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On the roster: Trump said to consider spending his own money on race - Trump, Biden deadlocked in Florida - Analysis shows absentee ballot rejections could triple - Fauci says vaccine ‘unlikely’ by Election Day - CSI: Sardinia
TRUMP SAID TO CONSIDER SPENDING HIS OWN MONEY ON RACE
Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump has discussed spending as much as $100 million of his own money on his re-election campaign, if necessary, to beat Democratic nominee Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter. The billionaire president has talked about the idea with multiple people, though he hasn’t yet committed to any self-funding, according to people briefed on internal deliberations. Though Trump personally contributed $66 million to his 2016 campaign, it would be unprecedented for an incumbent president to put his own money toward winning a second term. Trump has sought advice about whether he should self-fund as he scrutinizes heavy spending by his team earlier this year that failed to push him ahead of the former vice president in the polls. In addition, Biden’s campaign and associated Democratic entities have recently raised more than Trump and his allies. Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, declined to say whether there’s been any consideration of using the president’s personal fortune to help fund his re-election effort.”
Burn, burn, burn - NYT: “Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager, liked to call Mr. Trump’s re-election war machine an ‘unstoppable juggernaut.’ But interviews with more than a dozen current and former campaign aides and Trump allies, and a review of thousands of items in federal campaign filings, show that the president’s campaign and the R.N.C. developed some profligate habits as they burned through hundreds of millions of dollars. Since Bill Stepien replaced Mr. Parscale in July, the campaign has imposed a series of belt-tightening measures that have reshaped initiatives, including hiring practices, travel and the advertising budget. Under Mr. Parscale, more than $350 million — almost half of the $800 million spent — went to fund-raising operations, as no expense was spared in finding new donors online.”
THE RULEBOOK: DON’T BE SILLY
“A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously doubt that, if these States should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other.” – Alexander Hamilton, discussing the dangers from dissensions between the states, Federalist No. 6
TIME OUT: PHOTOGRAPHING ‘HIS AIRNESS’
Rolling Stone: “When you think of Michael Jordan, every image seems to evoke moments of greatness. From his intensity on the court to his evolution into a global brand and pop culture icon, the storied visuals of ‘His Airness’ are by now ingrained in our collective memory. That’s why when veteran Chicago sports photographer David Banks finally had the time to look through his archives and organize his photo negatives amid the coronavirus stay-at-home lockdown, he was surprised to find rare images of his that had sat undeveloped for years. Banks, a diehard sports fan who was born and bred in the Windy City, was just beginning his career shooting for various photo agencies when Jordan arrived in Chicago at the start of his rookie 1984-1985 season. After being chosen third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 NBA Draft … Jordan made his Bulls debut against the Washington Bullets on October 26th, 1984. From that moment forward, Banks focused his lens on Jordan.”
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NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 42.6 percent
Biden: 51.2 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 8.6 points
Change from one week ago: Biden no change, Trump ↓ 0.4 points
[Average includes: CNN: Trump 43% - Biden 51%; Quinnipiac University: Trump 42% - Biden 52%; USA Today/Suffolk: Trump 43% - Biden 50%; Grinnell/Selzer: Trump 41% - Biden 49%; ABC News/WaPo: Trump 44% - Biden 54%.]
BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent
Net Score: -10.8 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.8 points
[Average includes: CNN: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; Grinnell/Selzer: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 42% approve - 57% disapprove.]
GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
TRUMP, BIDEN DEADLOCKED IN FLORIDA
NBC News: “President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are deadlocked in the battleground of Florida eight weeks before Election Day, with ballots being mailed to state voters later this month, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll. Trump and Biden both get the support of 48 percent of likely voters, with the president ahead among Latinos in the state, and Biden doing better with seniors than Hillary Clinton did four years ago. Among a wider universe of all registered voters, it’s Trump 48 percent, Biden 47 percent. Also, the poll shows Trump leading on which candidate would better handle the economy, while Biden has the advantage on the coronavirus and race relations. … [Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion,] explains the electoral implications of the state’s 29 electoral votes: ‘If Trump loses Florida, it’s game over. If Trump wins, the story of the night will still have to be told,’ given the remaining battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”
Pennsylvania getting tighter, too - Susquehanna Polling and Research: “Susquehanna Polling and Research today releases its newest Pennsylvania statewide poll in the Presidential race showing the race between Democratic Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump is a statistical tie with less than 60 days remaining before the November 3 election. In the telephone poll, conducted between August 26th and September 4th with 498 likely voters, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by a 2-point, or 44% to 42% margin. Seven (7) percent remain undecided with a combined 6% either choosing another candidate or declining to answer the question. The margin of error for the poll is +/-4.3%, putting Biden’s 2- point lead clearly within the poll’s margin of error or a statistical tie.”
