Bloomy beset


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On the roster: Bloomy beset - Big turnout, big headaches in Nevada so far - Trump revs up Florida voters at Daytona - How Stella got her mixtape back

BLOOMY BESET
NYT: “For the past two months, [Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s] presidential campaign has been lining up endorsements and expanding its reach across the country with an eye toward the moment it knew would come: when Mr. Bloomberg, the 78-year-old multibillionaire, would no longer be an afterthought in the race but a prime target, and his long record – including policy stances and decades worth of impolitic and insensitive remarks  would face renewed scrutiny. … Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden said in an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday, ‘Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record.’ And he appeared relieved that the scrutiny had shifted from him to Mr. Bloomberg. ‘You all are going to start focusing on him like you have on me,’ Mr. Biden said.”

Returns fire - AP: “With the Nevada caucuses less than a week away, Democratic presidential candidates campaigning were fixated on a rival who wasn’t contesting the state. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy KlobucharElizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg all went after billionaire Mike Bloomberg and made clear they were eager to take him on in a debate. ‘He thinks he can buy this election,’ Sanders told a Carson City rally Sunday. ‘Well, I’ve got news for Mr. Bloomberg – the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections!’ Bloomberg hit back Monday with a video mashup posted to Twitter of aggressive and threatening comments made by people who appear to be Sanders supporters, juxtaposed with Sanders calling for ‘civil discourse.’”

Bernie, Trump campaigns plow Bloomy over farmer talk - Fox News: “Joining the Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School [in 2016], Bloomberg was responding to a question about whether it is possible to unite people in middle America and the coasts. One of the issues standing in the way of that, Bloomberg said, was the inability of blue-collar workers to adapt to the information economy even if they have their education subsidized. ‘The agrarian society lasted 3,000 years and we could teach processes. I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,’ Bloomberg said. ‘It's a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that. Then we had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow and you can have a job. And we created a lot of jobs. At one point, 98 percent of the world worked in agriculture, now it's 2 percent in the United States.’”

Tough call for mainstream Dems - Axios: “Do these Democrats benefit strategically if Sanders leads the attacks on Bloomberg and takes the brunt of his return fire? Or must they amp up their own criticisms of Bloomberg to increase their chances of peeling away some of his supporters? … The biggest threat to him is a sustained assault on his record not by Sanders, who comes from the other end of the party, but from the more moderate alternatives. Each day they wait, Bloomberg grows stronger. Each day he grows stronger, his case for being the electable one strengthens.”

Steyer says he’s a different kind of billionaire - Fox News: “Billionaire Tom Steyer failed to generate much momentum after the Democrats’ early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he’s poised for better results in Nevada and South Carolina and he credits that to more than just money. Steyer has pumped over $200 million into his campaign, but he has also been on the ground in those states. According to a RealClearPolitics average, Steyer has been polling fourth in Nevada and third in South Carolina, both ahead of the Iowa winner, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Steyer said he wanted to finish in at least second place in those states. ‘I’ve spent more time in Nevada than any other candidate, and I’ve spent more time in South Carolina than any other candidate,’ Steyer told ABC News’ ‘This Week’ on Sunday. … Steyer noted that he was doing well among minority voters in those states, particularly African-American and Latino voters.”

BIG TURNOUT, BIG HEADACHES IN NEVADA SO FAR
Nevada Independent: “The line of Democrats at Sierra Vista High School Saturday morning snaked through the cafeteria, across the quad, out the front gate and to the parking lot. For some who had hoped to quickly cast their early ballots for the Democratic presidential caucus and get on with their weekend, it was frustrating. Others took it in stride. They got to know their neighbors in line. They munched on pizza delivered to the early voting site to feed hungry caucusgoers. They reveled in the fact that so many Democrats were so dedicated to participating in the political process that they stood in line for hours just to cast their presidential preferences early ahead of the state’s Feb. 22 caucus. …More than 11,800 Democrats turned out to cast their presidential preferences on the first of four days of early voting at 63 sites across Nevada, according to the Nevada State Democratic Party.”

