Warren climbs into second, Biden still leads by a mile


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On the roster: Warren climbs into second, Biden still leads by a mile - Trump plays his greatest hits at kickoff rally - China hikes U.S. tariffs, slashes rates for competitors - Trump’s cabinet woes compounded by Shanahan wreck - Speedy, eh?

WARREN CLIMBS INTO SECOND, BIDEN STILL LEADS BY A MILE

Monmouth University: “Former Vice President Joe Biden maintains his front-runner status among Democratic voters nationwide, but Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now virtually tied with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for second place in the latest Monmouth University Poll. … The poll also finds broad voter interest, although not quite excitement, among Democrats for next week’s debates. Among a field of 24 contenders, Biden currently has the support of 32% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters. … Warren’s support has jumped five points to 15% from 10% in May.  Sanders holds onto 14% support, which is similar to his 15% support last month.  … Other candidates receiving support in the poll include California Sen. Kamala Harris (8%, down slightly from 11% in May), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (5%, steady from 6% in May), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (3%, basically unchanged from 4% in May), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%, from 1% in May), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (2%, from 1% in May).”

Biden dominates in Florida poll - Quinnipiac University: “In an early look at the 2020 presidential race in Florida, former Vice President Joseph Biden leads President Donald Trump 50 - 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads President Trump 48 - 42 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. Matchups between Trump and other leading Democratic contenders are too close to call: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 47 percent to Trump's 43 percent; California Sen. Kamala Harris at 45 percent to Trump's 44 percent; Former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke at 45 percent to Trump's 44 percent; 44 percent for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to 43 percent for Trump. … With 41 percent among Florida registered Democrats, Biden leads the pack for the March 17 Democratic Primary. Sanders has 14 percent, with 12 percent for Warren, 8 percent for Buttigieg and 6 percent for Harris. No other contender tops 1 percent, with 16 candidates polling at less than 1 percent.”

What Democrats want - USA Today: “Health care, immigration, the economy, climate change, education and taxes top the list of issues Democrats told a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll they want to hear about during the two-night, 20-candidate debate marathon in Miami. President Trump, including efforts to get him out of the White House, ranked eighth in responses to the open-ended question, named by just 4 percent. Fewer than 1 percent cited ‘election interference.’ … Nearly every Democratic voter in the poll called the debates crucial to sorting out a record-sized field of contenders. An overwhelming majority, 82 percent, said they'll be watching, and 86 percent said the debates will be important in determining which candidate they'll support. More than half, 54 percent, called them ‘very important.’”

Center stage for poll leaders in first debates - Politico: “The stages are now set for the first two Democratic debates next week in Miami. NBC News, which is the media partner for the first debate, announced the candidates' positions on stage for both debates on June 26 and June 27. The network previously said it was based on their polling numbers. For the first night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas) will be sharing center stage. On the second night, that honor goes to former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.”

Biden tells donors he won’t ‘demonize’ the wealthy - Bloomberg: “Former Vice President Joe Biden told affluent donors Tuesday that he wanted their support and -- perhaps unlike some other Democratic presidential candidates -- wouldn’t be making them political targets because of their wealth. ‘Remember, I got in trouble with some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side, because I said, you know, what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people. Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who’s made money,’  Biden told about 100 well-dressed donors at the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side, where the hors d’oeuvres included lobster, chicken satay and crudites. … Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, both of whom spent decades on Wall Street, were among the attendees at the event.”

Kraushaar: ‘The dilemma for moderate Democrats’ - National Journal: “The centrist wing of the Democratic Party knows what it’s against—government-run health care, the Green New Deal, and free college, for starters. Its challenge lies in articulating an agenda that voters can rally behind. … The underlying reality: Today’s Democratic Party, left and center alike, is driven more by identity politics than innovative reforms. … There wasn’t palpable excitement in the room for former Vice President Joe Biden, even though he’s the current Democratic front-runner and his campaign closely reflects the pragmatic zeitgeist that defines Third Way. … But it’s progressives who are most engaged in the process and dominate the elite conversation in party circles. The centrist Third Way forum was itself an example of the ideological divide within the party.”

