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On the roster: Biden over the top, now what? – Dems roll out overhaul for policing – Poll: 67 percent say Trump worsened racial tension – Trump campaign looks for warmer words – Unavoidable Noid
BIDEN OVER THE TOP, NOW WHAT?
Joe Biden is now most definitely the presumptive Democratic nominee, hitting the 1,991-delegate threshold in the early-morning hours of Saturday as Pennsylvania and other states that voted last week sifted through their remaining mail-in ballots.
Biden will be the first Democratic standard-bearer since Bill Clinton to win the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire. He will be the first Delawarean to be a major-party nominee, and will face the first Floridian to be atop a ticket.
Despite a screwy coronavirus schedule, Biden clinched the nomination in the first week of June, just like every other winner of a contested Democratic nomination since 1980 – except for John Kerry’s 2004 blowout of Howard Dean, which wrapped up in March.
At 77 years and 9 months, Biden will be by far the oldest person Democrats have nominated in the party’s 192-year history. Only four other times have Democrats nominated someone over age 65. The closest to Biden was Hillary Clinton, aged 68 years, 9 months when she won four years ago.
President Trump will be 74 years and 2 months of age when he is re-nominated, making him the oldest person ever to win the Republican mantle – a year older than both Bob Dole in 1996 and Ronald Reagan in 1984. Alert to early bird buffet enthusiasts: The major-party competitors this year will be the oldest duo in American electoral history with a combined age of nearly 152 years.
Biden in many ways exceeded expectations in his victory. Despite a persistent polling lead since his entry into the race, his grim performance in the first three contests in February for a time seemed disqualifying. Combined with an uneasy manner on the stump, weak fundraising and the reticence of the Democratic establishment to embrace one of its own, Biden’s path to the nomination seemed perilous.
But on the other hand, how surprised should anyone be that the popular former vice president from a popular previous administration would do well? Though it was hard to remember at times, Biden was the heavy favorite all along.
Now that Biden, who ran for president twice before and has been a national political figure since 1972, has captured the prize that for so long eluded him, what’s he going to do with it?
On the sunny side of the street for Biden is that he is running ahead of where Clinton was against Trump four years ago, both nationally and in battleground states. Biden today leads Trump by 8.4 points nationally. At this point four years ago, Clinton was up by 2.6 points. Better still for Biden, his polling average is over 50 percent, something Clinton did not accomplish once after March 2016.
And as a survey of battleground state voters from the WSJ/NBC News today reinforces, Biden has the edge in key states, leading Trump by a combined 8 points in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The issue set also currently favors Biden, with persistent concerns about a public health crisis, racial unrest and a deepening sense of unease about the direction of the country – never good for the person seeking re-election. No incumbent since George H.W. Bush has looked so vulnerable.
Where the clouds gather for Biden, though, is in his own party.
One of the reasons Clinton fared so poorly against Trump in 2016 was that she was so heavily favored to win – to the point of irrational invincibility. It was largely her doing, with a campaign that was badly detached and focused too much on Clinton’s historic status. It was “I’m with her” instead of “she’s with me.”
But because of this invincibility myth and Clinton’s own prickly persona and personal baggage, Democratic voters showed little enthusiasm for her cause and were quite willing to undercut her candidacy for their own gains. Biden, who benefitted hugely from Democrats’ rush to unify this spring, could yet face Clinton’s headaches.
If far-left Democrats think Biden can’t lose, they will feel less compunction about making impossible demands of the nominee, like supporting defunding police departments or Medicare for all, both swing state suicides. Biden got a bunch of breaks, especially from Bernie Sanders, because he looked weak. Will that change as Biden looks stronger?
The other challenge for Biden will be in controlling himself. Watching the way Biden reacted to Trump’s initial attacks on his son Hunter’s personal and professional train wrecks made it obvious to anyone that he is not prepared for what’s to come.
Biden has a bad habit of losing his temper. The attacks that he is going to face in the next five months will be savage. While Trump’s allies in the Senate cook Hunter over an open fire, Biden will also face Trump’s prodigious and dedicated troll army. Biden will find himself and his family accused of every crime and misdeed imaginable.
