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On the roster: Butti-boom redux – Warren scrambles on health insurance – Mulvaney agonistes – Trump overwhelms Dems on social media – Ya basic
USA Today: “It’s a new three-way race in Iowa. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was initially seen as a long-shot presidential contender, has surged within striking distance of former vice president Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, a Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll finds. … The poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, put Biden at 18%, Warren at 17% and Buttigieg at 13% among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers. Those standings reflect significant changes since the Suffolk/USA TODAY poll taken in Iowa at the end of June, when Biden led Warren by double digits and Buttigieg trailed at a distant 6%. California Sen. Kamala Harris, who was then in second place after a strong showing in the first Democratic debate, has plummeted 13 percentage points and is now in a three-way tie for sixth. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders earned 9% support, the same number as in the June poll.”
Buttigieg, Klobuchar try to capitalize – Politico: “Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar shot out of the last Democratic debate with the most precious commodity a presidential candidate can get before the Iowa caucuses: momentum. … The new round of attention for both Midwesterners comes at a key moment: Klobuchar has yet to qualify for the November debate stage, while Buttigieg faced new questions about his campaign’s attention to racial issues. And both of them still have significant ground to make up in the polls. … Based on money and staff footprint, Buttigieg is better positioned: He ended September with $23.4 million in his campaign account — third in the Democratic field — while Klobuchar has $3.7 million to spend. She’s only reached 3 percent in one early-state poll, and she needs three more to qualify for the November debate. On the ground in Iowa, Buttigieg’s staff is about double the size of Klobuchar’s. Both candidates are currently airing TV ads in Iowa.”
Are Dems ready for a Midwest moment? – LAT: “Both long shots are now trying — with swings through early-voting states, new ads and endorsements, and intensified fundraising efforts — to keep their post-debate sizzle hot and find an opening in the contest that has been shaping up as a showdown between Biden and Warren. In the process, they are surfacing a long-simmering debate about the dominance of the party’s liberal wing on the East and West coasts — making a more pointed case than Biden, whose campaign pitch builds on his experience more than ideology. ‘It’s the Midwest versus the rest of the country,’ said Rufus Gifford, who was finance director of President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and is uncommitted in the 2020 race. ‘Both Pete and Amy really focused on the fact that this is the part of the country we need to win, and we are losing.’”
Klobuchar says she’s peaking at the right time – WaPo: “Klobuchar, who struggled for attention in the Democratic primary, says this week’s debate helped her catch on at exactly the right time. Her town halls are crowded, with staffers running to get more chairs to pack breweries or event centers. She leads the field in local endorsements, especially state legislators, ‘with more to come,’ she says. She kicked off her bus tour with the support of Andy McKean, a Republican state legislator who bolted his party six months ago and who pronounced Klobuchar the kind of Democrat who could unite America again. ‘If you want to peak in this race,’ she said after a stop in Waterloo, ‘you want to peak now, instead of six months before [the caucuses].’ A few other candidates still draw larger crowds, but Klobuchar is going for a particular kind of caucus-goer: the loyal Democrat who wants to win back those mysterious Trump voters.”
Zuckerberg gave hiring recommendations to Buttigieg campaign – Bloomberg: “Facebook Inc. chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has privately recommended several potential hires to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, a rare example of direct political involvement from one of tech’s most powerful executives. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg sent multiple emails to Mike Schmuhl, Buttigieg’s campaign manager, with names of individuals that he might consider hiring, campaign spokesman Chris Meagher confirmed. Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg’s wife, also sent multiple emails to Schmuhl with staff recommendations. Ultimately, two of the people recommended were hired.”
WARREN SCRAMBLES ON HEALTH INSURANCE
Fox News: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday that in the upcoming weeks she would detail how to pay for her proposal for a government-run ‘Medicare-for-all’ plan. The Massachusetts Democrat and White House candidate said at a town hall in Indianola, Iowa: ‘What I see … is that we need to talk about the cost, and I plan over the next few weeks to put out a plan that talks about specifically the cost of ‘Medicare-for-all,’ and specifically how we pay for it.’ Estimates place the 10-year cost of the ‘Medicare-for-all’ plans at $32-34 trillion. She added about the universal health insurance plan: ‘This is something I’ve been working on for months and months, and it’s got just a little more work until it’s finished.’”
Gabbard uses Hillary in bid for relevancy – Fox News: “Speaking directly to the camera in a video message posted on social media on Sunday, 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard suggested that Hillary Clinton recently ‘smeared’ her as a ‘Russian asset’ as payback for Gabbard’s defiance of the party establishment in 2016. … [In the video Gabbard said,] ‘If you stand up to Hillary and the party power brokers — if you stand up to the rich and powerful elite and the war machine, they will destroy you and discredit your message. But, here is the truth: They will not intimidate us. They will not silence us.’ … Several candidates, including Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson, have criticized Clinton’s unfounded suggestion that Russians have been ‘grooming’ Gabbard to be a third-party spoiler in the race.”
