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On the roster: Bye-bye Bernie – Wisconsin primary further embitters Badger State – Poll shows massive economic damage – Don’t be a Brad
Fox News: “Bernie Sanders has suspended his Democratic presidential campaign — all but handing the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden. The senator from Vermont initially announced the decision during an all-staff conference call Wednesday morning, and followed up with a formal livestreamed address to supporters shortly before noon. Citing Biden’s lead of over 300 convention delegates, Sanders declared: ‘The path toward victory is virtually impossible.’ He continued: ‘I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. … I do not make this decision lightly.’ In a curious moment, though, Sanders said that Biden ‘will be the nominee,’ yet went on to stress the importance of continuing to win delegates for his own campaign so he’ll be able to exert ‘influence’ on the party platform. Calling it a ‘difficult and painful decision,’ Sanders stressed that ‘while this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not.’ More than any other Democratic campaign, Sanders’ candidacy indeed represented a movement…”
Stocks surge – Fox Business: “U.S. equity markets rallied to session highs Wednesday after Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he was suspending his presidential campaign. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 593 points, or 2.62 percent, ahead of the noon hour while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 2.4 percent and 2.04 percent, respectively. The gains have lifted the S&P 500 out of its bear market, which would officially end with the index closing above 2,684.88. … The major averages had posted smaller gains earlier Wednesday amid optimism that hospitalizations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to plateau in some of the hardest-hit areas of the country.”
Biden relieved – NPR: “Biden himself released a lengthy statement Wednesday, saying that ‘Bernie has put his heart and soul into not only running for President, but for the causes and issues he has been dedicated to his whole life.’ He added that ‘Sanders and his supporters have changed the dialogue in America.’”
THE RULEBOOK: BAD MEDICINE
“There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 10
TIME OUT: DOWN BY THE GREEN RIVER, WHERE PARADISE LAY
Music critic and biographer Robert Hilburn reflects on the passing of one of America’s great artists. LAT: “Now that I’ve been away from the paper for 15 years, I can freely admit to all those irate fans who wrote letters to the editor over the years — I did make a lot of misjudgments during my 35 years as pop music critic of the Los Angeles Times. John Prine, who died from COVID-19 complications on Tuesday at age 73, was never one of them. From his debut album in 1971, Prine was one of the greatest songwriters America has ever produced, someone who embraced the underdog sensibilities and poetic grace of his chief influences: Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. … John twice won a Grammy for best folk album and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy. His body of work is an American treasure. Here are my 10 favorite John Prine songs…”
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TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 47 percent
Average disapproval: 48.4 percent
Net Score: -1.4 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2 points
[Average includes: CNBC: 46% approve – 43% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve – 53% disapprove; Grinnell/Selzer: 48% approve – 48% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 49% approve – 47% disapprove; Fox News: 48% approve – 51% disapprove.]
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WISCONSIN PRIMARY FURTHER EMBITTERS BADGER STATE
NYT: “Even before voting began, there were lines outside polling locations that stretched for several blocks. Some poll workers wore hazmat suits. Nearly every voter wore a face mask, removing it only to make small talk that reflected a combination of determination and grim humor about the extraordinary experience of voting amid a deadly pandemic. … Like so much else in Wisconsin, the scene was markedly different outside the main urban areas. Republican county chairs boasted about their smooth process throughout the day, with short lines and ample room for a smattering of voters who often showed little signs of the current health crisis — no masks, no gloves. … But in Milwaukee, where there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus and at least 87 people have died of it, many voters cast their ballots wearing full protective gear, some overtaken with fear.”
Trump denounces voting by mail – Fox News: “President Trump is turning up the volume in his opposition to expanding voting by mail and absentee ballots as a way to minimize health risks posed by voting in-person during the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Mail-in voting is horrible. It’s corrupt,’ the president argued during Tuesday’s daily Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House. Trump then suggested that ‘you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in someone’s living room signing ballots all over the place…I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing.’ The president didn’t offer any evidence to back up his claim that voting by mail is rampant with fraud and abuse. The president’s comments follow a similar attack on voting by mail at Friday’s briefing, when he charged that ‘a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting.’”
Ballot fight headed to battleground Florida – Politico: “Election supervisors in Florida warned Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday that he needs to change the law to give them more flexibility to avoid a presidential election meltdown in the nation’s biggest swing state. The county officials — who issued the red alert on the same day Wisconsin held a disastrous primary amid widespread fears and irregularities due to the coronavirus — said the changes are needed to accommodate more absentee ballot voters, who could be scared away from the polls if the coronavirus outbreak persists into the August primary or the November general election. ‘Florida is not in a position, at this time, to conduct an all-mail ballot election this year,’ Tammy Jones, supervisor for Levy County and the president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections, wrote DeSantis in a letter sent Tuesday on behalf of the 67 officials who run elections in the state.”