If Trump gets Biden’s Irish up well enough, he can keep his challenger off balance and keep the media’s focus on whatever controversies, real or imagined, that call Biden’s character and fitness into doubt. Debate moderators better keep a hose handy when these two old dogs start barking at each other on stage.
Biden is an unlikely nominee in many ways, but he has been extraordinarily lucky so far. We’ll see if he can keep it up.
THE RULEBOOK: USER FRIENDLY REPUBLIC
“It will be my aim to remove the obstacles from your progress in as compendious a manner as it can be done, without sacrificing utility to despatch.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: THE GREAT HOME RUN CHASE
ESPN: “Is 22 years too soon? How do we look back on the great Home Run Chase of 1998? Can we look past the uncomfortable aftermath and remember Mark McGwire‘s battle with Sammy Sosa for home run supremacy as a jubilant summer? … Or maybe you have a forgiving memory and fondly recall when the biggest story in sports was a baseball story. … The most-watched regular-season game in ESPN history with 10.6 million viewers remains the Cubs-Cardinals game from Sept. 7, when McGwire tied Roger Maris‘ record with his 61st home run. … The narrative that the Home Run Chase saved baseball, however, was misleading even at the time. After attendance dropped 20% in 1995 following the 1994 strike, it increased 6% in 1996 and 5% in 1997, but just 4% in 1998 and actually declined slightly in 1999. … In a sense then, it really was just about the chase for the most hallowed record in sports.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 41.8 percent
Biden: 50.2 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 8.4 points
Change from one week ago: First week of average
[Average includes: CNN: Trump 41% – Biden 55% ; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 42% – Biden 49%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 43% – Biden 50%; IBD: Trump 42% – Biden 49%; Monmouth University: Trump 41% – Biden 52%.]
BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.2 percent
Net Score: -12.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 40% approve – 57% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve – 55% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve – 52% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve – 54% disapprove.]
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DEMS ROLL OUT OVERHAUL FOR POLICING
AP: “Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures Monday, a potentially far-reaching legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans in the hands of law enforcement. …It is the most ambitious change to law enforcement sought by Congress in years. … The package confronts several aspects of law enforcement accountability and practices that have come under criticism, especially as more and more police violence is captured on cellphone video and shared widely across the nation, and the world. The proposed legislation would revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in misconduct ‘knowingly or with reckless disregard.’ The package would also change ‘qualified immunity’ protections for police ‘to enable individuals to recover damages when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights.’”
Trump, local leaders step back from standoff – WaPo: “A day after thousands of people filled the streets of Washington and other cities to demand action against police brutality and systemic racism, local and national figures on Sunday moved to further de-escalate tensions, with President Trump pulling back the National Guard and more cities — including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago — lifting curfews. As Americans again turned out for what researchers are calling the most sweeping and sustained protests in the country’s history, the steps taken by leaders in Washington and elsewhere were a reflection of the fact that the demonstrations, which were initially marked by confrontations and violence, have become more peaceful even as several cities saw their largest ever crowds. Trump announced Sunday morning that he was ordering National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the nation’s capital, the morning after more than 10,000 people marched through the District in what was mostly a festive day of demonstrations.”
POLL: 67 PERCENT SAY TRUMP WORSENED RACIAL TENSION
NPR: “As the country erupts in protests over police brutality and racism, two-thirds of Americans think President Trump has increased racial tensions in the U.S., according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. … Overall, 67% said Trump has mostly increased racial tensions, including 92% of Democrats, 73% of independents, 88% of Africans Americans and 63% of whites. … Trump’s approval rating is 41% in the poll. That’s about where it has been since he took office. It’s down 2 points since March, the last time the poll measured his overall approval rating, but his overall disapproval number jumped 5 points to 55%. … As his disapproval shifts, Trump is falling short in the head-to-head matchup in the November election with [Joe] Biden. The former vice president leads Trump, according to the poll, 50% to 43%.”
Voters increasingly alarmed about direction of nation – NBC News: “Eight out of 10 voters believe that things are out of control in the United States, with majorities still concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, pessimistic about the economy’s returning to normal before next year and down on President Donald Trump’s ability to unite the nation. … Despite the turmoil and instability, the NBC News/WSJ poll shows that attitudes about Trump and the 2020 election remain locked in place, with the president’s job rating stuck in the mid-40s and with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden maintaining his national lead over Trump. … When it comes to the presidential contest in November, Biden leads Trump nationally by 7 points among all registered voters, 49 percent to 42 percent — unchanged from April’s poll.”
