Johnson the key to a Trump victory

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

On the roster:
 - Johnson the key to a Trump victory - Trump attacks Hillary on health - Trump releases one-page health summary - Power Play: Silver State looking red? - Midas sat here

Who knew that being so bad at Syrian geography would be such a good thing?

In the wake of what some expected would be a devastating gaffe by Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential nominee is actually prospering. Despite having to confess that he did not know the location of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and most substantial international threats in Aleppo, Syria.

A new survey from Quinnipiac University as well as one from NYT/CBS News confirms that Johnson is double-digit material. Just days away from the announcement of the participants of the first presidential debate Sept. 26 at Hofstra University, Johnson is edging closer to the 15 percent of the vote required to make the stage.

Johnson’s likely not going to make it, but he will be close enough that he and his fellow Libertarians can get lots of attention over his exclusion. In an average of the polls accepted by the Commission on Presidential Debates, Johnson’s average stands at 8 percent, well shy of the 15 percent requirement. Some say the window could be closing as soon as the end of this week.

So who benefits from the Johnson surge, and is it really a surge at all? If we drill down on the numbers, we find that Johnson did the most damage to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. At the start of the race, the presumed victim of any upward mobility for the Libertarians was Republican Donald Trump.

But that has not been the case.

In the Q poll, Clinton’s lead of 5 points is trimmed to 2 points when Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are offered up. In the NYT/CBS News poll, Clinton’s scant 2-point advantage in a head to head contest falls into a tie in a four-way race.

While Johnson has adopted more liberal policy positions than many Libertarians might like, the voters crossing over from Clinton to him are probably not being drawn by policy points.

More likely, they are Republican-leaning voters of the Colin Powell mold. There is no small number of Americas who agree with the former secretary of state’s blunt assessment of the race as revealed in private emails stolen by hackers and shared with the press. Powell described the election as a choice between one candidate who is “greedy, not transformational with a husband still [ahem, providing constituent services to] bimbos at home” and another candidates who is “a national disgrace.”

The humble Johnson made the most of his embarrassment about Syria to land high-profile interviews and gamely take the abuse. For those voters unwilling to make what they see as a choice between two evils, supporting Johnson probably seems like a freebie. The man may be a little goofy but he is, mostly, inoffensive.

What matters for the debates and going forward is whether Johnson can take these notional voters and turn them into real votes. While that will depend on his ability to make arguments and continue to get attention, the more important issue will be whether the one in ten voters currently backing him feel comfortable enough with the prospect of a Trump presidency to stay put or even just not vote at all.

The first name on the petition for allowing Johnson in the debate ought to be Trump’s. The more attention Johnson gets, the better Trump’s chances of keeping those votes away from Clinton and locked in the permafrost of the minor-party taiga.

[Watch Fox: New national Fox News poll on the 2016 race will be released tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET]

“It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object.” – John Jay, “Federalist No. 2

It was the scene of the great showdown between abolitionists led by mad manJohn Brown, and federal troops in 1859. But in 1862, the town of Harper’s Ferry in what would become West Virginia was the scene of a strategically crucial victory for the still-surging confederate forces. History: “The Federal garrison inside Harpers Ferry was vulnerable to a Confederate attack after Lee’s invasion of Maryland in September. The strategic town on the Potomac River was cut off from the rest of the Union army. General George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, sent messages to Union General Dixon Miles, commander of the Harpers Ferry garrison, to hold the town at all costs.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

Average of national head-to-head presidential polls:
 Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3 points
[Polls included: NYT/CBS NewsQuinnipiac UniversityWaPo/ABC NewsCNN,and IBD.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +1.6 points
[Polls included: NYT/CBS NewsQuinnipiac UniversityWaPo/ABC NewsCNN,and Boston Herald]

The Hill: “Donald Trump took a shot at Hillary Clinton’s stamina the day before Clinton is set to return from a break from the campaign trail after a bout with pneumonia. The GOP nominee has steered clear of any controversial comments about Clinton’s health since she appeared to stumble as she was whisked away from a 9/11 memorial event earlier this week. But he tip-toed into the waters Wednesday night during a rally in Canton, Ohio, questioning whether Clinton could keep up with his rigorous campaign schedule.  ‘You think this is easy, in this beautiful room that’s 122 degrees?’ Trump told the large crowd, straying from prepared remarks. ‘Do you think Hillary would be able to stand here for an hour? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.’”

