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On the roster: What’s up with Trump and the Hispanic vote? - Biden and Trump duel in Minnesota as voting begins - Biden gets tender treatment in town hall - Dems get narrow nod on Senate chances - Up next, Hitlerville

For anyone who remembers the awful fighting in the fall of 2017 about aid for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the news today that the Trump administration is sending the beleaguered island territory nearly $12 billion looked like quite a reversal.

While it’s certainly true that recent reforms, especially to Puerto Rico’s long-abused power company, helped pave the way for the funds, it’s also lost on no one that the largesse comes just weeks before voting starts on the mainland. The trip from Trump’s claim that Puerto Rico was too crooked to merit money to that kind of cash was no doubt eased by thoughts of all those Puerto Rican voters in the heart of swing-state Florida. 

In addition to the newfound affection for Puerto Rican funding, you also may have noticed what’s missing from Trump’s reelection pitch compared to his campaign of four years ago: Immigration.

Where once “the wall” was the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign to voters, the “big, beautiful” barrier barely gets a mention. If you had no context, this year’s Republican convention would have left you with the impression that the incumbent was an immigration enthusiast rather than the hardliner we heard from in 2016.

Certainly, restrictions imposed by the administration and now pandemic precautions and a deep global recession have made immigration less of an issue for those concerned, but the shift is still striking.

While Trump may have defied the Republican establishment and the conventional wisdom about a diversifying electorate with his harsh rhetoric four years ago, his approach this year is far more conventional.

And it seems to be paying off.

As Derek Thompson points out in the Atlantic today, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is not faring as well as his predecessor Hillary Clinton – a deficit that fearless forecaster Harry Enten put at about 9 points.

As we observed Monday, the shift among Latino voters is helping Trump substantially not just in Florida, but also in Nevada. Even as Trump struggles in the Upper Midwest states that powered his 2016 victory, southern-tier states that looked out of reach have become more competitive thanks in part to increasing support from Hispanic voters.

Here’s Thompson on part of the reason why: “...young Latino men born in the United States seem to be inching toward Trump, intrigued perhaps by the president’s business persona. No single group has posted a larger statistical bump for Trump than Latino men under the age of 50, according to Equis. Unlike the Cuban American phenomenon, which is confined almost entirely to Florida, this appears to be a national phenomenon. In Arizona, for example, only half of Latino men under 50 say they will vote for Biden, far fewer than the nearly 70 percent of young Latina women. Among older Latinos in Arizona, there is practically no difference between male and female preferences, with Biden’s edge among women at just 3 percent.”

It should not be surprising that Hispanic Americans would do what other cohorts of mass immigration have done in the past: Change the American electorate and to be changed by American electoral politics. As we have often pointed out, previous waves of immigrants began as political monoliths but eventually came to reflect the politics of their own geography and socioeconomic status more than their ancestral origin.

This shift is no doubt part of that much longer trend. If there’s a gender gap for all Americans, it would stand to reason that there would be one among demographic subgroups.

But there’s more going on in this cycle, specifically. Trump’s new approach to the identity politics of wooing Hispanic voters and Biden’s struggle to find a message that connects.

If Trump does somehow find a way to pull off another massive upset, it would be a fitting twist that he would owe it to the same Hispanic voters who Democrats believed were lost forever to Republicans because of Trump.  

“A nation cannot long exist without revenues. Destitute of this essential support, it must resign its independence, and sink into the degraded condition of a province.” – Alexander Hamilton, describing the usefulness of revenue, Federalist No. 12

The Writer’s Almanac: “On this day in 1870, the ‘Old Faithful’ geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was discovered by the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition. The geyser was the first in the park to receive a name; when the men discovered it, they were astonished by its frequent eruptions, hence the cheeky name, courtesy of Henry Washburn. A geyser is a natural spring that intermittently spews hot water and steam. The Washburn Expedition of 1870 explored a region of northwestern Wyoming that would become ‘Yellowstone National Park’ just two years later. The party was made up of Surveyor General Henry Washburn, politician and businessman Nathaniel P. Langford, and several other men, including a newspaper writer and Lt. Gustavus C. Doane, whose journals of the trip would become an important historical record. … The party discovered the geyser on just the second day of their travels, as they plodded along an area known as ‘The Firehole.’” 

