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On the roster: Team Trump considers appealing to Dems in GOP districts - I’ll Tell You What: A moat point - Dems grumble over large debate stage - Audible: That’s some pretty thick batter - Yinz be like…


WaPo: “White House officials intent on stopping the House from impeaching President Trump are considering appealing to moderate Democrats in Republican districts to stand with the president, a pursuit at odds with fresh political attacks from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The nascent outreach campaign would target some of the 31 Democrats from congressional districts Trump won in 2016, many of whom ran on rebuilding infrastructure, improving trade deals and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, according to multiple officials familiar with the strategy. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, said the appeal would be based on these Democrats’ 2018 election promises to work with the president — accompanied with a warning that impeachment would hamper possible legislative victories.”

Impeachment vets urge caution - AP: “But the Republicans who carried out President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 are unanimous in urging caution and restraint as Congress embarks on yet another impeachment struggle, this time over accusations that President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son. The impeachment veterans of two decades ago were thrust into a seismic political event that was sober and circus-like at the same time. So began a new, angry chapter of American politics that strained Washington institutions that were stronger then than now. … Today, those Clinton impeachment Republicans are urging a pause in the tribalism of the Trump era. … The best-known is Lindsey Graham, a former Air Force prosecutor who was among those most aggressively gunning for Clinton. … The most senior of two Clinton prosecutor remaining in the House is Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin... Clinton impeachment manager Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, wasn’t eager to take a walk down memory lane when encountered in the Capitol last week…”

Kraushaar: The impeachment bellwethers - National Journal: “All told, the numbers suggest that while the politics of impeachment hearings now favor the Democrats, the prospect of building enough bipartisan support to remove Trump from office remains remote. … It’s easy to expect the Republican base remaining solidly behind the president regardless of new information, but it’s hard to see how the broader politics improve for Trump or his party. Despite the partisanship, there are still many members of Congress whose perspective on impeachment going forward will be worth watching closely. They’re the bellwethers, the swing votes whose forthcoming reactions will reflect the mood of the country. There are four categories of members I’m closely watching: the swing-state Republicans, the red-state Democrats, the Republican retirees, and the swing-district freshman Democrats with national security experience.”

Jim Geraghty: Don’t obsess over whistleblower - National Review: “Here’s an assessment sure to be unpopular: When the story of the impeachment effort against President Trump is written, the whistleblower will be an afterthought or a minor player in the overall story at most. Either the whistleblower’s claims are accurate, or they aren’t. Impeachment will hinge upon whether President Trump’s actions strike lawmakers as an effort to effectively blackmail Ukraine into finding dirt on Joe Biden, or whether it’s just Trump being Trump, wanting the facts on Biden strong-arming a foreign government to fire a prosecutor who might have been investigating a company that employed his son. The vast majority of lawmakers’ conclusions on this will just happen to align with their partisan affiliations.”

Schumer continues to press McConnell - Politico: “Chuck Schumer wants Senate Democrats to keep the pressure on Mitch McConnell to hold a fair trial if impeachment of President Donald Trump comes to the Senate — but he also wants to keep whacking the majority leader for presiding over a ‘legislative graveyard.’ The Senate minority leader convened a conference call with his caucus on Wednesday to stay focused on its double-barreled messaging tactics while his 47 members are scattered across the country in the middle of a two-week recess, according to three people familiar with the call. … Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged his colleagues to not act partisan amid the impeachment inquiry and pressure McConnell (R-Ky.) to commit to a fair process if the House impeaches the president, according to a Democratic aide briefed on the call. … A second Democrat briefed on the call said some in the party are anxious for more strategic guidance from party leaders.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Trump attacks his own presidency - This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the Democrats’ evidence against President Trump and why he should present a principled defense if he has one: “Federal law defines as criminal the solicitation of aid – anything of value – for a political campaign from a foreign national or foreign government, whether the thing of value arrives or not. Federal law also prohibits bribery and attempted bribery, which is defined as withholding the performance of an official duty conditioned upon the personal receipt of a thing of value, whether the thing of value arrives or not. The law further prohibits intimidating witnesses, which is defined as the use of language designed to deter witnesses from giving testimony, whether the intimidation is successful or not.” More here.

