By Chris Stirewalt
Published February 13, 2020
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On the roster: Down-ballot Dems freaking out over Bernie - Bloomy rolls out black outreach with key endorser - Biden’s South Carolina firewall crumbling - Blowback over Trump’s Stone meddling - First dates are the wooooorst
DOWN-BALLOT DEMS FREAKING OUT OVER BERNIE
AP: “Sen. Bernie Sanders’ robust start in the race for the presidential nomination is triggering alarm among congressional Democrats, with many warning that a ticket headed by the self-declared socialist could be devastating to the party’s chances of winning the Senate and holding the House in November. In anxious huddles around the Capitol, apprehensive Democrats are sharing their worries that Sanders’ socialist label and unyielding embrace of controversial proposals like ‘Medicare for All’ and the Green New Deal will repel voters in the affluent, moderate districts that flipped House control in 2018 and in closely divided states where Republican senators are vulnerable. … In private conversations, other Democrats are more succinct. One House Democrat said colleagues from swing districts are scared by the prospects of a Sanders nomination, while another said moderates are increasingly concerned that a Sanders candidacy would devastate their prospects for winning the White House and retaining the House. The lawmakers insisted on anonymity to describe private conversations.”
Bernie benefits from Trump-era disclosure standards - Politico: “Where are those medical records you promised to show us, NBC News’ Chuck Todd asked last weekend on ‘Meet the Press.’ Sen. Bernie Sanders sounded polite enough, as he exhaled a puffy cloud of obfuscation. It was not hard to translate Sanders’ word cloud: Go to hell, Chuck. A lot of that going around these days. Go to hell is what President Donald Trump said in response to his own reneged pledge to release his tax records… The narrow question is whether the public needs to see full health records of a 78-year-old man who recently suffered a heart attack and now hopes to be commander in chief or whether his physicians’ letters of reassurance (not accompanied by a news conference or interviews) that he is in satisfactory health are sufficient. A much larger question is raised by Sanders’ willingness to tell Todd—and the rest of us—to pound sand, seemingly confident in his belief that there is not much price to be paid for doing so.”
Luce: Wolves and sheep - Financial Times: “Brexiters dubbed it ‘Project Fear’. President Donald Trump’s supporters call it Trump derangement syndrome and Bernie Sanders fans think of it as corporate scaremongering. What links each is the habit of exaggerating populism’s short-term fallout, which inures people to its mounting dangers. The parallels to global warming are strong. Predicting apocalypse tomorrow instils a sense of fatalism, which creates a paradox for liberals. They want to warn people of danger, but not so much that they breed a spirit of surrender. So far, liberals are failing in that task. In Aesop’s fable of course, the wolf eventually shows up. But false alarms have numbed people to the present danger. Sometimes its fangs are more apparent than real. It is hard to prove that Mr. Sanders, for example, poses an existential threat to the US republic. Nor, as Mr. Sanders’ detractors insist, is there strong evidence that Mr. Trump would automatically beat him.”
BLOOMY ROLLS OUT BLACK OUTREACH WITH KEY ENDORSER
CBS News: “Mike Bloomberg picked up the endorsement Thursday of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who leads the fourth largest city in the nation. The announcement follows his endorsement this week by three members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Their support could help allay any renewed concerns about Bloomberg's use of ‘stop and frisk’ policies while he was the mayor of New York City. … CBS News has also exclusively learned that Turner plans to help officially launch Bloomberg's newest initiative, Mike for Black America. The program will be aimed at both engaging black Americans on key issues for the black community and spearheading an organizing effort on Bloomberg's behalf. … It also builds on plans like the Greenwood initiative, which is meant to respond to systemic inequities that have kept many Black Americans from achieving generational wealth. The launch also comes in the wake of recent polls showing Bloomberg is making major strides in national polls including gains with black voters. A Quinnipiac poll this week put him in second place with the key Democratic voting bloc.”
Rivals seize on 2008 remarks on cause of financial panic - AP: “At the height of the 2008 economic collapse, then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the elimination of a discriminatory housing practice known as ‘redlining’ was responsible for instigating the meltdown. ‘It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone,’ Bloomberg, now a Democratic presidential candidate, said at a forum that was hosted by Georgetown University in September 2008. … Campaign spokesman Stu Loeser said… ‘He’s saying that something bad - the financial crisis - followed something good, which is the fight against redlining that he was part of as Mayor.’ … [Elizabeth Warren] criticized Bloomberg for suggesting the end of redlining caused the crash. … ‘I’m surprised that someone running for the Democratic nomination thinks the economy would be better off if we just let banks be more overtly racist,’ she said.”
