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On the roster: Biden buoyed amid Trump attacks - Giuliani’s woes mount - Trump legal team trashes Gowdy - Dems divided on timing of impeachment vote - ‘This is a nudge to pick up the fudge’
BIDEN BUOYED AMID TRUMP ATTACKS
Fox News: “Together Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren capture the support of more than half of Democratic primary voters, according to the latest Fox News national poll on the 2020 election. Biden stays on top in the race with 32 percent support among primary voters, up 3 points since September. He’s followed by Elizabeth Warren at 22 percent -- that’s up 6 points and a new high for her. Bernie Sanders is at 17 percent, down 1 point since last month. While Biden’s support has stayed between 29-35 percent since March, his current 10-point advantage is about half of his 19-point lead in June. The rundown continues with Kamala Harris at 5 percent, Pete Buttigieg at 4 percent, Beto O’Rourke at 3 percent, and Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang each at 2 percent. Michael Bennet, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, Tom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson receive 1 percent apiece.”
Biden’s firewall still strong - WaPo: “[Contrary] to the expectations of analysts, the fears of supporters and the hopes of rivals, Biden maintains a sizable loyal following. Nowhere is that more evident than in the African American community, recent interviews suggest, especially in states like South Carolina, which holds a crucial early primary. Martha Beck, a retired high school teacher from Charleston … gushed about Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) but said Sanders is ‘too old and grumpy and he just shouts at people all the time.’ And she doesn’t think the same country that elected [Donald] Trump would put Warren, or any other woman, in the White House four years later.”
Will any Dem dare mention the swampy stuff? - NYT: “It’s the one question about impeachment that no Democratic presidential candidate wants to answer head on. Should Joe Biden’s son Hunter have been allowed to sit on the board of a foreign company while his father served as vice president? In the past few weeks, Mr. Biden and his campaign team have spent significant amounts of time and energy denouncing any whiff of impropriety between his son’s work and his service as vice president. … So far, none of the Democratic primary candidates have taken a hard swing at Mr. Biden, focusing instead on the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. But a few are, quite delicately, trying to raise some concerns. … In past debates, candidates who have taken on Mr. Biden’s personal characteristics, like his age, have faced blowback. The questions surrounding his son may be even more sensitive… Echoing an attack introduced and continually leveraged — in false ways — by Mr. Trump could risk raising Democrats’ ire.”
Jane Sanders takes starring role in husband’s campaign - NYT: “When it comes time to make critical decisions regarding his presidential campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders often relies on a committee of two: himself and his wife, Jane Sanders. … When doctors confirmed to her on Thursday that Mr. Sanders had suffered a heart attack, she said, it was her decision to wait until he was discharged the next day to release that information. And when it was time to say publicly that Mr. Sanders would be easing the pace of his campaigning after his heart attack, Ms. Sanders … stood beside him to explain the reason: His closest advisers, ‘especially me,’ had told him to slow down. … In a rare interview on Wednesday at their home in Burlington, Ms. Sanders said it would be ‘egotistical’ to call herself Mr. Sanders’s top adviser but allowed that she was ‘very much a close adviser.’ Above all, she said, she was ‘his wife.’”
Voter intensity on both sides through the roof - Gallup: “A year before the 2020 presidential election, roughly seven in 10 Democrats and Republicans say they have given ‘quite a lot of thought’ to the election. About half of political independents have done so. The lack of a Republican-Democratic difference in thought given to the election is notable because Republicans usually have an advantage over Democrats, including in each of the past seven final presidential pre-election surveys, as well as in most surveys conducted throughout presidential election years historically. The current results are based on combined data from interviews with more than 2,400 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, conducted between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30, 2019. Gallup has measured thought given to the election since 1952, and it has shown a relationship to actual voter turnout among all Americans in past elections.”