Campaigns anxious - WaPo: “With the Nevada caucuses days away, campaign officials and Democratic activists are increasingly alarmed that they might prove a debacle as damaging as the vote in Iowa, further setting back the party in its urgent effort to coalesce around a nominee to take on President Trump. Campaigns said they still have not gotten the party to offer even a basic explanation of how key parts of the process will work. Volunteers are reporting problems with the technology that’s been deployed at the last minute to make the vote count smoother. And experts are raising serious questions about a tool the party has been feverishly assembling to replace the one scrapped after the meltdown in Iowa. … Adding to the challenge is the complexity of Nevada’s caucuses. Unlike in Iowa, where caucuses are conducted in one evening, Nevadans have the option of voting early. At sites across the state, Democrats can rank their top presidential choices on a paper ballot.”

Unions threaten Bernie’s momentum - Fox News: “The criticism from the unions, which are dominant forces in the state's two major urban areas of Las Vegas and Reno, have created doubts about Sanders’ ability to carry the momentum his campaign has built following Iowa and New Hampshire into Nevada and beyond. While Nevada may not be traditionally thought of as a union state like Michigan, Illinois or New York, unions – particularly those representing workers at the big casinos, hotels and restaurants in Las Vegas and Reno – are potent political forces in the Silver State. And given that Census data shows that nearly three-quarters of the state’s population lives in Clark County – home to Las Vegas – it’s not surprising that the candidates who get the union backing are generally those who end up carrying the state.”

Klobuchar fundraising ramps up - CBS News: “Senator Amy Klobuchar has raked in $12 million in donations in the wake of her breakout performance during the last Democratic debate, she revealed Sunday, a haul that allows her to devote more resources to the states who will vote on Super Tuesday. ‘We're building up our staff all over the country in the Super Tuesday states because finally I've gotten the resources I need, over $12 million just in a little over a week since the New Hampshire debate,’ Klobuchar said during an interview on ‘Face the Nation.’ Klobuchar's strong performance during the last debate, which took place just before last week's New Hampshire primary, was widely heralded and helped her finish third in the contest, behind Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. … The Minnesota senator is now in Nevada ahead of its caucuses Saturday and said she is ‘very excited’ about her chances in the state.”

THE RULEBOOK: YOU AND YOUR STUFF
“Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons, of individuals. The one as well as the other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who are charged with the government.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 54

TIME OUT: ‘FONDLY DO WE HOPE, FERVENTLY DO WE PRAY’
WSJ: “When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, he was certainly not thought of as a man given to religious fervor. But over the next 4½ years, as hundreds of thousands of Americans died in the Civil War, the 16th president evolved into a theologian of the American idea, using the language and concepts of the Bible to reflect on the war’s larger meaning. This year on Presidents Day, Americans will observe the 211th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. But in an age of declining biblical literacy, we are in danger of losing touch with a key source of his greatness. Why, for instance, did Lincoln begin the Gettysburg Address with the words ‘fourscore and seven years ago?’ It isn’t because he usually spoke that way, as many readers of the speech might now assume. Rather, he knew that his audience was deeply familiar with the King James Bible and would recognize the language of the Psalms… The Bible’s influence on Lincoln’s language can be seen even before he took office.”

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SCOREBOARD
ESTIMATED DELEGATES FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
Buttigieg: 23
Sanders: 21
Warren: 8
Klobuchar: 7
Biden: 6
[Ed. note: 1,991 delegates needed to win]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
Average approval: 44 percent
Average disapproval: 51.4 percent
Net Score: -7.4 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.4 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; CBS News: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve - 51% disapprove.]

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TRUMP REVVS UP FLORIDA VOTERS AT DAYTONA
NYT: “President Trump put his showmanship skills on full display on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway, leading the famous stock car drivers in a lap around the 2.5-mile racetrack. A sold-out crowd of 101,500 people cheered his appearance in a state he must win this year to secure re-election. Serving as the grand marshal for the kickoff race of the NASCAR season, which was ultimately interrupted and then postponed because of rain, Mr. Trump arrived at the packed stands after a rare Air Force One flyover and later rounded the track in his limousine, nicknamed The Beast, to raucous cheers from the crowd. Shortly after the president told drivers to ‘start your engines,’ Air Force Thunderbirds roared overhead.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Virginia lawmakers nix gun ban AP

