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On the roster: Bloomy throws Warren a lifeline – I’ll Tell You What: Are you gonna eat that? – Bloomberg News will avoid reports on owner during campaign – Mulvaney sought to justify withholding Ukraine aid – Tacos. Is there anything they can’t do?
BLOOMY THROWS WARREN A LIFELINE
After a brutal six-week stretch, there’s finally some good news for the flagging fortunes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign.
In early October, the political press prematurely ordained the Massachusetts Democrat as her party’s front-runner. But Warren had landed splay-footed. She was nowhere near ready to deal with the scrutiny after months of fawning coverage and deference from her rivals. It’s been brutal.
The proximate cause of Warren’s woes was said to have been her triple-dip goofs on health insurance: No plan, a politically preposterous plan and then a rapid walk-back under pressure.
Adding to her woes have been problems with her biographical claims, including a dispute over whether she really was fired for being pregnant as a young woman and now over her denial that her children attended private school.
That all left Warren stuck between emboldened rivals to her right, particularly front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden and a surging South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and her longtime frenemy to her left, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Underpinning all of Warren’s problems is an understanding among many Democrats that she represents a special risk to her party as a potential nominee. Her out-of-the-mainstream ideology combined with a demeanor so dour that she makes Hillary Clinton seem cheerful is a potent combination for Republican message makers.
As House Democrats prepare for a brutal fight to retain the moderate, suburban swing districts that delivered them the lower chamber in 2018 and as party strategists survey the swing-state map, they have to see Warren as a worst-case scenario right now.
That understanding helps explain how Biden keeps his national lead and how Buttigieg has overtaken Warren in her previous strongholds of Iowa and New Hampshire.
But the same pundit-politico Democratic intelligentsia that has of late suddenly realized Warren’s massive defects still maintains its dislike of Biden. Biden, 77, is said to be too old, too gaffe prone and too much of an insider to be a good nominee. In the crucial “Morning Joe” and snarky Twitter primary, Biden is still mostly a punchline. As his puny fundraising shows, Democratic elites are still down on Sheriff Joe. And an establishmentarian front-runner without the backing of said establishment is as out of place as Corn Pop on a Wilmington city pool high dive.
Riding into the fray amid a cannonade of cash is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, with $30 million Friday, has already set a new record for single-day campaign spending.
But other than the owners of local television stations and the realtors selling vacation homes to his consultants, who stands to benefit from Bloomberg’s big buy in?
Why Warren, of course.
This isn’t complicated, folks. Just as Biden has benefited from the competition between Warren and Sanders — two hard-left, New England senators in their seventies — Warren will be aided by the rivalry between two moderate, Mid-Atlantic 77-year-olds.
It’s still unknowable what Bloomberg’s money can buy him. His forerunner, billionaire investor Tom Steyer, has been a fizzle in a tartan tie. But Bloomberg is a more formidable candidate, and not just for his service as mayor of America’s largest city.
As a media mogul and survivor of the same tabloid press that produced Donald Trump, Bloomberg has more moxie. Plus, he has more than one necktie.
How big will Bloomberg open? Will he draw from Biden more than Buttigieg? Will he be able to elbow onto the December debate stage? Can he connect with the black voters who have succored Biden?
That all remains to be seen. But we know for sure that Bloomberg is a godsend for Warren.
Aside from dividing the support for her rivals, Bloomberg, erstwhile Republican and Wall Street enthusiast, makes the perfect foil. She’s been talking for a year about not letting billionaires buy the election and Bloomberg rides into the arena blasting millions into the stands like free t-shirts out of a slingshot.
Democrats may ultimately choose to ignore Bloomberg’s bid, but for as long as he is a fascination, he’s helping Warren.
THE RULEBOOK: EVERYONE GETS TWO
“The equality of representation in the Senate is another point, which, being evidently the result of compromise between the opposite pretensions of the large and the small States, does not call for much discussion.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 62
TIME OUT: SAME WITH AXE BODY SPRAY
NYT: “When a bird preens its feathers, it uses a little of nature’s own pomade: an oil made by glands just above the tail. This oil helps clean and protect the bird’s plumage, but also contains a delicate bouquet of scents. To other birds — potential mates or would-be rivals — these smells carry many messages, not unlike the birdsongs and fancy feathers that are more obvious to human observers. These scents may signal that a bird would be dangerous to encounter or might be ready to mate, or any number of other cues. However, new research … suggests that these odoriferous messages may not be entirely of the bird’s own making. In a study published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, biologists reported that microbes living peacefully on the birds’ oil glands may play an important role in making the scent molecules involved. That implies that the birds’ microbiomes may influence both the smell and the behavior it provokes in other birds.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
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.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.8 percent
Net Score: -10.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 2.8 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve – 53% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve – 59% disapprove.]
