On the roster: Trump negotiating with Senate Dems on guns - Candidates’ desperation plays ahead of debate cutoff - Biden tries damage control - Small donors flock to Trump - She had no chill
TRUMP NEGOTIATING WITH SENATE DEMS ON GUNS
NYT: “[President Trump] has said repeatedly that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] favors expanding background checks, the leader has not committed to taking up the bill... Mr. Trump on Sunday telephoned Senator Christopher S. Murphy, a Democrat who has been one of the leading voices in Congress for gun control, an indication that the president is interested in pursuing legislation. Earlier in the week, Mr. Murphy had contacted the White House to indicate that he was willing to work with Mr. Trump on the issue, which prompted the call. The conversation was positive, with Mr. Trump indicating that he was serious about persuading Republicans to act, according to officials familiar with their discussion. And the two agreed to set up a staff-level dialogue this week between their offices and those of Senators Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia…”
Murphy optimistic - The [Torrington, Conn.] Register Citizen: “Connecticut’s Democratic senators are expressing guarded optimism on new gun legislation in the aftermath of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, with Sen. Chris Murphy talking to President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a phone call that Trump described as ‘a very good conversation.’ Murphy, who along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal has carved out a leading position on guns among Senate Democrats, talked to Trump about a path to reviving the 2013 background-checks bill that stalled in the Senate just four months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to the New York Times. … The House, now under Democratic control, passed two gun bills in February. All of Connecticut’s five Democratic House members voted in favor of them. In the Senate, however, McConnell remains in charge.”
Don Jr. said to dissent - WSJ: “Amid the increased discussion about gun control, some Trump advisers have urged the president not to throw his support behind any of the gun-control measures being discussed in Congress, including so-called red-flag legislation introduced by top Trump ally Sen. Lindsay Graham (R., S.C.), which aims at temporarily blocking dangerous people from accessing firearms. Some advisers have expressed concern that such legislation could violate the Second Amendment and alienate conservative voters. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son who often speaks with his father about his views on gun laws, has raised concerns about both red-flag legislation and about tightening background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.”
House Judiciary returning early, but no plan for action - WaPo: “A House panel with jurisdiction over firearms is expected to return early from the six-week congressional recess to consider additional gun-control measures in hopes of upping pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to act. But there’s one problem: Democrats are privately sparring over what exactly to approve. House Democrats universally agree on expanding background checks, legislation they easily passed in February. They’ve also coalesced around proposals restricting high-capacity magazines, instituting ‘red flag’ laws that keep guns from individuals showing warning signs of violence, and potentially even legislation on hate crimes – ideas the House Judiciary Committee is expected to consider the week of Labor Day, according to two people familiar with the plan, a week before the full House is officially scheduled to return.”
THE RULEBOOK: FATAL CHARMS < LUCKY CHARMS
“Here, my countrymen, impelled by every motive that ought to influence an enlightened people, let us make a firm stand for our safety, our tranquillity, our dignity, our reputation. Let us at last break the fatal charm which has too long seduced us from the paths of felicity and prosperity.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: CARL WEISS JR., R.I.P.
NYT: “Carl A. Weiss Jr. was 3 months old when his father died in Baton Rouge, La. The cause, his mother would later tell him cryptically, was a fatal firearms accident. He was not to know the truth. … The boy would not remain clueless for long, though. When he was 10, Carl Jr. stumbled across a full-page painting by John McCrady in Life magazine, one in a series of dramatic scenes from 20th-century American history. In graphic detail, the painting depicted a wounded Huey P. Long, Louisiana’s United States senator and former governor, clutching his stomach with his bloodied left hand moments after his bodyguards had machine-gunned his purported assassin, a slight, bespectacled, white-coated 28-year-old man whose bullet-riddled body had slumped to the marble floor. Studying the painting and reading the accompanying text, young Carl was stunned to discover that the man portrayed as the killer was identified as his father, Dr. Carl A. Weiss.”
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: no change
[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.]
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CANDIDATES’ DESPERATION PLAYS AHEAD OF DEBATE CUTOFF
NYT: “With the deadline to qualify for the next Democratic presidential debates looming just two weeks away, candidates on the bubble are mounting some of their final offensives, urgently seeking supporters who can help them make the cut. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has poured more than $1 million into advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire. Julián Castro, the former housing secretary, bought a local ad in Bedminster, N.J., where President Trump is vacationing this week. And Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has urged her supporters to try to improve their chances of being selected for online polls. They and other lower-tier candidates are desperately searching for voters who can propel them to 2 percent support in qualifying polls…”
Sanders’ rebooted in wake of weak debate performance - Politico: “A little over a month ago, despite putting on a brave face publicly, Bernie Sanders’ aides privately concluded that a shakeup was needed for his presidential campaign. The Vermont senator had neglected to practice in mock sessions before the first 2020 debate, and failed to aggressively take on former Vice President Joe Biden on stage. On the trail, he was sticking to the old hits: His stump speech sounded remarkably similar to the one he delivered in his first presidential bid, and he gave a major address touting democratic socialism that mirrored his talk on the same subject in 2015. … Now, Sanders and his team have settled on a new strategy designed to make him stand out in the massive field: They’re betting that a renewed focus on his signature proposal of ‘Medicare for All’ is the key to jump-starting his candidacy and overtaking Biden as the race ramps up this fall.”