Approval his new low – CNN: “A new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS finds Trump’s approval rating down 7 points in the last month as the President falls further behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, whose support now stands at its highest level in CNN polling. … Overall 38% approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency, while 57% disapprove. … In the race for the White House, among registered voters, Trump stands 14 points behind Biden, who officially secured enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination in CNN’s delegate estimate on Saturday. The 41% who say they back the President is the lowest in CNN’s tracking on this question back to April 2019, and Biden’s 55% support is his highest mark yet.”
BLACK WOMEN GET NEW ATTENTION AS POTENTIAL VEEPS
Politico: “Wide-scale protests that have exposed deep racial tensions across the nation in the last two weeks are reshaping the contours of Joe Biden’s search for a vice presidential pick, sharpening the focus on an African American woman as his running mate and elevating the prospects of several candidates once viewed as longshots. … In the last week alone, two prospects who were initially not considered among the top tier contenders have suddenly burst into contention: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Florida Rep. Val Demings. Both have been tapped by the Biden campaign to act as leading surrogates amid the unrest and have seen their national media exposure intensify. Bottoms is being vetted as a Biden running mate, two sources with knowledge of the discussions confirm to POLITICO. Demings, a former Orlando police chief, has previously confirmed she’s being vetted.”
Kamala Harris tries to seize the moment – Politico: “[Kamala] Harris spent the campaign and months since working to burnish her image on criminal justice issues and contending that her decades in the field, which were viewed as a liability, instead provides her with unmatched perspective into how to achieve systemic change. Since the uprising over the killing of George Floyd, she’s taken to cable news programs and the Senate floor to argue for police reform and reconciliation. Harris’ increasing comfort with leading on justice issues — and success at convincing progressive advocates that her efforts are sincere — might well have happened whether or not she was in the running to become Joe Biden’s running mate.”
EXPERIMENTS WITH CYBER VOTING RAISE NEW WORRIES
NYT: “With the general election less than 150 days away, there are rising concerns that the push for remote voting prompted by the pandemic could open new opportunities to hack the vote — for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but also others hoping to disrupt, influence or profit from the election. President Trump has repeatedly said that mail-in ballots invite voter fraud and would benefit Democrats. It is a baseless claim: Mail-in voting has resulted in little fraud in the five states that have used it for years, and a recent study at Stanford University found that voting by mail did not advantage either party and might increase voter turnout for both parties. But there are different worries. The rush to accommodate remote voting is leading a small number of states to experiment with or expand online voting, an approach the Department of Homeland Security deemed ‘high risk’ in a report last month.”
Abrams leads charge to counter GOP vote-by-mail fraud claims – AP: “Democrats are mounting a new effort to push back against a well-funded Republican campaign that seeks to undermine public confidence in mail-in voting, which President Donald Trump has said, without offering proof, will lead to election fraud. Fair Fight, an organization led by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, has joined forces with Priorities USA, the largest Democratic outside group, and American Bridge, the party’s opposition research clearinghouse, to form a new effort called Voter Suppression Watch. The aim is to not only counter Republicans in the courts but in public relations, too, while playing offense by providing opposition research that often forms the grist of critical news stories.”
TRUMP CAMPAIGN LOOKS FOR WARMER WORDS
Axios: “President Trump’s top political advisers, in a private meeting last week, said their boss needs to add more hopeful, optimistic and unifying messages to balance his harsh law-and-order rhetoric. They’re deeply concerned about ‘brutal’ internal polling for the president in the aftermath of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and George Floyd’s killing. … Advisers settled on a theme of the ‘Great American Comeback’ underpinned by words like ‘renewing,’ ‘recovering,’ ‘restoring’ and ‘rebuilding.’ Friday’s surprisingly good jobs report gave them a chance to road test the theme with a new ad: ‘The great American comeback has begun. … Renewing. Restoring. Rebuilding. Together, we’ll make America great again.’ … A source briefed on his internal polls called them ‘brutal,’ showing a significant drop-off in independent support.”
