Biden laughs off touchy talk


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On the roster: Biden laughs off touchy talk - Schultz is ready to rumble - March jobs surge - Trump retracts threat to close border - Um, ouch?

BIDEN LAUGHS OFF TOUCHY TALK

NYT:Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday twice jokingly referred to allegations from several women that he had made them uncomfortable with his physical contact, using his first public remarks since the complaints emerged to try to push past the controversy that overtook his expected presidential campaign in the past week. Speaking at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers conference in Washington, the former vice president largely stuck to his long-running political themes, highlighting the importance of uniting a divided nation and restoring the ‘great American middle class’ — save for two notable asides. As he took the stage, he hugged Lonnie R. Stephenson, the union’s president. ‘I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie,’ he said, and the largely male crowd burst into laughter. The joke came as Mr. Biden was fending off criticism from some Democrats, who worry that the 76-year-old is out of step with the party’s mores around gender and race.”

Obama stays mum on Biden bashing - Fox News: “Former President Barack Obama is staying silent on allegations surrounding Joe Biden, but he still has his ex-VP’s back, a new report claims. Obama hasn’t commented publicly on allegations from a number of women that the former vice president touched them inappropriately. But someone close to Obama said the former president still views Biden as someone who could be an ‘excellent’ commander-in-chief, according to a new report. ‘He's spent an infinite amount of time talking about his character, and they remain in touch and good friends,’ a source close to the former president said, The Hill reported. … The source reportedly continued: ‘President Obama is not going to be weighing in on the primary and the day-to-day stories around it. And Joe Biden would be the first to tell you that he'll have to earn the nomination on his own.’”

THE RULEBOOK: AMEN TO THAT
“The prudent inquiry, in all cases, ought surely to be, not so much FROM WHOM the advice comes, as whether the advice be GOOD.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 40

TIME OUT: ARCHAEOLOGICAL LOST AND FOUND
Smithsonian: “In the 19th century, 46 ornate medieval gravestones were discovered at a churchyard in the Scottish district of Govan, which is now part of Glasgow. Thirty-one of the ‘Govan Stones’ were moved into the church for safekeeping, and the rest were displayed against a churchyard wall. But in the 1970s, amid the hubbub of the demolition of an adjacent shipyard, the outdoor stones disappeared. Experts believed they had been destroyed. Thanks to a 14-year-old aspiring archaeologist, [Mark McGettigan], there is now hope that the lost Govan Stones have survived to the present day, as the BBC reports. … Two professional archaeologists [helped] Mark in extracting the object from the ground and cleaning it off. Records helped confirmed that the stone they pulled from the ground was in fact one of the famed Govan set. Subsequent excavations led to the discovery of two more of the missing stones. The trio, which date to the 10th and 11th centuries, are adorned with crosses and Celtic interlace patterns similar to the ones seen on the stones inside the church.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -10.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.4 points 
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 50% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove.]

SCHULTZ IS READY TO RUMBLE
Fox News: “Potential independent 2020 White House contender Howard Schultz predicted outright that President Trump will win re-election if Democrats nominate a self-described socialist like Bernie Sanders, during Fox News' ‘America's Election HQ’ Town Hall Thursday night in Kansas City, Missouri. Schultz also said he ‘took full responsibility’ for his disastrous ownership of the former Seattle SuperSonics… Mismanaging a basketball team of ‘13 people’ and driving away the city's first major professional sports franchise, Schultz insisted, should not in any way be seen as a ‘proxy’ for his presidential chops. The Town Hall, co-hosted by Fox News' Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, began as Schultz called former Vice President Joe Biden's behavior around women ‘concerning’ … Asked by Baier if Schultz would ever vote for Biden, Schultz said simply that he would ‘vote for myself.’ However, he clarified that he was not announcing a presidential run Thursday.”

