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On the roster: Snoozefest in Atlanta - Team Trump sweats Facebook’s potential rule changes - Embassy official says Trump’s intent was clear - Audible: Basically brutal - Master of disguise
SNOOZEFEST IN ATLANTA
CBS News: “Although impeachment has dominated the news in Washington, it took up surprisingly little time in the fifth Democratic debate Wednesday night, which, unlike the hearings in Washington, was fairly mild in tone. And as it happens, the two mild-mannered Midwesterners, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, had the standout performances of the evening. Klobuchar, who also had a strong fourth debate but saw little sign of upward movement in the polls afterward … And the only candidate to what could be seen as a noticeably difficult night was former Vice President Joe Biden, who committed what appeared to be a string of unforced errors. When asked about the #MeToo movement, Biden noted that he had spearheaded efforts to combat domestic violence, such as the ‘It's On Us’ campaign he led as vice president. But Biden elicited a nervous chuckle from the audience as he continued on the point. … Biden caught himself amid some laughter from the audience, insisting that ‘no, I really mean it.’”
Candidates defaulted to Trump - WaPo: “The top candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination largely sought to speak directly to the American people rather than to draw contrasts with one another Wednesday night… For much of the debate, the candidates shied from the biting exchanges and intraparty contrasts that marked the first four gatherings, opening new lines of conversation on issues as disparate as racial justice, marijuana policy and child care. … While impeachment is a unifying topic for Democrats, the presidential race has showcased the party’s internal struggle over how much of the campaign should revolve around Trump’s fate, versus maintaining the issue-heavy focus that led the party’s 2018 House candidates to a majority. Within the policy field is a separate Democratic fight, over whether to pursue the sweeping policy changes backed by its liberal wing or embrace a more-moderate vision for bringing the country together after Trump.”
So why did Buttigieg get a pass? - Politico: “Pete Buttigieg came into Wednesday night’s debate bracing for an onslaught that never came. Yes, Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard questioned his experience. Cory Booker dinged the young mayor’s resume… And Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders … didn’t take him on at all — a testament to the still-unsettled nature of the 2020 primary campaign and concerns about alienating potential voters with negative attacks less than three months before voting starts in Iowa. Several campaigns question whether Buttigieg really has staying power in those early state polls and are waiting to see whether he’ll fall back to earth on his own, without a push. … Others suggested Buttigieg's time facing a barrage of criticism was still coming, and soon. … Still, Buttigieg’s opponents opened up lines of attack that can be deployed again if his recent rise in Iowa and New Hampshire sticks.”
Biden packs ‘em in with Wisconsin Dems - Marquette University: “Democratic presidential primary preference items were asked of those who said that they will vote in the Democratic primary in April. … Among those who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, Biden receives the most support. Biden is the first choice of 30 percent, followed by Sanders at 17 percent, Warren at 15 percent, and Pete Buttigieg at 13 percent. Booker and Klobuchar receive 3 percent each. Harris and Yang are the top choices of 2 percent each, while all other candidates receive 1 percent or less. … Almost two-thirds of Democratic primary voters, 62 percent, say they might change their minds about their primary choice, while 37 percent say their mind is made up.”
Obama comes off the bench - NYT: “Barack Obama had a plan of sorts for the 2020 presidential primaries, according to several allies and advisers: Stay out of the way, offer advice when asked, promote voting rights, finish a new memoir — then jump back into politics after Democrats picked their nominee. Things haven’t worked out like that. After three years of largely steering clear of divisive internal Democratic fights, Mr. Obama is increasingly moving off the political sidelines and trying to play a new role: elder statesman for a party grappling with its post-Obama identity. … Mr. Obama is hardly undertaking a full-on intervention, and modulating criticism with statements of reassurance: He is not calling out Democrats by name, and by all accounts he has chosen not to get involved behind the scenes in playing favorites among the candidates.”
‘I prefer the Asian Oprah.’ - McClatchy: “Andrew Yang was having lunch with eight recipients of his $1,000 monthly ‘Freedom Dividend’ in a private poolside room inside the Bellagio hotel when one lucky winner offered up how he was pitching this unconventional presidential candidacy to friends. ‘He wants to be your sugar daddy!,’ said Chad Sziszak, a 30-year-old from Ponchatoula, La., who planned to put his stipend towards car repairs and reconciling old debt. ‘Wow I hadn’t thought of that one,’ Yang replied, before adding his own characteristic deadpan: ‘I prefer the Asian Oprah.’ The room burst into laughter. It was another amusing moment in his quixotic, yet entertaining quest for the White House that has managed to outlast governors and members of Congress.”
Bloomberg spending spree continues - AP: “As he moves toward a presidential announcement, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg is rolling out plans to spend an estimated $15 million to $20 million on a voter registration drive designed to weaken President Donald Trump’s reelection chances in five battleground states. News of the large investment, confirmed by Bloomberg’s team on Wednesday, comes less than a week after the former New York City mayor unveiled a $100 million online advertising campaign attacking Trump in four general election swing states as well. The new effort will target 500,000 voters from traditionally underrepresented groups that typically lean Democratic, including African Americans, Latinos, Asians, young voters and those living in some rural communities.”
TEAM TRUMP SWEATS FACEBOOK’S POTENTIAL RULE CHANGES
WaPo: “The Trump campaign on Wednesday lashed out at Facebook after company executives said they were considering changes to rules around political ads that could affect the campaign’s ability to target its supporters on the platform. The outcry came as Trump’s reelection team has undertaken a massive spending blitz on Facebook aimed at countering the House’s impeachment inquiry. Trump’s page alone promoted more than $830,000 worth of ads in the seven days ending on Nov. 17, according to Facebook’s ad archive. Facebook’s microtargeting technologies allow advertisers to home in on specific groups of users and deliver messaging tailored to them — a strategy the Trump campaign has used prolifically. Trump’s campaign director Brad Parscale has noted that the president’s team has tested thousands of variations of political ads in an attempt to reach small groups of voters, such as ‘15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for.’”