A nervous frontrunner - NYT: “Private polls conducted for both parties during and after their August conventions found the race largely stable but tightening slightly in some states, with Mr. Trump recovering some support from conservative-leaning rural voters who had drifted away over the summer amid the worsening pandemic. Yet Mr. Biden continues to enjoy advantages with nearly every other group, especially in populous areas where the virus remains at the forefront for voters, according to people briefed on the data. No president has entered Labor Day weekend — the traditional kickoff of the fall campaign — as such a clear underdog since George Bush in 1992. Mr. Trump has not led in public polls in such must-win states as Florida since Mr. Biden claimed the nomination in April, and there has been little fluctuation in the race. Still, the president’s surprise win in 2016 weighs heavily in the thinking of nervous Democrats and hopeful Republicans alike.”
Don’t forget the complexities hidden by demographic shorthand - FiveThirtyEight: “The overarching story of recent American elections is that 1) voters of color, who have long been Democratic-leaning, are a growing share of the electorate; 2) white voters with college degrees are increasingly shifting to the Democrats; and 3) white voters without degrees are aligning more with the GOP. But those trends, because they get so much focus, can warp our understanding of the electorate as it exists right now. Demographics are not yet destiny in American elections — millions of people don’t align with the party their race and ethnicity or education would predict. … White Americans without degrees aren’t as likely to vote for Trump as in 2016, according to polls — which partly explains why Biden leads in national polls and key swing states like Pennsylvania. But a big reason Trump could still win the Electoral College, despite the poor marks Americans give him for his handling of COVID-19 and his job performance overall, is that the Black, Hispanic and college-educated white voters who backed him in 2016 are largely still with him, particularly in key swing states.”
Biden sends more staff to Georgia - AJC: “Joe Biden’s campaign is expanding its footprint in Georgia with 11 additional staffers for the final stretch of the presidential race. The operatives will join a small campaign apparatus in Georgia that launched in July with the hire of five well-known strategists. The new additions include data and digital directors, a communications strategist and a ‘voter protection’ guru. Democrats are challenging President Donald Trump’s campaign in a state that’s a must-win for his campaign. Republicans have carried Georgia in every presidential cycle since 1996, but some recent polls show Trump deadlocked with Biden this year.”
ANALYSIS SHOWS ABSENTEE BALLOT REJECTIONS COULD TRIPLE
AP: “Thousands of absentee ballots get rejected in every presidential election. This year, that problem could be much worse and potentially pivotal in hotly contested battleground states. With the coronavirus creating a surge in mail-in balloting and postal delays reported across the country, the number of rejected ballots in November is projected to be significantly higher than previous elections. If ballots are rejected at the same rate as during this year’s primaries, up to three times as many voters in November could be disenfranchised in key battleground states when compared to the last presidential election, according to an Associated Press analysis of rejected ballots. It could be even more pronounced in some urban areas where Democratic votes are concentrated and ballot rejection rates trended higher during this year’s primaries. … Ballot rejections occur even under the best of circumstances. They go uncounted because they arrived too late in the mail, voters forgot to sign them or signatures didn’t match the one on file at local election offices.”
