By Chris Stirewalt
Published May 17, 2019
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On the roster: Fox News Poll: Biden booms, Bernie fades - Buttigieg starts to get specific - Lagging in polls, Warren, Gillibrand seize on abortion - Trump campaign tries a little nuance on immigration - Help us help you
FOX NEWS POLL: BIDEN BOOMS, BERNIE FADES
Fox News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, according to the latest Fox News Poll. Among Democratic primary voters, Biden’s 35 percent (up from 31 percent in March) leaves Bernie Sanders in a distant second place with 17 percent (down from 23 percent). Elizabeth Warren is next at 9 percent, Pete Buttigieg receives 6 percent, followed by Kamala Harris at 5 percent, Beto O’Rourke at 4 percent, Cory Booker at 3 percent, and Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar at 2 percent apiece. John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang each garner one percent. … About half of Democratic primary voters (49 percent) are paying ‘a lot’ of attention to the candidates, and Biden performs even better in the ballot test among this tuned-in group: 41 percent back him, 17 percent Sanders, 10 percent Warren, and 7 percent Buttigieg.”
Trump slumps in head-to-head matchups - Fox News: “Biden also performs best in hypothetical 2020 matchups. Among all registered voters, he leads Trump by 11 points (49-38 percent), up from a 7-point advantage in March. Biden’s is the only lead outside the margin of sampling error in the matchups tested -- and he is the only Democrat to push Trump’s support below 41 percent. Sanders tops Trump by 5 points (46-41 percent) and Warren is up by two (43-41 percent), while Harris ties Trump (41-41 percent) and Buttigieg trails him by one (40-41 percent). The president’s reelect number holds steady at 38 percent, while 54 percent would back someone else if the 2020 presidential election were today. In December, it was 38-55 percent.”
BUTTIGIEG STARTS TO GET SPECIFIC
Axios: “2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Thursday unveiled 27 new policy proposals grouped under 3 categories: ‘Freedom,’ ‘Security’ and ‘Democracy.’ … Buttigieg's rapid ascent in the Democratic primary field has attracted significant media attention, with his popularity largely buoyed by his unique backstory as a gay, veteran millennial. However, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend has also garnered criticism for lacking specific policy stances — especially in comparison to candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren who many view as leading the policy debate. [First] Freedom: Health care, racial equality, LGBTQ rights… [Second] Security: Climate change: Implement a Green New Deal with all available tools… Gun control: Raise the standard of gun protection and ownership to make all Americans safer; Extremism… [Third] Democracy: Gerrymandering: Establish independent, statewide redistricting commissions; Electoral College: A national popular vote to replace the Electoral College; Political representation: True political representation for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”
Pushes back on notion that he has stalled - Politico: “Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor who has surged into prominence in the Democratic primary, insisted Thursday that he wasn’t in danger of peaking too soon. ‘It's not like we're in first place,’ he told reporters after addressing businesspeople and local politicians at a City Club of Chicago event. … ‘This is a marathon. We have a long way to go.’ ‘We are frankly ahead of where I had hoped to be, but now we are right where I want to be,’ he added. Buttigieg, who opened a Chicago campaign office in part because of the proximity to South Bend, has quickly attracted the attention of the donor class here, including previous bundlers to former President Barack Obama.”
Booker campaign tries to help Gillibrand qualify for debates - Politico: “Sen. Cory Booker's deputy presidential campaign manager announced on Twitter on Wednesday night that she donated to the campaign of 2020 candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, urging others to do the same to ensure Gillibrand qualifies for next month's Democratic primary debate. … The show of support between opponents comes after from the enactment of a law in Alabama on Wednesday that effectively outlawed abortion in the state. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the legislation, which is certain to face a slew of legal challenges and was crafted to serve as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that codified abortion rights nationwide. The 2020 Democratic candidates were quick to condemn the bill, with Gillibrand leading the pack.”
