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On the roster: Debate fight nights: Biden v. Harris, Bernie v. Warren - Dem impeachment efforts gain strength - House GOP takes 2020 play out of Trump’s book - *ahem* Five for fighting
DEBATE FIGHT NIGHTS: BIDEN V. HARRIS, BERNIE V. WARREN
AP: “The second set of summer Democratic presidential debates will feature a rematch with a twist, plus the first showdown of leading progressives as the party wrestles with its philosophical identity and looks ahead to a 2020 fight against President Donald Trump. Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris will take center stage in Detroit on July 31… CNN, which is broadcasting the debates, assigned candidates randomly with a drawing Thursday night, with 20 candidates spread evenly over two nights, July 30-31. This time, Harris, the lone black woman in the field, will be joined by another top black candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who also has been an outspoken critic of Biden. … Meanwhile, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts lead the July 30 lineup, allowing the two progressive icons to compete directly for the affections of the party’s left flank.”
Sanders campaign faces labor fight - WaPo: “Unionized campaign organizers working for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential effort are battling with its management, arguing that the compensation and treatment they are receiving does not meet the standards Sanders espouses in his rhetoric, according to internal communications. Campaign field hires have demanded an annual salary they say would be equivalent to a $15-an-hour wage, which Sanders for years has said should be the federal minimum. The organizers and other employees supporting them have invoked the senator’s words and principles in making their case to campaign manager Faiz Shakir, the documents reviewed by The Washington Post show. … The independent from Vermont has proudly touted his campaign as the first presidential effort to unionize its employees…”
Delaney’s staff said to have urged him to quit - Axios: “On July 9, John Delaney's senior team sat him down and told him to drop out of the presidential race by mid-August, according to three sources close to the campaign. Why it matters: He's been running for president for 721 days. He's spent nearly $19 million as a 2020 candidate since 2017. He's loaned over $11 million of his own money to his campaign this year. He's visited all of Iowa's 99 counties already, including at least 14 stops in Carroll Country alone. And it's all been for nothing. ‘I think a lot of people who did leave thought, ‘You gotta eat. You need a paycheck.’ So that was a big part of it,’ said a former staffer. The backdrop: Those close to him think there's no chance he makes the September debates, which have a harder qualification threshold than the first two.”
But he’s still out there bashing Biden - Politico: “Joe Biden has the fundraising muscle, the lead in the polls and the cachet with voters from his years as Barack Obama’s No. 2. But John Delaney says he’s got something to offer that the former vice president does not. ‘He doesn’t have any new ideas, and he’s effectively just running an old playbook,’ Delaney, a former lawmaker from Maryland, said of Biden in a wide-ranging interview Thursday with POLITICO reporters and editors. ‘On all these issues, I have a bunch of new ideas that can allow us to reimagine our future, and I think people get that I can do that.’ Delaney, like Biden, is running as a relative moderate in the Democratic field who says he could work with Republicans to get things done if he defeats President Donald Trump in 2020.”
Dem front-runners swore off lobbyist cash, but still receiving donations - Politico: “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and other leading Democratic presidential candidates have sworn off contributions from Washington lobbyists as a way to insulate themselves from those who might try to shape their agendas if elected. But they’re hardly walling themselves off from K Street. Didem Nisanci, global head of public policy for Bloomberg LP, has given $2,000 to Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, according to new campaign finance disclosures. Margaret Richardson, Airbnb’s head of global policy, has donated nearly $2,800 to Harris. And Jay Carney, who’s in charge of Amazon’s public policy efforts, has given to at least four candidates who won’t take contributions from lobbyists, including a $2,800 check he wrote in May to Biden’s campaign.”
Dem governors voice concerns over far-left candidates - NYT: “After claiming governorships from Republicans in seven states last year, including in crucial presidential battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Michigan, Democratic governors should have good reason to celebrate. But there was as much anxiety as optimism when the governors gathered for their annual fund-raising retreat on Nantucket last weekend and grappled with why a party that won with a pragmatic message in 2018 is now veering sharply to the left. Some governors are alarmed that their party’s presidential candidates are embracing policies they see as unrealistic and politically risky. And they are especially concerned about proposals that would eliminate private health insurance. ‘I don’t think that’s good policy or good politics,’ said Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.”