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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: ARE YOU GONNA EAT THAT?
In Friday’s edition of I’ll Tell You What, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the week that was on Capitol Hill, a snoozer of a debate in Atlanta and a road trip comedy with President Trump and Senator Romney. And there’s trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
BLOOMBERG NEWS WILL AVOID REPORTS ON OWNER DURING CAMPAIGN
WaPo: “Bloomberg News will stop writing unsigned editorials and its reporters will avoid investigating the personal life and finances of its owner, Mike Bloomberg, as the news organization seeks to avoid conflicts of interest in covering Bloomberg’s newly announced candidacy for president. In an extraordinary memo to his newsroom on Sunday, Bloomberg News Editor in Chief John Micklethwait outlined steps designed to steer his reporters through a potential journalistic minefield: how to cover the campaign of the man who owns the news organization that is covering him. … Bloomberg operates one of the world’s largest media organizations, with about 2,700 journalists in TV, radio, magazine and digital operations. … Most notably, [Micklethwait] said his newsroom would continue ‘our tradition’ of not investigating Bloomberg, his family and his wealth, ‘and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.’”
Biden can’t remember veep prospects’ names – NY Post: “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has at least four women in mind as potential running mates — but had a hard time remembering their names when an Iowa voter asked him Friday who he would choose. … Biden then ran through a list of four prominent Democrats — without using any of their names. ‘The former assistant attorney general who got fired who was just in Delaware,’ he began, an apparent reference to Sally Yates… ‘The leader of the, uh, the woman who should’ve been the governor of Georgia, the African American woman,’ he continued — meaning Stacey Abrams… ‘The two senators from the state of New Hampshire,’ he concluded. That would be Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. Abrams … is widely seen as a top veep prospect in 2020. Yates, Shaheen, and Hassan have not been cited as potential running mates before now.”
Buttigieg proposes long-term care benefits for older Americans – Fox News: “Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Monday rolled out a plan to ‘promote dignity and security in retirement’ through additional regular payments to older Americans, along with imposing a payroll tax on the wealthiest Americans to ‘protect Social Security forever.’ The South Bend, Ind., mayor said his father had been admitted to a hospital last winter for an undisclosed illness, and died this past January. He said a social worker told him the best option for long-term care would be to deplete their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. … On Monday, his campaign announced plans to establish Long-Term Care America, a program providing people 65 and older with a benefit of $90 per day. ‘Over 11 million will receive benefits from the program throughout their lifetime,’ according to the proposal.”
Black voters: Representation doesn’t mean change – NYT: “Moderate black voters, particularly older ones whose support has helped former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintain his lead atop most primary polls, pointed to the election of President Trump, and said nominating the candidate they saw as most capable of ending his administration was a moral priority above all others. And some black voters on the left — particularly younger ones — are disappointed by some aspects of former President Barack Obama’s legacy and have embraced the idea that supporting a candidate who is willing to upend unjust systems is more important than choosing one from their own community. … The sentiment among members of the black electorate has squeezed some candidates from both sides, and is especially meaningful for Mr. [Cory] Booker and Ms. [Kamala] Harris, two black candidates looking to replicate Mr. Obama’s electoral playbook.”
Booker wins praise but no support – WaPo: “As he struggles with low-single-digit polling and the prospect of missing the cut for next month’s debate, Booker has become a symbol for the harsh reality of this year’s nominating process. It is just not enough to win plaudits for performance, as he has after multiple events, or to execute a clear campaign strategy. In the shadow of Trump’s potential reelection, Democratic voters have become focused on winning and are unforgiving with their doubts. Booker has sought to answer that concern by preaching the power of empathy. He appeals to white Iowa and New Hampshire voters by talking about the problems of inner cities and poverty. He has confronted Trump by explaining his compassion for his supporters. And unlike other campaigns that have pivoted on message and policy, he has made clear he will not change his strategy to win.”
MULVANEY SOUGHT TO JUSTIFY WITHHOLDING UKRAINE AID
NYT: “Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, asked officials in the budget office after President Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president whether there was a legal justification for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, according to two people briefed on an internal White House review. The discussions, which took place via email in August, came after the hold on the $391 million had already been put in place. Mr. Mulvaney also asked the officials at the Office of Management and Budget how long the aid could be withheld, three people familiar with the review said. The emails, which were first reported by The Washington Post on Sunday, were surfaced during a review by the White House Counsel’s Office that is examining the events surrounding the Ukraine call. They raise the question of whether Mr. Mulvaney was seeking after the fact to justify the hold, which is central to Democrats’ impeachment investigation into whether Mr. Trump abused his office for political gain, or whether his request was routine.”
