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On the roster: Dems start to get serious about 2020 - Time Out: ‘Since we're together, we might as well say…’ - Koch group boosts Heitkamp - Ryan running point on bid to block tariffs - Who has three thumbs and needs a lawyer? **This guy**

Figuring out who your party should run for president is like trying to pack your bags for a trip to an unknown destination.

History affords lots of opportunities to see parties botch these questions. Our personal favorite is how Democrats were certain that the way back from their 2004 presidential defeat was to find moderates who could connect with “NASCAR dads.”

Having concluded that George W. Bush had won re-election by hoodwinking blue-collar voters by deploying wedge social issues – “God, guns and gays” – Democrats set out to do the same. The presumptive frontrunners were Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Not only were they deemed sufficiently hawkish to compete in an era of strong national security concerns but also had the ability – or in the case of Clinton had a spouse with the ability – to connect with middle-class Americans.

Not mentioned: The African American Senate candidate from Illinois who would go on to amass one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate and launch his national political career with a speech at an anti-war rally.

Eight years later, Republicans did Democrats one better. They had concluded that the reason for their 2012 loss was due to insufficient outreach and accommodation for young voters, minority voters and female voters.

The Republican National Committee even ordered up a report memorializing those obvious conclusions. If you ever want to give yourself a good laugh, go back now and take a look at the so-called autopsy that party elders prepared. As you read it imagine the gif of a smirking Donald Trump mugging for cameras at the first presidential debate of that cycle.

Democrats’ quandary for the current presidential cycle is tougher than either of those. Not only were they the victims of the most shocking political upset in generations in 2016, but they can’t come to terms with the reasons for their defeat.

For Republicans, those who deny that interference by Russian agents and then-FBI Director James Comey played parts in Trump’s victory are naïve or willfully obtuse. Meanwhile Democrats overstate the importance of these factors, as well as the deficiencies of their nominee.

Yes, Hillary Clinton was the worst major party nominee in decades. And yes, her shortcomings were compounded by outside forces. But there were other factors at play too.

Democrats misunderstood – and still misunderstand – the demographic shape of the electorate and underestimated the enthusiasm among white working-class voters for radical change, even if it carried with it risk.

It is against this confused backdrop that the Blue Team is taking the first tentative steps toward picking their man or woman for 2020. You would have to say former Vice President Joe Biden is the frontrunner if he really is serious about running. Similarly, 2016 primary runner-up Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is undeniably close behind.

Then there is a whole second tier to consider, including billionaire gadfly Tom Steyer, who is using his resources to assemble a mighty list by enticing Democrats to sign some symbolic petition about impeachment. You would also have to put rising star Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in these ranks; as well as her counterpart from Massachusetts, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The wildcard so far for Democrats is former Attorney General Eric Holder, who this week was dipping some digits in the cool waters of the New Hampshire primary.

We continue to be more bullish than most on Holder’s chances for a couple of reasons. First, he has the admiration of the party’s activist base while still remaining palatable to the more moderate corporate donor core. But more importantly, aside from Biden, he has the best claim to the legacy of Barack Obama.

Just as Republican affection for the 43rd president grew strongly in the era of Obama, Democratic nostalgia for Obama is intensifying. And we haven’t even gotten to the part where Obama opens his presidential library and generally starts building out his post-presidential profile. When former first lady Michelle Obama’s book comes out, they’ll be swooning in the aisles of Barnes & Noble.

Now, before Republican readers tell us what a bad choice Holder would be to oppose Trump in 2020, remember that the Red Team knows almost as little about the shape of things 30 months from now as Democrats do.

Obama looked like an easy out to Republicans when he started his run in 2007, but that was before the Bush administration hit bottom along with the world financial markets.

The moral of the story for presidential nominating contests since time immemorial is that political activists are as bad at predicting the future as anyone else.

Obama and Trump looked like weak choices when they started to run. But both revealed themselves to be canny candidates and, more importantly, the climate in which they were running changed dramatically as they went.

“No man ought certainly to be a judge in his own cause, or in any cause in respect to which he has the least interest or bias.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 80

Time: “It’s been a big year for Mister Rogers… later this summer, Maxwell King’s The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers will add to that list, as the first full-length biography of the television icon. To celebrate June 1, which is Children’s Day in many countries around the world, here’s a sneak peek at the first pages of that book … ‘Rogers said he wanted no children — absolutely none — to be present when he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago. No children? How could that be? … But Fred Rogers knew himself far better than even friends like [David Newell], who had worked with him for decades. He knew that if there were children in the studio audience, he wouldn’t focus on Winfrey’s questions, he wouldn’t pay heed to her legion of viewers, and he wouldn’t convey the great importance of his work. The children and their needs would come first. He couldn’t help it, never could help it.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
40.8 percent 
Average disapproval: 
54.2 percent 
Net Score:
 -13.4 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 0.6 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve - 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.8 percent
Democratic average: 48.4 percent
Democrats plus 6.6 points
Change from one week ago: 
no change 
[Average includes: CNN: 47% Dems - 44% GOP; CBS News: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; Pew Research Center: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP.]