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Trump: 43.2 percent          
Biden: 49.2 percent          
Size of lead: Biden by 6 points          
Change from one week ago: Biden ↓ 1.2 points, Trump ↑ 0.2 points          
[Average includes: NPR/PBS News/Marist: Trump 43% - Biden 52%; AP/NORC: Trump 40% - Biden 44%; Fox News: Trump 46% - Biden 51%; Kaiser Family Foundation: Trump 43% - Biden 48%; Monmouth University: Trump 44% - Biden 51%.]     

(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) 

Average approval: 43.4 percent          
Average disapproval: 54.2 percent          
Net Score: -10.8 points       
Change from one week ago: ↓ 0.6 points        
[Average includes: NPR/PBS News/Marist: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; AP/NORC: 43% approve - 56% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 56% disapprove; Fox News: 48% approve - 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 42% approve - 55% disapprove.]      

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.

Fox News: “…[After] narrowly losing the state four years ago to 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonPresident Trump is aiming to end the losing streak as he eyes Minnesota in hopes of turning it from blue to red this November. On Friday, both the president and his Democratic challenger – former Vice President Joe Biden – are set to hold dueling rallies a few hours apart in the northern part of a state that has joined the list of general election battlegrounds. And the visits come on a crucial day, as early in-person and absentee voting gets underway in Minnesota. Both the Democratic and Republican state parties were urging supporters to take advantage of early voting. The president will hold an evening event at the airport in Bemidji, which is closer to the Canadian border than to the metropolitan area of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Hours earlier, the Democratic presidential nominee will visit a union training center in Duluth…The stop by Trump is his second in the past month.” 

Trump focuses on culture war in Wisconsin rally - AP: “President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric on cultural issues, aiming to boost enthusiasm among rural Wisconsin voters as he tries to repeat his path to victory four years ago. Making his fifth visit to the pivotal battleground state this year, Trump views success in the state’s less-populated counties as critical to another term. He held a rally Thursday evening in Mosinee, in central Wisconsin, an area of the state that shifted dramatically toward Republicans in 2016, enabling Trump to overcome even greater deficits in urban and suburban parts of the state. Trump has increasingly used his public appearances to elevate cultural issues important to his generally whiter and older base, as he hinges his campaign on turning out his core supporters rather than focusing on winning over a narrow slice of undecided voters. In Mosinee, he called for a statute to ban burning the American flag in protest — a freedom protected by the Supreme Court — and criticized sports players and leagues for allowing demonstrations against racial inequality.” 

Touts free money for farmers - Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump announced $13 billion in new aid to farmers at a campaign rally Thursday night in Wisconsin, a critical electoral battleground where he is trailing in recent polls. Congress had authorized additional borrowing authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in coronavirus-relief legislation passed earlier this year, and the second round has been widely anticipated. … Unveiling billions of dollars in new agricultural payments at the rally in Mosinee, in central Wisconsin, might help Trump gain maximum credit for the assistance in a crucial 2020 state where rural voters play a major role. Nine opinion polls taken since Aug. 29 all show Democrat Joe Biden leading in Wisconsin. Trump carried the state by just 0.8 percentage points four years ago on the strength of overwhelming support from rural residents, who backed him 62% to 35% and accounted for more than a quarter of votes cast, according to exit polls.” 

And shared plan to create commission to promote patriotic education - NPR: “...President Trump on Thursday said he would create a commission to promote ‘patriotic education’ and announced the creation of a grant to develop a ‘pro-American curriculum.’ The move is largely political — a reaction to a growing push by some academics for schools to teach an American history that better acknowledges slavery and systemic racism. In the speech, Trump decried what he said was a ‘twisted web of lies’ being taught in U.S. classrooms about systemic racism in America, calling it ‘a form of child abuse.’ He reprised themes from a speech he gave in July at Mount Rushmore. ‘Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse, the truest sense,’ Trump said.” 