Sports teams suggest stadiums as polling sites - NBC News: “Professional sports teams and voting advocates want to make casting ballots this fall a slam dunk by turning stadiums and arenas across the country into polling places. But with the hubbub over newly offered stadium voting reaching a fever pitch, the question of how exactly this will work remains a question for many. With several of the stadiums and arenas set to open for voting in some of the nation's most critical swing states this fall, their impact on the election could be substantial. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, the facilities allow for physical distancing that may not be possible at traditional polling places. And with many of the venues located within inner cities where polling places are often plagued by long lines, their availability may draw in voters who otherwise would not or could not spend hours waiting to cast their ballots.”
Georgia reports 1,000 people double-voted in primary - AJC: “Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday that 1,000 Georgians voted twice in the state’s June 9 primary, a felony that he said will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These voters returned absentee ballots and then also showed up to vote on election day June 9, Raffensperger said. County election officials are able to stop double-voting most of the time, but they weren’t able to catch everyone. ‘A double voter knows exactly what they’re doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law,’ Raffensperger said during a press conference at the state Capitol. ‘Those that make the choice to game the system are breaking the law. And as secretary of state, I will not tolerate it.’”
FAUCI SAYS VACCINE ‘UNLIKELY’ BY ELECTION DAY
CNBC: “White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday a coronavirus vaccine probably won’t be ready by the U.S. presidential election even as the Centers for Disease and Prevention asks states to ready distribution facilities by Nov. 1. At a health conference, Fauci said it’s more likely a vaccine will be ready by ‘the end of the year’ as drug companies Moderna and Pfizer race to complete patient enrollment for their late-stage vaccine trials by the end of September. ‘It’s unlikely we’ll have a definitive answer’ by the Nov. 3 election, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said at the Research! America 2020 National Health Research Forum. The comments are also at odds with President Donald Trump, who suggested at a press conference Monday that a vaccine could be ready for distribution by Election Day.”
Vaccine makers try to grow confidence as Trump boasts - Bloomberg: “Drugmakers racing to produce Covid-19 vaccines pledged to avoid shortcuts on science as they face pressure to rush a shot to market. In an unusual public letter, the companies agreed to submit the vaccines for clearance only when they’re shown to be safe and effective in large clinical studies. The chief executive officers of nine frontrunners in the push for a coronavirus inoculation signed the pledge: AstraZeneca Plc, BioNTech SE, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Moderna Inc., Novavax Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi. ‘In the interest of public health, we pledge to always make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals our top priority,’ the executives wrote. The document is intended to counter perceptions that political pressure to deliver a shot as soon as possible may compromise its safety.”
SENATE READIES ‘SKINNY’ RELIEF PACKAGE
AP: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under pressure from GOP senators in tough reelection races, said Tuesday the Senate would vote on a trimmed-down Republican coronavirus relief package, though it has a slim chance of passage in the face of Democrats’ insistence for more sweeping aid. ‘The Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues,’ McConnell said in a statement. The GOP leader acknowledged the package he will be putting forward ‘does not contain every idea our party likes.’ And he said it was far less than what Democrats are seeking. ‘Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree,’ he said. The move comes as lawmakers straggle back to Washington for an abbreviated preelection session, as hopes are dimming for another coronavirus relief bill — or much else.”
Mnuchin says an agreement has been reached to avoid shutdown - WaPo: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have agreed to work on a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown Oct. 1, weeks before the election. ‘The speaker and I have agreed we don’t want to see a government shutdown,’ Mnuchin said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ Mnuchin said his expectation is that this so-called ‘continuing resolution’ would extend government funding into December — although the date has not yet been agreed on. Without action by Congress, agency funding would expire at midnight Sept. 30, and the government would begin to shut down. Mnuchin’s comments confirmed reporting from The Washington Post and other outlets on an agreement for a stopgap spending bill to avoid this outcome.”
