**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Trump full steam ahead on more background checks - Biden blunders - How rich benefactors aided Harris’ rise - Trump says backlash makes SoulCycle owner ‘hotter’ - Totally worth it
TRUMP FULL STEAM AHEAD ON MORE BACKGROUND CHECKS
WaPo: “President Trump expressed great confidence Friday that he could rally recalcitrant Republicans around legislation strengthening background checks and persuade the nation’s powerful gun lobby to drop its long-standing opposition to such measures, tasks that proved elusive following other mass shootings on his watch. Appearing outside the White House, Trump claimed meetings in recent days had already yielded strong congressional support for ‘very meaningful background checks’ and that his party, which has stymied gun-control efforts this year by Democrats, would take the lead in passing new legislation after returning from an August recess. ‘I think Republicans are going to be great and lead the charge, along with the Democrats,’ Trump told reporters shortly before departing for campaign fundraisers in New York. … Trump’s comments outside the White House echoed morning tweets in which he also said he had been speaking with leaders of the NRA ‘so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected.’”
Pelosi asked Trump to recall Senate - Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote directly to President Trump on Thursday to demand that he use a little-invoked constitutional power to recall the Senate from its recess so it can address gun violence. The move would essentially represent an end run around Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom top Democrats have urged to bring Congress back. Congress is not scheduled to return until the second week of September. ‘Today, as speaker of the House, I am writing in good faith to request that you call the United States Senate back into session immediately under your powers in Article II Section 3 of the Constitution to consider House-passed bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation,’ Pelosi wrote. That constitutional provision … holds that the president ‘may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them.’”
McConnell says Senate can look at proposals - Lexington [Ky.] Herald-Leader: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under severe pressure from Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, suggested Thursday that the Senate could look at a ban on assault weapons and that there’s Senate support for a move to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales. Speaking on WHAS 840 in Louisville, the Kentucky Republican said President Donald Trump called him Thursday morning and is ‘anxious to get an outcome and so am I.’ He said the two talked about various proposals that will be ‘front and center’ in Senate discussions, including so-called red flag warning legislation that would keep guns from people deemed a threat by their friends and family members, as well as expanding background checks. ‘There’s a lot of support for that,’ McConnell said, referring to legislation championed by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, who are hoping to revive legislation that would extend background checks for nearly all gun sales.”
Barrasso no fan of ‘red flag’ proposal - Politico: “Sen. John Barrasso said Friday that he had concerns about ‘red flag’ laws and voiced skepticism that Republicans would support expanded background checks during gun sales. ‘I want to make sure we protect our constitutional rights and whatever comes up will actually help solve a problem,’ Barrasso, the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters. ‘I have a lot of concerns about the due process component of [red flag laws] and I don’t want to punish law-abiding citizens.’ As for bipartisan background checks legislation, which he previously voted against and has repeatedly fallen short in the Senate, the Wyoming senator said, ‘I don’t expect things have changed much.’”
THE RULEBOOK: BETTER NOT
“Whatever practices may have a tendency to disturb the harmony between the States, are proper objects of federal superintendence and control.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 80
TIME OUT: NO BIRTHDAY CANDLES, PLEASE
NPR: “Smokey Bear, the U.S. Forest Service's symbol of fire prevention, turns 75 on Friday. Smokey is the longest-running public service ad campaign, first appearing on a poster on Aug. 9, 1944. While his look has changed quite a bit, his message has shifted only slightly. Smokey's roots go back further than his first post. In 1942, a Japanese sub attacked an oil field in southern California. It was the only Japanese attack on the mainland in WWII. Next to the oil field was the Los Padres National Forest, and officials worried about the effect on the war effort if the forest itself had been attacked. So the War Advertising Council developed a campaign to warn of the danger of forest fires. ‘The original posters were quite scary in nature,’ said Wendy Melillo, an American University professor who has written about Smokey. … When the war ended, the Forest Service needed a new way of conveying the danger of forest fires.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent
Net Score: -11.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 2.8 points
[Average includes: IBD: 40% approve - 56% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 53% disapprove.]
WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!
Fox News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic primary frontrunner, made another gaffe Thursday when he told a crowd in Iowa that ‘poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.’ Biden, who famously directed supporters to a wrong number during last month’s debate -- and recently misidentified the sites of recent mass shootings -- quickly corrected himself after some applause from the crowd at the Asian & Latino Coalition PAC, and finished, ‘wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.’ Biden, who in 2006 drew criticism with a comment about Indian-Americans moving to Delaware, the state that Biden represented when he served in the U.S. Senate, also told a crowd at the Iowa State Fair that ‘we choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.’”
