By Chris Stirewalt
Published May 15, 2019
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On the roster: Dems pounce on Alabama abortion ban - Gallup shows Biden best liked, Buttigieg little known - Trump keeps focus on Biden - Sununu won’t challenge Shaheen - On this season of the bachelor…
DEMS POUNCE ON ALABAMA ABORTION BAN
WaPo: “Contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday sharply criticized the Alabama Senate’s passage of the country’s strictest abortion ban, casting it as a severe blow to women’s rights. Alabama’s governor is expected to sign the measure, which was approved Tuesday night and would ban virtually all abortions in the state, including for victims of rape and incest. … Also criticizing the Alabama measure was Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who declared at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Wednesday morning that ‘women’s health care is under attack, and we will not stand for it.’ ‘They need to check their hypocrisy,’ she said of Alabama state legislators… Several Democratic contenders warned that such moves in Alabama and elsewhere are an attempt to chip away at Roe v. Wade, casting them as indicative of Republicans’ desire to have the Supreme Court ruling overturned.”
GALLUP SHOWS BIDEN BEST LIKED, BUTTIGIEG LITTLE KNOWN
The Hill: “Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the most popular Democratic presidential candidate among all Americans, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday. About 53 percent of all respondents view Biden favorably, while 35 percent have an unfavorable view. That favorability rating beats out all other Democratic presidential contenders, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who comes in second with 46 percent. The survey, conducted in April, tested five other Democratic candidates. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in third place with 34 percent favorability, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), garnered a 32 percent favorability rating, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) both came in fifth with a 27 percent favorability rating, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in last with 25 percent.”
Can Mayor Pete regain momentum? - Five Thirty Eight: “No one has ever ascended from mayor to president in one fell swoop, but Pete Buttigieg is trying to change that. And from mid-March to mid-April, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s position in the race significantly improved — he surged in the polls and garnered a sizable number of donors, enough to easily meet both the polling and donor requirements for participating in the first two Democratic primary debates. While Buttigieg’s upward trajectory in the polls has seemingly halted and he looks to have settled in at around 6 percent, down from a peak of 8 percent, that’s still a big jump for a candidate who started the race polling at 0 percent. … And it wasn’t just Buttigieg’s fundraising numbers that took off: The share of Democrats who knew enough about him to form an opinion of him — found by adding together the share who said they had a favorable opinion and the share who said they had an unfavorable opinion — has also risen precipitously.”
Black voters skeptical - Politico: “Joe Darby, a prominent pastor in Charleston, S.C., was discussing the Democratic presidential field with fellow clergymen when Pete Buttigieg’s name came up. A fellow pastor quickly interjected. ‘Isn’t that the dude who kissed his husband on TV?’ the person asked skeptically, according to Darby. The exchange highlights a major obstacle for Buttigieg, who’s vaulted into the top tier of Democratic candidates without gaining traction among African Americans, according to recent surveys of national and South Carolina Democrats. But as the mayor of South Bend, Ind., devotes more effort to campaigning for black votes in the South and elsewhere, he will have to break down some resistance over his sexual orientation, particularly among older voters, according to interviews with more than a dozen African American activists, political strategists and clergy, as well as a review of public polling.”
Dems push Bullock to run for Senate, not White House - Politico: “Top Democrats in Montana and Washington are really excited about Gov. Steve Bullock running — for the Senate, not the presidency. The Montana governor's seemingly quixotic presidential run comes as nearly everyone in the party is begging him to challenge GOP Sen. Steve Daines and transform the 2020 Senate map. Unlike any other Democratic candidate in the country, Bullock could make a virtually unwinnable Senate race competitive and give the party a real shot at knocking off a GOP incumbent and getting closer to a Senate majority. … Bullock has been unequivocal in shrugging off the Senate recruitment, which has included conversations with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democratic senators. He doesn’t want to be one senator of 100, people who know him say, and fashions himself an executive, not a legislator.”