‘How Bernie Sanders Brought the Cold War to Burlington’ - NYT: “A New York Times review of Mr. Sanders’s mayoral papers – including hundreds of speeches, handwritten notes, letters, political pamphlets and domestic and foreign newspaper clippings from a period spanning nearly a decade – revealed that from his earliest days in office Mr. Sanders aimed to execute his own foreign policy, repudiating Mr. Reagan’s approach of aggressively backing anti-Communist governments and resistance forces, while going further than many Democrats in supporting socialist leaders. Mr. Sanders’s activities during his mayoralty bring into relief the fervently anti-imperialist worldview that continues to guide him. They also underscore his combative ideological persona, which has roiled national Democratic politics as thoroughly as it upended municipal government in Burlington.”
Book royalties roll in for 2020 Dems - Politico: “Most of the Democrats running for president first laid out their life stories and their visions for the country in books introducing them to voters — and in some cases, making them quite a bit of money. The latest example is Kamala Harris, whose political memoir, ‘The Truths We Hold,’ came with a significant paycheck: a $446,875 advance for the book and an additional $49,900 for a young reader’s edition, according to new financial information disclosed by Harris this week. … Bernie Sanders, the author of ‘Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,’ a children’s version of the book, and ‘Where Do We Go From Here,’ reported $391,000 in book royalties between 2018 and spring 2019… On the lower side of the ledger, Amy Klobuchar’s political memoir, 2015’s ‘The Senator Next Door,’ took in less than $200 in royalties since January 2018.”
THE RULEBOOK: STILL TRUE TODAY
“As the accuracy of the census to be obtained by the Congress will necessarily depend, in a considerable degree on the disposition, if not on the co-operation, of the States, it is of great importance that the States should feel as little bias as possible, to swell or to reduce the amount of their numbers.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 54
TIME OUT: IN LOVING MEMEORY
NYT: “Grumpy Cat, the ubiquitous internet celebrity whose permanent scowl spoke for all of us in our darkest moments, died in the arms of her ‘mommy’ on Tuesday, her family said on Friday. She was 7. The cat, whose actual name is Tardar Sauce and who hailed from Arizona, died after complications arose from a urinary tract infection, her family wrote on Twitter. … Many cats have had moments of mini-fame on the internet, but few, if any, have had the reach and staying power of Grumpy Cat. She first rose to prominence six years ago, after her owner posted a photo to Reddit, captioned ‘Meet grumpy cat.’ The sourpuss with the piercing look of contempt quickly became a meme, and placing bold words above and below her frown became a common way for humans to express grumpy thoughts. Perhaps the most famous: ‘I had fun once. It was awful.’”
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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.]
LAGGING IN POLLS, WARREN, GILLIBRAND SEIZE ON ABORTION
USA Today: “White House contenders Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand are calling on Congress to pass federal legislation that would pre-empt conservative state legislatures from passing laws that limit women's access to abortions. The push by Warren, of Massachusetts, and Gillibrand, of New York, comes in the wake of strict anti-abortion laws recently approved by lawmakers in Alabama, Georgia and other states. Warren, who outlined her proposal in a Medium post Friday, calls for Congress to pass federal legislation that corresponds with the Roe v. Wade ruling, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized the procedure. By establishing the federal statute that spells out the right to an abortion, the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution would invalidate contradictory laws like the ones recently passed by conservative state legislatures, Warren said. … Gillibrand similarly pledged on Thursday that if she's elected president she'll move to ‘codify Roe v. Wade into law to make it clear…’”
Pence plays abortion attack dog on the campaign trail - Washington Times: “Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday slammed states that are approving ‘extreme pro-abortion’ laws. Speaking to reporters in Wisconsin, Mr. Pence praised states such as Alabama that are passing laws that ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is present, saying such efforts ‘are embracing life.’ ‘But sadly, many states around the country are also adopting extreme pro-abortion legislation,’ Mr. Pence said. ‘We recently saw the state New York embrace late-term abortion.’ New York enacted a law in January protecting the ‘fundamental right’ to an abortion. In Massachusetts, the legislature is considering a bill that would remove the requirement for minors to get parental consent for an abortion.”