PRIMARY DAY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, RHODE ISLAND
Roll Call: “Two of the nation’s final primary contests of the cycle will be decided Tuesday, in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, but one of the most interesting tests will be over the power of someone who’s not on the ballot: President Donald Trump. Republicans in the Granite State will pick their nominees to face two-term Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and freshman Rep. Chris Pappas in the 1st District. Trump has endorsed candidates in those primaries, but each faces a contest for the nomination. Pappas is on the GOP’s radar this year because Trump carried his seat by less than 2 points in 2016 while barely losing statewide. Shaheen faces a Democratic challenger Tuesday but is not seen as vulnerable. … In Rhode Island, Rep. David Cicilline is unopposed in the Democratic primary in the 1st District and has no Republican opponent. In the 2nd District, 10-term Democrat Jim Langevin faces a primary challenge from Dylan Conley, a lawyer and son of a state senator…”
House Oversight Committee announces investigation into postmaster general - WaPo: “House Democrats are opening an investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and called for his immediate suspension following accusations that he reimbursed employees for campaign contributions they made to his preferred GOP politicians, an arrangement that would be unlawful. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement late Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an investigation, saying that DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath. Maloney also urged the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom ‘they never should have hired in the first place,’ she said. A spokesman for the Postal Service referred requests for comment to DeJoy’s personal spokesman, Monty Hagler, who said in an email that the postmaster general would have no comment at this time.”
Pergram: The national debt is astronomical - Fox News
AUDIBLE: THAT'S THE SPIRIT
“Every day is election day…” – State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, campaigning for incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Was it truly Nixon’s abuse of power before the election – or just his innate attempt to protect the people who did the wrong deed - from themselves? I was under the obviously wrong impression he was far in the lead and was going to be elected in close to a landslide – when the ‘crew’ stepped out and did the deed – that proved to be totally unnecessary to his reelection. He seemed to be unaware of what was going on until informed by his Chief of Staff and his deputy thru the bungled operators being apprehended at the scene. He then tried unsuccessfully to render them harmless, stepping further and further onto his own and several others toes in the process. In trying to protect them – he put himself into harms way – and subsequently resigned. But I thought his attempted ‘abuse of power’ started after the election had occurred? Correct me if I’m wrong.” – Donald Tygart, Tualatin, Ore.
[Ed. note: I hear you, Mr. Tygart. My phrase “Nixon’s abuses of power to win a second term” to describe what was so controversial about Nixon’s tenure might *ahem* cover up the fact that Nixon’s resignation came after it was revealed that he had lied and abused his office to protect his underlings But I also don’t want to slice the bologna too thin, here. Nixon may not have known until a day after the break-in that it was his own squaddies who had bungled the robbery. But there would have been no squaddies or slush funds or dirty tricks had it not been for Nixon’s desperation to hold power. It’s reasonable for one to believe that the Kennedy crew stole the 1960 election from Nixon, but in 1972 he was going to make sure that no one out-ratted his campaign. He was a better and more complicated man than his critics often allowed, but Nixon struggled throughout his career with excessive love for power and ultimately it was his undoing. The best leaders are the ones who can wear their power like a loose garment, not the straitjacket RMN made for himself.]
“So glad someone informed, as you clearly are, about presidential history injects a little perspective occasionally. Politics today is not all that different than it has been for much of our past. It is a full contact sport and not for the faint of heart. Even the Father of our Country and the Jeffersonians, by 18th Century standards, were brutal to each other!” – Jim Allen, Cincinnati
[Ed. note: Thank you, sir! But we would also remember that we should not use the failures of the past to excuse misconduct in the present. While we have always had rotten politicians, it would also be fair to say that good ones seem in shorter supply these days. Don’t let them off the hook!]
“Just a quick correction. The Outer Banks are not south of Bladen County. The Outer Banks are on the northeast edge of North Carolina, well north of Bladen County.” – Lesley Wischmann, Holly Ridge, N.C.
[Ed. note: I know, I know, Ms. Wischmann! I was thinking about Topsail, Carolina and other beaches near Wilmington, which may be on sounds, but aren’t barrier islands. I’m not sure where the Outer Banks officially begin -- Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach? Cape Lookout? -- but it's certainly well north of Wilmington, by 90 miles or so. The northern terminus is easier since you eventually run smack into Virginia Beach, Va.]
“The thing I miss the most about campaigning of yesteryear is not knowing the nominee until the voting was done at the convention. Edge of the seat stuff! The first Republican convention I remember was 1952. Eisenhower didn’t win on the first ballot, making it even more exciting.” – Susan Williams, St. Louis
[Ed. note: I wish I had seen it myself! And it was better for the country, too. There’s a great deal wrong with our primary election system that replaced the kinds of conventions you remember, but one is that the process goes on for just too long.]
