**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

On the roster: Welcome to the race Deval Patrick - Time Out: ‘Call me Ishmael.’ - First day of hearings puts pressure on moderate Dems - Jon Huntsman announces third run for Utah governor - Good piggies

Fox News: “Former two-term Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is jumping into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Patrick declared his candidacy for the White House in a video on social media and in an email sent to supporters early Thursday. ‘I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field that bring a richness of ideas and experience and a depth of character that makes me proud to be a Democrat,’ Patrick said. ‘But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country. So in the spirit of profound gratitude for all the country has given to me, with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American dream for the next generation, I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.’ Patrick is expected to travel later on Thursday to neighboring New Hampshire to file for the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Friday is the last day for candidates to place their names on the primary ballot.”

Biden proposes $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan - Politico: “Joe Biden wants to spend $1.3 trillion on infrastructure as president, aiming to reduce carbon emissions, create jobs and shore up the ailing Highway Trust Fund with ‘new revenues’ in a plan released Thursday that's reminiscent of the Obama years. Biden’s 12-page plan promises to ‘ensure new revenues are secured to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund’ but doesn’t specify where those revenues would come from or how he would get political consensus for them. In many ways it's also a throwback to the administration of President Barack Obama, with planks related to ‘complete streets,’ repairing existing infrastructure before building new and calling for investments in transit and high-speed rail. The plan’s goal of working directly with cities, instead of always going through state departments of transportation as an intermediary, is another throwback.”

Pragmatic Klobuchar gaining ground - Time: “While Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proffered revolutionary proposals—including free college tuition, nationwide student-debt cancellation and Medicare for All—[Amy] Klobuchar has staked out a platform defined by pragmatism. Her higher-education plan centers on free in-state community college and higher Pell Grant caps, and her health care proposal offers a public option through which people could purchase access to Medicare or Medicaid. …Klobuchar has seized the opportunity to brand herself as the moderate alternative—a take-your-vitamins realist in a field defined by idealism. There’s some evidence her strategy is working. In the six days after the October debate … Klobuchar’s campaign raked in $2.1 million… She has since become one of 10 candidates to qualify for the November debate in Atlanta, and one of six to qualify for the December one in Los Angeles. Her support in the Hawkeye State has swelled too.”

Post heart attack Sanders trying to rebound - NYT: “Before a campaign event last month, Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane, went for an hourlong stroll around Green Castle Recreation Area, a lush park in central Iowa with evergreen trees and a small lake. … Ms. Sanders is ensuring that her husband is getting adequate rest, and he has been requesting fish for dinner instead of steak or ribs. … Some allies, aware that Mr. Sanders can appear rumpled, have even urged him to dress better — he has been wearing more stylish sweaters — and to rein in his previously unkempt hair. … His recuperative program has coincided with a vigorous push to reboot his campaign… He and his team recognize that his ability to beat his chief ideological rival, Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the leading candidates depends in part on whether he can convince voters that his age, and his health, is not an issue.”

Warren attacks billionaires in new campaign ad - CNBC: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren is launching a new attack on the billionaires who have criticized her proposed taxes and policies with a new ad set to air on CNBC this week, according to a campaign aide. Titled ‘Elizabeth Warren Stands Up to Billionaires,’ the ad takes aim at longtime investor Leon Cooperman, former CEO of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. The ad will premiere Thursday on CNBC’s ‘Squawk on the Street,’ which airs at 9 a.m. ET, and Jim Cramer’s ‘Mad Money,’ which airs at 6 p.m. ET, in all New York and Washington, D.C., markets, the aide added. The ad will be part of a digital buy, as well. … The ad opens with Warren telling a campaign rally: ‘It is time for a wealth tax.’ The ad then plays clips of the aforementioned billionaires.”

“Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 52

History: “Moby-Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature… Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest to catch a giant white whale was a flop. Its author, Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819. … Melville’s sixth book, Moby-Dick, was first published in October 1851 in London, in three volumes titled The Whale, and then in the U.S. a month later [on Nov. 14, 1851]. Melville had promised his publisher an adventure story similar to his popular earlier works, but instead, Moby-Dick was a tragic epic, influenced in part by Melville’s friend and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novels include The Scarlet Letter. … Melville died in 1891, largely forgotten by the literary world. By the 1920s, scholars had rediscovered his work, particularly Moby-Dick, which would eventually become a staple of high school reading lists across the United States.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

Biden: 27.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Warren: 22.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.6 points no change from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 7.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Harris: 3.2 points (no change from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ, ABC News/WaPo, Fox News and IBD.]

Average approval: 42 percent
Average disapproval: 55.4 percent
Net Score: -13.4 percent
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve - 59% disapprove; Fox News: 42% approve - 57% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve - 56% disapprove.]

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: “All eyes were on moderate House Democrats in swing districts Wednesday night, after the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump wrapped up with no major revelations -- but also highlighted weaknesses in Democrats' key witnesses, who relied primarily on second-hand information and never once interacted with the president. At one point in Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., even appeared to embrace hearsay testimony, claiming that ‘hearsay can be much better evidence than direct’ … It was unclear which of those limited exceptions would apply to Wednesday's testimony -- and whether Quigley's argument would persuade critical swing-vote Democrats. …  Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. -- who flipped a GOP district in 2018 that Trump won by 7 points in 2016 -- told Fox News that she was tentatively weighing all the evidence. ‘My constituents expect me to make an objective decision,’ Slotkin said as the hearings concluded…”

Pelosi says Trump committed bribery - Politico: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Donald Trump committed ‘bribery,’ an impeachable offense, by trying to force Ukraine into tarnishing a political rival to help him in the 2020 election. The speaker’s remark is one of her strongest statements yet on the scandal engulfing Trump that is threatening his presidency. Bribery is one of the specific crimes spelled out in the Constitution as an impeachable offense. ‘I am saying what the president has admitted to and said it’s perfect — it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery,’ Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference Thursday. … Still, Pelosi cautioned, she isn’t yet ready to say whether the House will vote to impeach Trump, an outcome many lawmakers think is all but certain to happen by the end of this year.”

Report: Republicans discuss prolonging Senate impeachment trial - WaPo: “Some Republican senators and their advisers are privately discussing whether to pressure GOP leaders to stage a lengthy impeachment trial beginning in January to scramble the Democratic presidential race — potentially keeping six contenders in Washington until the eve of the Iowa caucuses or longer. Those conversations about the timing and framework for a trial remain fluid and closely held, according to more than a dozen participants in the discussions. But the deliberations come as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) faces pressure from conservative activists to swat back at Democrats as public impeachment hearings began this week in the House. The discussions raise a potential hazard for the six Democratic senators running for president, who had previously planned on a final sprint out of Washington before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.”

Did anything new come from the hearings? - Fox News: “[Wednesday] offered one previously undisclosed allegation. Career diplomat William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Kiev, offered testimony, for the first time that the president was overheard by a member of his staff on July 26 asking EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland about ‘the investigations,’ to which Sondland supposedly responded that ‘the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.’ Taylor said that following Sondland’s call with Trump, the member of his staff asked what Trump thought about Ukraine. ‘Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,’ Taylor said, revealing new information from his prior testimony last month. ‘At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it for completeness.’”

What’s next - AP: “Several more witnesses scheduled to testify in the House impeachment hearings over the next week are expected to say they too worried about President Donald Trump’s push for Ukraine to investigate Democrats as the U.S. withheld military aid from the country. … On Friday, lawmakers will hear from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted in May at Trump’s direction. … Eight more witnesses will testify next week, some in back-to-back hearings on the same day. Among them will be Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council … Gordon Sondland, Trump’s European Union ambassador … and Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser to the White House who told lawmakers about national security adviser John Bolton’s concerns about Ukraine. … The public hearings are expected to last at least another week.”