Parkland congressman backs Bloomy - South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Highlighting their shared stands on combatting gun violence, Congressman Ted Deutch is endorsing Mike Bloomberg for president. Long before Bloomberg became a presidential candidate, one of his signature issues was gun violence, also a years-long central issue for Deutch — well before the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in his district. … The congressman will serve as a co-chairman of the United for Mike Leadership Council, a nationwide effort to build support for Bloomberg among Jewish voters. Before entering politics, Deutch was active in Jewish philanthropic efforts and in pro-Israel causes.”
Trump focused on fellow New Yorker - Mediaite: “Need evidence that Mike Bloomberg is now viewed as a political threat to the second term of President Donald Trump? Look no further than Thursday’s insults hurled at the former New York City mayor via the president’s Twitter feed, and perhaps more interestingly, how Bloomberg hit back in a quick and clinical manner. Trump first quote-tweeted a photo shopped image that portrayed a diminutive Bloomberg standing next to a stack of papers while an oversized president cut symbolic red tape above. Trump called Bloomberg a ‘LOSER who has money but can’t debate,’ … Bloomberg was very quick to respond via Twitter, however, calling out Trump as a ‘carnival barking clown.’ He added. ‘They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence.’”
Mercenaries in memetic warfare - NYT: “Mike Bloomberg has contracted some of the biggest meme-makers on the internet to post sponsored content on Instagram promoting his presidential campaign. The Bloomberg campaign is working with Meme 2020, a new company formed by some of the people behind extremely influential accounts. Mick Purzycki is the lead strategist of the Meme 2020 project. He is also the chief executive of Jerry Media, a media and marketing company that is a powerful force in the influencer economy. The company’s portfolio includes some of the most notable meme accounts on Instagram. Jerry Media was at the center of controversy last year after a debate around proper crediting in meme culture. … The campaign, which launched this week, has already placed sponsored posts on Instagram accounts including @GrapeJuiceBoys, a meme page with more than 2.7 million followers; Jerry Media’s own most popular account, with more than 13.3 million followers; and @Tank.Sinatra, a member with more than 2.3 million followers.”
BIDEN’S SOUTH CAROLINA FIREWALL CRUMBLING
NYT: “Even before the final results from New Hampshire showed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. finishing a distant fifth, Mr. Biden had flown to the warm embrace of South Carolina on Tuesday night, appearing at a party that had all the markings of a victory celebration. … The ability to mobilize black support in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Feb. 29, and across the South has long been the foundation of Mr. Biden’s candidacy — a presumed advantage that would highlight his capacity to forge a diverse coalition to take down President Trump. Yet as Mr. Biden looks to black voters to resurrect his candidacy after defeats in both Iowa and New Hampshire, cracks have appeared in that support, in some polls and among influential local and national Democrats, who are saying out loud what many have privately believed all along: that he was a safe, familiar political harbor for them as much as an object of affection.”
Talks tough to try to shore up supporters - Politico: “Former Vice President Joe Biden – after his pair of devastating losses – tried to reassure supporters on an evening call Wednesday that ‘things haven’t changed’ and that there’s been ‘no dropoff in our endorsers.’ Arguing that the primary is ‘still wide open,’ Biden said he was ‘confident we can win South Carolina. I think we'll win Nevada, but it is a caucus which is a little bit different,’ according to a recording of the roughly 13-minute call obtained by POLITICO. Biden has long said he would perform better than his rivals once the primary reached more diverse states, particularly South Carolina. His campaign sees that state as a ‘launching pad’ to Super Tuesday success. But a looming Mike Bloomberg and poor showings compared to other fellow moderates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar in the first two states has Biden's campaign on edge.”
THE RULEBOOK: PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES
“A protection against invasion is due from every society to the parts composing it.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 43
TIME OUT: FINDING A NATIONAL, HIDDEN TREASURE
Smithsonian: “In 1959, the Smithsonian Institution received a letter from Mrs. James ‘Shirley C.’ Wade offering to sell a linen banner bearing an ink portrait of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. An eagle carried the Jefferson portrait victoriously aloft framed in a halo of seven-pointed stars. From the bird’s beak streamed a ribbon proclaiming: ‘T. Jefferson President of the United States. John Adams is No More.’ … Today, the banner, one of the few surviving artifacts of the 1800 election, is held in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. But how did Mrs. Wade come to own such a significant piece of American history? She reported that in 1958 her 14-year-old son, Craig, and his 11-year-old brother, Richard, discovered the relic in a railroad ditch near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The elder son took it home and unceremoniously tacked it up on his bedroom wall. The family only realized its importance after the brothers took turns bringing it to school for show-and-tell, and their teachers both recommended showing it to a local museum.”
