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On the roster: Rocky rollout for Warren’s single payer pitch – Biden fades to fourth in latest Iowa poll – Pelosi: Hearings this month, vote this year – Jobs numbers hold the line – Count choculitis? Killer nano robots? Hot dog fingers?
ROCKY ROLLOUT FOR WARREN’S SINGLE PAYER PITCH
Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s long-awaited ‘Medicare-for-all’ funding plan projects the government-run health care system would cost a staggering sum of ‘just under $52 trillion’ over the next decade, with the campaign proposing a host of new tax increases to pay for it while still claiming the middle class would not face any additional burden. … Some of Warren’s rivals for the nomination are unlikely to buy that claim, after having repeatedly challenged her assertions… The campaign’s detailed Medicare-for-all proposal, however, insists that the costs can be covered by a combination of existing federal and state spending on Medicare and other health care, as well as roughly $20 trillion in taxes on employers, financial transactions, the ultra-wealthy and large corporations and some savings elsewhere. This includes what is essentially a payroll tax increase on employers, something economists generally say can hit workers in the form of reduced wages.”
Fellow Dems pan the plan – Politico: “The Warren stump speech is simple, concise, and unchanging. … There is one issue that she doesn’t dwell on: Medicare for All. The enormously expensive (some $30 trillion), difficult to pay for (she’s already spent the wealth tax on other things), and politically dangerous (polls show Democratic support declining) plan that would make health care a basic right in America has been like an asteroid hurtling toward the Warren campaign. There’s still time to get out of the way but there’s also a chance it might blow up her campaign. … Across the Democratic Party, ordinary voters, senior strategists, and health care wonks are increasingly nervous that the candidate many believe to be the most likely nominee to face Trump has burdened herself with a policy that in the best case is extraordinarily difficult to explain and in the worst case could make her unelectable.”
Biden fades to fourth in latest Iowa poll – NYT: “The top Democratic presidential candidates are locked in a close race in the 2020 Iowa caucuses, with Senator Elizabeth Warren slightly ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers. Ms. Warren appears to have solidified her gains in the first voting state while Mr. Buttigieg has climbed quickly to catch up with Mr. Sanders and overtake Mr. Biden, the onetime front-runner. Ms. Warren is drawing support from 22 percent of likely caucusgoers, while Mr. Sanders is at 19 percent, followed by Mr. Buttigieg at 18 percent and Mr. Biden at 17 percent. … The poll reveals a race in flux but not in disarray, framed by a stark debate about the direction of the Democratic Party and by a degree of fluidity arising from Mr. Biden’s travails.”
Buttigieg says it’s better to beat Trump than remove him – Boston Globe: “On the same day when congressional Democrats took their first formal vote on the impeachment inquiry, Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind., mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in an interview with the Globe that there would be ‘a lot of benefit’ for the country if President Trump had a ‘thumping defeat’ in the 2020 elections instead of being removed from office. ‘The impeachment process is based on a constitutional standard and needs to run its course accordingly,’ Buttigieg said after wrapping up two days of campaign events in New Hampshire. ‘I will say that there would be a lot of benefit to Trump and Trumpism getting a resounding, thumping defeat at the ballot box because I think that is what will be required for congressional Republicans to be reunited with their conscience.’”
November election forecast: More of the same – Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “As Americans head to the polls next week, there are three major prizes at stake. Republicans currently control all three of these prizes: the governorships in Kentucky and Mississippi and majority control of the Virginia General Assembly, composed of the state House of Delegates and the state Senate. In an era of political nationalization that is bleeding down the ballot even to state-level races, the best bet in all three states would be to go with partisanship. And that’s where we’re leaning: Our ratings for the gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi remain Leans Republican and, while we don’t issue ratings for specific state legislative chambers and races, our sense is that the Democrats are better-positioned than Republicans to win both the Virginia House of Delegates and (especially) the Virginia Senate.”
Minnesota GOP rigs primary for Trump – [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “President Donald Trump will be the only choice on the ballot in Minnesota’s Republican presidential primary, even though he’s not the only candidate. The state Republican Party has decided voters won’t have any alternatives. Its chairwoman, Jennifer Carnahan, sent a letter to the Minnesota Secretary of State on Oct. 24 outlining the party’s ‘determination of candidates’ for the March 3 Republican primary ballot. Trump is the only name listed. Absent are three other Republicans who, while long shots, are prominent political names running active campaigns: former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.”
