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On the roster: Dems head to S.C. with all eyes on Biden - Trump plays Hamlet on Iran strike - GOP closing the door on Roy Moore - Oregon gov. sends police after fugitive GOP lawmakers - Ya heard?
DEMS HEAD TO S.C. WITH ALL EYES ON BIDEN
USA Today: “Former Vice President [Joe Biden’s] controversial comments this week about two former segregationist lawmakers is looming large as 22 White House hopefuls gather in South Carolina to make their case to voters in a state where African Americans make up the majority of the Democratic electorate. … The controversy continues to simmer even as some party faithful try to downplay the intra-party sniping ahead of this weekend’s Democratic party cattle call in Columbia, S.C. All but one of the party’s major candidates are scheduled to stump at Rep. Jim Clyburn’s ‘World Famous’ Fish Fry… ‘You must judge politicians by votes, not by association,’ said civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, a South Carolina native who traveled to the state to take part in the party gathering and launch a voter registration drive. ‘You can relate to all kinds of people, you just cannot swallow all of their venom.’”
But not Buttigieg - The Hill: “Presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) will not attend Rep. James Clyburn's (D-S.C.) candidate fish fry this weekend, and will instead stay in the city for a march following a police-involved shooting last week. Buttigieg's campaign confirmed to The Hill that the mayor will travel from Miami, after attending the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference, to South Bend for the march on Friday evening.”
Latino leaders grouse about Biden’s on outreach efforts - Politico: “A slew of Democratic presidential contenders are scheduled to talk [today] to the nation’s largest association of Latino officials, but there’s one notable absence: Joe Biden. Biden’s decision to skip the Miami forum has unleashed new criticism that the former vice president and front-runner is taking a pivotal constituency for granted in a primary where the Latino vote could swing the outcome in several key early contests. … Biden’s absence at NALEO isn’t an isolated incident, according to operatives and organizers focused on mobilizing Latinos on the ground in key states. His campaign has offered almost no direct outreach or verbal acknowledgment of the rapidly growing Latino electorate, they say, and has made little if any inroads with the Latino community in critical swing states like Nevada or Florida.”
Bernie credits Warren surge to her gender - Fox News: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, weighed in on the recent surge of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, in the polls on Wednesday and suggested her campaign is catching up to his because people ‘would like to see a woman elected.’ Warren has had favorable polling in several states in the last few days, some having her topping Sanders. During an appearance on CNN, Sanders was asked why he believes Warren is on the rise and pressed on whether she is being seen to voters as a ‘more electable’ version of himself. ‘Well, I think we are running against a lot of problems,’ Sanders responded. ‘I think that there are a certain number of people who would like to see a woman elected, I understand that. There are people who would like to see somebody who was younger, and I understand that also. There are a lot of factors out there.’”
Maine moves up for ‘Super Tuesday’ primary - Portland Press Herald: “Another bill that [Democratic Gov. Jane] Mills signed late Wednesday or early Thursday, L.D. 1626, will add Maine to the list of states holding presidential primaries on ‘Super Tuesday’ next March. The push to switch to presidential primaries gained traction after some caucus locations were overwhelmed by high turnout during the 2016 presidential caucuses. ‘Presidential primaries offer a more convenient and accessible voting experience,’ bill sponsor Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, said in a statement. ‘I believe primaries will significantly increase voter participation, strengthening our democracy.’ It is unclear whether Mainers will be able to utilize the state’s new ranked-choice voting system for those March primaries or the presidential general election in November, however. A bill, L.D. 1083, to authorize ranked-choice balloting for presidential elections also got hung up in the Legislature and was shelved, for now.”
THE RULEBOOK: HEAD OF STATE, NOT AHEAD OF STATE
“The qualified negative of the President differs widely from this absolute negative of the British sovereign; and tallies exactly with the revisionary authority of the council of revision of this State, of which the governor is a constituent part.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69
TIME OUT: ARF, ARF
Sky News: “Grey seals are capable of singing movie themes and mimicking human language, a new study has suggested. Researchers at the University of St Andrews have trained three grey seals to copy sound sequences, resulting in a several-note rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the Star Wars theme tune. The marine mammals were also found to be able to copy human speech sounds, including vowels. Lead researcher Amanda Stansbury said she was ‘amazed’ at how well the seals were able to mimic the sounds. She said: ‘Copies were not perfect but given that these are not typical seal sounds it is pretty impressive.’ But while Ms. Stansbury notes the impressiveness of the results, the research team says it doesn't mean we will be able to have spoken conversations with seals anytime soon. Professor Vincent Janik, director of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, pointed out that copying language is one part, but understanding it is another.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 44.4 percent
Average disapproval: 51.8 percent
Net Score: -7.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 2 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 41% approve - 50% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 55% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 49% approve - 48% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 53% disapprove.]
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TRUMP PLAYS HAMLET ON IRAN STRIKE
WaPo: “President Trump ordered an attack on Iran on Thursday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz but called the operation off just before it was due to occur because it would have caused extensive casualties, he said Friday. In a series of morning tweets, Trump said he called off strikes on three Iranian sites minutes before they were to be launched because he was informed of the likely loss of life among Iranians. ‘We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,’ Trump tweeted. ‘150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.’ Such a death toll was ‘not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,’ Trump wrote, adding: ‘I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!’”
