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On the roster: For de Blasio and Bullock, is it shoes or toilet paper? - I’ll Tell You What: Honest to Pete - Poll shows Biden ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania - Kamala shoots down veep talk - How to train your dragon IRL


The great Arnon Mishkin, known to history as the “Nerd 1” of the Fox News Decision Desk, has a name for presidential candidates like Steve Bullock and Bill de Blasio: “Shoes or toilet paper.”

The descriptor comes from the later days of the Soviet Union when almost everything of value was in short supply. Citizens became accustomed to waiting in very long lines. If you came upon a particularly long line you might just queue up without knowing what was available.

Maybe it’s shoes, maybe it’s toilet paper but its gotta be something of real value if that many people want it. 

This scene from “Moscow on the Hudson” sums it up nicely, especially the part when the clerk asks him which size shoes Robin Williams’ character wants. He tells her 45 or 46 and she replies “We only have 38s.” He takes two pairs.

Neither the 23rd, Bullock, nor the 24th, de Blasio, Democratic candidates in line for that party’s nomination, have anything like a plausible path to victory. Not even the greatest Svengalis of the political consulting racket could convince their marks, er, candidates of such a thing.

What these candidates may actually believe is that there’s some oddball scenario – maybe a typhus outbreak at the Iowa State Fair’s corn dog stand lays low half the field – in which they might become viable. But that’s not really the point. The point is that running is seen as its own reward.

We don’t know for whom, but for some of the two dozen, the run will be beneficial after the trail ends. Consider the flavor of the month, two months running: South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigeig. By means of his initially long-shot candidacy, the mayor of the nation’s 301st largest city is all but guaranteed future political relevancy, improved income for himself and an automatic berth in the 2024 presidential stakes.

Not too shabby.

But we contrast that with the tribulations of Beto O’Rourke. The former Texas congressman and erstwhile antagonist of Sen. Ted Cruz has drained his credibility and cashed in his “rising star” for “one hit wonder” status. 

Now, this is pretty clearly because Buttigeig is good at running for president and O’Rourke most decidedly is not. While Buttigeig exceeds expectations, watching O’Rourke is like watching the protagonist in some cringy Ben Stiller vehicle awkwardly flail through the campaign. Like, come on, bro.

But both Bullock and de Blasio, no doubt, imagine themselves as being far more Mayor Pete than Beto. Why even consider the downside when you, as most politicians do, think that you are a very special, very important person.

We’ll see who ends up with shoes, who ends up with toilet paper and who gets sent to Siberia. 

“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 51

Smithsonian:Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window’ has a decidedly protracted provenance. Attributed first to Rembrandt and later to Pieter de Hooch, the canvas was only identified as a Vermeer original in 1862. During World War II, the contemplative scene narrowly escaped destruction in the firebombing of Dresden, but then fell into the hands of the invading Soviets, who refused to return the plundered painting until 1955. Now, ongoing restoration work has added yet another wrinkle to the story of the 1657 masterpiece: …[A] recent bout of laboratory testing confirmed that a long-hidden Cupid found in the top right-hand corner of the canvas was painted over not by the Dutch Golden Age artist, but an unknown party who acted decades after Vermeer’s death. Although art historians have known of the little god of love’s existence since 1979, they previously believed Vermeer covered up the figure himself and, as a result, decided against restoring the painting to its original form.”

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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 one point
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve - 53% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; Gallup: 46% approve - 50% disapprove.]

This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss how the 2020 Presidential candidates plan to land a spot on the debate stage, Chris explains the meaning behind ‘strange new respect’ (SNR), and for Dana's birthday, who took Jasper's name? Plus, Dana fires off trivia for Chris. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Quinnipiac University: “In an early look at the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania, former Vice President Joseph Biden is over the 50 percent mark in a matchup with President Donald Trump, leading 53 - 42 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released [Wednesday]. There is a wide gender gap as women back Biden 60 - 36 percent, while men are divided with 49 percent for President Trump and 45 percent for Biden… Biden leads 93 - 6 percent among Democrats and 51 - 37 percent among independent voters. Matchups between Trump and other top Democratic contenders show: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont over Trump 50 - 43 percent; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 47 percent to Trump's 44 percent; Trump and Sen. Kamala Harris of California split 45 - 45 percent; South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 45 percent to Trump's 44 percent; Trump at 46 percent to 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas.”