House Intel has video, audio recordings from Giuliani associate – ABC News: “The House Intelligence Committee is in possession of audio and video recordings and photographs provided to the committee by Lev Parnas, an associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly played a key role in assisting him in his efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News. The material submitted to the committee includes audio, video and photos that include Giuliani and Trump. It was unclear what the content depicts and the committees only began accessing the material last week. ‘We have subpoenaed Mr. Parnas and Mr. [Igor] Fruman for their records. We would like them to fully comply with those subpoenas,’ House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told CNN Sunday, with a committee spokesperson adding they would not elaborate beyond the chairman’s comments.”
Schiff says Dems plan to keep moving forward – WaPo: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday that his panel will press ahead with its impeachment report even though key witnesses have not testified, in the latest signal that Democrats are moving swiftly in their probe of President Trump’s alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine. In an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Schiff said the evidence against Trump is ‘already overwhelming,’ although he stopped short of saying whether he would support impeachment himself. ‘Yes, we’d love to have these witnesses come in,’ Schiff said. ‘But we’re not willing to simply allow them to wait us out — to stall this proceeding — when the facts are already overwhelming.’”
Vulnerable Dems worry about constituent reactions at home – Politico: “Vulnerable Democrats are watching in horror as GOP impeachment attacks deluge their districts back home. And they want a much stronger counteroffensive from their own party and its allies. Some of those Democrats raised their concerns with party leaders this week as they prepared to leave for Thanksgiving recess, fearing that voters will be bombarded by anti-impeachment ads as families gather around the TV for parades and football, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. GOP-aligned outside groups have spent roughly $8 million on TV spots this cycle in battleground districts… The vast majority of those ads specifically hammer Democrats over impeachment. Meanwhile, swing-district Democrats are receiving little reinforcement from their own party or even other liberal coalitions.”
Due to changes to election procedures California anticipates delayed vote count on Super Tuesday – WSJ
Texas Dems worried about beating Sen. John Cornyn – Dallas Morning News
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discharged from hospital Sunday after two day stay – Politico
Exclusive: New acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf tours new border wall as construction ramps up – Fox News
George Papadopoulos announces run for Congress – Fox News
“In Burlington, they are duds.” – Biden Iowa campaign volunteer organizer Nancy Courtney expressing to the NYT her frustration with the sluggishness of the former vice president’s Hawkeye State campaign.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“If you jump back and forth between Fox News, Politico, and CNN you would think the impeachment hearings occurred on alternate universes. Witness X is the best thing since sliced bread, say the Dems and their Media allies. Witness X is a bomb thrower and anti-American, say the Republicans. I tend to believe that nobody has a constitutional right to a federal job. If they the Deep Statists can’t follow the President’s lead, they should follow the lead or resign. How do you know which side to believe (other than reading only Half Time Report 24/7)??” – Ron Smith, Larned, Kan.
[Ed. note: Did you ever hear the one about the blind men trying to describe an elephant? One said it was a snake, one said it was a rope, one said it was the trunk of a tree. It all depended on where they stood. I will say that Fox News’ coverage — helmed by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum — has done a very fine job of showing you the whole elephant. But I take your point about the overall coverage. I encourage people to do a few things when it comes to navigating the political press. First, mostly try to ignore rank partisans. They’re usually boring anyway. Second, seek out good, in-depth reporting first. I start my day with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and go from there. Third, remember that nobody has a monopoly on the truth. American citizenship demands discernment and attentiveness.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
TACOS. IS THERE ANYTHING THEY CAN’T DO?
KOLD: “An Arizona man claimed a taco helped save his life after a near-miss with a stray bullet. KOLD reported that a Tucson, Arizona named Ryan Bishop man said he feels lucky to be alive after a bullet came close to causing him serious injuries and possibly death while he was driving. Bishop told KOLD that, just before 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, he was driving down Houghton Road when the driver’s window of his vehicle shattered. … Bishop said he got a safe distance away and pulled over to call police. That’s when he said he saw a bullet. … Bishop said he normally drives with his windows down and his arm on the window ledge, exactly where the bullet hit the vehicle. ‘I’m pretty sure [eating a] taco saved my life or at least stopped my arm from getting blown apart,’ he said. ‘I had the window closed because I didn’t want pieces of the taco flying around.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“This episode and others have brought me to the highly self-serving conclusion that nothing parents do alters a child’s character anyway, so there is no need to fret that some misdirected pedagogy or slip of the tongue will forever ruin him.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 23, 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.