Pergram: House Dems want new authorization for use of force - Fox News: “The U.S. may be closer to a military conflict with Iran now more than ever. But this also means that Congress could be the closest it’s come in years to considering a new resolution to authorize the use of military force. Such a proposal could end the old authorizations Congress approved in 2001 to fight in Afghanistan and a 2002 blessing to invade Iraq. Three presidents, including President Trump, have employed these Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) for a panoply of military interventions spanning nearly two decades. The operations have gone beyond the scope of just Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. has used those AUMFs to deploy military might in the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Niger. In fact, the House just approved a defense spending plan with a provision to extinguish the old AUMFs within 240 days of the measure becoming law.”
GOP CLOSING THE DOOR ON ROY MOORE
Politico: “Republicans are promising to do everything they can to obliterate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate primary. A push is underway to get President Donald Trump involved in derailing Moore. Republicans are actively moving to recruit Jeff Sessions to run for his old seat. And GOP leaders are warning the party will jeopardize perhaps its only chance at picking up a Senate seat next year if they let Democrat Doug Jones get his favored match-up. ‘There will be a lot of efforts made to ensure that we have a nominee other than him and one who can win in November,’ said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). ‘He’s already proven he can’t.’ Added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ‘We’ll be opposing Roy Moore vigorously.’ Moore famously lost to Jones in 2017… His reemergence as a candidate Thursday evoked palpable disgust among Republican senators as it dawned on them they will have to confront him once again before he potentially costs them another seat.”
Fairfax credits rape charges for celebrity, considering gubernatorial run - Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said Thursday that he is ‘very hopeful about the future’ and ‘thinking very seriously’ about a gubernatorial run in 2021. Fairfax, who faces sexual assault allegations by two women, said the scandal has raised his public profile for good. ‘Many people a year ago would not have recognized me, now they really do,’ Fairfax said. ‘People come up to me at gas stations, they say, ‘Hey, we recognize you. We love you. We know what they are saying about you is false.’’ Fairfax’s comments came during a roundtable with reporters to talk about his recent trip to England, where he traced familial ties with an English family that freed his great-great-great grandfather from slavery in Northern Virginia.”
The keys to the Keystone State - The Philadelphia Inquirer: “So, fresh off Trump’s official reelection announcement Tuesday, what does he need to do to win Pennsylvania again? That’s more complicated. The 2016 result was so excruciatingly close in the state – decided by 44,000 votes out of more than six million cast, less than 1 percent – that tiny shifts in any part of the electorate could change the outcome next year. There isn’t one key factor. There are many. If Trump’s strength in Rust Belt, working-class counties and rural areas recedes even a small amount, he could lose. If Democrats continue to surge in the suburbs, that could doom Trump. If Democratic voters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh move closer to the historic turnout levels seen under Barack Obama, that could flip the state back. Or if Trump manages to pull in voters who didn’t support him in 2016, he could repeat his win.”
OREGON GOV. SENDS POLICE AFTER FUGITIVE GOP LAWMAKERS
AP: “Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has deployed the state police to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol to block a vote on a landmark economy-wide climate plan that would be the second of its kind in the nation. Minority Republicans want the cap-and-trade proposal, which is aimed at dramatically lowering the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, to be sent to voters instead of being instituted by lawmakers — but negotiations with Democrats collapsed, leading to the walkout… Oregon State Police can force any senators they track down in the state into a patrol car to return them to the Capitol, although the agency said in a statement that it would use ‘polite communication’ and patience to bring the rogue lawmakers back. Under state law, the absentee senators will be fined $500 a day per person starting [today]. Democrats have an 18-to-12 majority in the chamber, but need 20 members present for a quorum.”
What’s the matter? - The Oregonian: “When a bill has an ‘emergency clause’ – as HB 2020 does – it means the legislation takes effect immediately on passage, not in the usual 90 days. Opponents, therefore, wouldn’t have the opportunity to gather signatures and refer the policy to voters. Republicans contend that with a bill this complex -- with ramifications for the entire state for three decades -- there is no good reason why voters shouldn’t have their say. Democrats say climate change is an emergency, and a referral to the ballot would effectively suspend the program until November 2020, making implementation in 2021 an impossibility. It’s important to note that opponents could still use the initiative process to challenge the program in a separate ballot initiative. And Washington voters have twice rejected similar carbon pricing schemes after heavy spending by opponents.”
House Dems ready lawsuit against Don McGahn to testify - Politico
AUDIBLE: THAT’S A LOT OF TV
“If you do the math and multiply the potential topics by the number of candidates, you have a two-week long television program.” – Andrew Heyward, a former CBS News president, talking about the upcoming Democratic debates per Politico.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont., and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. 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.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
NY Daily News: “Cops in Florida have found the rightful owner of a prosthetic ear that had recently washed up on a local beach. The Beaufort, S.C., resident was vacationing in the Tampa area with his wife when he lost the ear while swimming. He was trying to put it in his pocket for safekeeping when ‘a wave knocked it off his hand,’ Sgt. Brian Hall of the Holmes Beach Police Department told The Associated Press. Fortunately, a local resident found the ear in the sand on Saturday on Anna Maria Island… The Holmes PD posted photos of the ear on its Facebook page on Tuesday with the hope of tracking down the owner. … The man’s wife contacted the department and informed them that the ear belonged to her husband. The department said Thursday it will mail the ear to them in South Carolina. ‘We will put it in box. I hope nobody sees it and freaks out,’ Sgt. Hall said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Even Rome is no model for what America is today. First, because we do not have the imperial culture of Rome. We are an Athenian republic, even more republican and infinitely more democratic than Athens. … Second, we are unlike Rome, unlike Britain and France and Spain and the other classical empires of modern times, in that we do not hunger for territory.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the American Enterprise Institute on Feb. 10, 2004.
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.