THE RULEBOOK: PART OF THE PARTY
“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 10
TIME OUT: FROM WAY BACK WHEN
AP: “A crew of deep-sea explorers and historians looking for lost World War II warships have found a second Japanese aircraft carrier that went down in the historic Battle of Midway. Vulcan Inc.’s director of undersea operations Rob Kraft and Naval History and Heritage Command historian Frank Thompson reviewed high frequency sonar images of the warship Sunday and say that its dimensions and location mean it has to be the carrier Akagi. The Akagi was found in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument resting in nearly 18,000 feet (5,490 meters) of water more than 1,300 miles (2,090 kilometers) northwest of Pearl Harbor. The researchers used an autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV, equipped with sonar to find the ship. The vehicle had been out overnight collecting data, and the image of a warship appeared in the first set of readings Sunday morning.”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 28.2 points (↑ 0.2 point from last wk.)
Warren: 26.4 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 13.4 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 6.2 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Harris: 4.4 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, Fox News, IBD, Monmouth University and NBC News/WSJ.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 42.2 percent
Average disapproval: 54 percent
Net Score: -11.8 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.2 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve – 55% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 43% approve – 53% disapprove.]
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Politico: “Mick Mulvaney’s week went from bad to worse on Sunday, as he again tried to explain why President Donald Trump and the administration had withheld aid to Ukraine for weeks — one of Democrats’ central questions in their impeachment inquiry. Mulvaney fumbled during an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday’ when he cited two reasons for the delay, whereas he had listed three during his Thursday news briefing at the White House. He continued to blame reporters for any misunderstanding, a feat that can be tough to pull off when his answers were all delivered on camera and when the host, Chris Wallace, let the tape keep rolling. And he threw red meat to liberals and Democratic presidential candidates who have long questioned the appropriateness of the Trump family continuing to profit from their business holdings while Trump serves as president. … Mulvaney’s interview did not play well among Trump allies and advisers, with one calling it a ‘self-immolation.’”
Party support for Trump gets tested – WSJ: “President Trump faces increasing public and private scrutiny from his own party over a series of recent White House moves, as the House impeachment inquiry reduces his margin for error with fellow Republicans and makes him more vulnerable to attacks. In the past several days, Mr. Trump has been forced to drop plans to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his Doral golf resort, and a top aide has tried to walk back comments linking Ukraine military aid to an investigation of the president’s political opponents. The fallout of Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria has continued to draw widespread criticism, including from Republicans. Mr. Trump’s support within his party will face fresh tests this week, as key witnesses from the State Department and Pentagon are expected to testify in closed hearings before a trio of House committees on the president’s dealings with Ukraine.”
Continetti: Trump fatigue syndrome – National Review: “I was surprised to read Robert J. Samuelson’s column in the Washington Post arguing for the impeachment and removal of President Trump. Samuelson is, above all, a realist who has looked on economics and politics with a tough and somewhat cynical eye for some 30 years. … Samuelson has reached his breaking point. And he isn’t alone. A large part of the country suffers from Trump Fatigue Syndrome. This is related but not identical to Trump Derangement Syndrome. The sufferers of Trump Fatigue aren’t driven mad by the president. They are just tired of having to wake up every morning to another of his sudden attacks, reversals, exaggerations, and boasts. They want the show to end.”
Dems ready more witnesses for impeachment probe – Reuters: “Democrats on Monday laid out their case for the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and pressed Republicans to stop supporting Trump by releasing a fact sheet and video they said expose Trump’s efforts to secure victory in the 2020 presidential election with the assistance of Ukraine. The releases ‘encapsulate all the evidence uncovered to date about the president’s months-long pressure campaign to undermine the 2020 election and the extent to which he abused his power by using the levers of government to advance the scheme,’ according to the office of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives. They also showed how Democrats may approach the charges, or articles of impeachment, they are expected to draw up at the conclusion of the probe. The articles of impeachment, if approved by the House, would then be sent to Senate for a trial on whether to remove Trump from office.”
TRUMP OVERWHELMS DEMS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
NYT: “That campaigns are now being fought largely online is hardly a revelation, yet only one political party seems to have gotten the message. While the Trump campaign has put its digital operation firmly at the center of the president’s re-election effort, Democrats are struggling to internalize the lessons of the 2016 race and adapt to a political landscape shaped by social media. Mr. Trump’s first campaign took far better advantage of Facebook and other platforms that reward narrowly targeted — and, arguably, nastier — messages. And while the president is now embattled on multiple fronts and disfavored by a majority of Americans in most polls, he has one big advantage: His 2020 campaign, flush with cash, is poised to dominate online again, according to experts on both ends of the political spectrum, independent researchers and tech executives. The difference between the parties’ digital efforts, they said, runs far deeper than the distinction between an incumbent’s general-election operation and challengers’ primary campaigns.”
Dems also worry about Trump’s money machine – Politico: “Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have raised more than $300 million this year for his reelection — more than any other sitting president in history at this point in the campaign. Trump has nearly twice as much cash on hand — $158 million, between his campaign account and the RNC — as Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee had at this time in his successful re-election run. … Democrats, meanwhile, are still four or five months away — at the earliest — from settling on a nominee. ‘We don’t know if the Democratic candidate is going to be able to even compete with such a shorter timeline, even if they have significant resources after the convention,’ said Tara McGowan, founder and chief executive officer of the progressive group ACRONYM. With the Democratic primary in full swing, McGowan said, ‘There’s two separate elections going on, and the really unfortunate part is Trump is the only one involved in the general election today.’”
