**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Is Warren ready for her close up? - Mueller agrees to testify to Congress - House passes migrant aid bill, showdown in Senate next - Audible: Squeeze play - Humility helper
IS WARREN READY FOR HER CLOSE UP?
The Hill: “The run-up to the first presidential debate has been a dream stretch for [Elizabeth Warren]. The glowing media profiles are rolling in. Her poll numbers are up, and she’s caught, and in some cases, surpassed Sanders, who is her prime competition to be the party’s progressive standard-bearer. Warren’s flood of ambitious policy proposals has been a hit with liberals. Warren will be the only candidate polling in double digits on the first night of the debate. Her greatest competition for air time will be Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), neither of whom is setting the primary race on fire. Some believe that Warren could suffer by not being on stage with the other top contenders. But if Warren can command the stage as she has in recent town halls and campaign events, she’ll be in good shape to continue her upward trend into the next phase of the race.”
Who’s on first? - USA Today: “Tonight, the Democratic primary gets real: Ten presidential hopefuls will take the stage in a debate that will define the race. Then ten more will do the same thing tomorrow. … On Wednesday: Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and John Delaney. (Warren and O'Rourke will be at center stage.)”
But maybe chill out a little - NYT: “Presidential debates can be dramatic. The effects on viewers (and voters), however, are more subtle. As you prepare to watch the first primary debate Wednesday-Thursday (and the 11 to follow), let go of the notion that any single moment is going to shift the state of the race overnight. That is not to say that debates aren’t important, but real consequences tend to emerge only in the days and weeks after the debate as the news media, candidates and voters react. It’s easy to believe the stakes are high. Tens of millions of people watch. Opponents take aim at one another. Anything can happen. … Data suggests, however, that none of these memorable moments changed election outcomes.”
Kurtz: Snoozefest or slugfest? - Fox News: “Some Democrats and liberal activists are worried that the first round of presidential debates, which kicks off tonight, could turn into a circular firing squad. The worry is that with crowded stages and so many candidates desperate for a breakthrough moment, the events will devolve into a series of personal attacks designed to go viral. I think it's equally likely that the debates become a snoozefest. The time constraints imposed by having 10 contenders on a stage won't allow for much real debate, and many of them will still be introducing themselves to a public that knows little or nothing about them. And with MSNBC moderators, including Rachel Maddow, asking the questions, the focus is likely to be on policy and not an effort to get the Democrats to pummel each other.”
Team Trump ready to play offense - Politico: “As Democrats spar on the debate stage this week, the president’s campaign will be unleashing dozens of Donald Trump backers on the airwaves in 2020 swing states, blasting out any embarrassing moments on social media and dispatching talking points to ensure everyone stays on message. It’s all part of a robust response Team Trump has rapidly pulled together in recent weeks for the Democrats’ first presidential primary debate, which will stretch over Wednesday and Thursday nights. The strategy includes traditional elements — a rapid-response squad to field reporters’ questions, round-the-clock talking points and a ground force on site in Miami, where the debate is being held — but also a digitally focused war room looking for viral clips.”
Tim Alberta breaks it down with campaign vets - Politico: “What’s in store for this year’s Democrats? To get an insider’s view, POLITICO Magazine invited four of the Republican strategists who managed those 2016 campaigns to a literal smoke-filled room in Washington to talk shop: Danny Diaz (Jeb Bush), Beth Hansen (John Kasich), Jeff Roe (Ted Cruz) and Terry Sullivan (Marco Rubio). Over drinks and cigars at the Civil Cigar Lounge, they unloaded about the difficulties of breaking through in a massive field, gossiped about the strengths and weaknesses of this Democratic crop, aired old grievances still lingering from 2016 and offered some tactical advice for how to face off against President Trump.”
[Watch Fox: Tune in for Fox News team coverage of the debate starting at 6 pm ET with “Special Report with Bret Baier” live from Miami. After the debate tune in for “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream” at 11 pm ET, also live from Miami, for analysis and commentary.]
THE RULEBOOK: GENERALITIES
“But a minute detail of particular rights is certainly far less applicable to a Constitution like that under consideration, which is merely intended to regulate the general political interests of the nation, than to a constitution which has the regulation of every species of personal and private concerns.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84
TIME OUT: SUPPORT LOCAL NEWS
AP: “At a time when journalists are being vilified as ‘the enemy of the people,’ staff members at the Capital Gazette newspaper are feeling the embrace of a grateful community, one year after a gunman went on a newsroom rampage that left five of their colleagues dead. Reporters who survived the worst attack on journalists in U.S. history say the trauma has not faded, but their connection with their readers is a source of comfort and inspiration. … The paper received a special Pulitzer Prize citation and $100,000 for its coverage of the attack and its insistence on putting out the next day’s paper. The staff was named along with other journalists as Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year. … Journalists at the paper say the honors and award have helped but haven’t made the trauma go away. Some have turned to their craft to heal. Some have rededicated themselves to journalism.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 44.5 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -7.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.8 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 42% approve - 51% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 49% approve - 48% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 55% disapprove.]
WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!
MUELLER AGREES TO TESTIFY TO CONGRESS
WaPo: “Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will testify to Congress in a public session next month about his investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, a reluctant witness long sought by House Democrats. The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, in an announcement late Tuesday, said that ‘pursuant to a subpoena,’ Mueller has agreed to appear before both panels on July 17. Mueller, who oversaw the 22-month inquiry, is perhaps the one person lawmakers and the nation have been wanting to hear from the most. ‘We are pleased that the American people will hear directly from Special Counsel Mueller. Our national security is being threatened and the American people deserve answers,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has pushed back against calls to impeach Trump, said in a statement. Mueller will testify in back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.).”
Trump remains unhappy - Fox News: “Key Democratic lawmakers who triumphantly announced that Robert Mueller will testify under subpoena next month about his report on alleged Russian collusion may have played right into Republican hands, several legal and political experts told Fox News. And for his part, President Trump lamented that the testimony is yet another chapter in the Russia probe saga. ‘It never ends,’ Trump said Wednesday in an exclusive interview on Fox Business Network's ‘Mornings with Maria.’ The president reiterated that the investigation itself did not find collusion, while complaining that Mueller and his team were biased against him. ‘They got caught and they're running around going wild trying to do everything they can, but they spied on my campaign, it's as simple as that,’ Trump said, referring to the probe's origins at the FBI.”
HOUSE PASSES MIGRANT AID BILL, SHOWDOWN IN SENATE NEXT
Fox News: “The House approved a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill on Tuesday night to address humanitarian issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and to provide additional funding for food, water, medical services and stronger protections for unaccompanied children, among other things -- setting up a showdown between the Democrat-led House and the Republican-led Senate. The House bill, which passed 230-195, included specifics that would prevent the Trump administration from allowing any funding to go toward beefing up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel at the border, likely to become a point of contention with Republicans. President Trump warned Monday that he would veto the House bill if it passed… The House version of the bill focuses heavily on creating safer living conditions for unaccompanied children and giving them access to legal services they may need. Some Republicans, on the other hand, have called the situation a crisis that started under former President Obama's watch.”
Pelosi still felt pushback from four freshman members - The Hill: “Four House Democrats on Tuesday evening bucked party leadership and voted against a bill to provide $4.5 billion in emergency border funding. The Democrats who voted against the bill were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) The handful of defections come in the wake of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) meeting on Monday evening with progressive and Latino lawmakers who were hesitant to support the measure. The Speaker urged members of her party to support the legislation earlier in the day, arguing that defecting would be a win for President Trump. ‘Understand what we’re up against in the White House. The president would love for this bill to go down today,’ Pelosi said during a closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday, according to a senior Democratic aide.”
Mnuchin says U.S. and China close to a trade deal - CNBC
House Oversight voted Wednesday to authorize subpoena for Kellyanne Conway - Axios
Bill Weld holds out hope for debate with Trump - Fox News
AUDIBLE: SQUEEZE PLAY
“How was that for an icebreaker?” – Attorney General William Barr started off his speech at the U.S. Attorneys’ National Conference Wednesday morning after surprising the group with a bagpipes performance.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
[Easton, Pa.] Express Times: “A dirt bike rider ‘taunting’ an Allentown police officer wiped out just as another police cruiser arrived Sunday afternoon, and a city woman got the crash on video. Police said they were called at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday for the bike riders, who had T-shirts covering parts of their faces. Jeni Betancourt said she was sitting in her backyard, where she can usually hear dirt bikes and ATVs racing on Hanover Street… The rider of the blue and white bike then started driving past, Betancourt said. She said he made five or six passes by the officer, and was taunting him, pulling stunts and flipping the middle finger. The last pass, though, would turn out to be his last on the bike. The rider popped a wheelie just as another police cruiser pulls up, Betancourt said. The driver tried to pass the cruiser on the right, but hit a chainlink fence and flipped over the handlebars, she said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Whenever I look at that picture, I know what we were thinking at the moment it was taken: It will forever be thus. Ever brothers. Ever young. Ever summer.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the Washington Post on Jan. 27, 2006.
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.