As she returns to the trail today ‘fit to serve’ says doctor - AP: “Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail Thursday following a bout of pneumonia that sidelined her for three days and revived questions about both the Democratic nominee and Republican Donald Trump’s transparency regarding their health. Clinton’s campaign responded with a new letter from her doctor Wednesday declaring her ‘fit to serve’ as president and recovering well from her recent illness. The letter - the first substantial update on her health in more than a year - details the medications she is taking, her cholesterol levels and other results from a physical exam.”

Trump released one-page health summary - WaPo: “Donald Trump has provided to The Washington Post a letter that summarizes his latest physical exam and discussed the results on a television show scheduled to air Thursday afternoon, bringing his health to the fore of the presidential race. Trump disclosed the one-page letter from his longtime doctor, Harold N. Bornstein, to The Washington Post on Thursday. The letter says that Trump takes a statin, a drug for lowering cholesterol, and has a body mass index in the overweight range. Overall, he is described as having ‘excellent physical health.’ ‘He takes a lipid lowering agent (rosuvastatin) and a low dose aspirin. He does not use tobacco products or alcohol,’ Bornstein writes.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s retirement gives Republicans what may be the party’s only chance to turn a blue state red in 2016. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., hopes to be the man for the job. But in a state with a large Hispanic population and a Republican presidential nominee who is highly unpopular with that group can Heck pull out a victory for his party? He explains his plan to Chris Stirewalt. WATCH HERE.

Hillary Clinton
’s poll numbers are looking downright peaked. What’s the cause? Will she bounce back for the first debate? To find out the answers to these questions as well as who was the biggest childhood nerd, listen to this week’s installment of your friendly neighborhood political podcast “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What” LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE.

[Sunday, funday! - The first episode of “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What,” will air at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday.]

As Republican leaders in Congress take the FBI to task for lacking transparency, Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano concludes: “The FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton has not served the rule of law. The rule of law – a pillar of American constitutional freedom since the end of the Civil War – mandates that the laws are to be enforced equally. No one is beneath their protection, and no one is above their requirements. To enforce the rule of law, we have hired the FBI. What do we do when the FBI rejects its basic responsibilities?”

“I’m hard of hearing. I’ll never be able to hear what you said.” – Bill Clinton to a protester shouting at him from the crowd at a rally in Las Vegas Wednesday.

Did Trump violate IRS rules for charitable donations with purchase of a 6-foot tall painting of himself? - WaPo

Trump in spat with pastor of church that hosted him in Flint, Mich. - NPR

Poll: Trump ahead in must-win Ohio, Fla. - CNN

Donald Trump Jr. blames campaign optics not IRS for tax return delay - Politico

Ayotte in her best position to hold her seat as Clinton ties harm challenger Hassan -WashEx

Cruz tries to make nice with Senate colleagues by hosting fundraisers for their campaigns -AP

“There is nothing more thrilling than finding a new ‘ITYW’ podcast lurking in iTunes at 4:15 a.m. Several minutes into my dog walk, I hear Chris throw out (or stumble over) a word which appeared to be ‘splurped.’ In regard to Hillary, as I recall. The Oxford English Dictionary and my spellcheck don’t think this word exists. Could it be a West Virginia mashup of ‘splurged’ and ‘slurped?’ Please advise.” – Mary C. Miller, Greenwood, Miss.

[Ed. note: You can’t rely on such references when it comes to a pure Stirewaltism! But now you’ve come to the primary source. That is the coinage of my sweet sister, Genevieve, who uses it to describe the unloading of emotional baggage for excessive information (TMI) from one human to another. A very useful neologism in today’s culture. Thank you so much for supporting the podcast. There’s no way we would be debuting our show on Sunday without the help of pre-dawn dog walkers like you.]

“Chris, 1) if Gary Johnson is now on all 50 states’ ballots - does the American public get to see him in action in the debates? 2)…can’t wait for Sunday eves - your show!” – Julie Dubas, Fullerton, Neb.

[Ed. note: 1) The criteria for the Commission on Presidential Debates is fairly straight forward. Johnson meets two of the three requirements: He is constitutionally qualified for office and he is on the ballot in more than enough states to be technically eligible for the 270 electoral votes necessary to win. But the third requirement – polls – is tougher. 2) Thank you, we are psyched!]

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

BBC: “Members of the public are being invited to spend a penny in a solid gold toilet at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum. Italian artist and sculptor Maurizio Cattelan created the fully functional 18-carat gold lavatory, which he has titled America. The, ahem, interactive exhibit has been installed in one of the Guggenheim’s public bathrooms, reports the New Yorker. The Fifth Avenue museum describes the piece as ‘a bold, irreverent work.’ The lavatory replaced one of the Guggenheim’s porcelain toilets in a one-person, unisex restroom. Visitors who pay museum admission will be able to use it as they wish.”

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.