Beto slogs on - Dallas Morning News: “Beto O’Rourke will return to the campaign trail on Thursday, ending a 12-day hiatus that began when 22 people were gunned down in a bustling Walmart in his hometown of El Paso. He'll start with a speech in El Paso. His campaign announced the plan on Wednesday morning. On Saturday night, he will appear at a Democratic dinner in Little Rock, putting him in front of at least 1,000 party activists in one of the states with a Super Tuesday primary. … Unlike nearly two dozen 2020 rivals, the former three-term congressman skipped the Iowa State Fair last weekend, along with a gun control forum in Des Moines hastily organized after the El Paso killings and a spree in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead hours later.”
Abrams nominates self for vice president - NYT: “Stacey Abrams made it official this week that she would not seek the presidency after months of speculation among Democrats, becoming one of the most prominent party leaders to pass on the 2020 race. But in an interview Tuesday night, she said she was open to being considered for the No. 2 spot by ‘any nominee.’ Ms. Abrams, who drew national attention during her unsuccessful run for governor of Georgia last year, said that she would focus her next year on identifying and stemming voter suppression efforts throughout the country, a major priority for her for years, instead of running for president or the Senate. But she has remained close to the presidential race, meeting privately with several candidates and topping lists of potential vice presidents.”
Harris and others on campaign trail miss many votes - San Francisco Chronicle: “Virtually every Democratic candidate, with a day job or not, was in Iowa last week, visiting the must-stop state fair and a Democratic dinner that featured each of them with five-minute speeches. … While there, California Sen. Kamala Harris said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should bring the chamber back into session to vote on House-passed gun control legislation that would make background checks nearly universal. … But Harris has nonetheless missed more than 40% of votes this year, as have some of her competitors. She pledged not to miss roll calls if her vote would be a difference-maker.”
BIDEN TRIES DAMAGE CONTROL
Politico: “Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is quietly playing cleanup with dozens of immigration activists and Latino leaders — weeks after upsetting them by using what they considered loaded language to describe his views on immigration policy. Biden said at the July 31 Democratic debate that undocumented immigrants need to ‘get in line’ and that the country has been right to ‘cherry-pick’ high-skilled immigrants, notably those with advanced degrees. That language, more commonly used by conservatives, triggered widespread criticism from immigrant rights activists, some of whom said the former vice president was echoing ‘Republican talking points’ on how migrants are admitted to the United States. The campaign quickly embarked on damage control. Aides assuaged aggrieved activists, and Biden had a closed-door meeting with Latino leaders in San Diego before his speech at the UnidosUS conference last week. … Activists view the ‘get in line’ language as a dodge invoked by immigration hard-liners.”
Trump strategy is using Biden’s words against him - WaPo: “Joe Biden’s verbal miscues have always been part of his charm, baked into his reputation as a plain-spoken politician who delivers impossible-to-diagram sentences and whose rhetorical flourishes can quickly veer off course. But now, that habit is colliding with a much more damaging narrative pushed aggressively by President Trump and nagging at some of Biden’s fellow Democrats: that he is a man past his prime. ‘He walked into a trap you could see 100 yards away,’ said Grant Woodard, an attorney and longtime Iowa Democratic consultant unaligned with a candidate. ‘It does directly call into question people’s concerns: Should you really be the front-runner? Are you really electable?’ Over the last few days, Biden has made a string of small missteps while campaigning during a crucial stretch in Iowa. He said the most recent mass shootings occurred in Houston and Michigan, although they actually took place in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.”
SMALL DONORS FLOCK TO TRUMP
Fox News: “The Republican Party has long been panned by its detractors as the party of big money and big donors -- but donation patterns have changed measurably under President Trump, a Fox News analysis of campaign finance data shows. Sixty-one percent of money raised directly by the Trump campaign this election cycle came from small donors (donations under $200), according to Federal Election Commission figures. That is similar to the proportion Trump raised during the 2016 election cycle, when 65 percent of donations were under $200. And this is dramatically higher than previous Republican nominees. Mitt Romney raised 26 percent of his direct contributions from small donations in 2012, and John McCain raised 25 percent from small donations in 2008. Campaign finance analysts say the data indicates grassroots enthusiasm for Trump's populist message.”
