Mayor Pete surging in Iowa


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On the roster: Mayor Pete surging in Iowa - Trump gets Mueller bump - President dismisses idea of spending deal - Manchin endorses Collins - The Duke boys are wanted for questioning

MAYOR PETE SURGING IN IOWA 
Monmouth University: “Democratic voters in the Hawkeye State like Joe Biden – a lot. The former vice president leads the pack and holds the best favorability rating in a field of two dozen presidential contenders, according to the first Monmouth University Poll of Iowa Democratic voters in the 2020 cycle. … In a field of 24 announced and potential candidates, Biden holds the lead with 27% support among Democratic voters who are likely to attend the Iowa caucuses in February. He is followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (16%), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (9%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (7%), California Sen. Kamala Harris (7%), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (6%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (3%), and former cabinet secretary Julián Castro (2%).  Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang each receive 1% support from likely caucusgoers. The remaining 10 candidates earn less than 1% or were not chosen by any respondents in the poll.”

Warren loses out to Buttigieg on key home state endorsement - Boston Globe: “When Pete Buttigieg gathers supporters this weekend in Indiana, the ascending 2020 contender will count among them a name very familiar to Massachusetts voters. Steve Grossman, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and state treasurer, is endorsing the 37-year-old South Bend mayor for president, giving Buttigieg a well-connected ally in the donor-rich state. Grossman said he will attend what’s widely expected to be Buttigieg’s formal campaign launch Sunday. The two-time gubernatorial candidate was a supporter and organizer for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign, and has offered to begin raising money for Buttigieg’s campaign in Massachusetts, where fellow Democrat Elizabeth Warren is building her own 2020 operation.”

Sanders 2020 > Sanders 2016 - FiveThirtyEight: “…[W]hen he announced he was running in 2019, after his challenge to Hillary Clinton had dragged deep into the primary calendar, the tenor was different: ‘He is among the best-known Democrats in a crowded field,’ the [New York] Times wrote earlier this year. But even though he now faces much more competition than he did in 2016’s two-person race, Sanders is already outperforming his benchmarks from the last presidential election cycle. Now he is one of the frontrunners, not the insurgent. You can see that dynamic affecting several of the early indicators… The media, voters, donors and other politicians are all paying a bit more early attention to Sanders than they did last time around.”

Yang defends free money - Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appeared on ‘Fox and Friends’ Friday morning to defend his campaign’s key proposal of giving $12,000 to each American adult every year and criticized Democrats for their newfound support for the abolition of the Electoral College. Yang, former ambassador of global entrepreneurship in the Obama administration and a long-shot candidate for the party’s nomination, was grilled by the show hosts and the audience about his universal basic income program, dubbed ‘Freedom Dividend,’ and his other views. … He added that due to an increasing automation, ‘most of us’ won’t work at Amazon or other companies, leaving the rest of the people at a disadvantage because their source of income will disappear.”

McAuliffe wants to wrestle - WaPo: “Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, long wrestling with whether to run for the White House, has finally hit upon a perfect meme — one that evokes the literal swamp creature he once battled for campaign cash. ‘Of all the candidates running, how many have actually wrestled a 280 pound, 8-foot alligator for a political contribution?’ the Democrat told a crowd of union leaders Wednesday. ‘I’m your man, folks. . . If I can wrestle an alligator, I can certainly wrestle Donald Trump!’ He followed up Thursday on Twitter with side-by-side photos. On the left: a svelte, 23-year-old McAuliffe perched atop the imposing reptile he fought on behalf of President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 reelection bid. On the right: President Trump, looking especially rotund in golf attire. … For the record, McAuliffe bested the gator, wrangling a $15,000 donation to Carter from Florida’s Seminole Indian tribe. But that was not enough to help Carter, who lost the race.”

THE RULEBOOK: NSFW
“What is the spirit that has in general characterized the proceedings of Congress?” – James MadisonFederalist No. 46

TIME OUT: KEEP ON READING  
WTVD: “Beloved children's author Beverly Cleary is hitting a milestone on Friday. She's turning 103. April 12 is also National D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day in honor of Cleary. The National Medal of Arts winner and Library of Congress Living Legend is best known for books about her character Ramona Quimby and sister Beezus. … Though her most famous character, Ramona, is one of the most well-known little sisters in the history of children's literature, Cleary herself didn't have any siblings. … Cleary started her career as a librarian, where she realized that boys needed more books with characters they identified with, she said. She published Henry Huggins in 1950 to remedy that. … Like many centenarians, Cleary gets asked about the secret to longevity. Her response? ‘I didn't do it on purpose.’ She also says she doesn't look a day over 80.”

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

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 51.6 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 52% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove.]

TRUMP GETS MUELLER BUMP 
Gallup: “President Donald Trump's job approval rating increased relatively sharply over the past month to 45% in an April 1-9 Gallup poll, up from 39% in March. This marks the third time the 45th president has reached a 45% job approval rating in Gallup trends -- his highest in the series. This is Gallup's first measurement of presidential approval since special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into Russian attempts to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Attorney General William Barr's synopsis of Mueller's findings reported no Russian involvement in the Trump campaign and insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice -- which Trump claims fully vindicates him. Congress has raised questions about the attorney general's synopsis of Mueller's findings and is demanding to see the report. While this plays out, Americans are slightly more approving of Trump than they were before the report's delivery -- though a small majority (51%) still disapprove of the president.”