“The extravagant surmises of a distempered jealousy can never be dignified with that character.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 59

Smithsonian: “With its cheery singles, theatrical medley and iconic cover, The Beatles’ 11th studio album, ‘Abbey Road,’ holds a special place in the hearts of the band’s fans. But as the album celebrates its 50th anniversary, few may realize just how groundbreaking its tracks were for the band. In [William D. Moylan’s] forthcoming book, ‘Recording Analysis: How the Record Shapes the Song,’ [he shows] how the recording process can enhance the artistry of songs, and ‘Abbey Road’ is one of the albums [he highlights]. Beginning with 1965’s ‘Rubber Soul,’ The Beatles started exploring new sounds. This quest continued in ‘Abbey Road,’ where the band was able to deftly incorporate emerging recording technology in a way that set the album apart from everything they had previously done. … ‘Abbey Road’ … shows how a song can be poetically written and an instrument deftly played. But the way a track is recorded can be the artist’s final stamp on the song.”

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

Biden: 26.8 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Warren: 22.8 points (↑ 2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 16 points (no change from last wk.)
Harris: 5.6 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 6 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, Fox News, NBC News/WSJ and CNN.]

Average approval: 42.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -11 percent
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: CNBC: 37% approve - 53% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 54% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove.]

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This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss Bernie Sanders recent health issues, Mayor Pete Buttigieg raising over 19 million dollars and Dana’s three year anniversary of giving up Diet Coke. Plus, Dana has mailbag questions and Chris answers Jimmy Carter-based trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Politico: “The next Democratic presidential primary debate will likely be historic — but probably not for the reason Democrats were hoping. The Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday that 12 candidates have qualified for the Oct. 15 debate in Westerville, Ohio. And unlike the previous rounds, when the stage was limited to 10 candidates, which resulted in the first two debates being split into two consecutive nights, all 12 are set to share one stage on Oct. 15.This would make it the largest presidential primary debate ever, Republican or Democrat… Invited to the debate are: Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroTulsi GabbardKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersTom SteyerElizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. If none of the candidates drop out between now and the debate — and Sanders participates in the debate after his recent heart procedure — it will surpass the previous record of 11 candidates on a primary debate stage, set by Republicans during the 2016 cycle. The crowded stage is leading to some grumbling from Democrats, who are already conscious about their speaking time.”

Biden tries to fashion a Super Tuesday firewall - Politico: “Joe Biden’s campaign is ramping up its investment in Super Tuesday states, anticipating a Democratic race that narrows to two candidates by early March. The increase in staffing across the 14 states that will vote March 3 comes as Biden’s polling figures have declined and Elizabeth Warren’s have surged, particularly in states like Iowa and New Hampshire where she’s heavily invested in field organization. The former vice president’s campaign is still counting on strong finishes in the four early nominating states. But in the event of weaker-than-expected performances, a built-out Super Tuesday organization would provide a fail-safe for Biden. Many of the states on the Super Tuesday map — which includes a handful of Southern and Border states — play to his strengths among African-American voters and more moderate Democrats.”

Molly Ball: Harris remains an enigma to voters - Time: “Perhaps, in these days of brutal ideological combat, that kind of pragmatism could be sold as refreshing. But in Harris’ case it seems to be having the opposite effect. Some of the attendees at her events in Iowa told me they don’t think she’s progressive enough; others said she strikes them as too far left. ‘She hasn’t gone far enough to get the activists behind her, but she’s gone too far for some of the moderates,’ says Larry Gerston, a professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University. ‘So she’s in kind of a no-person’s-land in terms of having a good base.’ And yet, polls indicate that Democratic voters still want to like her–if only they can figure out what she’s about. The race is far from over. Iowa voters are notorious for shopping around until the end.”
Klobuchar leans on family’s Iron Range roots - Roll Call: “If there’s proof of Klobuchar’s strengths as a candidate, it’s her margins in conservative parts of Minnesota. Despite Trump winning the 8th District — home to the Iron Range — by 16 points in 2016, and Democrats losing the seat last fall, Klobuchar carried it by more than 10 points in her 2018 reelection. But as Democrats have seen slippage in the Midwest, so has Klobuchar. Her margins last year in some conservative congressional districts were significantly lower than in 2012. Before she can try to extend that Minnesota success nationwide, she has to win over the Democratic Party base. ‘It would be unlikely,’ [University of Minnesota professor LarryJacobs said. ‘But I never give up on Amy Klobuchar. No one is going to outwork her.’”