HICKENLOOPER READY TO JUMP INTO SENATE RUN
NYT: “Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is in discussions about ending his presidential bid and entering the race for his state’s Republican-held Senate seat, potentially giving Democrats a strong candidate in a race they must win to have hopes of retaking the chamber in 2021, according to four Democrats familiar with his thinking. Mr. Hickenlooper, who is mired at the bottom of public polling of the presidential race, hopped into Senator Michael Bennet’s car on Friday night in this Northern Iowa town to discuss his impending decision, said Democrats familiar with the discussion, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential talks. The two drove around Clear Lake for about 20 minutes ahead of the Wing Ding dinner, a Democratic fund-raiser that drew 21 presidential candidates. Aides and advisers to the two men, who have been both allies and rivals over their careers in Colorado politics, declined to reveal what was discussed.”
Donors told to wait as Pompeo considers run - Bloomberg: Republican political donors have been told to hold off contributing to the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Kansas in the expectation that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo may decide to run, according to two people familiar with the matter. A Pompeo ally has been advising potential contributors to wait until after the secretary of state makes his decision, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private message communicated to donors. The top U.S. diplomat and former CIA director, who served as a congressman in Kansas’s 4th district from 2011-2017, has until June to enter the race. Pompeo has given mixed signals about his intentions.”
New Jersey freshman Dem draws well-heeled challenger - Burlington County Times: “David Richter, the wealthy former CEO of Hill International, announced Monday he had filed the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to challenge for Van Drew’s 2nd District seat. The former chief executive of one of the nation’s largest construction firms is officially joining the Republican field seeking to challenge for Democrat Jeff Van Drew’s congressional seat next year.”
Duncan Hunter’s legal win a political woe - Fox 5: “A federal judge in San Diego Tuesday pushed back Rep. Duncan Hunter's trial for alleged misuse of $250,000 in campaign funds until early next year. U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan postponed the trial to Jan. 14, with Duncan's attorneys seeking to have Whelan's prior ruling against dismissing the case heard by an appeals court. Whelan ruled earlier this summer against Hunter's motions to have a 60- count indictment against him thrown out. The congressman's attorneys have appealed the rulings, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet ruled whether it will take jurisdiction in the case. Hunter, R-Alpine, was indicted along with his wife on five dozen criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and falsification of records. Margaret Hunter, 44, pleaded guilty last month to a conspiracy charge. She faces up to five years in federal custody and a fine of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced in December.”
Insurgent gets key endorsement in Mississippi runoff - WMC5: “DeSoto County state Rep. Robert Foster finished third in the Republican primary for governor last week but performed better than polls predicted. Now he hopes to influence his party’s runoff. Foster found himself back in the spotlight Tuesday as he announced his endorsement of former rival Bill Waller. Waller will face Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in a runoff Aug. 27. ‘This was a decision that I prayed about quite a bit,’ Foster said. He says it came down to what he thinks the state needs: Change. ‘A lot of people wanted me to sit this out and not get involved in a runoff, because getting involved in a runoff election can sometime have political consequences and you may upset people on one side or the other,’ said Foster. He says the choice is now up to his supporters.”
Lawmakers react to Hong Kong protests while Trump steers clear - Politico
AUDIBLE: POETRY SLAM
“So long as we’re accepting updates to the Statue of Liberty poem, I have one: Give me your tired, your poor. And in exchange, we will give you Ken Cuccinelli” – Late night host Stephen Colbert tweet Tuesday in response to the Citizenship and Immigration Services director’s effort in an interview to update the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty to say “Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” instead of the original “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“THREE!!! Three Service Animals!!! Are you kidding me?!?!? I'm all for emotional support, but with 3 miniature horses I could roll up to the check-in counter riding in a small carriage with all my luggage. Whoa, Nelly!” – Dave Kovatch, Rhodelia, KY
[Ed. note: While I generally agree about the trend, Mr. Kovach, I gotta say, I will make an exception if it means seeing you roll up the gate like The Ringo Kid.]
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SHE HAD NO CHILL
The Guardian: “A resourceful teenager has taken the rise of increasingly powerful smart home devices to its logical conclusion – tweeting from her family’s smart fridge after her mother confiscated her phone. The 15-year-old Ariana Grande fan known only as ‘Dorothy’ was barred from using her phone but managed to find a number of innovative ways to reach her thousands of followers – a handheld Nintendo device, a Wii U gaming console and, finally, her family’s LG Smart Refrigerator. Dorothy, who declined to share her last name, says her mother disciplined her two weeks ago after she got too distracted while cooking and caused a fire. ‘She took all my tech so I’d pay more attention to my surroundings,’ said the teen, who messaged the Guardian from her cousin’s iPad because she was still facing a tech ban. ‘I felt mortified! I was worried because I’ve been bored all summer and Twitter passes the time for me.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I was once asked by an intern at The New Republic magazine, where I used to work, ‘How do I get to be a nationally syndicated columnist?’ And I said, ‘Well, first you go to medical school.’” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) said in an interview with C-SPAN in 2005.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Liz Friden contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.