POLL SHOWS MASSIVE ECONOMIC DAMAGE
CNBC: “A quarter of Americans have either lost their job or seen their wages cut as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, according to the CNBC All-America Economic Survey, which registered the biggest and fastest decline ever in the public’s view of the economy. At the same time, it found that a majority of Americans remains optimistic that the economy will bounce back in the next year, and President Donald Trump’s approval rating has improved. … Nine percent believe unemployment or a pay cut await them. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. The percentage of Americans saying the economy is now good or excellent fell to just 22%, giving up the gains of the Trump presidency, and falling further than it ever did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the Great Recession in 2008.”
Voters souring on federal response – CNN: “A majority of Americans — 55% — now say the federal government has done a poor job preventing the spread of coronavirus in the United States, up eight points in about a week, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS as the nationwide death toll from the virus rose above 12,000. Eighty percent feel the worst of the outbreak is yet to come, most (55%) feel President Donald Trump could be doing more to fight the outbreak, and 37% say they have grown more concerned about coronavirus in the last few days, far outpacing the 5% who say their fears have eased recently. About 1 in 5 (22%) say they personally know someone who has been diagnosed with the virus, a figure that is double the share who said so in a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted just two weeks ago. Just under half (46%) say it is at least somewhat likely that they or someone in their family will contract the coronavirus…”
Postal Service, already struggling, sees business collapse during pandemic – NPR
Pennsylvania closes liquor stores forcing residents to go out of state for booze – Reason
Coronavirus stimulus checks are on their way: Here’s how it works –Fox News
Pergram: Coronavirus shakes up the best beat in Washington – Fox News
AUDIBLE: WE NEED SOME FROSTED MINI-WHEATS ASAP!
“If you’re studying out of the textbook, it’s pretty abstract. I compare it to eating shredded wheat: dry but nourishing.” – Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., discussing the state of civics education in the country with Roll Call.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, regarding your comment about America’s 40-year experiment with primary elections being a leading driver of today’s partisanship… I happen to believe when Team Red won the House in ’94 began the beginning of today’s bitter divide between parties. For 40 years prior Team Blue was in charge, including during the Reagan years. In November 1994 the country chose a different direction for the House which, in turn, upset more Democrats and media folks than all of the events in the 80’s and prior. I remember ABC’s Peter Jennings on election night referring to American voters as having, ‘thrown their temper tantrum’ by switching the House. Four years later Republicans, to their detriment in my opinion, impeached President Clinton. … Today’s ugly partisanship didn’t start with Jimmy Carter winning the ’76 Democratic primary nor is it likely to get better soon, primaries or not, sadly.” – Mark Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa
[Ed. note: I’m not blaming Iowa, Mr. Hoffman! Party leaders there were acting out of rational self-interest in seeking to make their state more influential. The move toward primaries and caucuses was happening far beyond Iowa’s 99-counties. I think you’ve certainly identified the time period in which things turned so sharply, but you might give some thought to causation. Remember that the media landscape was totally transformed in the mid- to late-1990s. How Americans got news and information began a change not seen in the West maybe since the printing press. Look also at migration and population patterns. The great shift southwest really got going in those days, which brought big changes in political power dynamics. Basically, America became a very well-sorted place politically. The liberal Republicans and the conservative Democrats got squeezed out and our politics became much more nationalized and ideological. Politics had been a lot about the art of persuasion and finding coalitions. But it became hard arithmetic. The introduction of widespread primary voting 20 years ago not only helped drive those trends, but those trends amplified the pernicious effects of government-run nominating contests.]
“[You] barely tipped the top of the iceberg when it comes to the Cheese State’s dysfunctional government. It goes all the way down to the local entities, towns and schools. I live in rural Wisconsin where people are voted in for life. Many seats go unfilled for years because nobody wants to get ‘involved.’ We are used to Madison/Dane County and Milwaukee County pushing their progressive ideas on the rest of the conservative state. I guess time will tell how this will turn out but one thing is for sure: as soon as the polls close tonight, someone, somewhere, will be gearing up to contest the results. Sad but true.” – Terri Reynolds, Monroe, Wis.
[Ed. note: I’ll let the irreplaceable Charles Krauthammer handle this one with a line from his book “Things That Matter”: “You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. . . . Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians.”]
