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On the roster: Impeachment show debuts - Hillary open to 2020 run: ‘I think about it all the time’ - Audible: These go to 11 - When life gives you lemons…
IMPEACHMENT SHOW DEBUTS
Fox News: “Diplomats testifying on the opening day of impeachment inquiry hearings delivered a stark account Wednesday of President Trump’s pursuit of political ‘investigations’ in Ukraine and attorney Rudy Giuliani’s alleged meddling in that country, while Republicans panned the entire process as a ‘low-rent Ukrainian sequel’ to the Russia collusion case. For his part, Trump spent much of the day meeting with the visiting Turkish president, saying he was too busy to watch the historic hearing. … But in between the sparring among lawmakers was extensive testimony from the two lead-off witnesses, State Department official George Kent and top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor.”
GOP Senators skip - AP: “Millions of Americans are expected to watch on live TV Wednesday as the House kicks off public hearings on whether to impeach President Donald Trump. Just don’t expect many Republican senators to be among them, if a quick sampling of them is to be believed. Of eight Senate Republicans questioned Tuesday evening, seven said they wouldn’t watch Wednesday’s start of the Democratic-led process or suggested it wasn’t a priority. ‘Tomorrow I’m going to be paying attention to what we’re doing in the Senate,’ said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said he’d be chairing an Environment and Public Works Committee session.”
What will impeachment mean for 2020 Dems? - Politico: “The degree to which the Democrats in Congress who are running the impeachment inquiry are disconnected from their colleagues running for president cannot be overstated. Impeachment and the presidential primary are like two planets slowly pulled together by gravity that are finally about to collide — nobody seems to know who will survive impact. … ‘This is kind of like if Roland Emmerich decided to make a movie about American politics,’ said a senior Biden adviser, speaking of the German filmmaker known for his disaster films. ‘No one would have predicted that we are potentially looking at a January where six Democratic presidential candidates are potentially serving on a jury in which Donald Trump is the defendant.’”
Trump wanted to fire inspector general for disloyalty - NYT: “President Trump has discussed dismissing the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because Mr. Atkinson reported a whistle-blower’s complaint about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine to Congress after concluding it was credible, according to four people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Trump first expressed his dismay about Mr. Atkinson around the time the whistle-blower’s complaint became public in September. In recent weeks, he has continued to raise with aides the possibility of firing him, one of the people said. The president has said he does not understand why Mr. Atkinson shared the complaint, which outlined how Mr. Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals at the same time he was withholding military aid from the country. He has said he believes Mr. Atkinson, whom he appointed in 2017, has been disloyal, one of the people said.”
Trump welcomes Turkish strongman Erdogan - AP: “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump met Wednesday as relations between the NATO allies are at their lowest point in decades, with Turkey drifting closer to Russia and Ankara facing a Washington backlash over its offensive against Kurds in Syria. Erdogan and Trump have a difficult agenda. They will discuss Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian air defense system despite its membership in NATO and its incursion into neighboring Syria to attack Kurdish forces who have fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State group. The issues threaten to jeopardize a potentially lucrative trade deal between the two countries. The leaders’ scheduled afternoon news conference, following a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House, will give Trump a stage to counter the first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry.”
THE RULEBOOK: NO LIE
“But a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 49
TIME OUT: FINDING THE ‘LOST CITY’
NatGeo: “In 1976 a group of Colombian archaeologists and their guides embarked on a grueling mission to save and ancient site from looters. Swinging machetes, they inched their way over the thick, jungled foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. … Their mission was urgent: Authorities had been tipped off that a major archaeological site had been found by huaqueros, archaeological looters. Items from the site had already begun appearing on the antiquities black market. The team needed to bring the site under state control before more damage was done to the country’s heritage. The team was trying to reach an area that is generally known as Teyuna, which they had taken to calling a more informal name: Ciudad Perdida, ‘lost city.’ The Tairona had abandoned many of their settlements in the late 1600s, but their descendants who still live in the Sierra Nevada had never really considered the city lost.”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 22.6 points (↑ 1.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.6 points (↑ 1.4 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 7.6 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Harris: 3.2 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/WaPo, Fox News and IBD.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42 percent
Average disapproval: 55.4 percent
Net Score: -13.4 percent
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve - 59% disapprove; Fox News: 42% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve - 56% disapprove.]