Dems claim GOP meddling in North Carolina Senate primary Politico

AUDIBLE: VEGAS, BABY!
“It feels like the [Nevada state party is] making it up as they go along,” – A Democratic campaign staffer complaining to the WaPo about the seeming haphazardness of preparations for the Nevada Caucus.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Why is it that ‘suddenly’ all the issues the squad and the rest of the candidates have pushed like Medicare for all, free tuition, climate revolution, etc. are too radical? Are the Democrats just now realizing the America heartland does not want radical change, open borders, sanctuary cities? While many Americans don’t agree with [President Trump’s] style of tone and messaging the vast majority seem to agree with his actual policies. What are your thoughts?” – Bob Baker, Brownsville, Texas

[Ed. note: Have you ever watched a triathlon? Competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a traditional 26.2-mile marathon. The great runners would seem to have an advantage here, but they can’t fall too far behind in the water or on the bicycle. But if they go too hard at the start, they won’t have enough when it’s time for the final leg of their eight-hour ordeals. Presidential campaigns are like that. A bunch of Democrats jumped in the water and thrashed about wildly trying to get into the early lead. That meant embracing what they wrongly believed were the positions that would bring the party’s base to their side. Most of them never made it back to dry land. But it certainly generated a great deal of activity and news coverage. Now they’re in the middle leg having cleared out a lot of the posers. Who’s still got steady legs when they start the stretch run? Keep watching to see who can pace themselves properly.]

“I heard Tucker Carlson say over 3 presidential campaigns Joe Biden has yet to score better than a fourth place in any state caucus or primary tally. Is that correct?” – Joe Guyton, San Antonio

[Ed. note: Yes, but Biden hasn’t really faced voters very often. He withdrew from his first presidential campaign in the fall of 1987, months before the first contests of 1988. So he did not finish better than fourth place, but he didn’t finish worse than fourth place either. When he mounted his long-shot candidacy in 2008, Biden staked his campaign on Iowa and did indeed finish fifth, and dropped out immediately after. So coming into this year, Biden had competed in one nominating contest in his life and had come in fifth. He finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire this year, so he’s still under the line. He’s 0-3 in nominating contests in his career so far.]

“I very much enjoy reading the Halftime Report, particularly when it includes your own commentary, a lethal mix of the insightful and playful.  But if I may trouble you with a slight niggle from your Catholic brethren:  in your commentary on February 14th (‘In Defense of Valentine’s Day,’) your otherwise historically legitimate description of Saint Valentine’s life and death refers to Valentine as a ‘pastor.’ In its most generic sense, you might try to argue that he was indeed a pastor, but Valentine and those who turned to him for spiritual guidance and succor would have referred to him as a ‘priest’ or ‘bishop’ (or Saint!) May God bless you and your team for your spirited defense of all that is good about America (and may your heart-shaped boxes be ever full of chocolate and good cheer!)” – Bill MadiganRichmond, Va.

[Ed. note: Brother Madigan, I wish they had an eye roll emoji on this keyboard! But I certainly send my prayers for you and your family in return along with much gratitude for your readership and support.] 

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

HOW STELLA GOT HER MIXTAPE BACK
UPI: “Stella Wedell said she vacationing with her family in Spain in the early 1990s, when she was only 12 years old, when she lost her mixtape. She said the tape was lost in Empuriabrava or on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Wedell said she was visiting the Fotografiska gallery in Stockholm more than 20 years later when she spotted the water-damaged tape and a track list. British artist and photographer Mandy Barker, whose Sea of Artifacts exhibition was about plastic pollution, said the tape washed up in 2017 on the beach at Playa de Barlovento de Jandia on Fuerteventura, a Spanish island off the coast of Africa. The island is about 1,200 miles from where Wedell believes she lost the recording. Barker said she enlisted the help of a professional audio restorer, who was able to list the tracks, which included songs by ShaggyBob Marley and the Wailers, the Pet Shop Boys, Soul Asylum and multiple Disney songs.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Guilt gives way now to fear.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 21, 2005.

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.