Is 2016 the worst, or nah?

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On the roster: - Is 2016 the worst, or nah? Power Play: foundation woes dog Hillary - Clinton reaches out to traditional Republicans in alt-right speech - Audible: Tunnel vision - So, no kosher options?

Is 2016 the most horrible election cycle yet, or are we just paying better attention?

Making an argument that yes, this really is the year of all the new lows, we give you the Arizona Senate race, with its primary set for Tuesday.

In an election where both major party presidential nominees are openly and explicitly accusing each other of racism, it takes something to stand out this year. But the Republican challenger to Sen. John McCain has found a way. 

A physician and former state senator from Lake Havasu City, Kelli Ward, is out with her closing argument ahead of Tuesday’s primary: McCain is old and may die soon. She says that based on her experience as an osteopathic physician, McCain, who turns 80 on Monday, is not up to the job and warned he may expire before his term does.

Ward told Politico on Thursday, “I’m a doctor. The life expectancy of the American male is not 86. It’s less.”

This is a narrative Ward has been pushing all week saying on MSNBC Tuesday, “[John McCain] has gotten weak. He has gotten old. I do want to wish him a happy birthday. He's going to be 80 on Monday, and I want to give him the best birthday present ever – the gift of retirement.”

She also added, “I’m a physician. I see the physiological changes that happen in normal aging, in patients again and again and again over the last 20, 25 years. So I do know what happens to the body and the mind at the end of life.”


First, let’s be clear that McCain is a politician like anybody else. His status as a war hero, presidential nominee and five-term incumbent shouldn’t protect him from the ordinary depredations of public life. If you want to be a beekeeper, you’re going to have to suffer a few stings.

Second, let’s remember that there’s plenty for which Republicans could criticize McCain. His campaign finance regulations, immigration policies, support for foreign interventions, tax votes, etc. You could even say he’s been in Washington too long.

But you don’t say your opponent is senile and might die and then claim that you have special insight because you’re a doctor. Much like the remote psychoanalysis of Donald Trump and the quackery about Hillary Clinton’s health, it’s inappropriate for medical professionals to politicize their findings. And its bad politics.

There’s a lot of fool-headed punditry out there that talks about this as the year of anger and that the unslakable thirst for upheaval and vengeance has seized the American people. The time has arrived, we are told, for everything to be pitchforks and torches. P.C. is out. It’s time for tough talk, right?

So shouldn’t this be the year for someone to be able to get away with saying the truth: her opponent is an old man and old people aren’t as spry as young people?

As it turns out, no.

Ward has been endorsed by immigration hardliners like radio host Laura Ingraham and has pushed McCain hard on the subject. She’s also been the recipient of praise from Trump and a late infusion of cash from Trump’s donor network. But Ward still seems to be badly behind in her bid.

Right now, the race is shaping up like House Speaker Paul Ryan’s primary race earlier this month, where he drubbed a Trump-boosting challenger. In fact, the only two incumbent House members to lose this cycle have been Rep.Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., who was actually endorsed by Trump and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a firebrand conservative who made his fame by savaging the party establishment and being a no-more-Mr.-Nice-Guy conservative.

Many Americans are angry, sure. But trying to make the entire political scene fit into a Trump-shaped box of anger and upheaval is too much. And as we watch Trump try to moderate his tone and positions for the remaining run of the general election, we see that it’s not even necessarily true for him.

So as you hear people tell you that this year is different than all the others and that things are going to be forever changed, maybe just counsel them to take a deep breath and chillax.

Seattle Times: “Putting a new twist on the notion of fighting fire with fire, Boeing has patented a plan for packing howitzer shells with retardant chemicals and lobbing them into the path of a forest fire. With wildfires raging across the West again this summer, another tactic might be welcome. Talk about a hot market. But there’s no sign Boeing has even tested its thinking on this idea — no working prototypes are required to win a patent. The patent, on which half dozen Puget Sound Boeing employees are credited as the inventors, claims the approach could be more efficient and flexible than dropping the retardant from airplanes or helicopters. It notes that aircraft can’t fly at night or during bad weather, and ‘deliver fire-retarding material at a low rate which often makes them inadequate to control forest fires.’”

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Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +9.6 points
Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +7.2 points
Generic congressional vote: Democrats +4.2

Allegations about of pay-to-play practices between the Clinton family foundation and Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. aren’t going away anytime soon. But the latest polling still shows Clinton with a sizable lead against Trump. Will voters care? Democratic strategist Taryn Rosenkranz and Republican strategist Sean Noble weigh in. WATCH HERE.

Judge orders speedy release of Clinton emails - Fox News: “A federal judge Thursday ordered the State Department to begin releasing additional emails by Sept. 13 from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state that were discovered during the FBI probe into her private email server. State Department officials confirmed the existence of the almost 15,000 emails Monday, and predicted they would need until Oct. 14 to review the emails to determine which were work-related, The Hill reported. The order, first reported by Reuters, comes in response to a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.”