GOP old guard goes silent on Trump – NYT: “The 2020 campaign is different: Opposing the sitting president of your own party means putting policy priorities at risk, in this case appointing conservative judges, sustaining business-friendly regulations and cutting taxes — as well as incurring the volcanic wrath of Mr. Trump. … Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote… Senator Mitt Romney of Utah won’t back Mr. Trump… And former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Sunday that he will vote for Mr. Biden… None of these Republicans voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, but the reproach of big Republican names carries a different weight when an incumbent president and his shared agenda with Senate leaders are on the line. Former Republican leaders like the former Speakers Paul D. Ryan and John A. Boehner won’t say how they will vote…”
Left wing Dems getting skunked in Senate primaries – Politico
North Carolina Republicans push to keep convention – AP
U.S. allies in Europe worried about Trump’s move to pull troops from Germany – WSJ
Romney takes part in D.C. protest – NBC News
AUDIBLE: HUSKED OFF
“It’s bullsh** the way people grandstand for cameras in here… The Senate doesn’t work… 90 percent of our committees are about people trolling for soundbites.” – Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Interestingly, Candidate Biden has estimated that ten to fifteen percent of our population are probably ‘just not very good people.’ From my read, the population of the United States in 2015 was estimated to be 316,515,021; accordingly, that means anywhere between 31.6 and 47.4 million Americans fall into this category. Most would agree that’s a lot of bad guys. Curiously, it seems he offered no criteria by which he arrived at this conclusion. It is high time a capable and competent journalist, and yes, I have you in mind… inquires of him just how he determined who is good and who is not very good. If he has a listing, he should make it public so we know who to stay away from. Similarly, wouldn’t all 100 percent of us want to know if we’re on his short list? The tragic events of the last few weeks are much too serious for any candidate of any party to pander to the masses without backing up their pontification.” – James W. Herzog, Spartanburg, S.C.
[Ed. note: Oh, now, Mr. Herzog… I think that this time around we can all be forgiven for taking much of what both parties’ nominees say neither literally nor seriously. Both Biden and Trump are absolute woodchippers of American English, and both have strong tendencies to bloviate braggadociously, including on subjects about which they have little to no actual knowledge. Hillary Clinton meant with precision that she thought about half of Donald Trump’s supporters were racists or in some other way “deplorable.” She had clearly thought that one out and her disdain was purposeful. But when Biden talks, it’s like trying to pull an old Pontiac into traffic. There’s a little hesitation, the engine coughs to life and then roars wildly up the road with occasional backfires. And when he tries to stop, he often finds he has no brakes and just tries to bang into the curb as softly as possible. Other times, he wraps himself around a tree trunk. I’m not going to wear myself out imbuing deeper meanings to a guy who can barely keep it on the road. The same goes for Trump, who is the Paula Deen of political rhetoric. Everything can be buttered, battered, fried, rolled in Cool Ranch Doritos and sprinkled with bacon. We sometimes forget the degree of his rhetorical excesses, wild exaggerations and solipsism because he maintains his verbal assault in such a sustained way. It fades into a kind of aural wallpaper. I will leave it to partisans to pick through the mulch these guys leave behind to find things about which to be offended.]
“My head is spinning with all that is going on, but the racial issue is one that I’m surprised that we haven’t made more progress. After watching many of the videos the past couple weeks it’s obvious we have an issue with policing. After listening to the founder of BET describe his reasoning for reparations, how Drew Brees was treated after sharing his feelings on kneeling for the flag (which I thought was very reasonable) and not much leadership from anyone, I’m not sure a conversation can be had that will result in any common ground. Seems we have to totally agree with one side and one side only. For the record, I’m a white male in my 40’s living in a small midwestern town with little diversity. With that said, we still have neighborhoods that need help. My suggestion would be to press our local councils/government to reallocate funds so every neighborhood isn’t left out and we do simple things like fines for city ordinance violations. Jail isn’t the answer for every violation, save that for real criminals. I completely agree with you and Jonah on adding to the House of Representatives, any way we can make all levels of government more local we should.” – Trent Aschliman, Ossian, Ind.