TRUMP CAMPAIGN TRIES A LITTLE NUANCE ON IMMIGRATION
Politico: “President Donald Trump knows the new immigration plan he unveiled Thursday is probably dead on arrival — but that isn’t the point. Instead of trying to push it through Congress, Trump is already treating the plan less like a legislative blueprint and more as a campaign document as he readies for his tough 2020 re-election fight. With some advisers concerned that his slash-and-burn, ‘build the wall’ message falls flat with independent swing voters, Trump hopes to unite Republicans around what he casts as a more pragmatic approach friendly to American businesses in need of high-skilled labor, and to position himself as a problem-solver willing to work with recalcitrant Democrats. Although Trump renewed his call for a Mexican border wall, Trump — reading from a Teleprompter in a traditional Rose Garden event — took an uncharacteristically mild tone on immigration, saying his plan has ‘heart’ and calling America ‘welcoming.’”
BARR NOT BACKING DOWN
Fox News: “Attorney General Bill Barr, in an exclusive interview with Fox News, said the country must know ‘exactly what happened’ with counterintelligence activities conducted during the 2016 election -- and he is determined to get to the bottom of the case. In his first interview since becoming attorney general, Barr spoke to ‘America’s Newsroom’ host Bill Hemmer during a visit to El Salvador for meetings with law enforcement officials. In pointed terms, he fired back at Democrats who have castigated him over his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report -- calling Speaker Nancy Pelosi's charge that he lied to Congress ‘laughable’ and dismissing an attempt to hold him in contempt of Congress. ‘That's part of the usual ... political circus that's being played out. It doesn't surprise me,’ he said. And the nation's top law enforcement official provided new details about the recently announced probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, defending his decision to pursue it and stressing that many of the answers he's gotten so far have been ‘inadequate.’”
Fox Poll: Takeaways from Russia investigation post-Mueller report - Fox News: “Here are five takeaways on the Russia investigation from a Fox News Poll released Thursday: Republicans are warming to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, while Democrats are cooling to him; Mueller is more trusted than the president and the attorney general; Voters think there is a chance the FBI broke the law when investigating the Trump campaign; More oppose impeachment of President Trump than support it; Voters disapprove of how Attorney General Barr is handling the Mueller report and are wary of his motives. Here are the numbers behind those findings: Forty-six percent of voters approve of the way Mueller handled the Russia investigation, while 32 percent disapprove. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans join 55 percent of Democrats in approving of Mueller -- and both of those numbers represent a significant shift.”
Report: Flynn said Trump admin tried to interfere - AP: “Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn told the special counsel’s office that people connected to the Trump administration and Congress sought to influence his cooperation with the Russia investigation, and he provided a voicemail recording of one such communication, prosecutors said in a court filing made public Thursday. Meanwhile, the judge in the case ordered that portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that relate to Flynn be unredacted and made public by the end of the month. Thursday’s order from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is the first time a judge is known to have directed the Justice Department to make public any portion of the report that the agency had kept secret. It could set up a conflict with Attorney General William Barr…”
Mnuchin faces 5 p.m. deadline to hand over president’s tax returns - Bloomberg
Roy Moore moves closer to running for Alabama Senate again - AP
AUDIBLE: *GRIMACE EMOJI*
“It’s no feat to be on ‘The Beat’ so far away from the actual street. If you want to be understood, you got to come to my hood.” – Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., trying his hand at freestyle rap in an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber.”
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Fox News Sunday is live from Claremont, N.H. Before the Mayor Pete Buttigieg town hall at 7pm ET, tune in as Mr. Sunday sits down with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. 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.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
HELP US HELP YOU
KTVI: “A fundraiser for the St. Louis Society for the Blind has been setup after Wednesday night's NHL playoff game between the Blues and the Sharks. Fans feel robbed by a controversial goal scored in overtime to give the San Jose Sharks a win. Many say the winning goal was the result of an illegal hand pass. This is what John Randall posted to the GoFundMe page: ‘This fundraiser is being made in honor of Marc Joannette (NHL Ref). Funds go directly to the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Asking for donations from anyone who watched the Blues get completely shafted by a hand pass goal that ended game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs [Wednesday] night.’ … The officials huddled following complaints by the Blues, but the play wasn't reviewable and the goal stood.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“With a president who counts unpredictability as a virtue, he could well reverse course again.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on April 13, 2017.
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.