Roll Call: “In an unusual move, Americans for Prosperity is launching digital ads on Friday thanking a vulnerable Democratic senator for sponsoring legislation that rolls back Dodd-Frank regulations. The ad campaign, first reported by CNBC, thanks North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who’s running for re-election in a state that President Donald Trump won by 36 points in 2016. Heitkamp will likely face Rep. Kevin Cramer in November. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Tossup. Earlier this spring, the conservative political network backed by the Koch brothers ran ads attacking Heitkamp for voting against the Republican tax plan. ‘While we don’t agree with Sen. Heitkamp on everything, particularly her vote against tax relief, we commend her for taking a stand against the leaders of her party to do the right thing,’ AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement.”

Ryan still raising - Dayton Daily News: “House Speaker Paul Ryan raised around $700,000 for House Republicans during a swing through Ohio, including a private event in the Dayton area [Thursday]. Ryan was at an undisclosed private home [Thursday] and had events near Cincinnati and Columbus. Republicans insisted the fundraisers in Dayton and Cincinnati were for House Republicans in general, not Congressmen Mike Turner and Steve Chabot specifically. The Republican incumbents are facing Democratic opposition in the fall. The swing culminated Thursday in stop not far from Miami University, where Ryan went to school and got his political start volunteering for retired Speaker John Boehner.”

Estes v. Estes -
 The Wichita Eagle: “U.S. Rep. Ron Estes has a Republican primary opponent. His name is Ron Estes. Ron Estes — not the congressman, the other one — said Thursday he plans to run against the better-known Estes. The nonelected Estes, who filed as Ron M. Estes, lives in Wichita and is a first-time candidate. He said in a statement he is running because ‘our status quo elected leaders’ refuse to represent the congressional district by avoiding town halls and constituents. His campaign website calls him ‘The Real Ron Estes.’ … Both candidates have filed to run with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. ‘This is clearly an attempt to deceive Kansas voters,’ said Rep. Ron Estes spokesman Josh Bell.”

State senator steps up to run after Virginia Republican suddenly steps down - Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, said Thursday night that he is ‘making myself available’ to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Tom Garrett, R-5th. Stanley’s 9 p.m. Facebook post came hours after Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, announced that he was passing up a bid for the seat. The 5th District Republican Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at Nelson County High School to pick a nominee to succeed Garrett. … Stanley said in the Facebook post: … ‘As the former 5th District chairman, I love this district, the rank and file of its members and the grassroots that have made it one of the most conservative congressional districts in the nation.’”

Democratic House candidate likens trump to bin Laden - WaPo: “The White House on Thursday denounced a campaign ad produced by a Democrat seeking the nomination to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) that compared President Trump to Osama bin Laden. The ad flashes an image of bin Laden followed by one of the White House as the candidate, Army veteran Dan Helmer, says, ‘After 9/11, the greatest threat to our democracy lived in a cave; today he lives in the White House.’ Helmer uses the line in nearly every public appearance, but the 30-second spot, slated to air on broadcast television from Thursday until the June 12 primary, provoked a response from the Trump administration.”

CBS News: “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan came out in opposition to President Trump's decision to move ahead with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, saying the move ‘targets America's allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of China.’ The Trump administration announced Thursday it will be moving ahead with the tariffs on ally nations, despite those nations' urging that he not do so, and fears of retaliatory tariffs. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday the U.S. will impose the 25 percent tariffs on steel imports, and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports, when a previous exemption expires at midnight. Mr. Trump originally proposed the tariffs in March, but deferred them as negotiations continued. Ryan, joining some fellow Republicans like Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, said in a statement Thursday afternoon that he disagrees with the administration's decision.”

Navarro says the tariffs are about ‘national security’ -
 Fox Business: “White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro said national security is the primary reason behind ending the two-month exemption from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs for Europe, Canada and Mexico. ‘This particular action on steel and aluminum is not about unfair trade practices. It's about national security… without an aluminum steel industry, we don't have a country,’ Navarro said during a FOX Business interview on the ‘After the Bell’ program on Thursday. Navarro added that imposing tariffs on the nation's closest allies is an opportunity to create jobs. ‘All we are trying to do here with the 232 tariffs is to provide our domestic industries an opportunity to earn a decent rate of return and invest in this country,’ he said.”

Administration will cite security to force purchase of coal, nuclear power - Bloomberg: “Trump administration officials are making plans to order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants in an effort to extend their life, a move that could represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets. The Energy Department would exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws to direct the operators to purchase electricity or electric generation capacity from at-risk facilities, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The agency also is making plans to establish a 'Strategic Electric Generation Reserve' with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies.”