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HILLARY OPEN TO 2020 RUN: ‘I THINK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME’
USA Today: “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to close the door on the possibility of entering the 2020 presidential race, telling an interviewer Tuesday, ‘I never say never to anything.’ The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee was asked during a BBC Radio interview if she was ‘100%’ certain she would not run again. Clinton replied that she thinks ‘all the time about what kind of president I would have been, and what I would have done differently, and what I think it would have meant to our country and the world.’ ‘So of course, I think about it. I think about it all the time,’ she said. … ‘I will certainly tell you, I'm under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it,’ she said. ‘But as of this moment, sitting here in this studio talking to you, that is absolutely not in my plans.’”
Buttigieg’s New Hampshire plan counts on indies - Politico: “As Pete Buttigieg boarded his campaign bus … a New Hampshire voter stopped him to ask if campaign staffers were hawking ‘Republicans for Pete’ stickers yet. They aren’t. But Buttigieg, who’s staking out center-left ground in the Democratic presidential primary, is trying to build a coalition of unaffiliated voters to go along with Democrats and make a surprise splash in the open-primary state featuring two senators-next-door, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, campaigning on the left. At town halls during his latest swing across New Hampshire, Buttigieg name-checked ‘future former Republicans’ in the same breath as ‘progressives and moderates ... ready for some kind of change.’ His organizers are targeting independent voters from the new field offices Buttigieg opened this fall. And while Buttigieg is polling well in both Iowa and New Hampshire right now … the presence of non-Democrats in the New Hampshire Democratic primary — unlike Iowa’s closed caucus system — could prove decisive in a tight Democratic nominating race...”
But South Carolina looms - National Review: “…a big question hanging over Buttigieg’s head is whether he can make sufficient inroads with African-American primary voters to capture the nomination. Black voters make up about a quarter of the Democratic primary electorate, but two thirds of South Carolina primary voters are black, and Buttigieg remains stuck in the single digits in the Palmetto State. … Buttigieg’s weakness in South Carolina is partly a function of the fact that Joe Biden, former vice president to America’s first black president, retains a commanding lead among black voters. But Buttigieg’s weakness is also partly a function of his sexual orientation, as David Catanese reported in The State last month: ‘Internal focus groups conducted by Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign this summer reveal a possible reason why he is struggling with African-American voters: some see his sexuality as a problem.’”
Sanders tries to sway Hispanic lawmakers - Politico: “Bernie Sanders met privately with Hispanic lawmakers on Tuesday. Sanders, who has aggressively courted Latino voters in his 2020 bid for the White House, is the third presidential candidate to sit down with Latino members under the auspices of BOLD PAC, the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have also talked with BOLD PAC. Sanders spoke about immigration, Medicare for All, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and other issues, including his family’s immigrant roots. A Latino caucus member in the room said several undecided lawmakers were present, and that Sanders did not exclusively talk about economic issues.”
Patrick could complicate Warren’s campaign - Politico: “When Elizabeth Warren was asked to name three African Americans she'd choose for her presidential cabinet last week, she pointed to her friend Deval Patrick as one of them. But the former Massachusetts governor had other ideas. Around the same time, the former governor and a handful of close allies were huddling not far from Warren's campaign headquarters, plotting a surprise entry into the Democratic primary. The now-public prospect of his candidacy — and its potential effect on Warren, who has recently emerged as a Democratic frontrunner — is suddenly the subject of intense speculation among the Massachusetts political class. … His potential entry into the Democratic primary undoubtedly puts a strain on their relationship. Several Massachusetts Democrats — who declined to go on the record because of the sensitive nature of the issue — viewed reports that Patrick was preparing to join the field as an affront to Warren, who has been running hard for nearly a year.”
Is there a path for Bloomberg or Patrick? - NYT: “Both men have concluded in recent weeks that Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is not the imposing adversary they had expected him to be, interviews with aides and allies show. Both also believe there is room in the race for a more dynamic candidate who is closer to the political middle than Mr. Biden’s two most prominent challengers, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders. Should Mr. [Michael] Bloomberg and Mr. Patrick enter the race, they would test that proposition in different ways: Mr. Bloomberg with a powerfully funded campaign that would take on President Trump directly and contest the biggest states on the primary map from the start; Mr. Patrick with an insurgent candidacy that would begin in next-door New Hampshire and run through South Carolina, where black voters are likely to decide the primary.”
