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On the roster: What’s it all about, Mr. Schultz? - I’ll Tell You What: None of us are doing enough - Tim Ryan, Ohio centrist, joins 2020 Dem field - DOJ defends Barr summary of Mueller report - You move! No, you move!
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, MR. SCHULTZ?
KANSAS CITY – Howard Schultz has the most fundamental kind of question with which to deal tonight: What’s the point?
We get what the point could be. If both major parties nominate radical populists, as they might, that would make Schultz — working-class Brooklyn kid turned Seattle billionaire Starbucks CEO — the lone voice in the field arguing that America still works. He’s been dangling the possibility of that kind of centrist independent candidacy for months now.
But Schultz hasn’t so far been comfortable in that space. His point has seemingly been that he’s hoping the two major parties sort themselves out so that he doesn’t have to run.
It’s the “I will pull this car over...” version of a presidential campaign.
Now that’s not to say that there isn’t an appetite for that kind of norm enforcement in the electorate. We’ve had so much upheaval in recent political memory that there would surely be many who would savor Schultz’s promise that he might be the kind of president whom you might forget about from time to time. After two celebrity presidents, maybe boring could be beautiful.
What voters are unlikely to embrace, however, is a contingency candidacy.
There is a substantial minority of American voters who deeply distrust both parties. But while the percentage of the electorate that is affiliated has steadily grown, it’s important to remember that most voters are deeply committed partisans. “None of the above” would have considerable appeal in a contest between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, but it’s hard to imagine the state or states Schultz could actually win.
Tonight, as he answers questions from our colleagues Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum as well as the audience here in Kansas City, Schultz will have his best opportunity yet to start making a case for his candidacy as something more than disaster preparedness.
What’s on his punch list? Is it about balancing the budget? Is it about sustainable growth? Is it about bridging the partisan divide that is tearing the country apart?
If he expects to be viable as an alternative next year, he can’t wait to start sorting that out with voters. Even if it’s a small number of committed supporters, Schultz has to start building an army.
Ross Perot used his own group, United We Stand, as a grassroots outfit in 1992. When folks signed up for Perot, they knew they were signing up for balanced budgets, trade restrictions and lots and lots of charts.
What does a prospective Schultz voter get?
He started putting a little substance forward in a framing speech in Miami last month, but he’s still a long way from having an identifiable brand.
We may be more than a year away from the vote, but if he’s serious, time is already running short. To get 45 million or so people to vote for you, especially starting from essentially zero name identification, takes a lot more than just being the least bad alternative.
[Watch Fox: Special coverage of the Howard Schultz town hall kicks off at 6 pm ET.]
THE RULEBOOK: TOGETHER WE CAN
“Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen States will be able to support a national government better than one half, or one third, or any number less than the whole.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 13
TIME OUT: IN AND OUT
History: “[On this day in 1841] Only 31 days after assuming office, William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States, dies at the White House. The cause of death was officially reported as pneumonia. Born in Charles County, Virginia, in 1773, Harrison served in the U.S. Army in the old Northwest Territory and in 1800 was made governor of the Indian Territory, where he proved an able administrator. … In the War of 1812, Harrison gained his greatest fame as a military commander… In 1816, he was elected to the House of Representatives and in 1825 to the Senate. Gaining the Whig presidential nomination in 1840, he and his running mate, John Tyler, ran a successful campaign under the slogan ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.’ At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -10.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.6 points
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 50% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve - 51% disapprove.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: NONE OF US ARE DOING ENOUGH
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt unpack misconduct allegations against Joe Biden, the latest at the U.S.- Mexico border, and what happens when Dana tries to stay out past her bedtime. Plus, Dana has some trivia, and Chris reads questions from the mailbag. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
TIM RYAN, OHIO CENTRIST, JOINS 2020 DEM FIELD
Cleveland.com: “U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan on Thursday officially added his name to the list of Democrats vying to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. The Youngstown-area Democrat enters a crowded field with a significant name recognition deficit compared with the other high-profile candidates. Ryan announced he was running on his new campaign website just prior to an appearance on ABC’s ‘The View.’ ‘A quiet revolution is happening in this country,’ Ryan said on his website. ‘One that is driven by compassion and the independent spirit our nation is known for. It’s time for us to invest in our values so we can focus on what really matters: healing and uniting our nation.’ Ryan, 45, becomes the 18th Democrat to have either entered the race or formed an exploratory committee. Over the past two years, Ryan has discussed bringing mindfulness into politics and wanting to court the ‘yoga vote’ – practitioners of which are overwhelmingly women. That was likely part of the reason he decided to appear on the women-centric daytime talk show just after announcing.”
Biden team moves ahead despite allegations - Fox News: “…Biden World is flashing signals that it's all systems go for 2020. The former vice president personally sought to tamp down the controversy with a Twitter video late Wednesday vowing to be ‘more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.’ Moments later, a Washington Post story relayed the accounts of three more women claiming improper contact, on the heels of four similar allegations. But a source close to the former vice president said the controversy, if anything, ‘has strengthened his resolve.’ Asked if the developments would slow Biden’s decision-making process, the adviser answered: ‘Absolutely not.’ The source … added that a Biden announcement could likely come in late April – after Easter – or soon afterward. The release of the video on Wednesday came amid allegations from numerous women that Biden had made them feel uncomfortable with what was described as inappropriate touching.”