Fox News: “Former FBI Director James Comey was recently questioned by the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office as part of a probe into whether Andrew McCabe, his former deputy, committed a crime by lying to federal agents, a Thursday report claimed. The Washington Post report indicated that McCabe, whom Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired earlier this year just days before he would have been eligible for a lifetime pension, could be charged criminally, according to a person familiar with the matter. McCabe was fired after the Justice Department's watchdog said he lied to investigators reviewing the bureau’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said McCabe had not been forthcoming in regard to the handling of the FBI’s probe. Horowitz said McCabe misled both investigators and Comey, multiple times, about a media disclosure authorization. Horowitz then passed those findings to the U.S. attorney’s office to decide if a criminal charge was necessary, although a referral doesn’t mean charges will be filed.”

Warner connects Trump’s pardons to witnesses in investigation - The Hill: “Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) suggested on Thursday that President Trump may be seeking to send a message to witnesses in the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia by issuing a flurry of pardons. ‘The President’s ad hoc use of the pardon power is concerning enough,’ Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted. ‘But the possibility that he may also be sending a message to witnesses in a criminal investigation into his campaign is extremely dangerous. In the United States of America, no one is above the law.’ Warner's tweet came hours after Trump pardoned conservative writer Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to making illegal campaign contributions.”

Trump grouses about price of probe - Fox News: “President Trump on Friday blasted the cost of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, after a new filing revealed taxpayers have spent nearly $17 million on the Russia probe. ‘A.P. has just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation has now cost our government over $17 million, and going up fast. No Collusion, except by the Democrats!’ Trump tweeted. The price tag was revealed in a spending report released Thursday by the Justice Department. About $10 million was spent between October and March, the document states. That includes $4.5 million spent by Mueller’s team and another $5.5 million spent by the Justice Department on other expenditures attributable to the investigations. ‘The department will continue to dedicate and leverage resources to maintain strong program and financial management controls,’ the DOJ said in the report. ‘Management takes its program and financial accountability seriously and is dedicated to ensuring that funds are used in a responsible and transparent manner.’”

Trump says Singapore summit with Kim is back on after meeting with NoKo official - Fox News

Trump admin making plans to save coal power plants - Bloomberg

Unemployment numbers stays at 17-year low - AP

Report: Pruitt spent $1,560 on customized fountain pens - WaPo

Trudeau says no to NAFTA deal because of five-year sunset clause - WaPo

“This individual will have the capacity as lieutenant governor to serve in a high level of management and efficiency, and that’s what our state needs.” – Kansas Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett announcing that he had selected his wife, Rosie, to be his running mate.

This Sunday Mr. Wallace will sit down with former Trump Campaign Manager, Corey Lewandowski. 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.

“Chris & Brianna, Happy June! What’s next for Missouri now that Greitens has resigned? Is Hawley still deteriorating from association/will he continue to? Also why did Greitens use taxpayer-funded lawyers to fight for his innocence but then abruptly resign when the chargers were dropped? Swamp level: stinky.” – Jack Whiteman, St. Louis

[Ed. note: Greitens’ departure is unambiguously good news for Hawley. Even in the most favorable light of Hawley being seen as standing up to corruption, the story is still a net-negative. We assume that Greitens’ replacement, the pride of Polk County, Gov. Mike Parson, will not have anything nearly so interesting to say or do as his predecessor. Presumably, state issues will now recede in Missouri, and that’s a very good thing for Hawley. Everything that Hawley can do to make this a national race will help him. If he can get voters thinking about generic Republicans and generic Democrats, Hawley will win with a walk-off in bright red Missouri. Sen. Claire McCaskill, on the other hand, needs the race to be about Missouri and about her accomplishments – ways in which she is different from national Democrats. You know, you really got me thinking, Mr. Whiteman, that I need to get out there and see the race first hand. I’ll be particularly interested to assess voter attitudes in the 700 block Clark Avenue in St. Louis…]

“Chris, It is duly noted that you told us about choking on your gum while walking into the studio to record your podcast the day before citing a scientific study about chewing gum and walking in the Halftime Report. You did not answer the question ‘Can you chew gum and walk at the same time?’ in your newsletter, but that’s ok - your listeners know the truth.” – Scott Duncan, Austin, Texas

[Ed. note: Busted! Some days I have enough trouble walking without chewing gum, TBH…]

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AP: “Federal authorities say a Delaware man snapped a selfie before stealing part of a $4.5 million statue at a Philadelphia museum. According to an arrest affidavit filed Friday, 24-year-old Michael Rohana was attending an Ugly Sweater Party at the Franklin Institute Dec. 21 when he entered the ‘Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor’ exhibit. Authorities say Rohana took photos while posing next to a statue known as ‘The Cavalryman,’ and then snapped off the statue’s left thumb. Museum staff noticed the missing thumb Jan. 8, and the FBI traced it to Rohana five days later. It is unclear if he has legal representation. A museum spokeswoman says the statue will be repaired. She says a security contractor did not follow standard procedures the night of the alleged theft.”

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.