Deepening far-left rift may boost Biden’s chances


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On the roster: Deepening far-left rift may boost Biden’s chances - Trump paves way for mega donors to give even more - I’ll Tell You What: The whistle pig is out of the stump - It’s official, Trump’s Senate trial underway - Purple haze, indeed

DEEPENING FAR-LEFT RIFT MAY BOOST BIDEN’S CHANCES
WaPo: “An angry split among liberal Democrats broke into the open Wednesday as two prominent presidential candidates exchanged accusations of dishonesty, raising fears among party leaders of a repeat of the internecine bitterness that many Democrats say contributed to President Trump’s victory in 2016. … The clash intensified when CNN released audio Wednesday evening of a sharp exchange between the two that unfolded following Tuesday’s Democratic debate. ‘I think you called me a liar on national TV,’ [Elizabeth Warren] can be heard saying. [Bernie Sanders] replies: ‘You know, let’s not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.’ Warren then says, ‘Anytime.’ … Increasingly alarmed liberal leaders scrambled to make peace. ‘Many of the voices in the progressive community are warning we cannot have a knife fight in a phone booth, or a circular firing squad,’ said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.”

Klobuchar’s consistency on gender issues contrasts with Warrens moves - Politico: “But Klobuchar and Warren have addressed sexism is markedly different ways. In debates and on the campaign trail, Klobuchar for months has addressed it head on. Warren, by contrast, has mostly been mute on the subject — until Tuesday night’s debate. Both strategies contain risks and highlight the headwinds all female candidates face. Claiming sexism or addressing it publicly can obscure a candidate’s broader message and quickly earn accusations of playing the so-called ‘gender card,’ according to aides and allies to both candidates and officials from past presidential campaigns of women candidates. But ignoring it or brushing it off can let damaging gendered narratives take root and spread, they said. … Warren and Klobuchar’s differences in strategy also signal their positions in the primary. ‘Amy Klobuchar is playing a hot hand right now as she’s trying to get into that top tier… Elizabeth Warren sat at the top of this for a very long time … you’re very cautious,” said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman who initially endorsed Harris.”

Buttigieg gets backing from New Hampshire congresswoman - WMUR9: “The WMUR political team has confirmed that U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster [D-NH] will endorse Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic primary. The two are scheduled to appear together at a rally in Concord on Friday. Kuster frequently introduced candidates at events around the 2nd Congressional District. She joined Buttigieg for an armchair discussion on policy in the fall. Kuster joined state Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon; Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera and Lebanon City Councilor Suzanne Prentiss in her endorsement.”

TRUMP PAVES WAY FOR MEGA DONORS TO GIVE EVEN MORE
WaPo: “Donors to President Trump’s reelection are now permitted to give nearly $600,000 per year, boosting the president’s ability to raise money from wealthy supporters months before the general election contest begins in earnest. Under an agreement announced Wednesday by Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, a single donor can give as much as $580,600 this year to support Trump’s reelection — higher than the committee’s previous caps on contributions. That means the Republican National Committee’s biggest contributors could end up having shelled out as much as $1.6 million to support Trump’s 2020 reelection over the course of the four-year election cycle, according to a Washington Post analysis. Trump has raised and spent more money than his predecessors, and this change is expected to give him a further fundraising advantage.”

Trump gets big win with North American trade pact’s final passage - AP: “The Senate overwhelmingly approved a new North American trade agreement Thursday that rewrites the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico and gives President Donald Trump a major policy win before senators turn their full attention to his impeachment trial. The vote was 89-10. The measure goes to Trump for his signature. It would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, which tore down most trade barriers and triggered a surge in trade. But Trump and other critics blamed that pact for encouraging U.S. companies to move their manufacturing plants south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican laborers. Passage of the trade bill came one day after Trump signed a new trade agreement with China, easing trade tensions between the economic powers.”

THE RULEBOOK: SOOOOOO EMOTIONAL  
“Every unbiased observer may infer, without danger of mistake, and at the same time without meaning to reflect on either party, or any individuals of either party, that, unfortunately, PASSION, not REASON, must have presided over their decisions.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 50

TIME OUT: R.I.P. ROCKY JOHNSON
Fox News: “Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson, former WWE star and father to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, has died at the age of 75. The WWE confirmed the tragic news on Wednesday. ‘WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer, former World Tag Team Champion, and father of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, has passed away at age 75,’ the organization said. The statement detailed Rocky's career, which began in the mid-1960s, leading him to the WWE in 1983 before his 1991 retirement. … ‘He found his greatest success when he teamed up with Tony Atlas as The Soul Patrol. The two men became the first African-American World Tag Team Champions in WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on Dec. 10, 1983.’ After having a hand in training his son, Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. The statement said that Johnson ‘will be forever enshrined as one of sports-entertainment’s most influential performers.’”

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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: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -9.2 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.6 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 54% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve - 52% disapprove.]

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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: THE WHISTLE PIG IS OUT OF THE STUMP
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt recap the last Democratic debate before the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, discuss the latest U.S. - China trade deal and Dana shares what she learned at tennis camp. Plus, Chris answers trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

IT'S OFFICIAL, TRUMP’S SENATE TRIAL UNDERWAY
Fox News: “The Trump impeachment proceedings are underway in the Senate after House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving led a procession of Democratic ‘managers’ across the Capitol on Thursday afternoon and the upper chamber formally received the articles of impeachment. The act marked the formal start of the trial, a day after the House transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate. At noon, the Senate recognized the House managers who will prosecute the case against President Trump. The body then began a formal presentation of the two articles of impeachment brought against him: charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. … Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the president pro tempore, presided over the Senate, as the House managers were welcomed and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., began reading the resolution. Later Thursday, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts – who will preside over the trial – will come to the Senate to be sworn in. He will subsequently swear in the senators.”