THE RULEBOOK: CLOAK AND DAGGER
“It seldom happens in the negotiation of treaties, of whatever nature, but that perfect SECRECY and immediate DESPATCH are sometimes requisite. These are cases where the most useful intelligence may be obtained, if the persons possessing it can be relieved from apprehensions of discovery.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 64
TIME OUT: ‘A STATUE OF FLORENTINE BRONZE’
Paris Review: “In the late summer of 1866, a black equestrian stuntwoman made her Paris debut and galvanized the city. She was known only as ‘Sarah the African,’ and history has left us few traces of her: just some battered posters, inky clippings, and burlesque scripts. Sarah was, in the words of the men who wrote about her, ‘the finest horsewoman of the King of Morocco,’ ‘an Ethiopian,’ or ‘a statue of Florentine bronze.’ A ‘negress’ who performed as neither slave nor clown, whose name evoked Sarah Baartman, the Khoikhoi woman dissected by Georges Cuvier just a few decades before in Paris, and Selika, the queen heroine of Meyerbeer’s hit posthumous opera, L’Africaine. She was a woman named for a whole continent. … On her debut in September she was billed above Méphistophélès the bareback horse, above a race of forty horses all mounted by women, above the rubber horseman, William Meyer, and even above Mlle Adèle, who made her Sidy-Laraby dance with no reins.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 28 points (↑ 1.2 points from last wk.)
Warren: 26.2 points (↑ 3.4 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 14.4 points (↓ 1.6 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 5.4 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Harris: 4.2 points (↓ 1.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Fox News, Quinnipiac University, IBD, Monmouth University and NBC News/WSJ.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -10.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.4 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve - 55% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 54% disapprove.]
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GIULIANI’S WOES MOUNT
ABC News: “The business relationship between President Donald Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the men charged Thursday in a campaign finance scheme is a subject of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The investigation became public after the FBI had to quickly move to arrest Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman before they boarded a flight out of the country from Washington Dulles Airport with one-way tickets. They have been named as witnesses in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI's New York field office and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the same U.S. Attorney's office Giuliani ran before he became mayor of New York.”
Former Ambassador to Ukraine cites Giuliani pressure campaign - AP: “Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers Friday that President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to oust her from her position. Yovanovitch said in an opening statement obtained by The Associated Press that she was ‘abruptly’ recalled in May and told the president had lost confidence in her. She said she was told by an official that there was a ‘concerted campaign against me’ and that Trump had pressured officials to remove her for almost a year. ‘Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,’ Yovanovitch wrote in the statement.”
Report: Trump pushed Tillerson to help a Giuliani client - WaPo: “President Trump sought to enlist then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the fall of 2017 to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani to help stop the prosecution of a Turkish Iranian gold trader represented by the former New York mayor, according to people with knowledge of the request. Trump urged Tillerson in an Oval Office meeting to try to craft a diplomatic ‘deal’ to stop the U.S. case against Reza Zarrab on corruption charges in exchange for concessions from Turkey. The request shocked the then-secretary of state, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations involving the president. At the time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was personally lobbying Trump to get the charges dropped. Trump, in turn, repeatedly raised the topic with Tillerson — including directly in the Oval Office meeting, according to people with knowledge of the episode.”
Pete Session’s political revival threatened by Ukraine role - NYT: “Former Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who is seeking a return to Congress, was caught in the fallout of the Ukraine scandal on Thursday when he was referred to in the indictment of two presidential allies accused of campaign finance allegations. Mr. Sessions, who served 11 terms in Congress until he was swept out last year, is described as ‘Congressman-1’ in the indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested and charged on Thursday with illegally funneling foreign money to American political candidates and campaigns. The two men are associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani… Mr. Sessions’s appearance in the indictment, which was filed just a week after he announced he would run for Congress in 2020, was an early and potentially damaging blow to his campaign. Mr. Sessions is not named in the indictment, nor is he accused of any wrongdoing. On Thursday, he issued a statement that denied any wrongdoing and said he had no knowledge of the scheme detailed by federal prosecutors.”
Continetti: We are all Ukrainians - Free Beacon: “From Varsity Blues to Jeffrey Epstein, from China and the NBA to Ukraine and Hunter Biden, Americans are taking a crash course on the ways in which powerful people manipulate the system for personal advantage and globalization merges political cultures as well as economies. What has been uncovered as impeachment rolls on does nothing to spur confidence in the integrity of our system. America is exceptional, but our elites are not. Today we are all Ukrainians.”