“My compliments on your writeup on Wisconsin and on the write up of Al Kaline’s passing. Growing up across the lake over in Michigan, we got to watch Wisconsin try and figure it out one election at a time and we got to enjoy listening to the Tigers on AM radio. I only heard the later years of Kaline’s career, but I remember my mom would turn on the old AM radio and I would watch the tubes warm up and glow with the sound slowly growing. We would then listen to the great Ernie Harwell and later the team of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey give the play by play and color on WJR AM 760. They would talk about every pitch and you just felt like you were there. There are certain aspects of youth that bring back good memories. Listening to the Tigers, Kaline, with Ernie and Paul is a welcome memory in this crazy quarantined time. Thank you for jogging it.” – Peter Eick, Boerne, Texas
[Ed. note: Lovely, Mr. Eick. Just lovely.]
“Thanks very much for remembering my boyhood hero, #6 – Al Kaline. When the Tigers came back against St. Louis, in ’68, after trailing 3 games to 1, truly I don’t know for whom I was happier – me or Al. (Extra added attraction: Beating the great Bob Gibson in game 7.)” – Kurt Waltz, Scottsdale, Ariz.
[Ed. note: Booooooooooo says this Cardinals fan! But thank you for sharing your recollection of one of the great moments in baseball history.]
“Huge fan of the report and your weekly podcast with Ms. Perino. I’m a math nerd and loved your Möbius strip reference. Thanks for injecting that into the article.” – Brian Rosciszewski, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany
[Ed. note: Kudos to you, Mr. Rosciszewski, for using the umlaut correctly even though I was a slacker! Your German neighbors would be sehr stoltz… I assume from your location that you are either in the service or supporting our service members abroad. Thank you for doing what you do. That’s true all the time, bust especially true for our military at a time of physical danger to its members but when the chances of conflict are increased because of global upheaval. Our liberty depends on the deterrence you provide.]
“The Wall Street Journal had an editorial in Tuesday’s paper about the Keystone State’s outrageous classification of the state-run liquor stores as ‘non-essential’ and thus closed for the remainder of the pandemic. Besides Pennsylvania’s archaic prohibition-era state-run monopoly of liquor stores the editorial also talked about the actions of Monongalia County, West Virginia to ban all liquor sales to anyone without a West Virginia ID. This follows reports of Delaware state police pulling over motorists and telling out-of-state residents to leave and the plans by Rhode Island to go house-to-house looking for New Yorkers. Does the [Constitution] have anything to say on these inter-state squabbles? It would seem that the Privileges and Immunities Clause would outlaw these sorts of discriminatory actions based on state residence?” – James Belany, Pittsburgh
[Ed. note: Well, you can’t blame my fellow West Virginians in Morgantown from not wanting you people driving down I-79 and buying up all their booze, Mr. Belany! I kid, I kid… Health officials there and in other places bordering the Keystone State have been concerned about the glut of Pennsylvanians swarming and crowding liquor stores. Even the home of party hearty West Virginia University isn’t equipped to accommodate the influx of Pennsylvania’s panicked boozehounds. The constitutional solution there seems obvious to me: Pennsylvanians will punish their leaders for a risky, short-sighted decision after the crisis is over and the commonwealth’s always-bizarre alcohol laws will be changed. That’s not much comfort right now for the Pittsburgers craving their Crown and gingers, but federalism will sort the problem long term. The incidents you mention in Delaware and Rhode Island are different. Texas, for example, is stopping drivers coming in from infection hot spot Louisiana and enforcing a required 14-day self-quarantine. The Constitution certainly provides the right of unrestricted travel across our great land, but also allows for broad power for local and state governments — powers that courts have broadly interpreted as it relates to disasters. There will be lots of litigation over all of this and, no doubt, new standards set as we dance the same old dance in our country — trying to find the balance between freedom and order. Mistakes will be made in both directions, no doubt.]
“In the spirit of today I’d offer this ‘person to blame’ tidbit. If Noah had squashed the only two mosquitoes on Earth before they left The Ark, think of all the Yellow Fever victims that could have been saved.” – Michael Farrell, So. Burlington, Vt.
[Ed. note: I think you win the day, Mr. Farrell!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
DON’T BE A BRAD
NY Post: “Single, ladies? A 30-something New Yorker seeking a ‘germ free’ girlfriend during the coronavirus pandemic has hung dating flyers along city running paths, including in Central Park, as a more ‘targeted’ alternative to searching online apps. The man — who prefers to only be identified as Brad, a.k.a. SteadyMan4U@gmail.com — says in the flyer that he’s ‘Seeking Girlfriend for Coronavirus And Beyond’ and describes himself as a ‘Healthy, Attractive, Well-Employed Man’ who’s looking for ‘Germ Free Monogamy.’ ‘Please Be Healthy, Fit, and Clean,’ the flyer goes on to say. … ‘I was single when the lockdown began and have been wondering how and when dating would be possible again,’ Brad said. … Brad said he thought posting his flyers on the running path would be a better way to attract women who are passionate about fitness, health and the outdoors like he is.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Like all romantic leads, the subway avenger looked better on paper.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 24, 2001.
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.