On the roster: Biden battles Trump for Rust Belt backers

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Biden battles Trump for Rust Belt backers - Top general bucks Trump on Confederate honors - More trouble for RNC convention plans - Michigan district tells of struggle for House - Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope…​​​​​​​

BIDEN BATTLES TRUMP FOR RUST BELT BACKERS
 WSJ: “Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out a $700 billion plan Thursday to revive the U.S. economy with an America-centric approach to job creation and manufacturing, issuing a direct challenge to President Trump as they prepare to compete for working-class voters in the November election. Mr. Biden’s ‘Buy American’ economic agenda is designed to counter Mr. Trump’s ‘America First’ platform through what he said would be the largest mobilization since World War II of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and research and development. Under Mr. Biden’s plan, the federal government would spend $400 billion in government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and services over four years and $300 billion in research and development for new technologies and clean-energy initiatives."

Trump accuses Biden of stealing his plan - Fox News: “President Trump on Friday took a swipe at presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden over his ‘buy American’ proposals unveiled Thursday, saying Biden ‘plagiarized’ from him – and hinting at [a 1987 accusation of plagiarism against Biden]. ‘He plagiarized from me, but he can never pull it off,’ Trump said. ‘He likes plagiarizing.’ It appeared to acknowledge the political success the president has enjoyed pushing his ‘America First’ agenda, which rests on bringing jobs back to America from abroad -- including using tariffs on imports. But the Biden move reportedly left the Trump administration flatfooted. Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein reported that some at the White House were ‘fuming’ as Biden pushed the ‘Buy America’ plan before the Trump team was able to push out its own ‘Buy America’ proposals.”

As clock ticks, Trump struggles to define Biden - NYT: “President Trump won the White House in no small part by seizing on Hillary Clinton’s missteps and using them to turn many voters against her. But after three unsteady months, and with the Republican convention six weeks away, Mr. Trump is struggling to define Joseph R. Biden Jr. to similarly devastating effect, a critical task at this stage of a presidential race. … This is partly because Mr. Biden has run such a low-profile campaign during the pandemic. He has had few public appearances and news conferences, which can provide the unscripted moments opponents can use to shape the public’s perception of a candidate. …Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is viewed more favorably by voters than Mrs. Clinton was in 2016. He is a moderate Democrat who lacks a history of harsh partisanship or scandal. And he has long appealed to white working-class voters, who are part of Mr. Trump’s base.”

Sullivan: Corona is the real swing voter of 2020 - New York: “But the virus will be the real swing voter in this election. The sheer scale of the health crisis, and its current trajectory, obviously sweeps every other issue before it, as it should. It sure hasn’t ended the culture war, which at the elite level is arguably more intense than ever, but it is in the driving seat of the economy, and that is almost always dispositive. If we enter November closing in on 200,000 deaths, with the toll rising, and in a virally caused economic slump, I just can’t see how any incumbent can get elected, and I’m usually pretty good at seeing the worst.”

THE RULEBOOK: IT’S A FACT(ION)
“The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice [of the violence of faction].” – James MadsionFederalist No. 10

TIME OUT: WATCH OUT FOR A SPLATTERMENT
Garden & Gun: “As any Southerner can attest, there is no such thing as one Southern accent. … For the researchers at Foxfire, the longstanding heritage education organization based in Mountain City, Georgia, that honors the traditions of the mountain South, preserving the language of Appalachia is as important as preserving the tales being told. For those unversed in the dialects of Southern Appalachia, the team at Foxfire put together a primer on commonly used words and sayings from the early days of Foxfire’s story gathering. Here are some favorites: Chunk: small; as in, ‘I was just a chunk of a boy.’ … Dodger (also, ‘turn of bread’): a cooked pan of cornbread … Splatterment: a mess or a fight, as in ‘You’ve never seen such a splatterment in all your life.’ … ‘Fine as frog’s hair’ … ‘Slick as a butterbean’ … ‘Ugly as homemade sin’ … ‘Busy as a bee in a tar bucket’ ’Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine’”

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SCOREBOARD
NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 41.4 percent
Biden: 51 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 9.6 points
Change from one week ago: Biden ↑ 0.4 points; Trump ↑ .6 points
[Average includes: IBD: Trump 40% - Biden 48%; Monmouth: Trump 41% - Biden 53%; CNBC: Trump 41% - Biden 49%; USA Today/Suffolk: Trump 41% - Biden 53%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 44% - Biden 52%.]

BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 40.2 percent
Average disapproval: 56.4 percent
Net Score: -16.2 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ .8 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; Monmouth: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; CNBC: 43% approve - 57% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 40% approve - 58% disapprove.]

TOP GENERAL BUCKS TRUMP ON CONFEDERATE HONORS 
Politico: “Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Thursday condemned Confederate leaders as traitors and said he supports a review of Army bases named after those who fought against the Union, a viewpoint that puts him at odds with the commander in chief. … Milley told the House Armed Services Committee that the military needs ‘to take a hard look at the symbology’ of the Civil War – such as base names, display of the Confederate battle flag and statues – as well as improve in other areas such as ‘the substance of promotions.’ ‘The American Civil War … was an act of treason at the time against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution – and those officers turned their backs on their oath,’ Milley said.”

Connor Friedersdorf: Dissent is essential - The Atlantic: "Unanimity is neither possible nor necessary to fight racism. On the contrary, attempts to secure unanimity can undermine the fight: They needlessly divide anti-racists and weaken everyone’s ability to grasp reality. When demands for consensus are intense, people may clam up or falsify their own beliefs. When truth-seeking can get you fired, some people stop seeking the truth. Granted, unfettered liberal deliberation is not sufficient to solve problems as difficult as reining in police abuses or ending systemic racism. But it is necessary no matter how just or urgent the cause. America can achieve more good and harm fewer people with more frank debate, less aversion to dissent, and fewer appeals to moral clarity at the expense of analytic rigor."

Continetti: ‘The winds of woke’ - Washington Free Beacon: “Bouts of hysteria are often accompanied by loss of perspective and lapses in critical thinking. In a moment of national self-examination, distinctions between private and public, between guilty and innocent, between criminal and clueless are tossed aside. What was precious and inviolable minutes ago—the musical Hamilton, for example, or Harry Potter – becomes the object of suspicion and derision. The frenzy builds on itself, and grows stronger, and doesn't know where to stop. At first the flagellation is sincere. No one, no society, is without fault. But the self-punishment soon becomes an end in itself. And for some, it even starts to feel … pleasurable. Confessing your badness turns into an uplifting sensation. It’s good.”

Amy Walter: Dems face real danger from cancel culture backlash - Cook Political Report: “In the era of Trump, Democrats have become more and more reliant on suburban voters. But, as one Democratic strategist wondered aloud the other day: are Democrats simply renting them until Trump is no longer in office? This GOP strategist argues that one way to lose them is to assume that they want to move as far on social, racial and cultural reckoning, as many within the Democratic Party and/or the left would like to go. And, this worry of an ‘overcorrection’ of Trump-ism, isn’t happening only in suburban living rooms and kitchens. Earlier this week, more than 150 prominent artists and public thinkers signed onto a letter titled ‘A Letter On Justice and Open Debate,’ that ran in Harper’s. This letter mirrored what the GOP strategist told me were ‘simmering’ concerns from suburbanites: worries about public shaming and retribution for expressing opposing or non-PC views.”

MORE TROUBLE FOR RNC CONVENTION PLANS  
NYT: “When President Trump first threatened to pull the Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, N.C., Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida started campaigning to bring the event to his state. But now, as convention planners in Jacksonville seek to raise tens of millions of dollars on an almost impossibly rushed time frame, and in the middle of a raging pandemic, the governor is hindering those efforts, interviews show. Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, has directed his top fund-raiser, Heather Barker, to tell donors not to give to the convention because of a personal dispute between the governor and Susie Wiles, his former campaign manager who is serving as an informal adviser to the convention planners, according to multiple people familiar with his actions. … Mr. DeSantis’s relationship with Ms. Wiles soured over his suspicion that she had leaked embarrassing information.”

Biden looks to beef up minority outreach amid criticism - WaPo: “Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has hired a trio of communications aides who will work to boost outreach to people of color and add more diversity to his team — two areas where his presidential campaign has drawn criticism from allies. … The new aides, all people of color, are part of a broader strategy of engaging core constituencies not just ‘through one lens but through every aspect of the campaign,’ said Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon. ‘We have to put our money where our mouth is, right? And we’re doing that by building up the staff, building up the teams and putting the resources behind programming,’ O’Malley Dillon said in a telephone interview. The new aides will be part of the communications team and will also work with the campaign’s coalitions department, which is an initiative modeled on a unit in the Obama 2012 campaign that was called ‘Operation Vote.’”