TRUMP LEGAL TEAM TRASHES GOWDY
Yahoo: “The president’s decision to bulk up his legal team with former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy amid a widening impeachment inquiry is drawing criticism from one of his high-profile supporters. On Wednesday morning, the day after news leaked that Gowdy was set to serve as outside counsel to the president, Victoria Toensing, a veteran Washington lawyer who has been working with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, expressed concern and disbelief that the onetime advocate for congressional oversight would be coming onboard. ‘Trey Gowdy doesn’t know s***,’ she said. … ‘He screwed up the Benghazi hearings, and he came out with the advice to Trump, ‘Well, if you’ve done nothing wrong, just talk to Bob Mueller.’’ Toensing and her husband, Joe diGenova, work with Giuliani though they are not officially on Trump’s legal team.”
And he can’t even join until January - WashEx: “Former Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy cannot join President Trump's legal team until early next year, the president announced Thursday. Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump said, ‘Trey Gowdy is a terrific guy. I think there’s a problem with, he can’t start for another couple of months because of lobbying rules and regulations.’ It was only a day after Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, announced Gowdy had joined the team to assist with the response to the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. … Gowdy, 55, is a former federal prosecutor who retired from Congress on Jan. 3 after representing the 4th Congressional District of South Carolina for four terms. He then rejoined his old white-collar law firm, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. Despite his return to the legal profession, federal law prevents Gowdy from taking on Trump as a client in the impeachment fight until Jan. 3, 2020.”
DEMS DIVIDED ON TIMING OF IMPEACHMENT VOTE
Politico: “House Democrats are grappling with whether to take more steps to formalize their impeachment inquiry and silence a chief Republican criticism of their efforts, with competing factions beginning to emerge. President Donald Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill have hammered Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not holding a vote authorizing the House’s impeachment proceedings — arguing that without a vote, the entire process is illegitimate. Pelosi has refused to cave, dismissing Trump’s demand last week and insisting it is not required under the Constitution or House rules. And allies close to the speaker say her position hasn’t changed, describing the idea as the latest ‘Republican canard’ in a series of stall tactics the GOP will employ to protect Trump. … Yet some Democratic lawmakers and aides have begun to say privately — and, to a lesser extent, publicly — that the House should just vote to formalize the inquiry, robbing the GOP of its main talking point. The debate is threatening to cleave Democrats’ unified front as the White House makes the arcane procedural arguments the centerpiece of its impeachment defense.”
House members get an earful from voters back home - Politico: “The ‘Make America Great Again’ hats were in the front row Thursday night at freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s first town hall event since Speaker Nancy Pelosi blessed an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. But for all the criticism the centrist Democrat faced from pro-Trump voters, the sharper questions came from his own supporters about why he is one of just seven in his caucus who has refused to endorse the impeachment push. … Swing-district Democrats doggedly avoided the impeachment debate when they first got to Washington. Now they can’t avoid it. … But at dozens of town halls over the two-week recess, Brindisi and other vulnerable freshmen had to fend for themselves — serving as the party’s on-the-ground voices on impeachment. Whether they can deliver a message that resonates could determine Democrats’ chances of winning over the public and holding on to their seats and the House majority in 2020.”
Independents’ support for impeachment jumps 10 points - NPR: “A slim majority of Americans now approve of the Democratic House-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds. Fifty-two percent say they approve of the inquiry, while 43% disapprove. That's a slight increase in support from two weeks ago, when 49% approved and 46% disapproved. The numbers are in line with other polls that have been released this week also showing majority support or an increase in support for the inquiry. The uptick in support in the NPR poll comes mostly from a swing among independents. In late September, more independents disapproved of the inquiry than approved, by a 50-44% margin. Now, in a reversal, more independents approve of the inquiry than disapprove, by a 54-41% margin, a net change of 19 points. On the questions of whether Trump should be impeached or removed from office, Americans are split — 49-47% in favor of impeachment and 48-48% on whether the Senate should vote to remove him.”
ROMNEY STEPS UP HIS ROLE FOR GOP
Politico: “President Donald Trump wants to sideline Mitt Romney — but the Utah senator isn’t having it. Even as he faces a barrage of attacks from the president and his allies, Romney is mapping out plans to play a central role in 2020 — headlining party events, shelling out cash from his campaign war chest, and hitting up his donor network for vulnerable senators on the ballot next year.Later this month, Romney will take his most aggressive step yet to insert himself into the 2020 campaign when he hosts a New York City fundraiser for Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and Michigan Senate hopeful John James. All are establishment-aligned figures confronting tough races in swing states. Behind the scenes, Romney’s team has also begun directing his donors to help GOP candidates in Senate battlegrounds. Romney aides say he's always intended to help in competitive Senate races and that his desire to do so has never been influenced by Trump’s efforts to ostracize him.”
