBAMACARE ATTACK
NYT: “The Trump administration’s decision to ask a federal appeals court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act has given House Democrats a new opening to pursue what they see as a winning political strategy: moving past talk of impeachment to put kitchen-table issues like health care front and center. The notice to the court, filed late Monday by the Justice Department, could not have come at a more opportune time for Democrats. … Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who celebrated her 79th birthday on Tuesday — had already planned to move to change the conversation with the unveiling of the Democrats’ own health care plan on Tuesday. The Democrats’ bill aims to lower health insurance premiums, strengthen protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and ban the sale of what Democrats call ‘junk insurance.’ The Justice Department’s move gave the unveiling an urgency that not even she could have anticipated.”
Mulvaney orchestrated surprise move - Politico: “The Trump administration’s surprising move to invalidate Obamacare on Monday came despite the opposition of two key cabinet secretaries: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General Bill Barr. Driving the dramatic action were the administration’s domestic policy chief, Joe Grogan, and the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vought, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the decision. Both are close allies of White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who helped to engineer the move. But Monday’s terse, two-sentence letter from the Department of Justice to a federal appeals court, which reversed the administration’s previous partial opposition to a lawsuit challenging the 2010 health care law, took many Republicans aback…”
Poll: Voters want to protect ObamaCare - Quinnipiac University: “American voters say 55 - 32 percent they would prefer to improve rather than replace the health care system in the U.S. No listed group prefers replacing the health care system. But 43 percent say it's a ‘good idea’ to remove the current health care system and replace it with a single payer system in which Medicare is expanded to cover all medical expenses, while 45 percent say ‘Medicare for all’ is a ‘bad idea.’ Support is 51 - 30 percent for keeping the current health care system while allowing all adults the option of buying into Medicare. Among Republicans, 43 percent support this Medicare buy-in option, with 39 percent opposed.”
HOUSE DEMS TOO DIVIDED TO DRAFT A BUDGET
WaPo: “House Democrats are likely to punt on writing a budget this year, amid divisions between liberals seeking more money for domestic programs and moderates who fear getting accused of raising taxes. Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said Tuesday he would make a final decision later in the week. But he said that after meeting with various groups of House Democrats, ‘I’m not particularly hopeful.’ The divisions, which include disagreements about spending levels for the Pentagon, make it unlikely a budget resolution would pass on the House floor. Such a failure would be an embarrassment for the new majority and one Democratic leaders would rather avoid — especially because a budget resolution is a largely symbolic document that serves mostly to lay out a party’s priorities. … Although Yarmuth did not expect that any potential Democratic budget resolution would lay out specific tax hikes, he had planned to call for significant new revenue — which Republicans could seize on as requiring new taxes.”
Minimum wage hike fizzles - Politico: “Several red-state Democrats have threatened to oppose their party’s hallmark $15 minimum wage bill, imperiling a key plank of the progressive platform and revealing another schism in the sprawling caucus. In a closed-door meeting Tuesday, tensions broke out as some House moderates pushed back against the chief policy proposal from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott… Democrats are broadly united on raising the minimum wage. Still, the clash exposes an ideological divide in the Democratic caucus, which is being pulled to the left by high-profile progressives while many of its members — particularly freshmen who helped deliver the House — represent states where the GOP has long dominated. … Scott spent an hour attempting to sell his bill to members of the New Democrats Coalition… But several Democratic lawmakers who attended the meeting said they left dissatisfied with Scott’s presentation…”
Dems don’t take the bait on Green New Deal - CNBC: “A Green New Deal proposal backed by numerous Democrats failed to advance in the Senate on Tuesday as Democrats protested what they called a political show vote orchestrated by majority Republicans. The nonbinding resolution, which calls on the United States to make an ambitious effort to slash its use of fossil fuels to fight climate change, fell short in a procedural vote. The Senate did not proceed to debating the measure, as 57 senators voted against it and 43 Democrats and independents who caucus with them — nearly all of the Democratic caucus — voted ‘present.’ Four senators who vote with Democrats —Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Doug Jones of Alabama and independent Angus King of Maine — voted against the resolution. By voting ‘present,’ Democrats hoped not to go on the record on a bill that had no realistic chance of passing, even if they support the concept of a Green New Deal.”
GRAHAM, DURBIN REVIVE BIPARTISAN BILL FOR ‘DREAMERS’
WaPo: “Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced long-stalled legislation Tuesday to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The legal status of ‘dreamers,’ as those immigrants are commonly known, has been a major flash point in the immigration policy debate… Bipartisan support for dreamers extends to 2001, and versions of the Dream Act have been introduced in subsequent years but never passed. Despite its widespread popularity, it has gotten tied up in the broader immigration debate. … The Dream Act would allow young adults to stay in the United States if they came to the country as children, graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and pursued college, military service or at least three years of employment. More than 2 million people could be eligible.”
