Trump offers no off-ramps for Republicans

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On the roster: Trump offers no off-ramps for Republicans - Time Out: Bon appétit, y’all - Warren, Sanders lap Biden in third quarter fundraising - The real reason the chicken crossed the road

TRUMP OFFERS NO OFF-RAMPS FOR REPUBLICANS
The news these days is pretty grim for the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.

The central claim of the whistleblower who came forward to authorities was that President Trump was pressuring America’s Ukrainian allies for dirt on Trump’s chief political rival, Joe Biden.

It has not only been proven true, the president is now doing it right out in the open. He’s even added China to the list of foreign powers he wants to provide opposition research on the Democratic front runner.

Worse, newly revealed texts between American diplomats show that senior State Department officials believed that Trump was conditioning U.S. aid to the long-beleaguered former Soviet republic on the provision of anti-Biden goodies.

But in potentially the worst development so far, it is now alleged that Trump’s personal defense attorney was dangling the promise of an official diplomatic visit to the White House for the Ukrainian president in exchange for a public statement from the Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden and his family’s business dealings in Kyiv.

Team Trump is having some success in deflecting attention, discrediting the California Democrat in charge of the House Intelligence Committee (who’s doing a pretty good job of discrediting himself) and bringing increased attention to the younger Biden’s super-swampy business model.

But the damage is already done. Trump has admitted that the central allegations are true. He has been and is using his office for his own political advantage. All presidents do in more innocuous ways — Air Force One as campaign prop, “official” events as rallies, the White House as an extension of the campaign — but dragging diplomats and involving one of the most potentially dangerous parts of the globe is new.

For Trump loyalists who are in the shoot-‘em-on-Fifth-Avenue club, this is not a problem. They agree with the president that his conduct was “perfect.” They are also convinced that Trump’s predecessor did as bad or worse but was protected by the media. But for those who are not acolytes of Trumpism, including the persuadable voters he desperately needs to win back for re-election, this is turning toxic.

Add in news of an increasingly slouchy economy and you have perhaps the worst political run for this administration yet.

That’s not to say that it’s likely that Trump would ever be removed by the Republican-held Senate. The idea that 20 Republican senators would join Democrats in ousting Trump still sounds laughable.

But the president is certainly not helping his cause with a scorched earth strategy that provides no shelter for his less-fanatically-devoted allies.

Trump’s stance is that he did nothing wrong — again “perfect” — and that anyone who says so is part of the cabal trying to drive him from office.

That’s not going to cut it for lawmakers, especially for vulnerable Senate Republicans, as the 2020 election approaches. They need a space in between: Denunciation of dragging other countries into American politics while still saying Trump’s behavior doesn’t merit removal from office.

Bill Clinton’s team in 1998 knew they had to give Democrats a chance to denounce the president’s scuzzy behavior. Those denunciations actually strengthened Clinton’s standing in the Senate and with voters. He was being punished, formally and informally, and so wasn’t getting away with it. It helped turn him into a sympathetic figure.

Trump and his party are right now a long way from anything like that.

THE RULEBOOK: SERIOUS STUFF
“There is hardly any part of the system which could have been attended with greater difficulty in the arrangement of it than [the executive department]; and there is, perhaps, none which has been inveighed against with less candor or criticised with less judgment.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 67

TIME OUT: BON APPÉTIT, Y’ALL
Garden&Gun: “Nearly any Southerner who grew up in the country—whether on one acre or ten thousand—has seen the damage feral hogs do, trampling and uprooting crops and native plants alike. Raised in a North Texas cattle-ranching family, Taylor Hall experienced firsthand the destruction—and one potential solution. ‘Some of the cowboys I worked with would kill them for pig roasts, gumbo, and so forth,’ he says. … Hall kicked around California kitchens before returning home to open his own restaurant, Apis, in the hills outside Austin. A must for his menu: wild pig. … Hall compares the meat with beef. ‘It’s a lot darker because it’s an animal that moves around a lot, so there’s more blood in its muscles. And with that, you’re going to get more of that iron-y, metallic flavor.’ At Apis, Hall cures the meat for charcuterie and grinds it to make a traditional, slow-cooked Italian ragù, a.k.a. Sunday gravy.”