Dems eye Chelsea Clinton for New York House seat - NYT: “Ms. [Nita] Lowey’s announcement set off a wave of speculation about other potential contenders, including Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, as well as a state assemblyman, David Buchwald. Last year, when asked if she envisioned running for elected office, Chelsea Clinton told The Journal News, which covers the Hudson Valley, that ‘if someone were to step down or retire,’ she would ‘have to think if it’s the right choice for me.’ Ms. Clinton did not mention any particular office, although she is clearly familiar with Ms. Lowey’s district: Her parents’ house in Chappaqua, N.Y., is in the district. Ms. Clinton herself does not live in Westchester, but congressional candidates are not required to live in the district they represent. A representative for Ms. Clinton did not return a request for comment. Mr. Buchwald said he would make an announcement within a few days.”
Ocasio-Cortez draws credible primary challenger - Fox News: “A prominent New York City Democrat filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Thursday to launch a primary challenge for the House of Representatives seat currently held by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y. City Council member Fernando Cabrera said he believes a moderate Democrat such as himself could beat the socialist Ocasio-Cortez. He plans to target her far-left views and highlight his belief that she is a ‘no show’ in the district. ‘Only a Democrat is going to be able to defeat her, and it’s going to be a moderate Democrat,’ Cabrera, who represents a Bronx City Council district, told Politico. ‘She’s a no-show in the district. She hasn’t brought about anything except division within the party.’ ‘Socialism doesn’t work,’ Cabrera added.”
Pompeo ally steps aside in Kansas Senate race - The Wichita [Kan.] Eagle: “A Kansas business leader with longtime ties to Mike Pompeo will not run for U.S. Senate after weighing a bid for months — renewing speculation about whether the secretary of state will enter the race. Alan Cobb, the president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, in the past has said he would defer to Pompeo if the chief diplomat decided to mount a campaign. Cobb, a former Koch Industries lobbyist, advised Pompeo in 2014 during a congressional primary battle against former Rep. Todd Tiahrt. He made no mention of Pompeo in a lengthy statement Thursday announcing his decision. Cobb said that ‘after months of serious deliberation, analysis, and careful and prayerful consideration with friends, colleagues and my family, I have decided that the best place for me to pursue my passion is to remain as the President and CEO of the Kansas Chamber.’”
It was the foreign policy he promised, but Trump still pays price - NYT
Locations and dates for 2020 general election debates announced Friday - CPD
Judges rule in favor of House Dems seeking Trump’s tax returns - NYT
Read this: The pen pal who changed a president - Narratively
Reese’s dominates Halloween candy favorites poll- Monmouth University
AUDIBLE: YOU DO YOU
“Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that… And I’m going to say, then just marry one woman. I’m cool with that. If you can find one.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s answer during CNN’s Equality Town Hall on Thursday night, when asked what she would say to a supporter who believes marriage is between one man and one woman.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I need your help. I don’t get what is going on with the Syria/Turkey situation. I understand the following: Trump has proclaimed that he is pulling troops from Syria after what has been a long involvement (partnering) with the Kurds. But, that doesn’t happen overnight, right? Once Trump announced the pulling of troops, Turkey is waiting on the sideline frothing at the chance to attack. They then attack, even with threats from Trump that they better not or there will once again be sanctions. Now the number of Kurds killed are rolling in, but are our troops still there? If they are, what are they doing? Is there something that Trump picked up on that is going on with the Kurds? The conspiracist side of me thinks he sniffed something out. My husband is an Iowa farmer and I work in crop insurance. We don’t have many ties to the military but sure understand how government a lot of the time just doesn’t make sense. Any insight would be appreciated.” – E’Lise Bracker, Underwood, Iowa
[Ed. note: No conspiracy here, Ms. Bracker. The number of U.S. troops in the disputed area was very small – measured in dozens. They were not a credible threat in terms of actually combating Turkey’s forces but rather something of a marker. By having the troops there, we were telling the Turks to stay out and leave our Kurdish allies alone. It was a small-scale version of the U.S. forces in South Korea: To fight, the Turks would have had to kill Americans, thereby bring our military down on their heads. Upon the president’s order, the U.S. troops were quickly out of the Turks’ zone of aggression. The Americans went to Iraq and other U.S. spots in the region, clearing the way for the Turks to start pummeling their ancient Kurdish enemies.]