He’s on the Buttigieg of an announcement - WNDU: “The mayor of South Bend will be making a special announcement next week. It's the secret that's perhaps not so secret. In the last few weeks, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he'd decide soon if he'll officially run for president in the 2020 election. ‘It's the kind of announcement you only get to make once,’ Buttigieg said during a Thursday interview on ABC's ‘Good Morning America.’ He currently has a presidential exploratory committee. So, will he finally announce he's running for president in 2020? He might. But for now, he posted a video to his Twitter account inviting his supporters to RSVP and join him in South Bend on April 14.”

Swalwell will make gun control his campaign platform - Atlantic: “There are more long-shot Democrats running for president this year than there have been total candidates in previous campaigns—and next week, Eric Swalwell is joining the pack. The California congressman and frequent cable-news guest on all things related to President Donald Trump and Russia will announce his presidential plans in an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. But he won’t be running on Russia, or on the continuing fallout from the Mueller report and the Barr letter. Swalwell will center his campaign on gun control. … When [The Atlantic] reached out to Swalwell on Wednesday evening, he wouldn’t confirm the news, but he didn’t leave much doubt that he intends to run for president. ‘We are doing a town hall in Parkland,’ he told [The Atlantic].”

Dems compete for Al Sharpton’s approval - Fox News: “The Rev. Al Sharpton has emerged as a kingmaker in the crowded 2020 Democratic field, as the party's White House hopefuls lined up this week to pitch their vision of America to him in hopes of receiving his blessing. All of the top Democratic contenders were in New York City this week, attending Sharpton's National Action Network convention and discussing the issue of racism in America. More speeches were scheduled for Friday. Among the attendees: former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar.”

MARCH JOBS SURGE
WaPo: “The U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported Friday, in line with expectations and a strong rebound from the anemic 33,000 jobs added in February. Experts see little sign of an imminent recession as hiring remains robust and the unemployment rate stayed at 3.8 percent. The low level of hiring in February now seems like an anomaly, possibly been caused by employers’ hesi­ta­tion to bring on new employees in the deep of winter and an economic hangover from the lengthy government shutdown. ‘The labor market remains healthy, and last month is just an outlier,’ said Brad McMillian, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. The United States has had more job openings than unemployed workers since last summer, spurring companies to raise wages and offer signing bonuses and more training programs in an effort to recruit and train employees.”

TRUMP RETRACTS THREAT TO CLOSE BORDER
WaPo: “Facing widespread opposition, President Trump backed down Thursday from his threat to close the southern border, instead giving Mexico a ‘one-year warning,’ but also leaving his administration with no clear path to deal with a record surge of migrant families. Trump had issued an ultimatum on Twitter late last week that he would move to seal the border to trade and travel… The president’s pronouncement, coming amid reports that U.S. Border Patrol was at the ‘breaking point,’ surprised White House aides and sparked fear among Republican allies and business leaders over the potentially devastating economic impact of closing the 2,000-mile border with the nation’s third-largest trading partner. … Those efforts were rendered moot Thursday when Trump, in an exchange with reporters at the White House, suddenly shifted gears, saying that if Mexico does not stem the flow of drugs and migrants into the United States within the next year, he will impose first tariffs on cars and then, possibly, close the border.”

This comes as he returns to the southern border Friday - USA Today: “President Donald Trump heads back to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday as his administration ramps up pressure on Mexico to stop migrants and drugs from flowing illegally into the United States. Trump’s visit to Calexico, California, comes just one day after he backed off an earlier threat to seal off the border. … The small California city sits on the U.S.-Mexico border, about 120 miles east of San Diego and about 60 miles west of Yuma, Arizona. It’s also where a 30-foot segment of replacement border fencing was installed last year, the first such project in Trump’s presidency. A plaque welded to the bollard-style fencing refers to the 2.25-mile-long barrier as ‘the first section of President Trump's border wall.’”

