Trump assembles 2020 war chest


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On the roster: Trump assembles 2020 war chest - Report: Biden debates adding VP choice to announcement - GOP redistricting moderated Dems’ 2018 gains - The Judge’s Ruling: Can the president break the law? - Petco’s policy is no bull

TRUMP ASSEMBLES 2020 WAR CHEST
Fox News: “While President Trump is facing murmurs of a primary challenge – as well as a massive field of Democratic candidates jockeying to take him on – the incumbent president enters the 2020 melee with an undeniable advantage: a war chest that would be the envy of any modern president. Unlike most incumbents, Trump started his re-election bid on day one of his presidency. He filed papers with the Federal Election Commission within hours of being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017. Many saw it as a comical – albeit in character – step for the audacious Trump. Yet, by doing so he was able to raise huge sums of money four years before the election. According to recent FEC data, the Trump campaign has raised over $67 million from 2017 to 2018, with nearly $20 million on hand. Combined with the hauls from two major joint fundraising groups – Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee – the president has raised over $130 million as of the end of 2018, with over $35 million on hand.”

Economic models show a Trump 2020 landslide - Politico: “But if the election were held today, he’d likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide, according to multiple economic models… Credit a strong U.S. economy featuring low unemployment, rising wages and low gas prices — along with the historic advantage held by incumbent presidents. While Trump appears to be in a much stronger position than his approval rating and conventional Beltway wisdom might suggest, he also could wind up in trouble if the economy slows markedly between now and next fall, as many analysts predict it will. And other legal bombshells could explode the current scenario. Trump’s party managed to lose the House in 2018 despite a strong economy. So the models could wind up wrong this time around. Despite all these caveats, Trump looks surprisingly good if the old James Carville maxim coined in 1992 — ‘the economy, stupid’ — holds true in 2020.”

Trump charged his own campaign $1.3 million - Forbes: “Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money. In December, Forbes reported on the first $1.1 million that President Trump moved from his campaign into his business. Since then, his campaign filed additional documentation showing that it spent another $180,000 at Trump-owned properties in the final three months of 2018.”

Pence pushing for anti-Trumpers to donate this time around - Politico: “When Vice President Mike Pence appeared before some of the GOP’s most powerful donors at the iconic Pebble Beach golf course on Monday evening, he did something that would’ve been unthinkable a few years ago. Over a surf and turf dinner, the vice president showered praise on Paul Singer, a prominent New York City hedge fund manager who spent millions of dollars in 2016 bankrolling TV ads painting Trump as ‘too reckless and dangerous to be president.’ … The private dinner provides a window into a behind-the-scenes, Pence-led mission: to ensure that Republican givers who never came around to Trump in 2016 are on board for 2020. With Democrats already raking in colossal amounts of cash, Republicans estimate they’ll need to raise around $1 billion — a figure that will require the party’s donor class to be all-in.”

THE RULEBOOK: PUT UP A BRAVE FRONT  
“But whatever may be our situation, whether firmly united under one national government, or split into a number of confederacies, certain it is, that foreign nations will know and view it exactly as it is; and they will act toward us accordingly.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 4

TIME OUT: HBD BACH!
Time: “Now you can harmonize like Johann Sebastian Bach thanks to Google’s first ever AI-driven Doodle. To celebrate the German composer’s March 21, 1685 birthday, Doodle lets users compose a melody in Bach’s style. … Bach was born in a small town of Eisenach in Germany to a family with strong musical background. Influenced by his father who worked as the director of the town’s musicians, Bach started out as a chorister before learning the violin. Much of his legacy is attributed to his genius mastery of the violin. More than 300 years after his death, 1,000 pieces of Bach’s work have lived on in manuscripts and are performed worldwide. John Eliot Gardiner, an English Bach conductor compares listening to the German composer to snorkelling. ‘Being in Bach’s music has that sense of otherness: it’s another world we enter … You put your mask on, and you go down to a psychedelic world of myriad colours.’”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41 percent
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: down 1.8 points 
[Average includes: CNN: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 53% disapprove.]

REPORT: BIDEN DEBATES ADDING VP CHOICE TO ANNOUNCEMENT
Axios: “Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president. Why it matters: The popular Georgia Democrat, who at age 45 is 31 years younger than Biden, would bring diversity and excitement to the ticket — showing voters, in the words of a close source, that Biden ‘isn't just another old white guy.’ But the decision poses considerable risk, and some advisers are flatly opposed. Some have pointed out that in a Democratic debate, he could be asked why no one on the stage would be a worthy running mate. Advisers also know that the move would be perceived as a gimmick. Biden's position on the issue couldn't be learned — we were just told about the advisers' debate. Biden has discussed selecting a running mate early, a move that one senior Democrat said could hurt him by feeding ‘an air of inevitability,’ CNN reported. Biden's office declined to comment. Abrams met Biden in Washington last week to discuss her next political steps, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.”

Delaney calls on Kasich or Hogan to challenge Trump - Politico: “Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney on Thursday said a Republican, such as former Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, should challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. ‘Unless Republicans believe that Donald Trump is a fair and accurate representation of the Republican party as a whole, they should put up a challenger to run against him in the primary election,’ he said in a statement, adding that few Republicans ‘have shown the courage to stand up to Trump.’ … ‘Voices like John Kasich and Governor Hogan, from my state, would do an enormous service to not just their party, but to their fellow Americans to stand up and challenge this President,’ Delaney said.”