THE RULEBOOK: MAMA SAID THERE’D BE DAYS LIKE THIS
“There is scarcely anything that can wound the pride or degrade the character of an independent nation which we do not experience.” –Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: MOVING DAY
History: “On this day in 1800, President John Adams orders the federal government to pack up and leave Philadelphia and set up shop in the nation’s new capital in Washington, D.C. After Congress adjourned its last meeting in Philadelphia on May 15, Adams told his cabinet to make sure Congress and all federal offices were up and running smoothly in their new headquarters by June 15, 1800. Philadelphia officially ceased to serve as the nation’s capital as of June 11, 1800. At the time, there were only about 125 federal employees. Official documents and archives were transferred from Philadelphia to the new capital by ship over inland waterways. President and Mrs. Adams did not move in to the (unfinished) president’s mansion until November of that year. Settling in to the White House was a challenge for the new first lady. In December, Abigail Adams wrote to a friend later she had to line-dry their clothes in what eventually became the East Room.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 43.6 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: IBD: 43% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; Gallup: 46% approve - 50% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]
TRUMP KEEPS FOCUS ON BIDEN
NYT: “The president, though, has told advisers he believes he can portray Mr. Biden, a longtime Washington veteran, as representative of an ossified political class the same way he did Hillary Clinton, wounding him with enough attacks and put-downs that Mr. Biden will either stagger into the general election or collapse in the primary. In the three weeks since Mr. Biden announced his candidacy, Mr. Trump has tried out two nicknames on him, accused his opponent and family members of corrupt dealings with Ukraine (prompting a coordinated Democratic response) and argued that he’s naïve about the threats America faces. … But after all that, he then likened Mr. Biden’s bid to his own 2016 campaign, in which Mr. Trump never relinquished the lead after ascending in the polls, and suggested Mr. Biden would probably be the Democratic nominee. Mr. Trump’s attacks on Mr. Biden have defied the pleadings of his own aides, who think almost any other candidate would be easier to defeat, and left Republicans puzzled while delighting Biden supporters.”
N.H. Poll shows GOP voters still for Trump - Monmouth University: “At least 7-in-10 likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire will be sticking with President Donald Trump in 2020 according to the Monmouth University Poll. In fact, two-thirds of Granite State Republicans say they would have voted for him in the 2016 primary if they could do it over again – which is nearly double the level of support he actually got three years ago. A majority (55%) of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say that Trump should be able to run unopposed for renomination in 2020. Just one-third would prefer to see him face a primary challenge, including 9% who have a specific candidate in mind and 25% who would just like to see a primary challenge in general. Names mentioned as preferred challengers include former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.”
Trump announces return to Pennsylvania for rally - The [Philadelphia] Inquirer: “President Donald Trump is planning to return to Pennsylvania on Monday, May 20, for a rally, his presidential campaign announced Monday. The event will be held in Montoursville, near Williamsport. While it is ostensibly in support of State Rep. Fred Keller, a Republican running for an open congressional seat in a special election this month, it comes as Democrats, and especially former Vice President Joe Biden, have increased their appearances in the Keystone State, one of the most critical states in the 2020 election. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) spoke to the teachers’ union in Philadelphia on Monday and Biden is due in the city for a rally Saturday, two days before Trump’s event.”
SUNUNU WON’T CHALLENGE SHAHEEN
Concord [N.H.] Monitor: “When it comes to his immediate political future, Gov. Chris Sununu has made up his mind. New Hampshire’s two-term Republican governor announced Tuesday evening that he will run next year for a third term instead of mounting a GOP challenge in 2020 against Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The announcement, made in a Medium post and in an email to supporters, ends months of speculation on whether Sununu would take on Shaheen as she runs for a third 6-year term representing New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate. But in announcing his re-election campaign, Sununu once again took aim at the senior member of New Hampshire’s all Democratic congressional delegation. ‘I truly appreciate the enthusiastic encouragement from so many that I run for the United States Senate.’”
Kraushaar: Why Arizona Is Emerging as Top 2020 Battleground - National Journal: “If there’s one development that threatens to disrupt the best laid plans of Republicans, it’s the transformation of Arizona from a rock-ribbed GOP stronghold into a bona fide battleground state. In recent years, Republicans have struggled to balance the energy of their activist base with the pragmatism necessary to win over the state’s critical mass of suburban independents. At the same time, Democrats are eyeing Arizona as a critical political prize that could make or break their national ambitions. Win Arizona, and the party could withstand a Rust Belt stumble in Wisconsin. Pick off the state’s second Senate seat, and the prospect of an upper-chamber majority becomes more realistic. Hold their 6-3 advantage in the House delegation, and Democrats should feel confident about their ability to maintain control in the lower chamber.”