Clinton reaches out to traditional Republicans in alt-right speech - David Drucker explains how Clinton’s speech against the alt-right seemed to advocate on behalf of mainstream Republicans as their nominee spent the past few weeks courting Democratic votes. WashEx: “Hillary Clinton on Thursday made a deft appeal for Republican crossover voters in a speech that doubled as a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s character…But rather than condemn all Republicans by association and make a broader case for putting Democrats in charge of government, to be expected in a speech like this, Clinton defended them — from their nominee. Clinton said that Trump’s brand of ‘alternative’ right-wing politics doesn’t resemble the mainstream ‘conservatism’ or ‘Republicanism’ of traditional GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and President George W. Bush.”

[Trump continues courting minority voters with a pair of videos today targeting Clinton’s past support of the 1994 crime bill and allegations of racism in her 2008 campaign.]

Trump’s charm offensive? - Trump is trying to walk the line between his past no-nonsense stance on immigration and softening his image as his poll numbers take a dive. What’s the right thing to do? And can Trump continue to contradict his statements so he doesn’t have to make a stance at all? Democratic strategist Taryn Rosenkranz and Republican strategist Sean Noble weigh in. WATCH HERE.

WSJ: “Donald Trump’s mixed signals about easing his plan to deport all illegal immigrants are dividing his closest allies and prompting warnings he could lose core supporters if he abandons the signature issue of his campaign…But in interviews this week with Fox News he backed away from his long-held proposal to deport the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants, suggesting those without criminal records could stay if they pay ‘back taxes’… That didn’t sit well with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was among the first high-profile Republicans to endorse Mr. Trump in January. ‘If Mr. Trump were to go down a path of wishy-washy positions taken on things that the core foundation of his support has so appreciated, and that is respecting our Constitution and respecting law and order in America, then, yeah, there would be massive disappointment,” the party’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee said.’”

Ann Coulter blames new advisers for Trump’s softening immigration stance - ABC News

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange warns of more to come on Clinton emails, Trump on “The Kelly File” - 
Fox News

Trump campaign boss Bannon registered to vote from unoccupied Florida home - 
The Guardian  

White House meets with Clinton, Trump transition teams - Reuters 

Nate Silver
 explains how a lack of polling in blue states leaves blank spots on the electoral map - 

Evan McMullin
 makes the ballot in Minn., Ark., and Idaho - 

House GOP expects
 IRS, spending fights - The Hill

“People are not going to be able to tunnel because we are going to have tunnel technology.” -- Donald Trump in an interview about his border wall Thursday in an interview with CNN.

“All those Never-Trumpers who think that we can easily recover from four years of Hilary can take heart from what my Mother always told me: ‘You can get used to anything, even hanging.’” – Paul LaGrand, Grand Rapids, Mich.

[Ed. note: And in that case, you don’t have to stay used to it for very long…]

“Let’s assume Trump makes a comeback, or Hillary is still mired in her scandals and it becomes a very close election--very close. If we have a repeat of 2000 and hanging chads or some other controversy reaches the Supreme Court. What happens with a 4-4 split?” – Randy Fischer, Bucyrus, Ohio

[Ed. note: Smart question, Mr. Fischer! In 2000, the Supreme Court made it’s ruling without prejudice towards future cases, basically saying they were adjudicating a specific dispute, not setting a precedent. In the event of a tie this time around, the net effect would be to allow the lower court’s decision to stand. If the race changes and we are headed for deadlock, some little-known federal judge somewhere might end up as one of the most famous jurists in the land.] 

“Your statement ‘I’m pretty bullish on America,’ etc., is so beautifully written; it expresses my feelings EXACTLY. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.” –George Geller, Warminster, Penn.

[Ed. note: Thank you for saying so, Mr. Geller. I find that my perspective on things – including politics – is markedly better when I can begin with the spirit of gratitude. And for all of us, the chance to live in this place and at this time is something to be grateful for indeed.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

VOCM: “An Alberta woman tried to share some Newfoundland lobster with her friends and family, but Air Canada got in the way. Jackie Panuisiak hosts the annual Northern Alberta Lobster Festival in the community of Cotillion. She had ordered some 145 pounds of live lobster to be shipped from this province to Alberta. The problem is that the lobsters didn’t arrive. When Panuisiak’s sister talked to Air Canada about what happened, she says they were rude and unhelpful…It turns out the lobsters were in Toronto, but Air Canada’s tracking system said they had arrived. Panuisiak says it raises concerns about the reliability of Air Canada’s tracking system. In the meantime, the Lobster Festival was forced to eat hot dogs instead of lobster.”

“The [immigration] position that we have now heard adopted by Trump is the position of [MarcoRubio and Jeb [Bush], and you could even say Chuck Schumer.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”  

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.