Biden takes solid Iowa poll lead two weeks out


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On the roster: Biden takes solid Iowa poll lead two weeks out - Time Out: ‘From fear to faith’ - Trump, Dems trade charges of election interference - Daaaaaaaaad!

BIDEN TAKES SOLID IOWA POLL LEAD TWO WEEKS OUT
Politico: “Joe Biden leads the Democratic field in Iowa, according to a new poll out Monday, two weeks before the Feb. 3 caucuses. The Focus on Rural America poll shows the former vice president with 24 percent and the next three top-tier candidates bunched behind him, with Elizabeth Warren at 18 percent, Pete Buttigieg at 16 percent and Bernie Sanders at 14 percent. Amy Klobuchar clocked in at 11 percent. … Also in the survey, Democrats were asked what they would do if their first choice in the caucuses were not viable. While 75 percent said they would realign with another candidate, 17 percent said they would remain uncommitted and 4 percent said they would go home. ‘It is significant the 17% [who] say they will remain uncommitted and may indicate that uncommitted will be viable in several precincts,’ a statement from the group says.”

Dems testy as clock runs down - WaPo: “The race for the Democratic nomination burst into a multifront flurry of attacks and counterattacks on Sunday, as the largely issue-driven contest veered personal just two weeks before the first vote. The aggression came from multiple candidates on multiple fronts, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former vice president Joe Biden sparring about Social Security while Sanders aides excoriated Biden for his record on race. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized Mike Bloomberg for postponing the release of his financial disclosure statements, saying that the billionaire and former New York mayor is ‘trying to skip the ‘democracy’ part of the election’ and that voters won’t know of potential financial entanglements until after Super Tuesday. It is all unfolding in the midst of a confrontation between Sanders and Warren over gender and electability, which continued to play out Sunday, when Sanders said he believed gender is an obstacle for any female presidential candidate.”

NYT punts on 2020 endorsement - NYT: “The New York Times editorial board endorsed the two leading female candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination on Sunday, throwing its support behind Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The board’s decision to back not one but two candidates is a significant break with convention, one that it says is meant to address the ‘realist’ and ‘radical’ models being presented to voters by the 2020 Democratic field. While arguing that President Trump must be defeated, the board does not take a position on the best path forward for Democrats, writing that both approaches ‘warrant serious consideration.’ (The editorial board is separate from the New York Times newsroom.) … ‘There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives,’ the board writes. ‘But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have’ since Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, ‘and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth.’”

Bernie nabs key endorsement in blow to Warren - WSJ: “Rep. Pramila Jayapal, an influential liberal, is backing Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, strengthening his already robust support among some of the most liberal members of Congress. Ms. Jayapal’s support, which was reported by the Washington Post, is a blow to Sen. Elizabeth Warren who is close to the congresswoman. It also comes after a public spat between Sens. Sanders and Warren over differing accounts of a private 2018 meeting…”

Biden lumps Trump in with KKK - Fox News: “Former vice president Joe Biden delivered a speech before a mostly black congregation at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. Sunday in which he spoke of race relations in terms befitting a biblical prophet warning of impending destruction. Biden’s brief address the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day included tales of the Civil Rights Movement while expressing fear that the progress made during the 1960s was unraveling, at least in part due to President Trump. ‘Folks, some mornings I wake up and I think it’s more like what it must have been in 1920 than 2020,’ Biden said. He went on to recall the efforts and success of the Civil Rights Movement, saying that at the time people ‘thought we began to move and that civil rights was beginning to make some real progress.’”

Bloomberg’s ad spending brings up prices for all - Politico: “Michael Bloomberg’s big-spending, shock-and-awe TV ad campaign has made politicking more expensive for everyone from his 2020 rivals to Senate, House and state legislative candidates around the country. Eight weeks into his presidential campaign, Bloomberg has already spent more money on advertising — $248 million — than most candidates could spend in years. That amount has squeezed TV ad inventory in nearly every state, lowering supply and causing stations to raise ad prices at a time of high demand, as candidates around the country gear up for their primaries. On average in markets around the country, prices for political TV ads have risen by 20 percent since Bloomberg began his campaign. Meanwhile, some local politicians have already found difficulty trying to reach their own constituencies.”