White House brings in backup to unify strategy - WashEx: “Newly appointed White House aide Tony Sayegh will try to bring cohesion to a disorderly White House impeachment response… The Washington Examiner has learned that Sayegh, a former Treasury official, will work with the White House communications team, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his staff, and other administration offices to develop and streamline a strategy to dispute allegations and make sure Republicans are on the same page. … Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was brought in to partner with Sayegh and will be the media face of the anti-impeachment campaign, with plans to leverage her legal background to discredit allegations by House Democrats that the president abused his power in his dealings with Ukraine.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Impeachment and the Constitution - This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses the facts surrounding the impeachment hearings: “The House is operating under rules adopted in 2015, when Republicans ran the House. Schiff is no more secretive about or partisan against the president than my old boss, then-Judiciary chair Rep. Peter Rodino, was toward Nixon or then-Judiciary chair Rep. Henry Hyde was toward Clinton. Both acquired evidence from secret proceedings, and both decided to impeach before any public hearings were held. Impeachment is political, not juridical. Former President Gerald R. Ford was essentially right when he argued that under the Constitution impeachable offenses are whatever a majority of the House says they are -- for Nixon, covering up a break-in; for Clinton, lying about consensual sex; for Trump, solicitation, bribery and obstruction. Whose behavior was arguably the gravest?” More here.

The Salt Lake Tribune: “Former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman says he’s grown weary of the national political scene, with its ‘theatrics,’ time-wasting and dearth of meaningful action. Now, he’s asking Utah’s voters to return him to what he calls ‘the best job in the world’ — working as governor. ‘For a very long time, we’ve served our country in the top two diplomatic posts in the world. Now we feel it is time to give back to our home state again,’ Huntsman said on a campaign video posted Thursday morning. He’s vying for a third term as governor in the 2020 election, a little more than 10 years since he last held the post. He previously served as governor from 2005 to 2009. … News leaked Wednesday night that Huntsman would be kicking off his campaign Thursday, and he did with an early call-in to KSL radio and by launching his website and campaign materials.”

RNC jumps in to help Louisiana governor’s race - Politico: “The Republican National Committee is pouring another $1 million into the Louisiana governor’s race ahead of Saturday’s runoff — a move that comes amid mounting GOP concerns about losing a second major election in a conservative state in as many weeks. The last-minute spending doubles the committee’s investment in the race, where Republican Eddie Rispone is trying to unseat Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards. President Donald Trump is set to headline a rally for Rispone in Louisiana on Thursday evening, barreling ahead despite worries within the GOP that Edwards is a slight favorite to win. Trump had bet that a GOP sweep in three gubernatorial races this fall would project political strength in the face of impeachment. But after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s apparent defeat in Kentucky last week, and with Rispone locked in a neck-and-neck race, the president is facing the possibility of losing two out of three.”

Federal appeals court rules Congress can seek eight years of Trump’s tax records - WaPo

Chad Wolf sworn in as DHS chief, names Ken Cuccinelli as deputy - Fox News

“I disagree with her ideologically, but I think Nancy Pelosi is a master at political warfare. I think, strategically, what she has done from their perspective is actually quite brilliant.” – Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon praising Speaker Pelosi to CBS News.

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

NY Post: “These pigs have a nose for nose candy. Italy’s Il Tirreno reported that authorities believe wild boars in Tuscany have sniffed out some 20,000 euros (about $22,000) worth of cocaine buried in the woods near Montepulciano. Local police learned of the incident after tapping the phone lines of a suspected drug-trafficking group, who revealed the incident during one of their calls. The powder had been stored in jars and tucked into waterproof packages. Allegedly, a boar had stomped the earth where the jars had been buried, which caused the containers to burst, scattering the illicit stimulant across the forest floor. Local officials claim this particular gang is responsible for slinging some two kilograms of blow per month to club-goers around the cities of Arezzo and Siena between September 2018 and March 2019… The drug dealers — one Italian and three Albanians — have been arrested and face charges for drug trafficking.”

“I don’t think the West needs to apologize — or pay — for having invented the steam engine. In fact, I’ve long favored a real climate-change pact, strong and enforceable, that would impose relatively uniform demands on China, India, the United States, the European Union and any others willing to join.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 8, 2017.

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.