Poll finds deep gloom in electorate - AP: “Less than seven weeks before Election Day, most Americans are deeply pessimistic about the direction of the country and skeptical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 7 in 10 Americans think the nation is on the wrong track, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It’s an assessment that poses a challenge for Trump as he urges voters to stay the course and reward him with four more years in office instead of handing the reins of government to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump’s argument to voters hinges in part on persuading Americans that the pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S., is receding. Yet just 39% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling the outbreak. … Seventy-eight percent say they have some or great confidence in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” 

Politico: “For the second time this week, a presidential candidate fielded questions from voters in a town hall setting. But if ABC’s event with President Donald Trump was an icy grilling, CNN’s drive-in conversation with Joe Biden Thursday was more like an affable reunion of old acquaintances. ‘Chief, didn't I meet you when you were chief?’ Biden said through a half-smile, pointing at the man preparing to ask him a question. Bill Barrett, a retired police chief who is in his fifth term on city council, wanted to know how Biden will address growing violence in cities and the lack of respect for police and the military. Barrett confirmed that, yes, they’d met when he was chief. And so it went with several other questioners and Biden during a 75-minute homecoming close by to where the candidate spent his youth. Trump had few such comfortable moments in his brutal town hall: For his first time as president, regular people got the chance to call him out on his boasting and exaggerations.”

Keeps on trucking - NPR: “Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump in the 2020 presidential election nationally by a substantial margin, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Biden leads Trump by 9 points, 52% to 43%, among likely voters, the survey finds. This is the first time this election cycle the poll has screened for likely voters — this narrower group is the most likely to actually cast a ballot, compared to the larger group of people who are registered to vote. There isn't much change from registered voters, however. Among them, Biden leads Trump, 52% to 42%. That's mostly unchanged from last month in the survey taken just before the party conventions began, a reflection of how remarkably consistent this race has been in national polling. Of course, the election will be determined in key states that make up the Electoral College rather than in a national popular vote.” 

Biden up big in Arizona and Maine, tight in North Carolina - NYT: “President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has imperiled both his own re-election and his party’s majority in the Senate, and Republican lawmakers in crucial states like Arizona, North Carolina and Maine have fallen behind their Democratic challengers amid broad disapproval of the president, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. led Mr. Trump by wide margins in Arizona, where he was ahead by nine percentage points, and Maine, where he led by 17 points. The race was effectively tied in North Carolina, with Mr. Biden ahead by one point, 45 percent to 44 percent. In all three states, Democratic Senate candidates were leading Republican incumbents by five percentage points or more. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican seeking a fifth term, is in a difficult battle against Sara Gideon, trailing by five points as voters there delivered a damning verdict on Mr. Trump’s stewardship: By a 25-point margin, 60 percent to 35 percent, they said they trusted Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump on the issue of the pandemic.” 

FiveThirtyEight: “Democrats are slight favorites to regain control of the Senate, according to the FiveThirtyEight Senate forecast, which launched today. But the map is wide open, with at least a dozen competitive races — none of which are certain pickups for Democrats — including some states where Democrats are playing defense. In fact, while it’s possible that Democrats will wind up controlling 54 seats or perhaps even more, the most likely outcome is a much more closely divided chamber, including the possibility of a 50/50 split in which control of the Senate would be determined by whether the vice president is Kamala Harris or Mike Pence. (Joe Biden and Harris currently have a 76 percent chance of winning the presidential race, according to our forecast.)” 

Mod squad GOP governors boost Collins - Fox News: “Sen. Susan Collins secured the endorsements of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, two Republican governors in deep-blue states, as her Maine race for reelection against challenger Sara Gideon is likely to come down to the wire in November. Baker and Hogan, moderates who have managed to maintain high popularity with their very liberal constituencies, each cut ads appealing to Maine moderates who might be undecided between Collins, a centrist, and Gideon, the Democratic speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. The story was first reported by The Hill. ‘Governors Charlie Baker and Larry Hogan are two of the best Governors in the country,’ Collins told Fox News in reaction to the endorsements.”

WSJ: “Lawmakers are aiming to unveil Friday a bipartisan spending bill averting a government shutdown next month, but Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over another round of coronavirus relief despite President Trump’s renewed interest in a deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed earlier this month to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government running when its funding expires on Oct. 1. Lawmakers and aides said they were finishing up discussions Thursday on a bill they planned to introduce midday Friday that would keep the government funded likely into mid-December. Democrats had hoped to extend its duration into 2021, but didn’t intend to derail talks over its end date, aides said. The bill is expected to be introduced in the House, but will reflect a bipartisan agreement between both chambers.” 