First 18 days of Beto’s campaign brings in $9.4 million - NYT: “Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas raised $9.4 million over the first 18 days of his presidential bid, his campaign said on Wednesday, the latest sign of his ability to attract online donors even within a packed Democratic field. The total, which represents Mr. O’Rourke’s fund-raising haul for the first quarter of the year, is smaller than the first-quarter numbers of two rivals, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California. But Mr. O’Rourke only joined the presidential race in mid-March. Mr. O’Rourke, who proved to be an extraordinary online fund-raiser during his unsuccessful run for Senate last year, received 218,000 contributions, with an average donation of $43, his campaign said. It also said that a majority of donors to his presidential bid had not donated to his Senate campaign.”
Sanders readies grassroots program - Politico: “Bernie Sanders' campaign will unveil a slate of top hires and organizing kickoff events Wednesday — the latest sign that he plans to harness his record-breaking grassroots army earlier and more strategically than he did during his first run for the White House. More than 1 million people have signed up to volunteer for his campaign, aides said, and the Sanders team will ask them Wednesday to host house parties across the country on April 27, a date that will double as the official launch of Sanders' 2020 organizing program. … The campaign will provide volunteers at the gatherings with specific strategies and methods to begin helping Sanders. The Vermont senator will tape a ‘special broadcast’ for supporters to watch at the parties.”
Michael Bennet diagnosed with prostate cancer, still mulling 2020 run - WaPo: “Ahead of the launch of an anticipated White House bid, Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) announced Wednesday that he has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery later this month. ‘Late last month, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,’ the 54-year-old said in a statement posted to Twitter late Wednesday. ‘While hearing news like this is never easy, I am fortunate it was detected early, and as a result, my prognosis is good.’ If he is cancer-free after the surgery, Bennet said he still plans to join the ever-growing pool of Democratic presidential hopefuls, according to the Colorado Independent. On Twitter, Bennet said he will have surgery in Colorado during the coming Senate recess, which starts next week. … ‘This unanticipated hurdle only reinforces how strongly I feel about contributing to the larger conversation about the future of our country...’”
DOJ DEFENDS BARR SUMMARY OF MUELLER REPORT
Politico: “The Department of Justice on Thursday defended releasing an initial summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion, saying it couldn’t disclose the full report because it contained protected grand jury information. The statement came after some members of Mueller's team were reportedly unhappy with Attorney General William Barr's characterization of their investigatory work. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr provided the initial findings ‘with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process’ and ‘does not believe the report should be released in serial or piecemeal fashion.’ … Reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post late Wednesday indicated that Mueller's team members told associates that their report contained ‘acute’ evidence that Trump obstructed the investigation of Russian links to his 2016 campaign. Both reports also noted that Mueller's team had prepared summaries meant to be made public, but none of which have emerged.”
MORE INDICTMENTS LOOM FOR N.C. GOP CORRUPTION PROBE
Charlotte Observer: “Federal indictments against the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, a top political donor and two of his associates on bribery charges could be just the beginning of the scandal that’s rocked the state’s political landscape once again. ‘There could be more indictments to come,’ said Republican Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, the public official who the four are accused of trying to bribe. ‘We don’t know what may happen. And with a case this complex and complicated, it may takes months and months and months or years to get everything sorted out.’ Causey, in an interview with The Charlotte Observer, acknowledged the existence of recorded conversations between him and political donor Greg Lindberg, associates John D. Gray and John V. Palermo, and NC GOP chairman Robin Hayes — the four men indicted for attempting to bribe Causey through campaign contributions from Lindberg funneled through the state party.”
GOP Rep. Mark Walker caught up in the mess - Politico: “Republican Rep. Mark Walker has been caught up in a federal corruption probe that has rocked the North Carolina Republican Party and led to the indictment of former Rep. Robin Hayes. A Walker-controlled political committee received $150,000 from business owner Greg Lindberg at the same time Lindberg allegedly asked him to pressure North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey to replace his deputy, according to a criminal indictment unsealed on Tuesday. Walker, a member of GOP leadership, is not named in the indictment. However, POLITICO has identified him as ‘Public Official A’ using the indictment and Federal Election Commission records.”