[Ed. note: I don’t think being a white dude from Indiana is somehow disqualifying from your participation in important national debates. But I do agree that in any debate, acknowledging how one’s own experiences shape their perceptions is a good place to start for people of good faith. The other good thing to do is define the area of discussion. Are we talking about police brutality against black Americans? Are we talking about racism writ large? Or inequality of opportunity? It’s hard to have a fruitful debate if both sides don’t agree on what they’re debating. And I think that’s a lot of what’s going on here. We will not solve the problems of black America by stopping police brutality alone, but for many black Americans, this has become the test of the validity of the system. This perhaps increases the chance of fruitful discussion if it becomes a debate over specific reforms or legislation. On the other hand, it may just be another instance of people saying we need to have a discussion and then just wishing the other guy would shut up already. See also: firearm sales, climate change, abortion, sexual harassment, religious liberty…]
“I Have a Dream… Re: Friday’s Word from Charles: Not a year has gone by since 1963 that I have not repeated the words from Dr. King’s landmark speech. For me it is not a dream, but a way of life. It is such a simple thing, really, to treat everyone as a person, a fellow human striving to make their way through the chaos. Subdividing humanity for differing treatment is unimaginable to me. Because of Halftime Report, hardly a day goes by that I don’t miss Charles being among us. He was a rare man of character and penetrating thoughtfulness, which he expressed with such quiet eloquence and admirable simplicity. Rest in peace, my friend.” – Dave Riley, Kasilof, Alaska
[Ed. note: It may be simple, Mr. Riley, but it sure ain’t easy. Seeing the humanity in everyone can be so hard when we live in a dehumanizing world. People are reduced to labels — left, right, black, white, red, blue — so that they can be ignored, scorned and marginalized without a second thought. If you are truly able to meet your fellow humans as your brothers and sisters, then you have my admiration.]
“You always impress, but this one took the cake: ‘there are a LOT of reasons why American politics today has become the Manichean slag heap it has.’ You might want to explain that term to you readers!” – (Rev.) John A. Johnson, Tucson, Ariz.
[Ed. note: Thank you, reverend! Though I’m not sure which curio is more curious, the industrial jargon or philosophical…]
“In your opinion, there is anyone who decries the use of force against looters who really and truly believes that the improvement of race relations is to be found in the smoldering ruins of a store or police car?” – Richard O. Carden, Richmond, Va.
[Ed. note: I would first have to find someone who decries the use of force against looters. I cannot recall hearing anyone say that individuals should be allowed to pillage at will. What’s going on here, I think, is that both sides are playing a funny semantic game in which the word “protester” means different things to different people at different times. It’s pretty weak sauce. The overwhelming majority of Americans support the right of peaceful protest and oppose violence in pursuit of any agenda. There are those on the left who claim police want to stop peaceful protesters. There are those on the right who claim protesters want to protect rioters from police. They’re both wrong.]
“Chris, I can think of no better way forward through our nation’s turmoil than the prayer of St. Francis. This is the love of Christ in real action. I cannot express this any better than he did.” – Don Proeschel, Plano, Texas
[Ed. note: Well, I guess we’d better share it, then, hadn’t we, Mr. Proeschel? “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Fox News: “It turns out, there is such a thing as too much pizza. A Belgian man says he has been receiving mysterious pizzas that he never ordered for over a decade. While it may initially seem like an annoying prank, the victim says he’s received so many pizzas over the years that he shakes every time he hears a scooter coming down the street. Jean Van Landeghem, a 65-year-old resident of Turnhout, says delivery drivers bring pizza to his door at all hours and the day and night, the Independent reports. This has reportedly been going on for almost a decade and Landeghem says he has no idea why. Initially, he reportedly believed that there was some sort of mistake with his address and the correct delivery address. Unfortunately, the food kept arriving, sometimes even multiple times in the same day. … Adding another odd layer to the mystery is the fact that one of Landeghem’s friends, who lives 20 miles away, has reportedly also been suffering from similar mystery deliveries. This had led authorities to believe that the culprit must be someone the two men both know. Unfortunately, for now, the cause remains a mystery.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Envy for America, resentment of our power, hatred of our success has been a staple for decades, but most particularly since victory in the cold war left us the only superpower.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Nov. 9, 2003.
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.