Biden, Harris try to catch up to Warren on Iowa organization - Politico: “For months, Joe Biden took heat for not taking Iowa seriously enough. And Kamala Harris so lacked a presence here Democrats assumed she was skipping the first-in-the-nation caucus state altogether. That’s all changed. As the Iowa State Fair … [gets] underway this week, both Biden and Harris have upended the landscape by bulking up their field organizations, adding more frequent visits and in Harris’ case, even airing TV ads. Harris’ campaign, after downplaying her Iowa prospects earlier this year, is now confident enough about her positioning in the state that a senior aide described an Iowa win as ‘within reach.’ … Since January, state Democratic insiders have speculated that Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker owned Iowa in terms of organizing, with Warren leading the field in the number of paid staffers on the ground. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, was recognized as a force for his quick reactivation of his 2016 grassroots army.”
Tofu on a stick? Vegan Booker tries to navigate Iowa State Fair - Fox News: “The Hawkeye State is the largest producer of pork in the country – and Iowans know it and love it. But if you don’t – Iowans have some words for you. ‘It’s what’s for dinner darnnit,’ Dana ‘Spanky’ Wanken of the Iowa Pork Tent Committee told Fox News, as a line of Iowa State Fair-goers wrapped around a corner to buy pork a stick. So, when non-meat eating Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker and Tulsi Gabbard appear here Friday at the annual fair – where fried foods, meats on a stick and presidential candidates are ubiquitous -- they may face a tough crowd of caucus-goers skeptical of their diet. Booker, the New Jersey senator, is a vegan. Gabbard, the Hawaii congresswoman, is a vegetarian. ‘You can’t live on lettuce,’ Wanken said.”
HOW RICH BENEFACTORS AIDED HARRIS’ RISE
Politico: “Well before she was a United States senator, or the attorney general of California, Harris was already in with the in-crowd [in San Francisco]. From 1994, when she was introduced … as the paramour of one of the state’s most powerful politicians, to 2003, when she was elected district attorney, the Oakland- and Berkeley-bred Harris charted the beginnings of her ascent in the more fashionable crucible of San Francisco. … Her rise, however, was propelled in and by a very different milieu. In this less explored piece of her past, Harris used as a launching pad the tightly knit world of San Francisco high society, navigating early on this rarefied world of influence and opulence, charming and partying with movers and shakers—ably cultivating relationships with VIPs who would become friends and also backers and donors of every one of her political campaigns, tapping into deep pockets and becoming a popular figure in a small world dominated by a handful of powerful families.”
Bernie still leads in individual donors - NYT: “Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a huge lead over other Democratic presidential candidates in the number of individual donors they have each accumulated so far. This is the first time since the primary race began in earnest that we can estimate how many individual donors each candidate has attracted — a key indicator of how much they are catching on with voters. Mr. Sanders is relying heavily on small donors to power his campaign… A map that includes the rest of the Democratic field without Mr. Sanders offers a picture of where the other major candidates are picking up donors. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the other leading progressive in the race, is outpacing the rest of the field across much of the country — a sign that her strategy of relying on grass-roots donors, and refraining from holding high-dollar fund-raisers, is working.”
GOP frets over Atlanta suburbs - WaPo: “Republicans face a reckoning in the red-state suburbs that have long been a bedrock for the party… Republican leaders also worry that Trump’s dramatic policy moves and Twitter outbursts … could prod more suburban GOP lawmakers to head for the exits rather than mount a defense, following in the footsteps of several Texas Republicans and others who have decided not to seek reelection. … The scene in Brookhaven, Ga., this week overlaps with suburban battlegrounds nationwide in states that were carried by Trump in 2016. Unease among suburban voters in those states with Trump’s conduct and the GOP’s limited steps on gun control has at times overshadowed Trump’s economic record, which most Republicans count on lifting them next year.”
NADLER: IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS ALREADY UNDERWAY
Politico: “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said publicly for the first time on Thursday that his panel is conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, adding that the committee will decide by the end of the year whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor. The committee has said as much in recent court filings as it seeks former special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury materials and testimony from his investigation’s star witnesses. But it was a rare rhetorical escalation from the New York Democrat, who has privately pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support a formal inquiry… ‘This is formal impeachment proceedings,’ Nadler said in a CNN interview. …That timeline would put an impeachment battle in the middle of the Democratic presidential primary contests, which begin in early 2020 — a concern for Democrats who believe that the window to act on impeachment is quickly closing.”
TRUMP SAYS BACKLASH MAKES SOULCYCLE OWNER ‘HOTTER’
WaPo: “President Trump defended billionaire real estate developer and fitness chains owner Stephen Ross, whose businesses are facing boycotts over a Trump reelection fundraiser he’s hosting at his Hamptons home on Friday. ‘He’s a great friend of mine; he’s a very successful guy. We were competitors but friends in real estate in New York in the old days,’ Trump told reporters outside the White House before departing for Long Island, N.Y. ‘He’s probably more inclined to be a liberal if you want to know the truth, but he likes me, he respects me.’ Trump critics called on people to cancel their memberships at Ross-owned clubs such as Equinox Fitness and SoulCycle. The parent firm, Related Companies, also owns eateries such as Bluestone Lane Coffee, Momofuku and &pizza. Trump dismissed the backlash Ross is facing over the fundraiser, saying ‘it just makes Steve much hotter.’”