Congress strikes deal averting shutdown for five weeks - AP
Acting secretary shell game leads to GOP gripes - Politico
AUDIBLE: THESE GO TO 11
“For those who continually ask, you should just expect that we will continue to make news every day. So don’t ask ‘what’s on tap?’ Just know something’s on tap.” – A House Democratic aide working on the impeachment inquiry said during a conference call with Hill reporters, per Time magazine.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Normally, I hate doing housework, but these days I would rather vacuum than listen to the news. Fortunately, I have the Halftime Report to bring some sanity and understanding to the process. I have a question that I can't seem to find an answer to, and with your vast experience, I was hoping that you know the answer. There is so much argument over who the Democrats will let the Republicans call as witnesses. When it goes to trial in the Senate won't they be able to call whoever they want to testify and uncover anything the Democrats are trying to hide? By the way, I would gladly trade you some good KC BBQ for a few of those pepperoni rolls you are so fond of.” – Tom Steele, Bates City, Mo.
[Ed. note: You are on, Mr. Steele! And yes, you’re quite right about the witness-list histrionics. This is, as they would say in Gregsville, some stuff people say. (Though they don’t really say “stuff.”) Republicans want to reinforce their preferred narrative: This is a kangaroo court and Democrats are denying the president due process. Everything at hand will be pressed into service of that goal.]
“Could Joe Biden's lead in national polling, but not in individual states, be explained by how well he piles up voters in a few very large states e. g. New York, Illinois, and California?” – Tom Snyder, Frankfort, Ill.
[Ed. note: There might be some truth in that, Mr. Snyder. But a couple of things to remember: Good pollsters look for representative geographical distributions. That should be somewhat of a control on that phenomenon. But the larger consideration is that we don’t have any evidence that Biden runs better in these places. We have basically no useful polling in Illinois, but the polling we have from California and New York shows Biden running neck and neck with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. National polling tells me that Biden’s base isn’t geographic as much as it is demographic. He does best with non-white voters, especially women. If a Democratic candidate had to choose any bloc on which to base his or her candidacy, that would be the one to pick.]
“So the Democrats have moved their December debate to Loyola Marymount. What are they thinking? It's a fine school but Roman Catholic. You know, the institution with no women priests, the one steadfastly opposed to abortion, gay marriage, etc.” – Stuart Barr, Durham, N.C.
[Ed. note: But Will Joe Biden take communion while he’s there?]
“Chris, It occurs to me that polls and surveys (now a routine part of everybody's lives) supports and reinforces the identity politics of the far left. There was a time (in my distant past) when surveys, etc. only identified people by partisan segment (Democrat, Republican, Independent) and location. Beyond that, we were all ‘Americans.’ Now we go much deeper into who people are by describing their demographic associations. While the factions that the founding fathers warned against undoubtedly benefit, they do so by knowing which demographic groups to target and shape their messages accordingly. … I was raised believing that voting was my opportunity to express my view regarding who would be best for the WHOLE country. I NEVER hear that point of view anymore either in the family, in the classroom, in the media. I rarely hear it in political ads. Your thoughts?” – Eric Hutchins, Santa Barbara, Calif.
[Ed. note: I don’t know how much of this phenomenon you can lay at the feet of public pollsters. The revolution in public opinion research began more than 40 years ago as marketing gurus demanded better ways to sell floor wax, Ford Granadas and Funyuns. People with carpets don’t need floor wax, people who only drive Chevys don’t care about Granadas and Funyuns, while not broadly popular, have a hugely devoted core of enthusiasts. So companies decided it would be worth spending money to find out how to target the hardwood-floor-having-Ford-loving-Funyun-scarfing population rather than just wasting money on broad-spectrum ads. Back then it was about finding the right magazines and television shows in which to advertise. In time, the same kind of market research being used in corporate America made it over to the far-less-lucrative world of politics. Politics had always been about message targeting based on the demographics of various precincts. Since the birth of the republic, politicians targeted their messages to the constituents of various precincts. Gerrymandering, after all, has been with us from the start. But thanks to marketing magic, by the turn of the 21st century, campaigns were able to engage in “micro-targeting,” in which they could zero in on specific demographic subsets in geographic areas. Are you a gun-rights zealot but live in an overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhood? Are you usually an indifferent Republican-leaner, but are ardently pro-choice? Campaigns became increasingly able to zero in on you with ads, calls and mail. The trend exploded with the birth of online advertising. That all would be happening however public pollsters conducted their work. By the way, the reason polls have to pay attention to demographics – gender, ethnicity, income, education, etc. – is so that we end up with samples that are actually representative of the country. If you knew that there were 100 purple marbles, 50 green marbles and 25 orange marbles in a pouch and pulled five oranges in a row you might start to wonder about your sampling methods.]