THE RULEBOOK: SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING NEW
“The truth is, that the great principles of the Constitution proposed by the convention may be considered less as absolutely new, than as the expansion of principles which are found in the articles of Confederation.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 40

TIME OUT: ‘FROM FEAR TO FAITH’
Paul Louis Cole 
reflects on how Martin Luther King Jr.’s father changed the world and why the world needs more men of such character. Fox News: “As a child, Martin Luther King Jr. had something special that set the stage for his greatness: a father who mentored him. It was Martin Luther King Sr., an esteemed clergyman in Atlanta, who taught his son not only to stand against the system of hate surrounding them, but also to forgive the people caught up in it. His father taught him to live as a man of character, love and courage. His father taught him never to let go of the dream of freedom. Martin, as a young man, watched his father stand up to institutional injustice, watched him speak against the embedded behaviors of racism and intolerance, and walked with his father through the persecution and dangers of fighting for freedom. … Our path, starting on this special day of honoring Dr. King, must lead us to change. The hearts of men must change: from fear to faith, from hate to love, from accusation to reconciliation, and away from fatherlessness. Change starts in the heart of a man and is exhibited in the actions of the hands of a man.”

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SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 25.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.8 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Warren: 16.6 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 8.4 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 5.6 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, IBD, NBC News/WSJ, CNN and USA Today/Suffolk University.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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TRUMP, DEMS TRADE CHARGES OF ELECTION INTERFERENCE
Fox News: “President Trump’s legal team called the House’s impeachment case ‘flimsy’ and a ‘dangerous perversion of the Constitution’ in a trial memo filed Monday morning ahead of this week’s arguments... The 110-page filing claimed that the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – do not amount to impeachable offenses, and that the Democrat-led House inquiry was not a quest for the truth. ‘Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way – any way – to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,’ Trump's filing said. … House impeachment managers filed their own brief over the weekend. The 111-page filing included lengthy allegations that Trump abused the power of the presidency by soliciting foreign interference in a U.S. election…”

GOP senators consider impeachment ‘kill switch’ option - Fox News: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly is close to finalizing a rule that would allow President Trump's team to move to dismiss the articles of impeachment in the Senate quickly after some evidence has been presented, as a sort of safety valve in case Democrats try to drag out the trial for weeks. The discussions came as Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz told Fox News' ‘Sunday Morning Futures’ that the trial could extend ‘to six to eight weeks or even longer’ if the Senate decided to hear from additional witnesses -- a prospect that could interfere with the imminent presidential primary contests, as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., likely would get pulled off the campaign trail. McConnell, R-Ky., wouldn't be obligated to publicize the final version of his resolution setting the parameters of the impeachment trial until Tuesday, but top Republicans have said they supported affording Trump the opportunity to cut the trial short.”

Senators will be unplugged for trial - AP: “No cellphones. No talking. No escape. That’s the reality during the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which will begin each day with a proclamation: ‘All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment.’ After that, 100 senators will sit at their desks for hours on end to hear from House prosecutors, Trump’s defense team and possibly a series of witnesses. The first time the proclamation was used, in the 1868 trial of President Andrew Johnson, lawmakers couldn’t have imagined life in the modern era. The pace of today’s politics would have been hard to foresee even in early 1999, at the start of the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, when smartphones didn’t exist. And so the senators will have a throwback experience in 2020, disconnected from the outside world, asked only to listen.”

Pergram: How Trump's impeachment trial could play out in the Senate - Fox News: “House impeachment managers are expected to go through a ‘walkthrough’ on the Senate floor Monday around 11 a.m. ET. Senate workers toiled over the past few days, reconfiguring the Senate floor so it’s set up more like a courtroom than a legislative assembly. They’ve hauled in rounded tables from the Senate carpentry shop for the ‘prosecution’ and ‘defense.’ Workers even prepared a potential chair and microphone for a witness – a witness stand of sorts – should the Senate ever actually haul in a witness for Trump’s impeachment trial. … So, other than everyone keeping quiet and off the grid, we don’t know a whole lot about how this is going to go down. McConnell has said repeatedly he intends to follow ‘the Clinton model’ from 1999 – likely with some modifications. But the specificity of that arrangement is far from clear.”