THE RULEBOOK: IT’S COMPLICATED  
“To argue upon abstract principles that this co-ordinate authority cannot exist, is to set up supposition and theory against fact and reality.” –Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 34

TIME OUT: IT MAY BE LATER THAN YOU THINK
Atlantic: “The field of ‘happiness studies’ has boomed over the past two decades, and a consensus has developed about well-being as we advance through life. In The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings Institution scholar and an Atlantic contributing editor, reviews the strong evidence suggesting that the happiness of most adults declines through their 30s and 40s, then bottoms out in their early 50s. … One might think that gifted and accomplished people … would be less susceptible than others to this sense of irrelevance; after all, accomplishment is a well-documented source of happiness. If current accomplishment brings happiness, then shouldn’t the memory of that accomplishment provide some happiness as well? Maybe not. Though the literature on this question is sparse, giftedness and achievements early in life do not appear to provide an insurance policy against suffering later on.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance
Average approval
: 44.6 percent
Average disapproval: 51.2 percent
Net Score: -6.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 2.8 points
[Average includes: USA Today/Suffolk: 49% approve - 48% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 43% approve - 49% disapprove.]

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TRUMP PLAYS HIS GREATEST HITS AT KICKOFF RALLY 
Fox News: “President Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign Tuesday night before a jam-packed crowd in Orlando's Amway Center arena, and quickly unloaded on the media organizations and government actors he said tried their hardest with ‘everything they had’ to bring down both his candidacy and presidency. To chants of ‘USA,’ Trump took the stage after brief remarks by Vice President Mike Pence and first lady Melania Trump, and recalled his unlikely rise to power. …[A]fter polling the boisterous crowd, Trump appeared to settle on a new campaign slogan: ‘Keep America Great.’ He went on to tout the economy and the planned Space Force, celebrate the ‘obliteration’ of ISIS, and declare that ‘Republicans believe that every life is a sacred gift from God’ amid a newly energized national pro-life movement. … Trump told attendees he had begun not only a ‘great political campaign but a great movement’ committed to the idea that a government must ‘care for its own citizens first.’”

The Magic Kingdom of MAGA - Atlantic: “Rain-soaked Donald Trump supporters huddle under a tent outside the 20,000-capacity Amway Center, where in a few hours the president will ‘officially’ kick off the reelection campaign he filed the paperwork for more than two years ago. It’s 2 p.m., and the ‘45 Fest’—a political tailgate of sorts outside the arena—started hours ago. … But today, a Trump rally no longer represents something like a curious getaway, an amusing escape from the norms and protocols that define everyday life—indeed, now, it is everyday life. To attend Trump’s first campaign announcement in 2015 was to come across actors hired to play devoted supporters. To attend his second is to have conversations with steadfast loyalists who, even if they jeer at fake news, or claim to believe that the CIA has brainwashed the public to be anti-Trump, now represent the power of the incumbency.”

Trump rakes in massive $25 million for re-election launch - Fox News: “President Trump's campaign operation raised a whopping $24.8 million in less than 24 hours amid his 2020 re-election launch in Florida on Tuesday – a figure that blows past what any of the Democratic candidates raised in the entire first quarter.” 

CHINA HIKES U.S. TRAIFFS, SLASHES RATES FOR COMPETITORS 
The Atlantic: “[W]hile Trump is on the verge of slapping tariffs on almost everything the U.S. imports from China, Beijing is picking and choosing wisely. It went to town on American soybeans, in part because it knew that Brazil and Argentina could provide ample alternative supplies. But it has left untouched other American exports that are more difficult to replace. …China is helping its citizens by making new friends. One way to offset the rising prices to Chinese consumers otherwise stuck buying American is to lower their costs if they switch. On average, it is now 14 percent cheaper in China to buy something from Canada, Japan, Brazil, or Europe than it is to buy something from the United States. Beijing is making it worthwhile for its consumers to develop new commercial relationships. And once those new ties are formed, the Chinese may not bother to switch back.”

U.S. Steel to idle two blast furnaces as demand weakens - WSJ: “United States Steel Corp. said it will cut production by idling two blast furnaces in response to falling demand for steel from a weakening manufacturing sector. The company will take one furnace off line at its flagship mill in Gary, Ind., and another at its mill in Ecorse, Mich. The latter was idled recently for maintenance work and won’t be returned to service when the work is completed. … Production of cars and farm equipment have slipped recently and U.S. manufacturing output fell in three of the first five months of this year. … The company restarted two blast furnaces at its Granite City Works near St. Louis last year after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imported steel. The duty allowed domestic producers to raise prices, but falling demand for steel has blunted the benefit of the tariff in recent months.”

TRUMP’S CABINET WOES COMPOUNDED BY SHANAHAN WRECK 
Politico: “A little more than a year ago, moments after he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet, President Donald Trump looked ahead optimistically to reshaping his Cabinet. … It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Instead, Trump has a Cabinet by default, with many of its members simply being the last person standing after others pulled out of the running, declined the president’s offers or couldn’t get through their confirmation hearings. In just the latest example of a Trump official going down amid the harsh glare of an invigorated Washington press corps, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan withdrew from consideration for the top Pentagon job on Tuesday as news outlets published lurid details of his divorce. … One Cabinet official, former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, resigned in protest. Several — Tom Price, Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke — were effectively forced out amid scandal. Kirstjen Nielsen, Jeff SessionsDavid Shulkin and Tillerson fell afoul of a president accustomed to getting his own way. Just two, Nikki Haley and Linda McMahon, left the administration on their own terms.”