Poll finds Americans hold both presidency, Congress in low esteem – Marquette University
On the Hill: Sanctions against Turkey, election security and fiscal 2020 appropriations – Roll Call
Pergram: With Schiff, Pelosi’s actions speak louder than words – Fox News
Former Baltimore mayor and Nancy Pelosi’s brother, Tommy D’Alesandro, dead at 90 – Baltimore Sun
AUDIBLE: BA DUM TSS!
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Pierre Delecto, Carlos Danger, and John Barron walk into a bar…” – Seth Abramson, a writer for Newsweek, tweeted referencing Mitt Romney’s shadow Twitter account name, Anthony Weiner’s fake name for online exchanges and Donald Trump’s fake spokesman in the 1980s which was Trump himself responding to reporters.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I’ve a sad sense of déjà vu: 2020 is shaping up to be another election which leaves no major candidate for whom I can vote. As a conservative, I had serious concerns about Trump’s temperament but was long done with the Clintons’ modus operandi. Now I face a similar situation: Vote for someone who, against all military advice and in one stroke, abruptly abandoned allies in the field to danger and death and diminished (if not killed outright) our chances of creating such alliances in the future, or vote for a socialist. As for David Brooks ‘policies can be argued about and reversed,’ in what world? I can think of quite a few bad policies that have never been reversed, amended or fixed because once created, they spawn dependent bureaucracies and constituencies. Attempt to touch them and you’ll meet Paul Ryan‘s fate. Worse, voting for a Democrat lends legitimacy to the vicious, hateful behavior displayed toward Brett Kavanaugh and the underhanded, partisan impeachment inquiry. (Impeachment is a political process, but as you’ve pointed out, it wasn’t intended to be a partisan one.) Many Republican Senators might prefer to remove him, have Pence and peace and be done with it. (Sounds good to me.) But how many will be able to bring themselves to vote for removal, thereby legitimizing a process that locked out their House counterparts? It’s growing very grey days in voter land.” – Triche Osborne, Baton Rouge, La.
[Ed. note: I hear you! Another few weeks like the ones we’ve had and I may seek out an island in the Aleutians to live out my days with the polar bears. But… We are very privileged to be alive in this moment. Life, especially as free people, is always a privilege, but how lucky are we to be alive at a moment when America, the West, and really, our whole species is fundamentally re-evaluating what it’s all about. I choose not to despair because history tells me that we will figure it out. Maybe not in a straight line, but we will get there. I base this not on the fact that there is an arc to history (there isn’t) but rather because we have all of the necessary ingredients to make what comes next freer, fairer and more dedicated the American creed.]
“As you note, there are many indicators supporting your observation that we are in the midst of enormous societal and hence political change. But I would dispute your conclusion that no politician is addressing this change. Andrew Yang had built his campaign explicitly around this change which he believes will accelerate over the next two decades. I am disappointed that you and the rest of the political press have paid so little attention. You may well not agree with his prescriptions, but he has clearly diagnosed the disease and deserves serious consideration. In the last debate, I was struck by his quiet observation about Sweden’s wealth tax proposal – it has been tried by several other developed nations and failed – adding – why can’t we learn from the experience of others?” – Matt Lincoln, Portola Valley, Calif.
[Ed. note: Yang may be prescient, Mr. Lincoln, but he also is a pessimist. One of the reasons he has connected so well with younger males is that he matches the sense of foreboding common among many millennial dudes. I do grant you that he is one of the few candidates who is even talking about this Gutenberg-level (Johannes not Steve) disruption that’s working its way through our society. I wish politicians in both parties would think about the same stuff.]
“Well I live in the UK and I am 72 years old, but I watch and read Fox News every day without fail… Before Trump decided to run for President I loved this man to death, he is just what I wanted to see in a President of the USA. Today at times I cringe when Trump opens his mouth or goes off on one on Twitter, he is the making of all his problems to date… Now I want Trump to get a 2nd term but he must CONTROL his mouth and have more respect for people who he talks to after all this is the most powerful man on planet Earth…” – Michael O’Connor, West Yorkshire, England
[Ed note: Now you know how Mitch McConnell feels!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
AP: “A BASE jumper who jumped illegally from a northwestern Wisconsin cellphone tower ended up calling the police on himself after his parachute became caught on a guy wire, leaving him dangling perilously 50 feet (15 meters) from the ground. Police say the 20-year-old man jumped from the 300-foot (90-meter) Charter Communications tower in Menomonie on Thursday morning. After his rescue at around 9:30 a.m., the man was treated at Mayo Clinic Health System and arrested for criminal trespass. BASE jumping stands for building, antenna, span and earth — the four common objects from which BASE jumpers launch their descent.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The premise of a free market is that people can withhold their labor if they find the conditions under which they work intolerable.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Jan. 31, 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.