Ahead of Senate trial start Trump holds steady approval - Gallup: “As the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins, 44% of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president. Trump's approval rating has been steady in the past three polls -- between 43% and 45% -- slightly above the 39% to 41% ratings he received as the impeachment inquiry started in the fall. Trump's recent job approval ratings -- though below the historical average 53% for post-World War II presidents -- are among the highest of his presidency. His personal best is 46%, while he has averaged 40% job approval for his entire term. Currently, 88% of Republicans, 37% of independents and 10% of Democrats approve of the job Trump is doing.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Cory Gardner
’s invisibility is strange for re-election efforts but pragmatic for impeachment - NYT

Trump heads to Davos, Switzerland for World Economic Forum - WSJ

AUDIBLE: BIG PICTURE BIDEN
“I’m just asking the rhetorical question… Bernie’s at the top of the ticket in North and South Carolina, or Warren’s the top of the ticket. How many Democrats down the line you think are gonna win?” – Former Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with the Columbia, S.C. based newspaper, The State.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“It seems members of the House, especially the Speaker and her minions are allowed to do and say whatever they want without fear of reprisal. Is there any mechanism for anyone (SCOTUS, Senate, Minority, DOJ) to keep the majority from doing multiple unjustified impeachments? Somebody has to have sway over these partisans, besides their small community supporters who rubber stamp their action every two years.” – Al DiStefano, Cumming, Ga.

[Ed. note: Not much of a Jeffersonian, eh, Mr. DiStefano? The Framers certainly put limits on the power of our most democratic institution, but still made the House very powerful indeed, and that includes the power to impeach members of the other two branches. That power is magnified by the fact that the other two branches have no power over how Congress operates. But House is also the body the most answerable to voters: Every seat, every two years. Now, you’re right that most districts are foregone conclusions. Your district, for example, hasn’t been represented by a Democrat for 25 years. But there are enough swing seats that control of the House has swung quite a bit in recent history. In the same period that your district has been what you describe as a “rubber stamp,” the House has changed hands three times. If recent history is to be our guide, the post WW II era suggests that we have far more to be concerned with excessive powers in the other two branches. If anything, we need a Congress that sticks up for itself more instead of this “parliament of pundits,” as Jonah Goldberg has dubbed it.]

“Isn’t your quote from Senator Collins effort to clarify her stance on the impeachment trial process incomplete? Didn’t she go on to say that after senators have an opportunity to ask questions through the presiding chief justice that there would be a vote as to whether or not to call additional witnesses, and (importantly) she (Collins) tended to think more information was better than less? The important point being the Collins strongly implied that she is leaning toward voting in favor of calling witnesses. That’s what I’ve read in a few press reports. It that reporting inaccurate, or is your summary incomplete? Just trying to get the story straight.” – Matt Lincoln, Portola Valley, Calif.

[Ed. note: Collins is where a lot of Republicans are (and I suspect where the process will end up): Open to having witnesses but not as an automatic measure. Like Mitch McConnell, she is clinging to the 1999 Clinton standard for dear life.]

“Good morning all! Just read [Friday’s] word from Charles - I burst into tears, for him, at his expression of the deeply personal loss he was feeling, and for us who all miss him so.” – Guy Goodwin, Lecanto, Fla.

[Ed. note: Amen, Mr. Goodwin!]

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

DAAAAAAAAAD!
WFAA: “KGAF is the little station on Radio Hill on the northeast side of Gainesville [Texas]… But recently station manager Steve Eberhart had a new idea. He applied to get the call letters K-G-A-F on a personalized license plate for their newest company van. … The response he received from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles surprised him even more. The letter said that his application had been denied ‘because of a pattern of objectionable and misleading words that could be considered indirectly vulgar, swear or curse words.’ Eberhart said he didn't know why the license plate he requested would be considered vulgar… But Eberhart's teenage son laughed when he heard the license plate request was denied. … It would seem that in a world that now communicates with OMG's and LOL's and IDK's and IMHO's, that G-A-F might mean something too. ‘I've been told that it's an acronym or slang for social media for ‘can't give a [expletive],’’ Eberhart said after the consultation with his 19-year-old son. ‘But certainly we never intended that!’”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Cats, it must be said, have not done badly. Using guile and seduction, they managed to get humans to feed them, thus preserving their superciliousness without going hungry. A neat trick.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 10, 2003.

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.