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On the roster: Coronanxiety nugget edition – I’ll Tell You What: Never tweet (for one week) – Biden shakes up campaign team – Florida cow
CORONANXIETY NUGGET EDITION
As Americans fret over whether they are too anxious about coronavirus or not anxious enough – coronanxiety anxiety – let’s keep it a little light today so you have plenty of time to Google “bulk Purell” and spray down flat surfaces.
– The Democrats debate travails this cycle would be funny if they weren’t so sad, so it probably makes sense that they would end up with a figurative case of coronavirus. First, the debate scheduled for Sunday in Arizona was going forward, but with no audience. Then, for part of today, it seemed that it was going to be cancelled. That would have been great news for the party and frontrunner/almost-presumptive-nominee Joe Biden, who is not exactly the modern William F. Buckley of televised debate. But it would have been bad for host CNN and, most of all, second-place Bernie Sanders. Sanders all but promised Wednesday to bow out of the race after one more chance to damage Biden and the party’s chances in a final debate. So the debate will go on… sort of. CNN will host the two men in its Washington studios Sunday night so Sanders can get his last digs in.
– One question looming over next week is how the virus response will affect the scheduled primaries in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Arizona. It’s already changing the way state officials are conducting things and will obviously have major consequences for voter turnout. Will Bernie Sanders do better with his intense supporters having an outsized influence in smaller electorates? Will Joe Biden benefit from his seeming advantage among early voters so far this year? Like much of this crisis, we’ll only know when we get there.
– The Senate is cancelling its scheduled spring break recess in order to at least appear busy while their constituents are grappling with amateur epidemiology. Real action on a legislative response comes down to the administration cutting a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We’re sure there’ll be no problems there… lolz
– The Capitol will be closed indefinitely to tours, which really is a shame. This is the time of year when busloads of students flood the city on class trips. As much as we hate the traffic, we love seeing young people learning about the republic.
– Folks at the White House are dealing with the fact that President Trump was almost certainly exposed last weekend to coronavirus courtesy of an aide to Brazilian strongman Jair Bolsonaro on his visit to Trump’s Florida country club. (The aide who tested positive, Fabio Wajngarten, is a first-ballot inductee into the Halftime Report Name Hall of Fame. We may adopt it for our online alias.) With other world leaders stepping back from public events, there will be growing pressure on Trump to do the same. Whatever Trump opts to do, his aides have to be thinking about what the president’s Twitter feed would look like…
– Speaking of things you shouldn’t say from quarantine, Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican congressman and honorary Trump who was among the many exposed to the virus at the Conservative Political Action Convention last month, is partly filling his time in isolation with interviews. In his talk with The Spectator, Gaetz described his feeling upon finding out while aboard Air Force One that he had posed for a picture with the ill man: “And that really concerned me because in the picture I was holding the guy’s phone. I might as well have licked his toilet seat.” We don’t know how they take pictures down in Pensacola, but it sounds pretty intense.
– President Trump is a golfer, so this analogy may be apt: Oval Office speeches are like hitting a one iron on an approach shot. If you nail it, it’s highly effective and looks majestic. There’s nothing quite like it. But if you miss – and most of us miss – you just make a bad shot go farther. Trump was right to resist giving his Wednesday night address. We were reminded very much of then-President Obama’s first Oval Office address in June of 2010 about a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama muffed that shot for sure. It’s just a very challenging medium. Only the very, very best are able to pull it off. Others ought to lay up whenever possible.
– Whatever you thought of Trump’s pained delivery, Noah Rothman observes that it was the factual errors that are the real problem: “Either the president misspoke, the prepared text of his national address was irredeemably sloppy, or the White House has not been coordinating closely with the health-insurance industry ahead of the address. Whatever the explanation, it isn’t acceptable.” It’s always unfortunate when leaders blame staff work, but what the heck is going on at the White House?
– Can the government really restrict your freedom of movement during a quarantine without due process? While you’ve been out hoarding Charmin and getting your pets fitted for masks, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano has been pondering the constitutional questions. The Judge explains how in the coronavirus response, the Constitution restricts mandatory government quarantines: “The issue of whether government in America can quarantine persons against their will, ostensibly for their own health and that of others with whom they may come in contact, requires a dual analysis – one of the powers of the federal government and the other of the powers of the states.” More here.
– Shout out to 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann. The Seattle-area student at Bellevue College developed the website that has become a global sensation for people trying to track the spread of coronavirus. He began his project in December because there was so much misinformation and so few resources. He told the Mercer Island Reporter his thought when he was frustrated with what was available: “Well, I can do better than the government.”
– One youth who could learn a lesson from Schiffman about good entrepreneurship is the student at Dixons Unity Academy in Leeds, England who was sent home after it was discovered that the teen was selling squirts of hand sanitizer for the equivalent of 64 cents a pop.