THE RULEBOOK: PRESERVATION IS KEY
“If we are wise enough to preserve the Union we may for ages enjoy an advantage similar to that of an insulated situation.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 8
TIME OUT: HANDS OF TIME
National Review: “Fifty years ago Buzz Aldrin took the giant leap onto the lunar surface. While making that ginger hop, he wore an Omega Speedmaster, a wristwatch with a chronograph. … [It] seems the romance of wearing a NASA-approved piece of gear on the wrist still has great appeal to men with a few thousand dollars to spare. The romance comes from the combination of 19th-century timekeeping technology, 20th-century industrial design, and a futuristic dream of technical wonders to come. But in a way, there’s something almost melancholy about a 50-year-old wristwatch design still commanding so much attention. … There is always a slightly dark side to futurism, and our space-age dreams had them. The loneliness of space, our disconnection from home, or the unknown and greater dangers of the final frontier loomed somewhere in that vision. But the fundamental direction was toward progress, and greater vistas on which humanity could do good.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 44.8 percent
Average disapproval: 50.6 percent
Net Score: -5.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.6 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 47% approve - 50% disapprove; CNN: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 49% disapprove.]
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DEM IMPEACHMENT EFFORTS GAIN STRENGTH
Politico: “Public support among House Democrats for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump is growing despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempts to halt the effort. More than two dozen Democrats who hadn’t previously taken a position voted Wednesday to advance a measure to impeach the president over his racist attack on their colleagues. Before Wednesday, about 85 Democrats had publicly called for an impeachment inquiry — over one third of the 235-member House Democratic caucus. The new outpouring comes before next week’s Capitol Hill testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller, which is expected to inspire many more lawmakers to join them. Pelosi’s resistance to impeachment, while firm, could be undercut if enough Democrats sign on publicly to remove the president. If all 27 of the Democratic lawmakers who for the first time sided with [Rep. Al Green, D-Texas] were to publicly seek an impeachment inquiry, it would put nearly half of House Democrats in that camp.”
Congress prepares for Mueller - NPR: “Members of Congress likely won't confine themselves to former special counsel Robert Mueller's report when they question him next week in two open hearings, staffers said. Mueller, who is reluctant to appear, has said he would confine himself to what he's already written — but the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence won't. ‘I would expect us to ask some questions that would require answers that are not necessarily in the four corners of the report,’ an intelligence committee staffer said. … ‘But there is no policy, law or regulation that says he cannot go beyond ... a report that he selectively wrote.’ … The intelligence committee will focus on highlighting interactions between President Trump's campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russia. The special counsel's office documented an extensive number of contacts but did not establish a criminal conspiracy.”
HOUSE GOP TAKES 2020 PLAY OUT OF TRUMP’S BOOK
NYT: “The National Republican Congressional Committee, with the blessing of House Republican leaders, has adopted a no-holds-barred strategy to win back the House majority next year, borrowing heavily from President Trump’s playbook in deploying such taunts and name-calling. After losing 40 seats and the House majority in November, Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the committee’s new chairman, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, decided that their messaging needed to be ruthless. The offensive hinges largely on the relatively facile notion that by tagging all House Democrats as socialists, anti-Semites or far-left extremists, Republicans will be able to alienate swing-state voters. On Tuesday night, after the House voted to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks on four congresswoman, the campaign arm’s communications team deluged reporters’ inboxes with message after message calling vulnerable Democratic lawmakers ‘deranged.’ Their tactics have discomforted some Republicans and highlighted the struggle in the party over how much to lean into the tenor of politics forged by their leader.”
Looking ahead at 2020 redistricting - Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The Supreme Court’s recent decision to stay out of adjudicating gerrymandering doesn’t necessarily change anything because the court had never put limits on partisan redistricting in the first place. Republicans are still slated to control the drawing of many more districts than Democrats following the 2020 census, although there are reasons to believe their power will not be as great as it was following the last census. How aggressively majority parties in a number of small-to-medium-sized states target incumbents of the minority party following 2020 may help tell us whether the Supreme Court’s decision will lead to more aggressive gerrymanders. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Rucho v. Common Cause last month reiterated something that has always been true: There are no court-enforced limits on partisan redistricting. By declaring that such cases are nonjusticiable, the high court decided that federal courts are going to stay out of determining what is and what is not a gerrymandered House map, at least for the time being.”