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SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
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.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE 
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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WARREN, SANDERS LAP BIDEN IN THIRD QUARTER FUNDRAISING
Politico: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign said Friday that it raised $24.6 million in the third quarter and has $25.7 million cash on hand, further solidifying her rise to the top tier in the Democratic primary. The haul bests the $19 million Warren raised last quarter but trails progressive rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose third-quarter total of $25.3 million is the biggest one so far from the Democratic presidential hopefuls. Despite neither candidate holding traditional high-dollar fundraisers, Warren and Sanders both significantly outraised former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($19.1 million), former Vice President Joe Biden ($15.2 million) and Sen. Kamala Harris ($11.6 million). Warren’s team was alone among those campaigns to disclose its exact cash on hand. … [Campaign manager Roger] Lau wrote that Warren added over 300,000 new donors in the third quarter, bringing her total to about 750,000 donors over the course of the campaign. Sanders' campaign said in September that it had accrued more than 1 million donors.”

Dem front-runners’ ages show larger issue for party - Politico: “Bernie Sanders’ hospitalization with a blocked artery this week finally forced the Democratic Party to confront a lingering fact: All three of its presidential front-runners are septuagenarians, and two are older than Donald Trump… For Sanders, the immediate effect of the incident — a blockage requiring two stents — was to sideline the 78-year-old senator until further notice… But the broader implications were also thrust into plain view: In a Democratic primary that was once expected to break along generational lines, a whole crop of younger contenders has fallen so far back that — even with an aging, top-tier contender laid up — it would take an upset for the party to mount a generational argument against Trump next year. Biden, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — the youngest of the three at 70 — are pulling nearly three-quarters of the primary electorate’s support in national polling. And even if Sanders stumbles, no younger alternative is likely to benefit. Instead, it is Sanders’ friend and fellow progressive, Warren, who might be poised to gain.”

Harris struggles to gain ground in home state - LAT: “When Kamala Harris launched her presidential bid, she counted California as a major asset. … But rather than serving as a foundation, California is exposing the cracks in her troubled campaign. Recent polling shows Harris mired in a distant fourth place, with support from fewer than 1 in 10 of those surveyed. … In part, the poor standing reflects problems that have plagued Harris nationwide: uneven debate performances, a shifting stance on issues and, perhaps above all, the lack of a clear and compelling message. But part of the explanation is California itself. The state is physically immense… It’s also astronomically expensive to advertise, and that makes it exceedingly difficult for a politician — even one elected three times to statewide office like Harris — to become well known, much less revered. In short, as other presidential hopefuls have painfully learned, there is no such thing in California as a home-state advantage.”

Walter Shapiro: Pete Buttigieg’s undeniable allure - New Republic: “Four months before the Iowa caucuses, it is time to reckon with the reality that Buttigieg probably has a better chance to be the Democratic nominee than anyone aside from Biden and the surging Warren. With Sanders ailing and Kamala Harris sputtering, Buttigieg has enough money to go the distance (he has raised $44 million in the last six months) and enough polling support to guarantee his place on every debate stage. Whatever happens next, this youthful candidate with a long resume (Harvard, Rhodes Scholar, McKinsey analyst, failed statewide candidate, mayor, and intelligence officer in Afghanistan) has already emerged as the political surprise of 2019.  And that raises a new question: Is Buttigieg, who would be four years younger than JFK if he were inaugurated in 2021, ready for the White House?”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Rick Perry expected to resign in November - Politico

Supreme Court agrees to review Louisiana abortion case - Fox News

Former Rep. Joe Crowley to host fundraiser for Joe Kennedy’s Senate campaign - Boston Globe

AUDIBLE: FRUSTRATION STATION
“In this situation, if you don’t defend the guy by name and often and vigorously, you’re making him a further victim by the party, you’re not standing behind him.” – A DNC member, speaking anonymously with Politico, referring to the president's attacks on Joe Biden.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla. 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. 

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THE REAL REASON THE CHICKEN CROSSED THE ROAD
Bangor [Maine] Daily News: “It all started around two weeks ago when [Kate] McCormick returned home from a day at Common Ground Fair… ‘I was really tired and I just wanted to go to bed,’ she said. ‘I lifted up the throw pillows [on my bed], and there was an egg under them.’ McCormick said all she could do at the time was laugh, and look for the nearest suspect. In this case, her 7-year-old German Shepherd-Labrador Retriever mix Jake. … Further investigation, however, revealed the culprit. ‘I started walking around my house and found little piles of chicken poo,’ McCormick said. … The next morning … McCormick was able to witness the hen’s antics first hand. ‘I was awake and the back door was open and before I knew it, I could hear a chicken walking up the stairs in my house,’ she said. … The entire process took around 15 minutes, McCormick said, since the chicken took the time to arrange the blankets and pillows into a sort of nest into which she laid the egg.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Repose presupposes a fantasy world in which stability is self-sustaining without the United States. It is not. We would incur not respite but chaos.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the National Review on Dec. 2, 2016.

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.