Joe Lieberman
’s son, Matt, seeks Senate seat in Georgia AJC

Pergram: How a Senate trial of Trump might proceed - Fox News

“There are different ways to bake the cake, depending on what sort of cake you want. Different flavoring, different temperatures, different ingredients yield different types of cake, and the president as the master baker is testing recipes and deciding what type of cake he wants.” – A senior White House official talking to the WaPo about President Trump’s freestyle solo approach to impeachment messaging.

“I do enjoy reading the Halftime report and especially the From the Bleachers section where I can see how others are reacting to what they read. Your responses are usually spot on but [on Tuesday] I took umbrage to your calling the impeachment process ‘festivities’. While politics in general tends to resemble Battlebots and political conventions are certainly festive the gravity of what is taking place in Washington now should be handled with more seriousness. The potential removal of a duly elected president regardless of the outcome will leave wounds on this country that will take a long time to heal. We may not recognize our Republic when all is said and done due to the scars left behind. One can only hope that later generations can learn where we failed to, so that Impeachment, or the threat of it, is not used as a political tool every 4 years and never becomes something resembling a festival.” – Dave Fischer, Memphis, Tenn.

[Ed. note: I know that it’s very tempting to think the worst, Mr. Fischer. It not only seems more dramatic and historic than being optimistic, it also fits into the nation’s dour mood these days. I know it’s also tempting to take umbrage. In fact, umbrage taking has become sort of our new national pastime. The outrage olympics have overtaken our politics in a profound way. And while I do feel bad that you were offended at my jocularity, I am going to continue to decline to take politics so seriously. The issues at stake are too important to hang on every word of politicians. There’s no way around the partisan conflict ahead, but I still tend to think that there’s something better waiting on the other side. I’m grateful for your readership and hope you can stick with us despite my commitment to due flippancy.]  

“Some are saying in the Senate trial, assuming the president is impeached, that the president’s attorneys will have the opportunity to subpoena and question anyone. By anyone, they’re suggesting Comey, Strzok, Page, Ohr, Holder, Lynch, Steele, Brennan, Clapper, not to mention Hilary Clinton… quite literally, anyone. It’s difficult to imagine that this is so, but, if it is, well, the country’s in for a tantalizing, and surely painful, show…” – B. A. Street, Colorado Springs, Colo.

[Ed. note: The Senate gets to make up its own trial rules. How long, how many witnesses, in what order, etc. would all be up for grabs if the House impeaches. I think the scenario you describe – weeks of confusing testimony going down alternate narratives, etc. – would be a bipartisan nightmare. Instead, I expect senators would prefer tight, concise presentations.]  

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

WTAE: “An alligator was found in Pittsburgh Tuesday night, according to Humane Animal Rescue. The gator, which Humane Animal Rescue named ‘Gus,’ was found near the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood. … George DeSavage and his girlfriend spotted the alligator. He said, ‘We were just down there sitting watching the sunset by the river and I happened to glance down and see it just sitting there.’ DeSavage said he wanted to save the animal and possibly prevent a dangerous situation for someone else. … He said grabbing the alligator was the right thing to do. ‘It was calm. It seemed like it was handled by somebody before because as soon as I grabbed it, it went kind of limp and calm and didn't squirm or try and fight or anything,’ DeSavage said. Police showed up and Gus is at humane animal rescue in Homewood.”

“Morally speaking – and congressional critics of the Reagan Doctrine are speaking morally, above all – sovereignty cannot be absolute.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 24, 2001.

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.