Biden picks Philadelphia for campaign headquarters - The [Philadelphia] Inquirer: “Joe Biden will base his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, setting up in a city where he has deep ties and in a state that is central to his strategy. A formal announcement is expected Thursday, just ahead of Biden’s Saturday rally at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. ‘We’re proud to anchor our campaign in the birthplace of American democracy,’ said a statement to The Inquirer from Greg Schultz, Biden’s campaign manager. … The national headquarters, which will be in Center City, will have around 50 staffers to start, a number that could grow as the campaign goes on, and especially if Biden wins the Democratic nomination. The site will become the day-to-day nerve center for Biden’s strategic planning, media team, and others.”

Biden readies for first New York fundraiser - CNBC: “Former Vice President Joe Biden is getting ready for his first fundraising blitz in New York as a 2020 candidate for president, CNBC has learned. Biden and his allies are setting up at least two fundraisers that are expected to take place June 17 and 18, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. While the venues are still to be determined, the events will be in New York City, these people said. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently indicated to friends that he’s planning to open his formidable fundraising network to Biden, will likely be invited to attend, those with knowledge of the plans said. Some of Biden’s most ardent supporters are based out of New York, including hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, founder and president of Kynikos Associates.”

Politico:Kamala Harris used humor to swat aside the chatter about her becoming Joe Biden’s running mate: Maybe it should be the other way around, she said Wednesday, given Biden’s experience in the No. 2 job. But inside her campaign and among allies, such talk is not a laughing matter. They're rankled by the suggestion, privately venting that it’s demeaning to a woman of color and perpetuates an unfair critique that she’s somehow not prepared for the job she’s actually seeking. ‘It's infuriating,’ a Harris confidant fumed several days before the idea began taking hold in the media. … On Wednesday, Harris joked that Biden would make a fine running mate, rounding out a ticket on which she’s at the top: ‘As vice president, he’s proven that he knows how to do the job,’ Harris told reporters after her town hall in Nashua, N.H.”

Report: Bullock raised $1 million in first 24 hours of candidacy - CNN: “Montana Gov. Steve Bullock raised $1 million from donors in all 50 states in the 24 hours after he launched his 2020 presidential bid, his campaign announced Wednesday. Not included in the release: The number of donors who donated to Bullock's campaign, a figure that will be key to the Montana Democrat's ability to make the first Democratic primary debate in June. ‘Gov. Steve Bullock has a proven record, long-held progressive values and a powerful vision to take big money out of politics that is already resonating with Americans in all 50 states,’ said Jenn Ridder, Bullock's campaign manager. Ridder added that the campaign will have ‘an aggressive on-the-ground operation, digital-first approach, and nationwide grassroots support.’ … Bullock's haul, while not as large as those touted by Biden, Sanders or O'Rourke, puts him among some a number of other top Democrats running for the party's nomination.”

Buttigieg adds Obama ad-maker to team - Politico:Pete Buttigieg just added major heft to his presidential campaign, picking up the advertising firm that aided Barack Obama’s 2008 rise to the national stage. Larry Grisolano and John Del Cecato of AKPD Message and Media, are joining Buttigieg’s team, Grisolano confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday. The South Bend, Ind., mayor’s presidential campaign is also bringing on Tyler Law, a former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee national press secretary who handles communications strategy for AKPD, and pollster Katie Connolly of Benenson Strategy Group. Grisolano, who also worked on Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign and was the director of paid media for Obama’s presidential efforts, said he had talked to numerous campaigns about the coming presidential election before settling on Buttigieg.”