Google announces plans to restrict political ad targeting - WSJ: “Alphabet Inc.’s Google said Wednesday it plans to stop allowing highly targeted political ads on its platform, further fragmenting the rules being set by Silicon Valley tech giants for guarding against misinformation. Google will roll out the ban within a week in the U.K., in advance of a Dec. 12 general election. The ban will take effect in the European Union by the end of the year and in the rest of the world on Jan. 6, the company said in a blog post.”
THE RULEBOOK: DOES THE LIMIT EXIST?
“It remains to inquire how far so odious an engine of government, in its application to us, would even be capable of answering its end.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 16
TIME OUT: ‘YOU, ME OR NOBODY IS GONNA HIT AS HARD AS LIFE’
History: “On November 21, 1976, Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone as the underdog prizefighter Rocky Balboa, debuts in New York City. The movie, which opened in theaters across the United States on December 3, 1976, was a huge box-office hit and received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for the then-little known Stallone. Rocky ultimately took home three Oscars, including one for Best Picture, and made Stallone one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. … Produced on a shoestring budget, the film told the story of Rocky Balboa, a small-time, down-on-his-luck Philadelphia boxer who works as a debt collector for a loan shark before getting a shot at the world heavyweight championship. Rocky includes … the now-iconic scene in which Rocky takes a training run up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as the movie’s theme song, ‘Gonna Fly Now,’ plays.”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Warren: 22.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.6 points no change from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 7.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Harris: 3.2 points (no change from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/WaPo, Fox News and IBD.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.8 percent
Net Score: -10.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 2.8 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve - 59% disapprove.]
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EMBASSY OFFICIAL SAYS TRUMP’S INTENT WAS CLEAR
Fox News: “An American diplomat in Kiev described to the Trump impeachment inquiry on Thursday how he overheard a phone call this summer with President Trump about wanting Ukraine to conduct desired political investigations, testifying he eventually understood that ‘demand’ to be linked to delayed military aid -- as Republicans dismissed the alleged offense as nothing more than a ‘thought crime.’ … David Holmes, a U.S. State Department official in Ukraine, testified of a Sept. 8 conversation where Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, told him Trump's advisers wanted [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky to commit to going on American television to announce an investigation. … The interview never happened, and the aid was eventually released, a fact that Republicans have cited to counter Democrats' allegations. The testimony came on the last scheduled day -- at this time -- of open impeachment hearings before the Intelligence Committee. Former National Security Council aide Fiona Hill also testified along Holmes, lambasting the ‘fictional narrative’ that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”
Trump tries building bridges with Romney, Collins ahead of impeachment - Politico: “President Donald Trump is aggressively courting Senate Republicans as impeachment bears down, and on Thursday, he'll come face to face with two of the most unpredictable jurors in any Senate trial: Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. By day's end, the president will have hosted more than 40 Republican senators at the White House since autumn began, mostly for weekly lunches that address a series of issues but also usually include a side of impeachment. Another group will head to the White House on Thursday, leaving just a handful of Republican senators untended by the president. Romney has said it would be ‘wrong and appalling’ for Trump to request foreign countries to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, prompting Trump to call Romney a ‘pompous ass.’ But the Utah Republican seemed to be keeping an open mind heading into the meeting, even if impeachment comes up.”
Trump pushes top House Defender Collins for Georgia Senate seat - AJC: “President Donald Trump pressed Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday to appoint U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to an open U.S. Senate, hours after the Gainesville Republican said he was ‘strongly’ considering a run for the job even if he’s not tapped. The call, described by three high-level GOP officials, was part of a dramatic increase in pressure from Collins’ allies that raises the possibility of a bitter Republican clash over the race. It’s the second time in two weeks that Trump directly appealed Kemp to appoint Collins, who was long considered a top contender to fill U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat before a multimillionaire financial executive applied.”
Confirmation of latest Trump judicial pick tilts balance of 11th Circuit Court - Fox News
Netanyahu indicted on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges - Fox News
Maloney becomes first woman to chair House Oversight Committee - Politico
Hong Kong rights bills heads to president’s desk - Reuters
AUDIBLE: BASICALLY BRUTAL
“Idk, Just passing laws and drinking claws. You get a job yet, Pat?” – Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., clapping back at her son, Pat Cunnane, who posted a picture of her drinking a White Claw alcoholic seltzer on Twitter.
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MASTER OF DISGUISE
Fox News: “A robbery suspect in England thought he could evade authorities with a new look: a pair of glasses. David Springthorpe, 30, was wanted for allegedly shoplifting and violating a court order when he recently came into contact with a police officer in South Normanton. A ‘short chase’ ensued, and he was detained, authorities said. Springthorpe - a white man with blue eyes, brown hair, wide ears, and a notable neck tattoo - tried to disguise himself by wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses. That, the Alfreton Police wrote on Facebook Tuesday ‘was not quite cunning enough to outsmart the team!’ ‘A pair of glasses not going to disguise that ear,’ one commenter ridiculed about Springthorpe's look change. ‘You would think he would've kept an ear out,’ another user wrote. Springthorpe was convicted of theft for stealing perfume gift sets, according to Metro UK, and sentenced to a 30-week jail sentence.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Transparency, thy name is Trump, Donald Trump. No filter, no governor, no editor lies between his impulses and his public actions. He tweets, therefore he is.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 27, 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.