Flake fuels 2020 primary speculation

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On the roster: Flake fuels 2020 primary speculation - Amidst admin shakeup ‘Kelly is not going anywhere’ - GOP leaders request second special counsel for DOJ - Kudlow nomination helps GOP continue tax cuts - Just keep the meter running


FLAKE FUELS 2020 PRIMARY SPECULATION

Fox News: “Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake blasted President Trump as an ‘erratic leader’ in a closely-watched speech in New Hampshire on Friday, fueling more speculation that the Arizona Republican may challenge the president in a 2020 GOP primary. Asked during a Politics and Eggs appearance at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics if he will challenge Trump in 2020, Flake said ‘it has not been in my plans to run for president, but I have not ruled it out.’ But he emphasized his belief that someone from his party will take on Trump in the GOP presidential primaries. ‘I don’t know who it will be. I think the odds that I will are long,’ he said. Flake is one of the most vocal Republican critics of the president. The speaking series is a must stop for White House hopefuls visiting the first-in-the-nation primary state. The conservative senator, who’s retiring at the end of this year rather than face the prospect of losing a primary challenge if he ran for re-election, described himself Friday as ‘Americanus Nevertrumpus’ and said ‘somebody needs to stand up for traditional Republicanism.’”

Trump convinces GOP primary challenger to drop out of Nevada Senate race - Fox News: “President Trump nudged GOP challenger Danny Tarkanian out of Nevada’s Senate race on Friday, convincing him to drop his primary bid against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in return for a Trump endorsement in a House race instead. Tarkanian, a conservative businessman in Nevada and son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, had been challenging Heller in this year’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. But on Friday, Trump tweeted: ‘It would be great for the Republican Party of Nevada, and it’s unity if good guy Danny Tarkanian would run for Congress and Dean Heller, who is doing a really good job, could run for Senate unopposed!’ Shortly after that tweet, Tarkanian, who has previously unsuccessfully sought public office before, released a statement saying he planned to drop out of the Senate race and run in the third congressional district.”

Lamb makes moves for second Pa. primary race - Beaver [Pa.] County Times: “While there has been no official announcement from Democratic U.S. Rep.-elect Conor Lamb, it seems the budding political star will be running in the new 17th Congressional District primary because he is seeking the Beaver County Democratic Committee’s endorsement vote next week. Democratic committee members gather at 6 p.m. March 22 at the Monaca Turners’ Club in Center Township for endorsement votes. Committee Chairman Steve Dupree said Wednesday that Lamb, a Mount Lebanon resident, has joined Sewickley attorney Beth Tarasi and Shaler Township resident Aaron Anthony, a University of Pittsburgh doctoral student and former Shaler Area School District teacher, as endorsement candidates. Dupree acknowledged that Lamb has name recognition and a ‘ground game’ in place that will be critical but said the former Marine and federal prosecutor will not be handed anything.”

Pa. special gives Ohio Dems competitive hopes - Cleveland.com: “The victory [by Conor Lamb] has boosted optimism among Ohio Democrats, who see a number of opportunities to flip congressional seats to blue. … But the 18th Congressional District in Pennsylvania has some striking similarities to several districts in Ohio. So much so that Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which does election analysis and political handicapping at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, downgraded Republicans’ chances in four Ohio races - two near Columbus and two near Cleveland. ‘A candidate less skilled than Lamb may not have won, but Trump’s unpopularity opened the door to this district being competitive,’ wrote Kyle Kondik, managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball and an Ohio native. Kondik added that the PA-18 election doesn’t guarantee Democratic wins in certain Ohio districts, but makes several of them attainable.”

Indiana Senate race has the most ads across the country - Indy Star: “The multi-candidate GOP primary combined with a top Democratic target has resulted in the contest topping the charts for most television ads aired this year among Senate races across the country, according to a report released Thursday by the independent Wesleyan Media Project. And that tally doesn’t take into account more than $2 million in ads that started running Thursday by an outside group critical of Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly’s opposition to the GOP tax cut package. … Still, Senate race ads by the candidates themselves or outside groups have aired more than 6,700 times from January through March 12 at an estimated cost of $1.9 million. The next heaviest amount of Senate race advertising is in Wisconsin where ads have aired nearly 4,900 times for an estimated cost of $1.1 million.”