DEMS READY $50M PLAN TO FLIP STATE LEGISLATURES
Politico: “Unprepared Democrats got bulldozed in 2010 by a $30 million Republican campaign to win state legislatures — and the right to draw political maps that would help them hold power for the next decade. Now, Democrats are readying a massive $50 million effort of their own to shape the next 10 years of elections by flipping state legislative chambers in places as red as Texas and West Virginia next November. The plan, backed by Democratic megadonors like Donald Sussman and the Soros family as well as small-dollar donors giving online via ActBlue, represents a sea change for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a former backwater in Democratic politics that has transformed as the party grappled with the importance of redistricting. In 2020, the last election before states redraw their political boundaries using new Census data, the winners of many state legislatures get the power to draw congressional lines that will last an entire decade.”

THE JUDGE’S RULING: THE ODD KILLING OF SOLEIMANI
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why he believes the US killing of Iranian Gen. Soleimani was unlawful: “When witnesses testify in a courtroom and offer varying, contradictory or even unlawful explanations of the events under scrutiny, juries tend not to believe them. The same is now happening with the Trump administration's defense of its killing Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the use of an unmanned drone while he was being driven peacefully along a public highway in Iraq. Why the shifting justifications? … These shifting justifications are contrary to reason and cannot survive a simple cross-examination. When did we start killing generals from countries with which we are not at war? Never in our history. When did we start killing foreign generals because of their ‘horrible past’? Never in our history.” More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Sen. Martha McSally refuses to answer reporter: ‘You're a liberal hack’ - Fox News

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., to take leave of absence to seek treatment for alcoholism - Politico

Liz Cheney to seek reelection in the House, rules out Senate bid Fox News

AUDIBLE: BRO…
“I don't want to get in the middle. I just want to say hi, Bernie.” – Eighth-place Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer interrupting a tense post-debate exchange between Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren captured in hot mic moment released by debate host CNN.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“The Pennsylvania Phil rodent has correctly predicted the state of the season 100% of the time, since the little varmint was created. Check any calendar. Spring arrives around March 21st every year. And that is...six weeks from Groundhog Day. You’re welcome.” – Gregg Hart, Inverness, Ill.

[Ed. note: I see what you did there, Mr. Hart. You’re not by any chance an attorney are you?]

“I'm fascinated by the competitive aspect of fundraising between the parties, as if the amount raised by either is necessarily a function of their appeal to the masses and thus elevates them in some way over the other. Since (in my humble opinion) the Supreme Court's disastrous and flat out wrong decision on Citizens United, the moneys have reached obscene heights and have little to do with individual voters, but everything to do with special interests. This is not something of which either party should be proud.” – Terry Poynter, Cincinnati

[Ed. note: Well, it is certainly true that contributions are one metric of voter enthusiasm, which is certainly worth bragging about. It’s also a way to try to intimidate your opponents. I should offer one small note of correction, though. The contributions to which you refer were not affected by either the Citizens United decision or the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that precipitated it. Parties and candidates have to raise funds within federal contribution limits. The Supreme Court’s decision relates to outside groups like super PACs, which had been targeted with restrictions by the McCain law.]    

“Hey, Chris - As I listen to, or read, every story about how Sanders supporters theorize, believe or can ‘prove’ that every Democrat from Pelosi to the DNC is out to slow down or stop Bernie I can't help but wonder, ‘what do they expect’? He's fortunate even to be allowed on the dance floor for the Democratic primary yet complains when they don't treat him ‘fairly.’ Here's a guy who spent his entire career being an ‘Independent’ instead of a ‘Democrat’ yet for two cycles has wanted equal treatment from the Dems. I don't believe the Republicans would ever allow an Independent access to their primary process and shocked the Dems treat Bernie as well as they do. Appears he wants all the love from the Dems and their caucus but is quite afraid of commitment himself... What say you?” – Jeff Kihn, Owings Mills, Md.

[Ed. note: It’s funny, right? Sanders and his supporters have complained so bitterly about the nominating process of a party that he still refuses to join. One of the many downsides in the 40-year-old practice of having state officials oversee partisan nominating processes is the argument that they are somehow public accommodations.]

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PURPLE HAZE, INDEED
Arizona Republic: “Navajo County posted a surprising photo to their Facebook on Friday showing a bright purple sky over Snowflake, Arizona. The landscape, with shades of pink and purple across clouds in the sky and a blanket of white snow on the ground, looks more like a video game than real life. The hue is thanks to lights from nearby marijuana farm Copperstate Farms. It was visible for miles, according to the post. ‘The purple glow is a result of UV lights from nearby medical marijuana farm Copperstate Farms and the snow clouds overhead,’ the post said. The area got 1 to 2 inches of snow over Thursday night and Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Copperstate employed close to 200 people as of last April, growing marijuana in a large greenhouse that formerly grew tomatoes.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The heavens were a place for angels, gods and portentous messengers. Space is home to extraterrestrials, the Force and now [Halley’s comet] cruising through emptiness.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 13, 1985.

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.