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet getting closer to 2020 announcement - Denver Post: “U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is taking the final steps toward becoming the second Colorado Democrat in the 2020 race for president, with a possible announcement coming soon, sources familiar with his plan have told The Denver Post. Craig Hughes, a longtime adviser, said a final decision has not been made. ‘We’re making progress towards a decision and encouraged by what we are seeing and hearing,’ Hughes said. While an announcement is not imminent, Bennet could announce within a month, the Democratic sources said. Bennet, Colorado’s senior senator, has been considering a run since the fall.”

Klobuchar gets caught citing bad data about reducing black incarceration - WaPo: “In response to a sharp question from [CNN’s Jake] Tapper about what [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar did as a prosecutor to deal with ‘stark racial disparities’ in the ratio of African Americans sent to Minnesota jails, the 2020 presidential hopeful had a ready answer: The incarceration rate fell 65 percent ‘from the beginning of my term to the end.’ CNN reported that Klobuchar’s staff later clarified that she was talking about the jail population, not the prisons, in Hennepin County. … [But] it wasn’t true. … The prison admission rate for African Americans did drop during her tenure, though how much credit she can claim is subject to dispute. … On national television, Klobuchar claimed a figure that should have been unbelievable to herself.”

Colin Reed: ‘Will the 3 Bs (Beto, Biden and Bernie) leave Elizabeth Warren on the sidelines in 2020? - Fox News: “It’s been less than three months since Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., became the first Democratic presidential hopeful to enter the race, but it may as well have been three years. Look at how the political landscape has shifted since Warren’s surprise New Year’s Eve announcement. … In the past, Warren could count on raising both in spades. Now, she’s losing in the battle for resources and attention, having been overshadowed by the three B’s of Biden, Bernie and Beto. … One bright spot for Warren is the upcoming debates – assuming that she is able to meet the qualifying requirements. Having gone to college on a debate scholarship, Warren can be formidable dissecting her political opponents when the lights are shining brightest. … Had Elizabeth Warren entered the presidential race in 2016, she very well could be president. Now it seems as though her moment has come and gone.”

GOP REDISTRICTING MODERATED DEMS’ 2018 GAINS
AP: “Democrats won more votes, regained control of the U.S. House and flipped hundreds of seats in state legislatures during the 2018 elections. … Yet it wasn’t as bad as it could have been for Republicans. That’s because they may have benefited from a built-in advantage in some states, based on how political districts were drawn, that prevented deeper losses or helped them hold on to power, according to a mathematical analysis by The Associated Press. The AP’s analysis indicates that Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats than would have been expected based on their average share of the vote in congressional districts across the country. In state House elections, Republicans’ structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats, according to the analysis. The AP examined all U.S. House races and about 4,900 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a statistical method of calculating partisan advantage that is designed to flag cases of potential political gerrymandering.”

THE JUDGE’S RULING: CAN THE PRESIDENT BREAK THE LAW?
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses previous presidents who used the power of the Oval Office for acts that are deemed criminal: “Legal scholars have been fascinated for two centuries about whether an American president can break the law and remain immune from prosecution. … During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered banks to confiscate gold from Americans who had purchased and possessed it lawfully. Wasn't that theft? In the early 1970s, Richard Nixon used the CIA to spy on Americans and to frustrate the FBI's efforts to investigate a burglary at the Democratic National Committee's Watergate headquarters, and then he denied doing any of this. Wasn't that an invasion of privacy and obstruction of justice and using a federal office for deception? …Can the president legally break the law? If he can, we will soon be back to the Nixon days. And we all know how they ended.” More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Rep. Elijah Cummings reveals Jared and Ivanka use private email accounts for official business - NYT

New Congress will hit three month mark with not much to show - WaPo

Roger Stone invokes 5th Amendment, refuses to turn over documents for top Dem's probe - Fox News

AUDIBLE: BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
“We’ll make sure a space is cleared off for him, just in case he decides to jump on anything.” – Kirsten Neves, co-owner of Tuckerman Brewing Co. in Conway, N.H., told Politico in reference to Beto O’Rourke’s tendency to stand on elevated surfaces.

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PETCO’S POLICY IS NO BULL
KXAN: “A Texas rancher found a unique way to test out Petco’s ‘all leashed pets are welcome’ policy. He took his African Watusi steer, Oliver, into the store. Vincent Browning's goal was to see if the company stands by its claim. The pair walked into the store, and Oliver was greeted by employees without a problem. Browning said on Facebook that the Atascocita Petco was by far his and Oliver's favorite by far. African Watusi steer are typically between 1,000 and 1,600 pounds. Their demeanor is generally described as docile.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“As a moderate carnivore myself, I confess to living in Jeffersonian hypocrisy. It’s a bit late for me to live on berries and veggies. … And while I don’t demand that every chicken I consume be certified to have enjoyed an open meadow and a vibrant social life, if I can eat free range, I will.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on May 7, 2015.

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.