PRESIDENT DISMISSES IDEA OF SPENDING DEAL 
Politico: “President Donald Trump scoffed Thursday night at the idea of striking a bipartisan two-year deal to ward off billions of dollars in spending cuts. ‘House Democrats want to negotiate a $2 TRILLION spending increase but can’t even pass their own plan. We can’t afford it anyway, and it’s not happening!’ Trump tweeted. The president’s jeers come on the heels of House Democrats’ failure this week to muster the support to pass a bill that would stave off $126 billion in spending cuts in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, as well as cuts in the fiscal year that follows. While the proposal would increase discretionary spending to about $1.3 trillion for the upcoming fiscal year, the Trump administration contends that it would lead to nearly $2 trillion in spending increases over 10 years.”

Senate in decline - Politico: “Just last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) triggered the ‘nuclear option’ and weakened the Senate’s vaunted filibuster to steamroll over Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump’s nominees… To top it all off, the Senate has now failed to muster enough votes to pass a simple disaster-aid bill, something that was once routine and is a failure that will affect millions of Americans. McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, exchanged verbal blows on Thursday as they gave dueling accounts over who was to blame for the Senate morass. … As Republicans changed the Senate rules last week, McConnell and Schumer engaged in a fierce tit-for-tat on the floor culminating with McConnell literally pointing at Schumer as the one to blame. It was an ugly moment for the Senate. Yet these types of bitter personal exchanges have become routine, and a growing number of senators just try to tune it all out.”

MANCHIN ENDORSES COLLINS 
Politico: “Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin endorsed GOP Sen. Susan Collins for reelection on Thursday, in a rare rebuff of partisan politics in an increasingly polarized Senate. The moderate West Virginia senator also offered to campaign for the vulnerable Maine incumbent. It’s a boon for Collins, who Democrats likely need to beat if they hope to take the Senate majority in 2020. ‘I would go up and campaign for Susan Collins. If she wanted me to, I would campaign for Susan Collins. For America to lose somebody like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about her,’ Manchin said on Thursday. He admitted his comments will not please Democrats eager to defeat Collins.”

Hold the Rice - AP: “Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under President Barack Obama, won’t be challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in 2020. Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family ‘that the timing really isn’t right for us.’ Rice tantalized Democrats in October when she expressed interest in Collins’ seat during the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She said Collins supporting Kavanaugh ‘felt like betrayal.’ Rice said during the event on Thursday that her daughter is going into her junior year of high school and moving to Maine to run a campaign isn’t the best move for her family. Rice and her family currently reside in Washington D.C.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Illinois Senate threatens to bar Trump from 2020 ballot for tax returns - WBEZ

Report: Administration considered dumping migrants in sanctuary cities - Fox News

Herman Cain to abandon bid for Fed board ABC News

AUDIBLE: NOTED
“The only unpardonable sin in New York society is poverty.” – Rich Farley, a New York lawyer and author, talking to the Atlantic about Ivanka Trump.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. 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.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“While everyone is preaching Amtrak Joe (or Uncle Bernie) as the front-runner, allow me to remind everyone of what happens to front-runners with a single word: JEB!” – Jeff Smith, Statesboro, Ga.

[Ed. note: Indeed, Mr. Smith! Frontrunners are the ones walking around with the biggest bullseyes on their backs. Jeb Bush failed to understand this and adopted an astonishingly arrogant approach to the race. He gamed the system to run a giant PAC that was intended to amass so much money that he could destroy any opponent. And when he did get in the race, he turned his death ray not on his real competitor, Donald Trump, but rather on his fellow mainstream Republicans. Biden should pay attention to that lesson. As frontrunner, you’ve got to get in, take your licks like a grown up and play to win.]  

“Someone must eventually ask Buttigieg, if after being reared in a Marxist household, he will disavow Marxism now. Unless he unequivocally answers, ‘Yes,’ which he won’t, he is toast.” – Joe Guyton, San Antonio

[Ed. note: I’m guessing, based on your question, Mr. Guyton, that your vote is not up for grabs this cycle. I heard the same comments about former President Barack Obama’s politically radical associates – his father, William Ayers and others. I also heard how President Trump’s connections in the world of organized crime would doom him. I think you might be surprised at how little attention persuadable voters pay to these kinds of considerations.]   

“Chris, It being Lent, a couple of thoughts about the Mayor Pete vs Vice President Pence story. Those of us who believe in Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible have no reason to dislike Mayor Pete. We dislike sin, not the sinner. We are all sinners. We do not celebrate sin. According to the Bible, marriage is between one man and one woman. What Mayor Pete does is his free choice. It is our belief, based on the teaching of the Bible to consider it sin without judging the sinner. Judgement is the Lord’s. The Pence family from what I can discern, agrees. Keep up the good work.” – Chuck Gibson, Lakeland, Fla.

[Ed. note: Very lovingly said, Mr. Gibson. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” When I am tempted to judge the faith of another, I first have to consider how I am using my own feet, eyes and ears. And that is work that will never, ever be done in this life.]   

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THE DUKE BOYS ARE WANTED FOR QUESTIONING
WLBT: “For the second time in several weeks, thieves have stolen the wheels off of Jackson [Miss.] Police Department cars. Sgt. Roderick Holmes says three police cars were towed Saturday after police found that their wheels had been stolen. The cars were parked behind a police museum in downtown Jackson and police aren’t sure when the wheels were taken. This is the second time wheels have been stolen from patrol cars in recent weeks. A car was left on blocks outside the west Jackson police training academy in March after thieves stole the tires and rims. The thefts are under investigation.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I think the big mistake Trump made was to quote Assange and he sort of had to walk it back. He never admits error. But it is a big mistake to quote somebody who clearly is an enemy of the United States…” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on Jan. 5, 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.