What will be Pelosi’s next move? - WaPo: “House Democrats were starting to squirm this week, fretting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s risky gamble in economic relief talks would backfire and they would go into the November elections without any new stimulus package. But President Trump scrambled that calculus Wednesday when he cast aside the Republican negotiation position and told his party to embrace a much larger spending bill, including stimulus checks, to give Americans more money. In short, he moved closer to Pelosi’s position after a month-long showdown. Now the California Democrat faces a crucial decision: Does she try to negotiate an agreement with a White House that suddenly seems ready to deal or continue to hold her ground and make Trump, facing his own election woes, swallow the sweeping $2.2 trillion bill she has long demanded? Early signs suggest Pelosi is still not ready to budge.” 

Meanwhile, back at McConnell HQ - Fox News: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has refocused the Senate on confirming judicial nominees as talks about a fifth coronavirus stimulus package have stalled. This week, the upper chamber confirmed eight judges over three days. ‘Republican Senators, like working families across the country, had hoped the Senate would be spending this week completing more bipartisan pandemic relief,’ McConnell said, speaking from the Senate floor. ‘Since Democrats are stonewalling pandemic relief, the Senate is using our time to confirm more well-qualified judicial nominees to lifetime positions on the federal bench.’ The Senate's effort this week mirrors a similar pattern from last week -- confirming five other nominees. As The Hill reported Thursday, court picks are a top priority for McConnell, who sees them as the best way for the Republican Party to have a long-term impact on the direction of the country.”

AP: “U.S. health officials on Friday dropped a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and said anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should get tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention essentially returned to its previous testing guidance, getting rid of language posted last month that said people didn’t need to get tested if they didn’t feel sick. That change had set off a rash of criticism from health experts who couldn’t fathom why the nation’s top public health agency would say such a thing amid the pandemic. … The CDC now says anyone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes should get a test. In a statement, the agency called the changes a “clarification” that was needed ‘due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.’ Agency officials declined additional comment.” 

Vaccine makers try to quell doubts - NYT: “Two drug companies that are leading the race to develop coronavirus vaccines bowed to public pressure on Thursday, abandoning their traditional secrecy and releasing comprehensive road maps of how they are evaluating their vaccines. The companies, Moderna and Pfizer, revealed details about how participants are being selected and monitored, the conditions under which the trials could be stopped early if there were problems, and the evidence researchers will use to determine whether people who got the vaccines were protected from Covid-19. Moderna’s study will involve 30,000 participants, and Pfizer’s 44,000.” 

Judge blocks Postal Service changes - AP: “A U.S. judge on Thursday blocked controversial Postal Service changes that have slowed mail nationwide, calling them ‘a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service’ before the November election. Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, said he was issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by 14 states that sued the Trump administration and the U.S. Postal Service. The states challenged the Postal Service’s so-called ‘leave behind’ policy, where trucks have been leaving postal facilities on time regardless of whether there is more mail to load. They also sought to force the Postal Service to treat election mail as first class mail.” 

“But when you guys started talking on television about Biden, if he wins he’d be the first person without an Ivy League degree to be elected president.” – Joe Biden during a CNN town hall in Moosic, Pa. Thursday evening. Per the WaPo fact check, Ronald Reagan was the last president who did not go to an Ivy League university. 

This weekend Mr. Sunday will sit down with former CDC Director Tom FriedenMike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short and Bill Gates. 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.    

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

NCPR: “A small town in Clinton County has voted against considering a name change for the tiny hamlet of Swastika, New York. … Michael Alcamo lives in New York City but loves visiting the Adirondacks whenever he can to cycle and recreate. … He was on a trip like this through Clinton County this summer when he noticed [the name of the town]. … Alcamo reached out to Clinton County in August to see if they would consider updating the unincorporated hamlet’s name. … And so, on Monday night, the town’s four councilors voted on whether to consider a name change. And after five minutes of discussion, they unanimously voted against it. ‘So basically Swastika was named by the founders of the area who settled there,’ said Black Brook’s town supervisor Jon Douglass, who was at Monday’s meeting, but did not vote. Douglass says the hamlet was settled sometime in the 1800s and got its name from the four-sided geometric figure that for thousands of years was used as a symbol of divinity in Indian religions. It was also frequently seen as a symbol of good luck.” 

“Has there ever been a more reluctant superpower than America? Has any great power taken less pleasure in its foreign adventures? I doubt it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) discussing America’s work as a superpower in Time magazine on Oct. 22, 1990. 

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.