Illinois gubernatorial race gets pricey - USA Today: “Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker — the front-runner in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary in Illinois — has been called a fraud, accused of trying to buy his way to office, and dismissed as being cut from the same cloth as President Trump. And that’s just what some of his fellow Democrats are saying about him. Polls show Pritzker, who has poured $63 million of his own fortune into his campaign, has a double-digit percentage-point lead over his closest rivals, state Sen. Daniel Biss and developer Chris Kennedy (a member of the politically famed Massachusetts Kennedy family). The three are at the top of the polls in a six-way race to represent Democrats in their push to oust Gov. Bruce Rauner, a former private equity executive turned politician who political analysts regard as one of the most vulnerable GOP governors up for re-election in 2018.”

Human first, politician second - Hartford Courant: “Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a top contender for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, was released from the hospital Friday morning, the day after he collapsed at a campaign event. Boughton’s campaign did not responding to multiple requests for comment on the candidate’s condition, other than issuing a brief statement. State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, another Republican candidate and a physician, was one of three physicians who went to Boughton’s aid after he collapsed at a candidates’ ‘meet and greet’ event in Avon. … Upon learning of the mayor’s collapse, Danbury City Council President Joseph Cavo hurried to the hospital. … Cavo said he was told the mayor’s sudden collapse at the campaign event was the result of dehydration.”

THE RULEBOOK: BETTER TOGETHER
“Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen States will be able to support a national government better than one half, or one third, or any number less than the whole.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 13

TIME OUT: MY GOODNESS, MY GUINNESS

USA Today: “Go to an Irish pub and you’re likely to see one of Guinness’ more famous a photo of one of Guinness’ more famous — and curious — advertising characters: a toucan toting a beer on its beak. But toucans reside in the treetops of Central and South America… So why does Guinness use the bird to represent a uniquely Irish beer? The story dates back to English advertising in the 1930s. … The sea lion was the first Guinness animal advertisement [John Gilroy] drew, which led to others… But the toucan, which first appeared in 1935, prevailed. It was often used in the United Kingdom. [Guinness archive manager Fergus Brady] credits its popularity to the animal’s color and cheeriness. The brewery often gets asked about the story of the toucan. … Gilroy also drew a series of American-specific toucan advertisements in the 1940s and 1950s featuring toucans flying over iconic American landmarks… But they were never approved for release by Guinness.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41 percent 
Average disapproval: 54 percent 
Net Score: 
-13 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points 
[Average includes: Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; CBS News: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; George Washington University: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; Marist College: 44% approve - 49% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 37.8 percent
Democratic average: 49.6 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 11.8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.4 points 
[Average includes: George Washington University: 49% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 38% GOP; Monmouth University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 47% Dems - 32% GOP; CNN: 54% Dems - 38% GOP.]

AMIDST ADMIN SHAKEUP ‘KELLY IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE’
WSJ: “President Donald Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly have settled on a truce, at least temporarily, as the latest round of staff tumult continues to ripple through the West Wing, according to people familiar with the discussions. … Mr. Kelly suggested to colleagues that he may be the next to be pushed out of the White House. Mr. Kelly’s cryptic comments left several White House staffers with the impression that Mr. Kelly would force the issue with the president, and that they should start looking for new jobs, too. … But on Thursday, Messrs. Trump and Kelly had a productive meeting that left both men reassured. Mr. Trump told advisers afterward that Mr. Kelly was ‘100% safe.’ Mr. Kelly told his associates that, at least for the moment, he and the president had patched things up. … White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a five-word statement: ‘Kelly is not going anywhere.’

And what about McMaster? - Politico: “President Donald Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster isn’t getting fired, he’s getting Tillersoned – kept in a state of perpetual limbo about his future in the administration, aware that his unpredictable boss could keep him around indefinitely or terminate him at a moment’s notice. Like now-former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, whom the president dismissed earlier this week, McMaster has never clicked with the president, who prizes personal chemistry and likes to shoot the breeze. … What’s changed in recent days, according to a half-dozen White House aides and outside advisers familiar with the situation, is that White House chief-of-staff John Kelly has put increasing pressure on Trump to get rid of McMaster – and that’s made the president, who likes to be contrary and doesn’t mind frustrating his advisers, increasingly resistant to making a change.”

Grassley, Graham go to bat for Sessions - The Hill: “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) warned President Trump against firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday amid rumors of a major shake-up pending for the Trump administration. In an interview with Fox News's ‘Special Report with Bret Baier,’ Grassley, alongside fellow Judiciary Committee member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said simply that he doesn't believe Trump should oust his attorney general despite reported anger over Sessions's handling of the Russia investigation. ‘I would only answer your question this way unless you push me on it: I don't think he should be fired,’ Grassley said. ‘It would blow up the committee,’ Graham agreed.”