MICHIGAN DISTRICT TELLS OF STRUGGLE FOR HOUSE
Politico: “While many of the once-red districts that flipped in 2018 had witnessed considerable shifts in voting behaviors and were thus long overdue for a Democratic takeover, the 8th remains at its core a messy, self-contradicting political universe. Its red-to-blue conversion in 2018 was hardly a reflection of a lurch leftward; rather it was a unique repudiation of Trump and his new right, a verdict made possible by lopsided advantages in money, energy and, ultimately, turnout. … This polarization is embodied by Ingham and Livingston, adjacent counties, both of which are contained fully within the 8th District. … One county has virtually no recent history of electing Republicans; the other, virtually no recent history of electing Democrats. If these are the political extremes, the middle is represented by a narrow strip of Oakland County, the last piece of the district’s puzzle.”

Alabama runoff runs on Trump love - Enterprise Ledger: “In a televised debate … both 2nd Congressional District GOP candidates seemed to agree on every issue with differences only emerging when they talked about their reputations. Jeff Coleman and Barry Moore agreed primarily on their avid, unwavering support of President Donald Trump — a fact repeated with nearly every answer and often several times in the same answer. … However, Coleman …pointed out Moore’s failure to vote for Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries after Moore touted the fact that he was the first elected official in the nation to publicly endorse Trump. Moore said it was the first election in 10 years where he failed to vote and said he didn’t vote because of a state legislative session that ran late on election day. … Coleman, on the other hand, pointed to his position as a longtime businessman and political outsider — just like Trump when he ran for office the first time."

Trump’s friendly physician faces test on Tuesday - Dallas Morning News: “President Donald Trump’s near-perfect endorsement record in GOP primaries is on the line in the Texas Panhandle, where a rare open seat in arguably the country’s most conservative House district has produced a GOP primary runoff. The commander in chief has thrown his support behind Ronny Jackson, the former White House doctor and a retired Navy rear admiral. He’s in a race against cattle industry lobbyist Josh Winegarner, who has his own heavyweight endorsement from the district’s retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry. Both candidates are effusive in their praise of the president, and the two don’t offer many policy differences as they pitch unabashedly conservative views in the massive and mostly rural district. So the runoff election on Tuesday could serve as a timely test of just how far a presidential push can propel a political newcomer, particularly since the contest has flown relatively under the radar amid the coronavirus outbreak, civil rights protests and other headline-grabbing events.”

Can Pete Sessions bag a seat far from home? - Texas Tribune: “Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions was once one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington. It was long a given in U.S. House GOP circles that the then-Dallas-based congressman would one day serve at the highest levels in the chamber, based in part on the unity and strength of the Texas congressional delegation. But Sessions lost reelection in 2018. Since then, he has moved 100 miles south in hopes of a political comeback in a different district. But two things stand in his way: runoff rival Renee Swann and his former colleague, retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, who represents the district and has thrown his full support behind Swann. And to even further escalate the drama in what otherwise would have been a sleepy race for a largely uncompetitive Republican seat in the general election, Swann announced last week in the final stretch of the campaign that she and her husband tested positive for COVID-19, effectively sidelining her from any in-person campaigning.”

Zeldin to face outsider - New York Newsday: “Stony Brook University scientist Nancy Goroff won the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary Thursday, defeating former party nominee Perry Gershon and setting up a contest against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, a strong ally of President Donald Trump, officials said Thursday. Goroff, 52, of Stony Brook, chaired the university’s chemistry department until taking a leave of absence to campaign last year. The first-time candidate seeks to be Congress’ first female scientist with a PhD. ‘Now more than ever, as we work to address the unique health and environmental issues of our time, we need leaders who will study the data and make decisions by putting people over politics,’ Goroff said in a statement. ‘It is past time that scientists have a seat at the table.’ Goroff won by about 600 votes, according to the county Board of Elections.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump nixes Saturday rally in New Hampshire citing rain forecast - NYT