“With the potential for a 3-way tie at the top of the Democrat pack, do you think Michael Bloomberg is counting on being the compromise candidate at a brokered convention? By at least getting his name in, he is signaling his availability when they realize ‘none of the above’ can win.” – Sheila Willis, Toronto, Canada
[Ed. note: I think there’s quite a bit to that, Ms. Willis. And hey, why not? The median net worth for an American household is, according to the Federal Reserve, just shy of $100,000. Bloomberg is worth something like $50 billion. If he spent, let’s say, $50 million on a just-in-case candidacy that would be .1 percent of his fortune – the equivalent of $100 for the average family.]
“Yes, Branagh’s ‘St Crispin’s Day’ speech is worth a look. But so is the night-before-battle scene where Henry wanders through the camp in disguise to gauge the spirit of the troops. Branagh does not hold back on the moral ambivalence of the original Shakespeare. In contrast, Sir Laurence Olivier, commissioned by Churchill in wartime, had to tone the camp scene down in his 1944 version. And Olivier’s ‘St Crispin’s Day’ speech is also stirring for this Veteran’s Day, but in a different style.” – John McNeill Lee, Walnut Creek, Calif.
[Ed. note: Good notes all, Mr. Lee!]
“Chris, I didn't know where to send this now that you’re off twitter. Since I get the Halftime Report I figured this is as good a place as any. … I'm a Midwestern boy and in trying to find my father a solid gift for Christmas last year I needed a new plan. … My first place to start was with bacon. My father (as with most Midwestern men) loves bacon. So I set out with my Google Fu to find the best there is to offer. Seemed that most signs pointed to one man and his amazing Tennessee smoked bacon and hams. Bentons County Hickory Smoked Bacon is said to be some amazing stuff. … I in no way work for Bentons or have any affiliation with them, I’m just a fan of wonderful bacon. I ordered him a box and he was so blown away I had to get myself one after the holidays to test the hype. It's some awesome stuff. … So if you have not heard of this amazing goodness I thought I would throw it on your radar… I hope you and your family have a wonderful set of holidays.” – Matt Ladd, Arlington, Va.
[Ed. note: I have many times enjoyed Benton’s delicious bacon and hams, Mr. Ladd. I, myself, prefer Edwards of Virginia, but then again, my tastes run more toward country ham over bacon for luxury cured meats. Benton’s ham is marvelous, too. But you may want to check out a bone-in Wigwam ham from Edwards this year. Pure ambrosia. And unlike the bacon, when you’re done, you can make bean soup!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…
The Island Packet: “Parrish Brown thought it was strange when the Hilton Head Island [S.C.] McDonald’s worker paused as he ordered a sweet tea with light ice and extra lemon. ‘Extra lemon?’ the drive-thru worker asked in an odd voice. Brown later figured out what the ‘extra lemon’ was about when he discovered quite a bit of weed inside his sweet tea — after he drank it, at work. The 24-year-old Charleston man called the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office … to report the incident. ‘I have never had weed a day in my life, so immediately after I started drinking it, I started to feel weird and it didn’t taste like something I recognized,” Brown said. … Finally … he opened up the lid only to find something he wasn’t expecting: three bags of marijuana. … ‘I kept being like ‘I swear, there is weed in my sweet tea!’’ he said. ‘The officer asked me why I drank it and I was like, ‘Well, I was thirsty!’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“…History has been unkind to every stripe of utopian thinking. But it is not just that we have failed to achieve the messianic future. Even the democratic present is under widespread assault.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in a 2017 essay “The Authoritarian Temptation,” published in his posthumous book, “The Point of It All.”
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.