“Hefty HR on MON... hope you still had time for leisure activities on the holiday, though. I have a question...can you define for your readers what lifelong leading Republicans & conservatives (such as Pres GW Bush, Gov Kasich + others) see or sense about Pres Trump that moves them to support Vice Pres Biden? I would think those past leaders would be terrified of putting another LibDem back in the White House.” – Rick Randell, Bradenton, Fla.
[Ed. note: I certainly haven’t seen George W. Bush making any noise about his wishes for 2020. He’s certainly making the most out of the original GW’s example of retiring from public life after two terms. Kasich, who ran against Trump, Sen. Mitt Romney, former Sen. Jeff Flake, Gen. James Mattis and others who oppose Trump do so on the basis that they believe he is unfit for office. Whatever policy setbacks they might suffer under a Biden presidency would be less bad than what guardrails Trump might blow through in a second term. Every election is a blend of issues and candidate qualities, People often vote for those with whom they have substantial disagreements because of character. Probably more often, people vote for candidates of low character because of the issues at hand. But it’s always a mix of the two.]
“What can be done about the violence tearing at the fabric of our Republic? Careful analysis of the videotape by major outlets, like the NYTimes, clearly identify very young Anarchists as the consistent, primary instigators, often after other protestors have gone home to bed. However, other news outlets are so caught up in finger-pointing at the other side that they cannot keep track of primary vs secondary or even tertiary knock-on effects. Here is the typical chain reaction: PRIMARY: Anarchist violence elicits SECONDARY: Conservative/ Nationalist/ Militia reaction, triggering TERTIARY: AntiFa response (Note: The Anarchist and AntiFa may wind up on the same “side” but have very different agendas.) Should the resulting downward spiral peter out, the Anarchists just start another cycle. Anarchists, in a world of their own, don’t belong on our political spectrum. Politicians from both ends should unite to call them out---but probably won’t. So, what are the chances of the citizenry understanding this complexity in the current political climate? Ironically, BLM has the most to gain by educating the public on how the violence between white extremists is distracting from their mission.” – John McNeill Lee, Walnut Creek, Calif.
[Ed. note: I’m of two minds on this, Mr. Lee. On the one hand, this physical manifestation of years of rhetorical violence is a worrisome thing, indeed. When people say we’re headed for another civil war, it’s hard to dismiss them when armed militias left and right confront each other in the streets. But it’s also true that these folks are a statistically insignificant part of our country. While it's always true that bad actors have an outsized effect on events --the assassin fires one shot but can change history more than an army of many thousands -- it is also true that these folks represent the outer fringes of our society. Those fringes have been and will be always with us. So even as politicians exploit this unrest to keep or obtain power, I remain confident that Americans instinctively understand how weird these folks are. I don’t think it's necessary for people to understand the complexities you describe in order to understand what is obvious from afar: This is not the way we do things in America.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
UPI: “Authorities in Italy said a French tourist was fined $1,200 for attempting to smuggle more than 4 pounds of Sardinia's famous white sand out of the country. Sardinia's Forest Rangers said the tourist was stopped at Cagliari Elmas Airport and ordered to pay the fine after a bottle containing 4.4 pounds of sand was found in his possession. ‘The bottle was confiscated and is in now in our operating room where we hold these confiscated items. At the end of the year we usually have many bottles of sand accumulated,’ a spokesman for the Forest Rangers told CNN. A regional law introduced in 2017 made it illegal to take sand from Sardinia's beaches, with fines ranging from $600 to $3,550 depending on the amount of sand taken and where it was taken from. ‘Last year we found a website that was selling our sand as souvenirs. It's become a very known phenomenon here in Europe,’ the spokesman said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Most politicians seek approval. But Trump lives for the adoration. He doesn’t even try to hide it, boasting incessantly about his crowds, his standing ovations, his TV ratings, his poll numbers, his primary victories. The latter are most prized because they offer empirical evidence of how loved and admired he is. Prized also because, in our politics, success is self-validating.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Aug. 5, 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.