PELOSI HAS DOUBTS ABOUT MEDICARE FOR ALL
WaPo: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi questioned whether a health-care proposal embraced by several Democratic presidential candidates would be too expensive and fail to provide the same coverage as the Affordable Care Act. Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Thursday that she would rather build on the 2010 law and is yet to be convinced the Medicare-for-all proposal pushed by many liberals would achieve its purported goals. ‘I’m agnostic. Show me how you think you can get there,’ Pelosi said in an interview with The Washington Post. ‘We all share the value of health care for all Americans — quality, affordable health care for all Americans. What is the path to that? I think it’s the Affordable Care Act, and if that leads to Medicare-for-all, that may be the path.’ She also suggested that Medicare-for-all had become more of a buzzword among political activists in the run-up to the 2020 campaign, a loosely defined concept that few people understood in concrete terms.”

And she won’t budge on NAFTA - Bloomberg: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t plan to use President Donald Trump’s new North American trade accord as leverage to advance other Democratic priorities like a minimum wage hike, easing concern that the deal could get stalled by unrelated negotiations. ‘It will stand on its own,’ Pelosi said of the trade deal with Canada and Mexico, adding that she is focused on strengthening enforcement of the pact’s provisions rather than bringing other policy issues to the table. ‘I’m hopeful that we could get a trade agreement, but it has to be one that is real and that works.’ The trade accord faces challenges in all three countries, including a tight timetable and uneven support among the American electorate.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump readies his post-White House memoir - Daily Beast

Report: Two Nobel Peace Prize nominations for Trump were forged - NYT

Poll: Partisan divide over tax law grows - Pew Research Center

Manchin mulling run for West Virginia governor - Politico

Texas Dems launch initiative to unseat Cornyn - Texas Tribune

AUDIBLE: NEVER FORGOTTEN
“His life, career, ideological evolution, and philosophical background are reminders that he matters not only for what he thought but for how he thought. Three things characterized the life of Charles Krauthammer: chance, contention, and pluralism.” – An excerpt taken from Matthew Continetti’s piece, “Why Charles Krauthammer Matters,” from National Review.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Bill Hemmer will guest anchor for Mr. Sunday. He will sit down with Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M. 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
“‘There is a substantial minority of American voters who deeply distrust both parties.’ To be fair, this isn't a new phenomenon (you mentioned Ross Perot as a great example of a non-politician who gained national traction with the voters) and is likely the biggest reason Trump was elected. Schultz, like Trump, has made his own way by providing goods and services both political and non-political people enjoy. Schultz now has the same opportunity to show voters he isn't beholden to either major political party, exclusively. And so far, it's his best strength. Voters have been over-promised for decades by the major parties. Should Schultz run for his first political office this election season, he has a real chance to pull away even more voters from the two parties. Maybe then, just maybe, the leaders in the parties will tamp down the ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric and focus their efforts on trustworthiness while getting their elected jobs done. Sure, it's a stretch, but electing another non-establishment candidate might start us down that road.” – Mark Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa                                        

[Ed. note: And now it looks like he might be having fun. It sounds strange to say, but the truth is people who win presidential elections are usually the people who enjoy running for president. Watching Schultz on Thursday I realized that for the first time he might be getting a little jazzed about the possibility. Running for president is a brutal, cruel business. If you don’t enjoy the fun parts then you’re doomed. Schultz is starting to look like the kind of guy who would relish the challenge.]                                                                                 

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UM, OUCH?
The Fresno Bee: “A Fresno [California] equipment store owner wants help finding the man who stole an Echo chainsaw Wednesday by shoving it down his pants before driving away in a Dodge Ram pickup. Jeff Bennett, of RG Equipment near East Clinton and North Fowler avenues, said the theft was caught on his security camera about 2:45 p.m. The video shows the suspect casually stuffing the chainsaw blade in his pants and then covering the engine assembly with his jacket. Bennett described the pickup as a late-1990s model Ram, silver, with an extended cab. Bennett said he believes the thief had an accomplice who had been in the store last week, ‘scoping out’ the area. As of Thursday afternoon, the suspect was still at large, but Fresno Police Lt. Mark Hudson said a man did show up at the department’s southeast station in connection with the theft.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“We had no idea how lucky we were with Sputnik. The subsequent panic turned out to be an enormous boon. The fear of falling behind the Communists induced the federal government to pour a river of money into science and math education. The result was a generation of scientists…” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the National Review on Oct. 5, 2007.

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.