AUDIBLE: A STONE AND A HARD PLACE
“The president wants to look strong. He can’t get rolled by DOJ.” – A Trump adviser talking to Politico about the rift in Trump world over the president intervening on behalf of his notorious friend Roger Stone, despite the finding from the Department of Justice that Stone’s sentence is appropriate.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I've heard you wax eloquently about your disdain for the 17th amendment. I understand your reasoning about the Senate being the saucer that cools the cup, but can't it be argued that the two houses philosophies have flipped. Especially since the senate increasingly finds ways around the filibuster. I think your suggestion of a repeal of the 17th amendment would cause an outright revolt.” – Art Woods, Cranberry Township, Pa.

[Ed. note: The best argument against the 17th Amendment isn’t about increasing the resistance to rash action, it is about the permission structure it created. The Senate should be representing the interests of the states, not the direct will of the people. Consider the current debate over how much aid should be provided to states to deal with coronavirus. The Senate is now acting as Republican entity, that is to say in opposition of spending money perceived to be subsidizing Democratic-held urban areas. But what if the members of the Senate were appointed by state legislatures? I doubt you’d see the same arrangement of interests. A federal system demands the defense of federalism itself, a task the Senate is increasingly unsuited to fulfill. And don’t worry about the outright revolt part, since it absolutely would never happen – and if it somehow did it would only be through massive public support for a new constitutional amendment.]

“I'm wondering about your take on Rachel Bitecofer's theory that regarding swing voters. I heard her on The Bulwark podcast talking to Charlie Sykes about it... Her premise is that there aren't necessarily swing voters that switch their political tendencies every 2 or 4 years and vote for different parties as much as there are differences in turnout of swing voters that have fairly ingrained political leanings that sit out cycles for one reason or another. This theory would seem to downplay the notion of the Obama-Trump voter or the Romney-Clinton voter. I'm curious to hear if you think she is onto something. She is a college professor and a trained political scientist who seemed to make pretty compelling case. Thoughts?” – Matt McNeely, Matthews, N.C.

[Ed. note: Both things can bet true. We can discern based on turnout numbers and the prevalence of new voters some sense of how many voters switched parties from cycle to cycle. When you see a partisan swing of two-dozen points in a county from one election to the next, you can be pretty sure the switch was on. Conversely, we know that the composition of the electorate is the first consideration in any forecast, and those voters who choose not to participate are still making a choice. I’d put it this way: There are lots of persuadable voters in the country. Some may be persuaded to switch parties, some may be persuaded to sit out the election. But I would warn you against determinism here. There’s more to the human capacity for choice and change than many political scientists would like to allow.]

“While Dorothy Thompson is certainly admirable for her anti-Hitler stance (and surviving life with Sinclair Lewis), might not her later—and apparently strong—anti-Jewish feelings and expressions disqualify her from HR, if not (sigh) ‘The Writer's Almanac’?” – Mark A. Kellner, Mesquite, Nev.

[Ed. note: We’re pretty opposed to memory holing around here, but I do understand why those who see her Zionism flip-flops and subsequent complaints about pressure on journalists from Zionists would be obnoxious. Even so, hers’ was a helluva story. I’m not sure what about the The Writer’s Almanac engenders your disdain, but how about the Holocaust Memorial Museum: “Dorothy Thompson was one of America’s most urgent, eloquent voices against Nazism. Her writing and radio broadcasts alerted millions of people to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews as well as the threat it posed to democracy and international peace.” She was hardly perfect, but I’m not convinced that she should be stricken from the record.]

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

NOPE, NOPE, NOPE, NOPE, NOPE…
KDVR: “An Aurora [Colo.] woman says dozens of snakes invaded her apartment following building renovations. Charlotte Moore tells the FOX31 Problem Solvers snakes have been getting into her home at the Fitzsimmons Junction Apartments since June 2 when balconies were moved at the complex. ‘We noticed the smell was really bad and that’s when we started seeing the snakes,’ Moore said. She says at least 25 snakes have appeared along baseboards and under furniture, causing her to stay up for most of the night. ‘I am up at 4 in the morning and I stay up until I literally fall asleep,’ Moore said. Moore has a distinct dislike and fear of snakes. ‘To me, snake is Satan and I don’t deal with him. You feel me?’ she said.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post in October 1994.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.