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ESTIMATED DELEGATES FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
[Ed. note: 1,991 delegates needed to win]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44 percent
Average disapproval: 51.4 percent
Net Score: -7.4 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.4 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; CBS News: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve - 51% disapprove.]
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BLOWBACK OVER TRUMP’S STONE MEDDLING
Politico: “President Donald Trump’s post-impeachment acquittal behavior is casting a chill in Washington, with Attorney General William Barr emerging as a key ally in the president’s quest for vengeance against the law enforcement and national security establishment that initiated the Russia and Ukraine investigations. In perhaps the most tumultuous day yet for the Justice Department under Trump, four top prosecutors withdrew on Tuesday from a case involving the president’s longtime friend Roger Stone after senior department officials overrode their sentencing recommendation—a backpedaling that DOJ veterans and legal experts suspect was influenced by Trump’s own displeasure with the prosecutors’ judgment…. The president has only inflamed such suspicions, congratulating Barr on Wednesday for intervening in Stone’s case and teeing off hours later on the prosecutors, calling them ‘Mueller people’ who treated Stone ‘very badly.’”
Andrew McCarthy: The Roger Stone sentencing fiasco - National Review: “Like criminal-justice ‘reform,’ the Stone prosecution is more politics than law enforcement. It was the Mueller probe’s last gasp at pretending there might be something to the Russia-collusion narrative – notwithstanding that, when the ‘gee, it sure feels like there could be some collusion here’ indictment was filed, over a year and a half after special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed, it had long been manifest that there was no Trump–Russia conspiracy. So, the Left has a quandary here: Do they hate Trump more than they love sentencing ‘reform’?”
John Kelly lets loose - The Atlantic: “Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council aide and impeachment witness President Donald Trump fired Friday, was just doing his job, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told students and guests at a Drew University event here Wednesday night. Over a 75-minute speech and Q&A session, [John] Kelly laid out, in the clearest terms yet, his misgivings about Trump’s words and actions regarding North Korea, illegal immigration, military discipline, Ukraine, and the news media. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said that Vindman is blameless and was simply following the training he’d received as a soldier; migrants are ‘overwhelmingly good people’ and ‘not all rapists’; and Trump’s decision to condition military aid to Ukraine on an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden upended long-standing U.S. policy.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: GOVERNMENT AND SPYING
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the history behind the Patriot Act: “While we were all consumed by impeachment, a pernicious piece of legislation was slowly and silently making its way through Congress. It is a renewal of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act of 2001 has three sections that are scheduled to expire on March 15. One of those sections is the infamous 215, which authorized the federal government to capture without a warrant all records of all people in America held by third parties. Do we really want the federal government to spy without warrants? How can Congress, which has sworn to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, legislate such a blatant violation of it?” More here.
Report: U.S. budget deficit grew 25% in first four months of fiscal year 2020 - WSJ
Pergram: Congress' budget battles spark confusion without much progress - Fox News
Hope Hicks returning to the White House, this time as Jared Kushner’s aide - Mediaite
After voting to impeach Trump, Sen. Joe Manchin likely to endorse his re-election - Politico
Trump campaign, GOP haul in $60M amid impeachment trial - Fox News
“There haven’t been very strong indicators this week that he has.” – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, when asked if President Trump had learned a lesson from impeachment, per the NYT.
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FIRST DATES ARE THE WOOOOORST
WHDH: “A man who robbed a bank in North Attleboro [Mass.] while on a first date with a woman he met online was sentenced last week to three years in state prison, authorities announced Tuesday. … [Christopher Castillo’s] date picked him up at a parent’s house on Dec. 5, 2016, and he drank wine while the two drove to the Bristol County Savings Bank in North Attleboro, prosecutors said. When the two got close to the bank, Castillo asked his date to pull over and he exited her Nissan Maxima. … Prosecutors say Castillo flashed a gun in the face of a bank teller, stated that he was ‘really hurting’ for money, and demanded $1,000. He then came running back to his date, sweating with a gun and cash in hand. Castillo told the woman to ‘(expletive) go’ but she later pulled over in a Dunkin’ parking lot when she saw blue police lights in her rearview mirror. She was not charged in connection with the incident.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“For 26 years television has been free of cigarette ads. Why? Because TV persuades as nothing else, and we don't want young people--inveterate TV watchers--persuaded. Yet television is bursting with exhortations to drink. TV sports in particular, a staple of adolescents, is one long hymn to the glories of beer.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 24, 2001.
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.