And he’s not the only one affected by it - Politico: “A growing number of lawmakers are donating the contributions that their political committees received from a recently indicted businessman in North Carolina, the latest fallout from a federal corruption scandal that has roiled the state's GOP. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) plans to give the $15,000 he took in from Greg Lindberg to several different local charities benefiting soldiers at Fort Bragg, which is in his district. The GOP lawmaker says he didn't do anything wrong, but just wants to avoid the appearance of any impropriety. … GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina has already returned his contributions from Lindberg to the Cleveland County Rescue Mission, a local charity in his district, while Florida Democrat Rep. Charlie Crist plans to give his donations to the Special Olympics. And North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd (R) has decided to donate his entire contribution to The Dragonfly House Children's Advocacy Center located in Mocksville.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: IS OBAMACARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the Constitutional history behind the Affordable Care Act: “The legal battle over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare – will soon be back in court due to the largely unexpected consequences of a series of recent events. When the ACA was enacted in 2010, it was a stool with four legs. … When the legal challenge to the ACA was before the Supreme Court in June 2012, the core issue was the Commerce Clause of the Constitution – which delegates to Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce – empower the Congress to compel people to engage in it by purchasing a health insurance policy. As the late President George H.W. Bush liked to ask: Can Congress force me to eat broccoli? … But the Supreme Court is infallible because it is final, as Justice Robert Jackson once observed. It can do what it wants and call a penalty or an assessment or a command to eat broccoli a tax. By doing so, the ACA was saved.” More here.
House Panel Chair Rep. Richard Neal requests six years of Trump’s tax returns - WSJ
Report: Feds investigating possible Chinese spying at Mar-a-Lago - Miami Herald
U.S. ready to send funds to Venezuela if leadership changes - Bloomberg
“I refused to concede because, here's the thing: Concession needs to say something is right and true and proper. … You can’t trick me into saying it was right.” – Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams discussing her 2018 loss against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp during an event in New York City on Wednesday.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“The other day, one of your faithful readers brought up the subject about how you have chosen the 5 polls you use for tracking the president’s ‘popularity.’ Having been down this road myself, I am content with the criteria you have used in making your selections. My new bone to pick at is a little more ‘wonkish’ - You never put the ‘margin of error’ spread in, which are published with each poll you list. The polling companies (and the occasional university) you use do admit that there is always errors in the samples and using weighting factors can only do so much to smooth out these errors. The good polling companies you are using all approach polls as having 95% confidence, with an error margin of +/- 3% (which is a total swing of 6 points.) This may not seem like much to most people, but it became the nightmare in 2016 when Mr. Trump broke the margins in several key states (we don’t anoint presidents, we elect them - sorry Hillary.) Even though it appears on the surface that Trump is not a well-liked person, it’s the underlying policies that the majority of voters are really looking at. All that being said, publishing the margins of error for each poll might give us a little better idea on where the country really is regarding his popularity. Error margins are extremely important particularly as Election Day comes closer. Just a thought... Oh, and yes, I am a faithful reader myself, and enjoy the clear and unbiased commentary you express to us every Monday through Friday. You are always thoughtful and don’t ‘talk down’ to us. Keep fighting the good fight - we’re all in this together.” – John William Gibson, Coos Bay, Ore.
[Ed. note: I certainly take your point, Mr. Gibson. A couple of thoughts: Since you can’t tabulate an average margin of error for a polling average, I tend to think that including the numbers would be distracting. We’ve already got quite a few gewgaws and gimcracks in there already. Secondly, the way to think about margins of error is that the top line number represents the midpoint on a spectrum. It is the result in which the pollster has the highest confidence. In 2016, national polling was actually more accurate on average than in 2012. There were certainly some misses on the state level, but generally speaking, the polls held up in 2016. Unfortunately for Clinton, national numbers are indicative but not what decide our presidential elections.]
“I too, believe the polls you choose to use are skewed. You say you don’t use Rasmussen but which was the most accurate poll during the 2016 election? Was it not Rasmussen?” – Carlton Clunn, Eureka, Mont.
[Ed. note: It was not. The survey conducted by The University of Southern California was the most predictive. But even if Rasmussen had been on the nose, it still wouldn’t merit our attention. I could guess the height of the St. Louis Gateway Arch and might get pretty close, but that wouldn’t make my guesswork a substitute for measuring.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
YOU MOVE! NO, YOU MOVE!
Fox News: “Two drivers in California were willing to waste a good chunk of their day duking it out for a parking spot… The encounter took place in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles on Monday… Dubbed the ‘black car’ and the ‘silver car,’ drivers in each vehicle appeared to spend close to two hours — from 6:20 p.m., seemingly until past 8 p.m. — trying to parallel park along a sidewalk. The first photo showed the two cars vying for a spot. … The drivers of both vehicles waited in the street, eventually turning on their hazard lights and backing up traffic because of their standoff. … As horns beeped, the two vehicles hadn't moved as of 7:19 p.m. … But shortly after 7:30 … a third vehicle … left its spot, freeing up space for both the black and silver cars to park on the road. Both the black and silver cars quickly parked, before sitting in their cars for some time before getting out. … The driver of the silver car eventually got out of their car … leaving the dramatic scene after 8 p.m.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Not quite the 18th-century elegance of ‘Don’t Tread on Me,’ but the age of Twitter has a different cadence from the age of the musket. What the modern battle cry lacks in archaic charm, it makes up for in full-body syllabic punch.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for National Review on Nov. 19, 2010.
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.