LUJÁN FRONTRUNNER TO REPLACE UDALL IN SENATE
Politico: “Rep. Ben Ray Luján is expected to run for Senate in 2020, abandoning a chance to move up the rung in House leadership, according to multiple people close to the New Mexico Democrat. It is a sharp change of course for the fast-climbing congressman, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi who led House Democrats’ campaign arm to victory in 2018 and then catapulted into the new Democratic majority’s No. 4 leadership position. But while Luján hasn’t decided, he is heavily leaning toward jumping into the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Udall, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides familiar with Luján’s thinking. Although the timing is unclear, an announcement is expected in the coming weeks.”
Progressives not pleased with DCCC anti-primary stance - National Journal: “The cochairman of the House Progressive Caucus blasted a decision by House Democratic leadership to blacklist political aides who work for primary challengers and said he hopes they will reverse the decision. Rep. Mark Pocan, cochairman of the House’s progressive wing, said he will talk to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Cheri Bustos this week about the decision. ‘I think this is such a dumb idea I don’t think it’s going to last long,’ Pocan said in an interview. ‘I think it was someone thinking they were being clever. … I think it’s a bad idea. I think it sends all kinds of wrong messages and doesn’t accomplish anything they want to accomplish. I hope they’ll revisit that idea in some way.’ … Pocan suggested that if the DCCC follows through with the policy, it could drive more progressives to operate solely through their own political arm, which would be more inclusive.”
Get ready for a N.Y. House battle - Politico: “Rep. José Serrano’s retirement has initiated a battle for the future of his party in the South Bronx, where the ideological and generational change buffeting congressional Democrats will play out in an open primary next summer — in a district right next door to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s. The primary to replace Serrano (D-N.Y.) in his deep-blue district will be one of several hard-fought Democratic contests in New York City in 2020, with incumbents also set to face primary challenges after Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 win. But the open seat — where 98 percent of residents are people of color and more than half are under 35 years old — offers a ripe opportunity for younger progressive activists to make their mark.”
Swalwell seat draws a crowd - The Mercury News: “As Rep. Eric Swalwell nears a decision on running for president, he could set off a scramble among East Bay politicians hoping to move up the political ladder. There’s a lot riding on his choice — one that could provide a rare opportunity to fill an open congressional seat. If Swalwell decides not to run for re-election in his Democratic-leaning congressional district, the race to succeed him could include multiple state legislators, local officials and a Hayward councilwoman who’s already being compared to progressive phenom Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. … [T]he potential of an open seat is attracting attention from ambitious East Bay pols. … The highest-profile potential contender so far is State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Fremont Democrat who several Bay Area politicos said had been quietly making moves toward a possible run.”
Q Poll finds 75 percent of Americans feel good about their financial futures - Quinnipiac University
Betsy DeVos announces cuts to Special Olympics, student programs - Detroit Free Press
Say what?: ‘Alaska moose-hunter can ‘rev up’ his hovercraft, court rules’ - AP
AUDIBLE: K BYE
“Beautiful day in Alabama! No, not now. War Eagle!” – Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in response to the Atlantic when asked for comment about Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Mr. S & Brianna, I am in need of some Political Parsing from you Expert Parsers up north who look out over the Swamp. Is there a difference between ‘found no evidence of collusion’ and ‘there was no collusion?’ Thanks for your time…read the Halftime Report every day… kudos to you & Ms. Brianna… and, if you have another moment, can you enlighten me as to why it’s called the Halftime Report?” – Rick Randell, Bradenton, Fla.
[Ed. note: Proving negatives is hard, no matter what. Our criminal justice system relies on a presumption of innocence because it is not only oppressive but also unreasonable to force people to prove what they did not do. Instead prosecutors have to make the case. We’ll know more when we see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, but the vehemence of Attorney General William Barr in his description of Mueller’s findings suggest that the special counsel seemed pretty satisfied. As for our name, it was originally intended as a reflection of the note’s arrival in the middle of the day. We shifted our times around over the past year, but you may have noticed earlier arrivals. We’re trying to put the “halftime” back in the Halftime Report.]
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JET SKI? CHECK. CROSSBOW? CHECK
EuroNews: “A British man wanted in Australia on drug-related charges has been caught trying to flee the country on a jet ski. Armed with a crossbow, the 57-year-old unnamed individual was spotted launching the jet ski off Punsand Bay, off the northern tip of Queensland, and was believed to have set his sights on Papua New Guinea. Australian police gave chase and eventually apprehended the man on mudflats near Saibai Island, just south of his intended destination. Saibai Island belongs to Australia but is only separated from PNG by a short channel of water less than 5 kilometers across. The island represented the fugitive's best chance of landfall, but authorities would no doubt have been alerted to his potential, though somewhat bizarre arrival.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“There was an absence for eight years. America is back, and you're not allowed to do whatever you want. That in and of itself is going to have a big effect.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on April 7, 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.