FBI supports firing McCabe - National Review: “The FBI’s Office of Personal Responsibility has recommended the firing of former deputy director Andrew McCabe, who is accused of serious misconduct. The recommendation apparently resulted from a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which found that McCabe leaked sensitive details about the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation to a Wall Street Journal reporter and then lied about it to the IG’s office. Republicans have called for McCabe to be terminated since news of the controversy emerged, citing what they see as the FBI’s shoddy and biased handling of both the investigation into Russian election meddling and the Clinton-email probe.”

GOP LEADERS REQUEST SECOND SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR DOJ
Axios: “Senators Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn and Thom Tillis have requested a second special counsel appointed to investigate the DOJ and FBI's review of matters related to the Trump-Russia investigation prior to the appointment of Robert Mueller, in a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Here's why: Last month Grassley and Graham asked the Inspector General to review issues surrounding the application and renewals of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to investigate Christopher Steele, the author of the Trump-Russia dossier, but they write that the DOJ ‘cannot credibly investigate itself.’ This isn't their first request: Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, previously asked the IG to look into potential improprieties in the FBI’s relationship with Steele. They also request information on potential conflicts of interest at the FBI, allegedly unauthorized disclosures from the FBI to the press, and information about the FBI’s handling of the investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.”

KUDLOW NOMINATION HELPS GOP CONTINUE TAX CUTS
Bloomberg: “Republicans are looking to act a lot faster than originally expected to keep the new individual tax cuts from expiring in 2025, daring Democrats to put up a roadblock during a congressional election year. Incoming White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow added momentum to the effort by calling this week for a ‘phase two’ of the tax cuts to make breaks for individual taxpayers permanent. The undertaking was first suggested by President Donald Trump during a GOP retreat in West Virginia last month, joking with House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady that he wanted to get rates even lower. But the GOP’s second attempt at tax cuts faces a formidable hurdle, since it would need support from Democrats, who were cut out of the historic revamp that Trump signed in December.”

Trump finalizes opioid plan - Politico: “The Trump administration is finalizing a long-awaited plan that it says will solve the opioid crisis, but it also calls for law enforcement measures — like the death penalty for some drug dealers — that public health advocates and congressional Republicans warn will detract from efforts to reverse the epidemic. The ambitious plan, which the White House has quietly been circulating among political appointees this month, could be announced as soon as Monday when President Donald Trump visits New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the epidemic. It includes a mix of prevention and treatment measures that advocates have long endorsed, as well as beefed-up enforcement in line with the president’s frequent calls for a harsh crackdown on drug traffickers and dealers.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Trump’s CIA pick Gina Haspel did not oversee waterboarding - WashTimes

Read Tim Alberta’s profile on Sen. Tim Scott: ‘God Made Me Black on Purpose’ - Politico

Trump Jr., Vanessa Trump file for divorce - Fox News

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. 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.

AUDIBLE: MAY SHE REST IN PEACE
“To have met Louise Slaughter is to have known a force of nature.” – Liam Fitzsimmons, Rep. Slaughter’s chief of staff. The New York congresswoman died on Friday in a Washington hospital at the age of 88. Read more about her impressive life in an obituary written by Fox News colleague Chad Pergram.

[Ed. note: Chris Stirewalt is away – by which we mean he is holed up in his garret, hiding from his publisher and trying to finish the book he loves but that may be trying to kill him. He will return, Lord and the Louisiana Historical Society willing, on March 21. In lieu of flowers, please send coffee and bacon.]  

JUST KEEP THE METER RUNNING
Evansville Courier & Press: “A man accused of robbing an Evansville bank allegedly used money from the robbery to pay for a cab ride home. Derrick Faria, 19, was arrested less than an hour after he allegedly robbed Fifth Third Bank on Diamond Avenue on Thursday. Faria reportedly took a taxi directly from his home to the bank and then paid the same taxi driver to take him home after the robbery.  … Evansville Police say he passed a teller a note that said ‘this is a robbery give me all your money’ but did not show a weapon. … After the robbery, Faria reportedly returned to the parking lot, got back in the uCabbi minivan and asked the driver to take him home. … No one was hurt during the robbery or arrest. All the money taken during the robbery was recovered, police say, except $20 — the $14 for the cab fare and $6 tip for the driver.”

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.