Tim Carney: ‘Trump fills the Pentagon swamp’ - WashEx: “When Donald Trump spoke of coming to Washington to ‘drain the swamp,’ you might have thought the swamp he derided was the incestuous network of insiders who enrich themselves while passing through the revolving door between government and K Street. You might have thought the ‘draining’ would involve slowing the revolving door and ceasing this cycle of self-enrichment. But no. By ‘the swamp,’ Trump clearly just meant ‘people I don’t like.’ And the draining never happened. This week, as a former executive from Boeing (the No. 2 contractor for the Defense Department last year) stepped down as Trump’s acting defense secretary, Trump replaced him with the former top lobbyist at Raytheon (the No. 3 defense contractor) which is seeking DOD approval to merge with United Technologies (the No. 11 defense contractor). Before you feel bad for Lockheed Martin, the league leader in bringing in contracting for the Pentagon, their former senior VP is the undersecretary of defense for policy.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Statehood push for DC, Puerto Rico part of Dems' ‘full-bore socialism,’ McConnell says - Fox News

Hope Hicks to testify to Congress about Mueller report Wednesday - USA Today

AUDIBLE: BUCK-EYE ROLL 
“Feeling cute. Might delete later.” – Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, tweeted along with a screenshot of NBC News’ caricature of the presidential candidate.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Loved your [Mystery Science Theater 3000] reference [Tuesday]. If I was President, I’d be working MST3K references into speeches and press conference exchanges wherever possible. The whole Iranian limpet mine retrieval video is begging for MST3K treatment. Keep up the great work!” – Brian D. Liddicoat, Watsonville, Calif.

[Ed. note: Yours would be an interesting administration to say the least, Mr. Liddicoat! Cabinet meetings with Secretary Tom Servo would be a hoot.]

“As I was reading the latest polling results, a thought occurred to me. Since the samples in the polls you use come from people with phones only, is the polling tainted because of people like me who no longer answer my landline or my cell unless I recognize the number. The question is, does this occur across the political spectrum or is it greater with people on one side or the other? Personally, I think it would be older people, like me, which would mean fewer conservatives responding to the polls.  Thoughts?” – Tom Steele, Bates City, Mo.

[Ed. note: Response rates have fallen over time as mobile phones and caller ID on land lines has made it easier for people to screen their calls. There’s no evidence that I know of that this happens more with older voters rather than younger ones. In fact, I know of some evidence that the skew goes the other way. But while this makes getting representative samples harder, it is still quite possible. And compared to the problems presented in the only real alternative, online polling, it’s still the best option for assessing public opinion.] 

“Maybe I see things a bit different than the average bear. But I can't help but think the ENTIRE Democratic Party is not with the Far Left / Left Progressives / Loony Left wing of the party. Now that far left portion is squeaking the loudest and gets the most attention, but there has to be a considerable percentage still in the Moderate Left constituency. I really believe that this Quiet Majority of Democrats has been looking at Joe Biden as their candidate. The initial polls suggest that. Of course, the former VP has started to lose some of that clout when he declared his candidacy and started to actually talk in public. But what do I know, I am only a bear and formerly part of the extinct Blue Dog Society.” – Jay Stevenson, New Franklin, Mo.

[Ed. note: Mr. Stevenson, whether you are a dog or a bear I do not know. But I do know that you are quite right. The success that Joe Biden is having and the results of opinion polls showing Democrats hankering for stable, steady leadership suggest that whatever your breed, you are hardly alone.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

SPEEDY, EH?
Motor1: “Criminals have no shortage of finding creative ways to smuggle drugs. The possibilities are endless, keeping law enforcement personnel on their toes. However, one shipment of illegal methamphetamine from Mexico went awry when they ended up at the wrong dealer. Instead of in the hands of drug dealers, the drugs landed at 13 Ford dealerships across eastern Canada, the result of a costly logistical mistake made by the smugglers. Oops. According to the news release from Ontario Provincial Police, employees at four dealerships, tasked with inspecting the newly arrived vehicles, discovered non-spec spare tires in several of the Ford Fusion sedans. Upon closer inspection, the employees found the tires packed with packages of meth who then called the authorities. Police contacted Ford who provided shipping information for the vehicles.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The fact is, however, that words don’t stand still. They evolve.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Oct. 17, 2013.

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.