Trump announced Joseph Maguire will be acting director of national intelligence - WaPo
Can this quiz guess your partisan affiliation? - NYT
AUDIBLE: ‘I LOVE LAMP’
“Porch is my favorite word. I love porches.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Iowa per CNN’s David Wright.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend, Bill Hemmer will be sitting in for Mr. Sunday. 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
“I am increasingly struck by the symmetry between the issues of gun ownership and abortion, with the right fervently embracing the former, and the left the latter. Each takes the position that the smallest step toward any restriction is the first step/the camel’s nose under the tent toward an outright ban. Hence, the outrage at the tamest proposals. Let’s try this: a ban on extended ammunition clips and ‘assault’-style weapons, coupled with a ban on partial birth and late term abortion. Probably worthwhile, but less than a snowball’s chance in hell.” – Jim Voelz, Fort Wayne, Ind.
[Ed. note: You’re certainly right about the ways in which activists at the extremes defeat compromise, but I would caution you on one point, Mr. Voelz. On things like the definition of human life and the meaning of the Second Amendment, some things go beyond compromise. This is something that we tend to miss in politics: Human beings hold confusing, contradictory jumbled views on issues. Relatively few Americans are all right or all left, but our politics doesn’t make much space for the, say, pro-gun feminist or the anti-immigration socialist. What makes us more interesting and our politics endlessly fascinating is what a jumble we all are.]
“Pardon my skepticism, but in your Halftime Report today in the blurb on Texas, to paraphrase a take on Shakespeare Henry the VIII, ‘fifth verse same as the first verse!’. Pundits have been predicting the swing back from red to blue for Texas, and Georgia, for years. Even in 2018, a year with much enthusiasm for rising stars and media darlings such as Robert Francis O'Rourke and Stacey Abrams fell fairly well short, if closer than others in previous years. In short: I'll believe it when I see it. And you neglected Strunk and White.” – Jeff Smith, Warner Robins, Ga.
[Ed. note: As the 1984 election cycle began, Republicans had gone two-for-26 in presidential elections in Georgia’s history. Not even Reconstruction broke the Peach State’s streak. The only two departures had been in 1964 when segregationist Democrats intentionally burned their votes to spite Lyndon Johnson over the Civil Rights Act and 1972 when Democrats lost every state but Massachusetts. In 1980, the state’s former governor had lost badly nationally but still carried his home by 15 points. History and election results would have said that Georgia was still a blue state: Nine of the state’s 10 House members were Democrats, as were both senators. Georgia wouldn’t elect its first post-Reconstruction Republican governor until 20002. And yet… That being said, I don’t expect Georgia to be a competitive presidential state this cycle. If it is, it will likely mean that the GOP is far out of contention already, and the same goes for Texas. But I would also remind you that demographic and cultural change works like water on a rock: affecting big changes over long periods of time.]
“I got a good laugh at the Seagulls story at the end of your note today. Just last month our family spent a week in Put-in-Bay Ohio for a Junior Regatta (it’s the only town on South Bass Island located in Lake Erie) & we had a run in with the local birds. The birds had nests in trees & when you walked on the sidewalks under the trees the birds attacked you! We quickly learned what trees had the birds’ nests & then took too much merriment in watching unsuspecting walkers get attacked by the diving birds. What we did learn is if you put your sunglasses on top of your head - the birds left you alone! We assumed it was because the birds thought we were looking at them - kind of like the stare down in Cornwall. Thanks for the afternoon laugh & trip down vacation memory lane!” – Colleen Mansuetto, Cleveland
[Ed. note: Love it! We spent a very happy family vacation at Put-in-Bay in 2011 to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. It’s a fantastic spot and must be the world record holder for inebriated golf cart driving!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
TOTALLY WORTH IT
WXIN: “Police say four people held a man hostage at gunpoint, but they did something very peculiar when they were finished questioning him. They offered him a grilled cheese sandwich. A victim called the Aransas Pass [Texas] Police Department around 6 p.m. on Sunday to report that he was held against his will, according to The News of San Patricio. The victim told police he worked with three of the four suspects. They held him at gunpoint for several hours, searched his phone, and demanded answers about a work-related issued. When the suspects decided to release the man, they offered him a grilled cheese for his troubles, The News of San Patricio reports. Aransas Pass police arrested [the four suspects and they] were charged with aggravated kidnapping.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Washington, it seems, is a city in decline. History has taken up residence in Budapest and Tokyo, Brussels and Seoul. After a brief spurt of prominence and wealth owed to the Depression, Hitler and the cold war, Washington, we are told, has lapsed into a somnambular state.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for Time magazine on May 21, 1990.
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.