N.C. House do-over set - Charlotte Observer: “State Sen. Dan Bishop easily won Tuesday’s 9th District Republican primary, three months after state officials took the unprecedented step of throwing out a 2018 election marred by fraud allegations. Bishop will face Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates on Sept. 10 in what’s expected to be the nation’s most closely watched special election. With 93% of votes in, Bishop defeated Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing 48% to 20%. Among 10 candidates, former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour was the only other one in double figures, with 17%.”
GRAHAM UNVEILS IMMIGRATION BILL
NBC News: “Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a four-pronged bill Wednesday that he said was ‘designed to stop the humanitarian crisis’ at the United States-Mexico border. The plan, which focuses exclusively on immigration from Central America, would mandate that asylum claims be applied for at American consulates in the migrants’ home countries, Graham said, announcing his proposal at a news conference inside the U.S. Capitol. ‘No more asylum claims at the U.S. border,’ he said. Graham said his proposal would also change immigration laws to extend the period of time a family with a minor can be detained at the border to 100 days. Currently, families with a minor can be held for only 20 days — a short period that Graham said creates an incentive for undocumented migrants to try to enter the U.S. … Graham is also proposing hiring 500 new immigration judges to deal with an asylum application backlog that he said currently comprised 900,000 applications.”
Kushner, Miller leave GOP Senators wondering - WaPo: “President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, faced pointed questions about his plan to overhaul the immigration system in a closed-door meeting with Republican senators Tuesday — and failed to offer solutions to some key concerns, according to GOP officials who cast doubt on the viability of the proposal. Publicly, senators emerged from their weekly Capitol Hill luncheon applauding the White House senior adviser’s pitch to move U.S. immigration toward a merit-based system that prioritizes highly skilled workers, a task he undertook at Trump’s behest. But privately, Republican officials said Kushner did not have clear answers to some questions from the friendly audience, prompting Trump’s other senior adviser, Stephen Miller, to interrupt at times and take over the conversation.”
TSA deploying hundreds of officials to southern border - Fox News: “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is planning to send hundreds of officials to the southern border to help the Department of Homeland Security with the escalating immigration crisis, Fox News confirmed Wednesday. ‘TSA, like all DHS components, is supporting the DHS effort to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border,’ a spokesperson told Fox News. ‘TSA is in the process of soliciting volunteers to support this effort while minimizing operational impact.’ The move, first reported by CNN, is expected to consist of a few hundred officials, with a maximum of 400 volunteers, ranging from department attorneys to, potentially, some air marshals. CNN reported that the agency does not initially plan to involve uniformed airport screeners, but that some parts of TSA will be asked to contribute around 10 percent of their workforce.”
FBI confirms Russia hacked two Florida voting systems in 2016 - Politico
Donald Trump Jr. reaches deal with Senate Intel Committee to do time-limited private interview - NYT
Pelosi to meet with Trump's trade chief Robert Lighthizer on Mexico, Canada trade - Politico
AUDIBLE: YOU SURE ABOUT THAT?
“It’s not a ploy to keep anything going.” – Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., discussing House Democrats’ marathon public reading of 448-page Mueller report. Scanlon says it will take about 12 to 14 hours to go through all 448 pages of the report and that colleagues will divide up the reading shifts.
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ON THIS SEASON OF THE BACHELOR…
Salt Lake Tribune: “On June 7, at an as-yet-undisclosed location, a group of 15 to 20 women will have the chance to meet, become acquainted with and potentially date a wealthy, Latter-day Saint mystery bachelor. Drivers on Interstate 15 may have already noticed the billboards in Salt Lake and Utah counties promoting the event, featuring the image of a hand holding out an engagement ring and the words ‘LDS Millionaire looking for his wife.’ The matchmaking event is real and sincere, said Erin Schurtz, a dating coach who co-created the June 7 meet-and-greet on behalf of a client she declines to identify, but who she says is looking for love. … As of Monday morning, 326 women had applied to participate in the matchmaking event, Schurtz said. … The event itself will last roughly three hours, Schurtz said, to allow for ‘quality time’ with all the attendees. Afterward, two women will be selected for separate follow-up dates.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“When [Evangelicals] get Trump, they know he is not a guy who is ‘one of them,’ but he is a guy they think will defend them against an aggressively secular society, on all kinds of issues. They don't care about the values part, they care about protection and defense and being a tough guy.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) said on Fox News on March 8, 2016.
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.