Trump to nominate Gene Scalia, son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for secretary of labor - Fox News
Third candidate joins race challenging McConnell for Senate - Insider Louisville
HOUSE GOP TAKES 2020 PLAY OUT OF TRUMP’S BOOK
“That way I don’t have to deal with the candidates. We have a few calling, obviously.” – Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., explained to the NYT why his voicemail is full and not allowing new messages.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. 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 love reading your daily updates but to keep laying the blame for The Squad on Trump is a bit ridiculous. Those four members have been throwing out racist and bigoted statements from the day they were elected. Both McCain and Romney lost because they did not have the guts to fight back against the outlandish statements made by Obama, Clinton, Reid, etc. I submit the Democratic Party is the party of racism and bigotism. All they ever play is the race card and Socialism. I love the fact that in his speech Trump named specific statements from The Squad not the made up stuff from the MSM.” – Michael Johnson, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.
[Ed. note: Oh I think there are plenty of reasons why John McCain and Mitt Romney lost, Mr. Johnson. McCain was trying to win a third term for the GOP amid a financial panic with an incumbent president with a 35 percent job approval rating. Also, Sarah Palin. Romney had almost as tough a job in trying to unseat an incumbent president during an economic expansion. Romney’s plight was made worse by an almost farcically bad Republican primary process that ended with not only a rightward lurch but also a nasty intra-party divide. Romney’s story should be a cautionary tale for Democrats who seem determined to repeat the GOP’s errors of eight years ago. As for blame, I’m not apportioning. I was only pointing out that Trump is harming his and his party’s chances.]
“You'll be eating your words in 474 days. But will you admit you were so wrong?” – Scott Lyddon, Savannah, Ga.
[Ed. note: I’m not sure which words you specifically mean, but I assume the general premise that it is politically unhelpful for the president to further stoke racial and cultural tensions. I would remind you, though, that just because it’s not a good thing to do doesn’t mean that Trump won’t win re-election. He’s done himself plenty of damage, but history is on his side. Beating an incumbent amid robust economic growth is no mean feat. I would also suggest that you might try to be less deterministic about political outcomes. As I wrote Thursday: “Any analysis of an election 474 days away comes with enough caveats to render it nearly meaningless. We have little idea how the Democratic nominating process will go and, more importantly, no reasonable way to speculate on what the economy will look like a year from now.” It’s way, way, way too early to reach anything but the most general kinds of conclusions.]
“Chris: Once again love your work; on the network, the podcast and in my email. As a good southern Baptist who grew up in East Tennessee, when you and Dana were discussing ‘Fan Service’ I immediately thought of the 2nd service on Sundays when in the heat of the summer, you would wilt before the Pastor had finished were it not for your church fan. As always, thanks for all you do, your viewers, listeners and readers are smarter and better informed for it.” – Jeff Skelton, Georgetown, Texas
[Ed. note: Hey-o! Love it, Mr. Skelton. I can’t say which denomination is the best, but I sure do know that you guys and the Eastern Rite have us all beat on endurance.]
“Loved your comment that Americans spend $30 billion a year on fishing equipment. And for good reason: Teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry. Fishing is a great connector between father and son, and (in my case) between grandfather and grandsons. It's also a reward in itself in connecting with some of the beautiful places in America. Now the question: Besides listening to politicians bloviating about their ‘talents’ and fibbing about what they will do once elected, what do we get for the $10 billion it costs to bring these folks and their inflated claims to our attention?” – Bill Panagakos, Littleton, Colo.
[Ed. note: Amen, Mr. Panagakos! Not much better in the world than a day fishing with my sons and many of my favorite memories center on fishing with my dad. I’m smiling just thinking of it (and the cold fried chicken picnic lunch).]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
*AHEM* FIVE FOR FIGHTING
Orlando Sentinel: “There were no reports of milkshakes bringing any boys to the yard, but a fracas at a Florida Five Guys did bring cops to the restaurant — and five guys were arrested. In a brief and rather cryptic Facebook post that started to go viral soon after it was published Wednesday night, the Stuart Police Department said little more than a lunchtime fist fight had broken out at the burgers and fries eatery. ‘Three juvenile males and two adult males were charged with affray and processed at the Martin County Jail,’ the department said. Under Florida law, affray is a first degree misdemeanor charge resulting from two or more people fighting in a public place, disturbing the peace. … A woman who witnessed the incident told authorities that one of the males was ‘talking s---’ to another, a cup was thrown, and a door to the restaurant was slammed in someone’s face before an ‘all out brawl’ broke out…”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“As the romance of manned space exploration has waned, the drive today is to find our living, thinking counterparts in the universe. For all the excitement, however, the search betrays a profound melancholy — a lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 29, 2011.
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.