“I am a huge fan of the Halftime Report and never miss it! Your struggle to remain fairly balanced is appreciated, especially by this reader who also struggles mightily to find truth and facts amid the bias and innuendo currently being passed off as ‘news.’ But I am confused by most of the polls' questions (especially the polls you quote) that seem to ask a compound question: Do you favor impeachment and removal of President Trump? I was under the impression that these are two distinct question. That impeachment is like a grand jury investigation, i.e. a procedure (in the House) designed to decide whether there are grounds for a trial (by the Senate) to decide if removal is warranted or not. Am I wrong? Please explain! And keep up the good work!!!” – Tom Scherer, Udon Thani, Thailand
[Ed. note: This is an excellent question, Mr. Scherer! Different pollsters do indeed ask these questions in different ways. The complexity of the situation is partly to blame. An “impeachment inquiry” is not a thing. It’s like a couple being “pre-engaged.” But some pollsters have been asking about it, which tends to screw things up. Getting respondents to differentiate between an “impeachment inquiry” and “impeachment” is quite a lot of hair-splitting for civilians. Our poll does it the right way (obvi) and asks whether voters support impeachment, impeachment and removal or no impeachment. Those are the three constitutional possibilities. In our poll, 4 percent of respondents said they wanted the president impeached but not removed. That adds up to 55 percent favoring impeachment and 51 percent favoring removal.]
“All my teams have long gone home for the winter. So now we have your traditional Nine in the form of the quite surprising Cardinals playing your hometown Nationals (who should be the Senators and in the American League with Walter Johnson throwing flames, but oh, well). Where do your loyalties lie?” – Mary Carol Miller, Greenwood, Miss.
[Ed. note: Hometown!? Washington, D.C.!? My place of residence, certainly. And I do love living here. But c’mon, Doc! My hometown is Wheeling, W.Va. and the Cardinals, whose order I lustily joined as a boy when my family moved to St. Louis for four years, are my baseball team. I admire the Nats’ pluck and am grateful for the chance they are affording me to watch the National League Championship Series in person. But I love the Cardinals and am absolutely over the moon with this year’s squad. What a bunch! The infield alone may be the greatest since my glory days of fandom in the mid-1980s. Matt Carpenter is an absolute rock for the team and the personification of professionalism, Paul DeJong is a clutch player (whoever heard of a slugger shortstop?) who seems like he was born to be a Cardinal, Kolten Wong surfs second base like the pros ride waves at Honoli’i in his hometown and Paul Goldschmidt has shown in his tenacity, play and quality of his character that he is truly in the right uniform. And Yadi is nothing less than a national treasure. So suffice it to say: Viva el Birdos!]
“How ‘bout them Redbirds! We miss you on Twitter where we could delight in the pure joy emanating from Cardinals gifs, memes, and tweets after a playoff series win…but the mailbag will have to do!” – Jack Whiteman, St. Louis
[Ed. note: *fredbird waving giant flag gif*]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
‘THIS IS A NUDGE TO PICK UP THE FUDGE’
AP: “Officials in a southwest Missouri city are planting small flags in piles of abandoned dog poop as part of a campaign to get residents to clean up after their pets downtown. The Police Department in Springfield, Mo., posted photos of the flags in use on its Facebook page Wednesday. The flags contain messages such as, ‘Is this your turd? ‘Cuz that's absurd’ and ‘This is a nudge to pick up the fudge.’ The campaign started this week and the department noted on Facebook that leaving behind a pet's mess in many cases violates a city ordinance. The city's Environmental Services said the flags are made of bamboo and recycled paper and downtown crews will pick them up if they have to clean up pet waste.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The whole debate arouses dismay, and not just because of the overreaching claims of both sides. One has an instinctive feeling that religion has a place in American public life, and that both sides misunderstand it—that between sectarianism and secularism lies something else.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the New Republic on April 9, 1984.
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.