THE RULEBOOK: FROM THE BOTTOM UP
“It has been shown in the course of these papers, that the existing Confederation is founded on principles which are fallacious; that we must consequently change this first foundation, and with it the superstructure resting upon it.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 37
TIME OUT: THAT’S WHY THIS SNAIL IS A TRAMP
NatGeo: “If you think Daylight Saving Time is the biggest drag on your morning alertness, you may want to consider coffee leaf rust. Coffee leaf rust is the most economically significant coffee pest in the world. Since the 1980s, occasional outbreaks of this fungus have crippled coffee production in the Americas, at times doubling or tripling its price. And the problem has escalated since 2008, as have the massive resources invested in fighting it. A new discovery raises an intriguing possibility for controlling coffee’s costliest pest, and it comes packed inside a small shell. According to recent research from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Asian tramp snails, Bradybaena similaris, can consume large amounts of coffee rust before the disease can damage the plant. Leave one snail on a rust-covered leaf, and it can hoover up 30 percent of the fungus in 24 hours.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
ESTIMATED DELEGATES FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
[Ed. note: 1,991 delegates needed to win]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: 8.4 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 45% approve – 52% disapprove; Fox News: 47% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 47% approve – 51% disapprove.]
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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: NEVER TWEET (FOR ONE WEEK)
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt place their bets on whether or not Bernie Sanders will stay in the race after his performance in the March 10th primaries. They also discuss the Clinton shadow hanging over the 2020 democratic candidates, Biden’s new found silence, and the preference of black voters. Plus, Chris aces some Michigan primary trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
BIDEN SHAKES UP CAMPAIGN TEAM
WaPo: “Former vice president Joe Biden has named Jen O’Malley Dillon as his new campaign manager, a major shake-up that comes as the party’s leading candidate plans an organizational expansion to prepare for the general election, according to a person familiar with the decision. The move is intended to quell concerns raised in recent weeks by senior Democratic strategists about the leadership structure of the Biden campaign, which has been beset by underwhelming fundraising, scant staffing resources and organizational miscues during the early nominating contests. The campaign shuffle is an acknowledgment that while Biden has had a remarkable recent run of victories — at least 15 of the past 21 contests — his operation was not up to the challenge posed by President Trump if Biden wins the nomination. After Biden performed well below expectations in the Iowa caucuses, Anita Dunn, a senior adviser who previously worked for President Barack Obama, took operational control of the campaign, sharing responsibilities with Biden’s original campaign manager, Greg Schultz.”
Biden campaign shares path-to-victory memo – Fox News: “An internal memo from the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden said it’s ‘nearing impossible’ for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to regain the lead in delegates after losses in several of the Democrats’ presidential primary contests. The memo said the campaign netted 160 delegates, including up to 80 won on Tuesday. Biden campaign officials said they expected his lead to expand in ‘some of our strongest’ states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Georgia. ‘Of 682 delegates awarded in those states, conservative estimates have us winning more than 400 delegates and netting more than 150 delegates,’ the memo read. The officials said wins for Sanders in Vermont, Colorado and Utah haven’t collected him enough delegates to be able to compete. ‘It’s not just that Sanders has failed to win a large number of states, it’s also that these wins have not netted significant delegates for him in the way they have for us,’ the memo read.”
Dems continue to pressure Sanders out – Bloomberg: “Democrats are pressuring Bernie Sanders to drop out of the presidential race in order to unify the progressive and moderate wings of the party against their common foe: Donald Trump. After a series of wins on Tuesday extended Joe Biden’s delegate lead to an all-but-insurmountable level, Democratic leaders began publicly calling on Sanders to end his campaign, fearing a prolonged fight could splinter the party and give Trump another term in office. But Sanders and some allies are having none of it. He agreed on Wednesday that defeating Trump was the party’s ultimate goal, but said he remained convinced he was the candidate to do it. He insisted that voters supported his progressive agenda, even though they were choosing Biden for ‘electability’ reasons. ‘Today I say to the Democratic establishment, in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country and you must speak to the issues of concern to them,’ he told reporters.
Bloomberg reports $275 million spent on anti-Trump ads – WSJ: “Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign spent $275 million just on advertising attacking President Trump, according the campaign. The former New York City mayor, who entirely self-funded his campaign before dropping out last week, invested about $225 million on 31 different anti-Trump TV ads, according to his team. Of that amount, more than $175 million was spent on local markets, including in general-election swing states, and $45 million on national buys.”
AUDIBLE: CASHED OUT
“The conventional wisdom about money’s role in American politics is overblown. The two billionaires in the race fell flat. Their ability to self-fund became a political liability.” – Former Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
AP: “A cow is on the loose in South Florida. Not considered dangerous, but police have been trying to corral it for weeks. The Pembroke Pines Police Department said Wednesday the animal has been spotted near Interstate 75 in southern Broward County. Somehow it has eluded capture since late January. The police department put out a tweet: ‘Wanted: Unknown Cow.’ Followed by this: ‘Description: Female cow. Brown with a white head. Faster than it looks. Talented fence jumper. Enjoys pools.’ Police spokeswoman Amanda Conwell said officers and wranglers have been unable to catch the animal and have backed off when it gets too close to heavily traveled roads. ‘It jumps fences,’ she said. ‘It goes into pools.’ Police also say the cow is guilty of ‘MOOving violations, uddering false checks, and fleeing and eluding police.’ These are direct quotes.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Not too many people can point to a specific day when they sat down with a book and got up cured of the stupidities of youth. I can. I was 19. The book was ‘Four Essays on Liberty.’” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the WaPo on Nov. 14, 1997.
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.