Jay Inslee pitches $9 trillion climate plan - AP: “Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee is pitching a $9 trillion-plus climate action plan that he touts as an economic renaissance and scientific necessity… Inslee compares his ‘Evergreen Economy’ plan, which combines public and private spending, to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the mobilization of the U.S. manufacturing base during World War II and the 1960s NASA mission to reach the moon. … The plan would marshal 28 new or existing programs to shift U.S energy markets from fossil fuel dependence to renewable sources; transform U.S. automobile manufacturing and construction practices; and remake the nation’s infrastructure from public transit to municipal water and rural electric cooperatives. Inslee projects about $300 billion in annual government spending over the first decade of the plan, with incentives he says will generate about $600 billion in matching private sector investment…”

Schultz continues to delay decision on 2020 - Fox Business: “Billionaire businessman and former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz has delayed his decision on whether to run for president as an independent as he assesses the possibility of former Vice President Joe Biden capturing the Democratic nomination, FOX Business has learned. … As a result, Schultz has also pushed back the timetable of his decision, which was initially expected sometime in the summer, these people add. People close to the billionaire say his decision may now take months, and he might even wait until early 2020 to decide whether to run as he observes the Democratic primary fight, and how Biden competes against his more leftist rivals.”

NYT: “President Trump on Thursday will unveil a plan to overhaul parts of the nation’s immigration system that would impose new security measures at the border and significantly increase the educational and skills requirements for people allowed to migrate to the United States. The proposal, senior administration officials said on Wednesday, would vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration that for decades has allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them, the officials said. In its place, the new plan would provide opportunities for immigrants who have specific skills or job offers to work in the United States, provided they can demonstrate English proficiency and educational attainment, and pass a civics exam. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, spent months working on the plan, which will serve as a central part of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign message. Working with him was Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration adviser…”

Team Trump shares border wall funding plan ahead of court showdown - Bloomberg: “The Trump administration unveiled a multi-tiered plan to pay for construction of a Mexico border wall two days before foes urge a judge to block the re-allocation of funds not authorized by Congress. The government intends to begin awarding the latest tranche of contracts Thursday, drawing on $2.5 billion from the Defense Department, primarily from budgets for drug interdiction and counter-drug activities, the Justice Department said in a court filing Wednesday. That amount is all that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is currently prepared to give President Donald Trump for the project, according to the filing. Another $600 million will come from the Treasury Department’s Forfeiture Fund.”

This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains how Trump has been abandoning separation of powers James Madison crafted: “James Madison, who essentially wrote the Constitution, believed that tension and jealousy between the three branches would enhance personal freedom by preventing the accumulation of too much governmental power in the hands of too few. … The Madisonian view of the federal government is one limited to exercising only those powers delegated to it in the Constitution. That is, theoretically, how all this worked until a constitutional scholar from Princeton, with his own ideas of government without end, became president. [Woodrow] Wilson turned Madison's core values on their heads. His view of the federal government -- one adopted by all his successors -- was that the federal government can do whatever there is a political will for it to do, except that which the Constitution expressly prohibits. … Today, presidents have basically abandoned the separation of powers Madison so carefully crafted.” More here.

Fox News Poll: Voters feel good about economy - Fox News

Pelosi, Schumer to meet with Trump next week for next round of infrastructure talks - The Hill

House Dems listen to Pelosi’s no-impeachment strategy - WaPo

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs abortion ban bill - AL.com

Former Kasich 2016 adviser will lobby against Russia sanctions - Politico

“I think Biden, no disrespect, is the Jeb Bush of this cycle.” – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said at an Axios event with journalist Mike Allen Thursday morning.

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NPR: “Bazillions of adult Game of Thrones fans may currently be preoccupied with dragons, and the mother of dragons and that giant dragon-killing-dart machine — but one girl in New Zealand is trying to get serious about the real-life study of dragons. So much so that the 11-year-old recently tried to tempt Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern into launching a dragon research program, with a little bit of telekinesis studies on the side. It's so she can grow up to be a dragon trainer. And she included some seed money with her request: a $5 New Zealand note. Unfortunately, the prime minister could not be bought. She said it was a no-go. ‘We were very interested to hear your suggestions about psychics and dragons, but unfortunately we are not currently doing any work in either of these areas!’ Ardern wrote in a letter to the girl, identified only as Victoria.”

“The flaws and injustices of affirmative action as demonstrated by its real-life practice over the past quarter-century have become so apparent that even California and Washington, two of the most liberal states in the union, decisively abolished it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The Weekly Standard on Feb. 10, 2003.

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.