THE RULEBOOK: SIMPLE ENOUGH
“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68
TIME OUT: WHEN THE SOUTHERN BELLES ARE CHANTERELLES
Writer Janisse Ray introduces us to a mushroom man. Gravy: “The eye is an organ that can be trained. It can be taught to see whale spouts or arrowheads or lobster antennae. Passion is what trains the eye, and Ancil Jacques’ passion is mushrooms. This obsession takes him deep into the wildest woods, roving his trained and hungry eyes over shadowy, undisturbed ground. Except it’s not really mushrooms he’s after. From the time he was a boy growing up in Dixie Union, Georgia, Ancil was looking for something more than most people look for. He sought something out beyond industry, out beyond a good lawyering job, out beyond protocol. When I met him, I thought, Damn, I think he’s found it. …Until Ancil, I never met anybody in south Georgia who thought much about mushrooms. Sure as heck they didn’t go poking around the woods for them. If they went to the woods, they wanted to come out with a big buck.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.8 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Warren: 22.6 points (↓ 2.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 14.2 points (↓ 0.4 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 7.4 points (↑ 1 point from last wk.)
Harris: 4.4 points (↓ 0.4 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: USA Today/Suffolk University, Quinnipiac University, CNN, Fox News and IBD.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 41.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55.4 percent
Net Score: -13.8 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.4 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 39% approve – 59% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Grinnell/Selzer: 43% approve – 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 58% disapprove; CNN: 42% approve – 57% disapprove.]
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PELOSI: HEARINGS THIS MONTH, VOTE THIS YEAR
Bloomberg: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she expects the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump to begin public hearings this month but insisted there’s no deadline to finish the investigation. ‘I would assume there would be public hearing in November,’ Pelosi said in a roundtable with Bloomberg reporters and editors. Any case that is made to impeach the president ‘has to be ironclad.’ … ‘I don’t know what the timetable will be — the truth will set us free,’ she said. ‘We have not made any decisions on if the president will be impeached.’ If the House takes a formal vote on articles of impeachment, possibly before the end of the year, it would take a two-thirds majority vote in the Republican-controlled Senate to convict the president, and therefore remove him from office. That’s an outcome viewed at this point as highly unlikely.”
Senior White House aide confirms quid pro quo claims – WaPo: “A White House adviser on Thursday corroborated key impeachment testimony from a senior U.S. diplomat who said last week he was alarmed by efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate President Trump’s political rivals in exchange for nearly $400 million in military aid. Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, told House investigators over eight hours of closed-door testimony that the ‘substance’ of his conversations recalled by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, was ‘accurate,’ according to his prepared remarks and people familiar with Morrison’s testimony. In particular, Morrison verified that Trump’s envoy to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, conveyed to a Ukrainian official that the military aid would be released if the country investigated an energy firm linked to the son of former vice president Joe Biden.”
Poll: Americans closely divided on removing Trump – WaPo: “As the House moves to a new, more public phase of its impeachment inquiry, the country is sharply divided along partisan lines over whether President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The poll finds that 49 percent of Americans say the president should be impeached and removed from office, while 47 percent say he should not. That finding is almost identical to support for impeachment in a poll by The Post and the Schar School taken earlier in October. Among Democrats, support for removing the president from office is overwhelming, with 82 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed. Among Republicans, it is almost the reverse, with 82 percent opposed and 18 percent in favor, even as the president’s approval rating reached a new low among members of his party. Independents are closely divided, with 47 percent favoring removal and 49 percent opposed.”
Trump huddles with Senate allies – WaPo: “President Trump, in a private lunch Thursday with Senate Republicans, repeatedly praised his own decision to release a rough transcript of the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president that has become a central focus of the House’s impeachment inquiry, according to the senators who attended. The White House invited just over a half-dozen GOP senators, most of them among the president’s staunchest allies in the chamber, where many members have refrained from commenting directly on the unfolding case, arguing they will effectively serve as jurors in any impeachment trial. But the issue of impeachment was still discussed, as Trump made his case repeatedly that the White House released a transcript of the call — the document is labeled a ‘memorandum of telephone conversation’ — and that there was nothing wrong with its contents.”
McConnell has a fairly free hand in the Senate – WaPo: “…[I]f President Trump is impeached, [Senate Republicans will] have almost all the power to decide whether he’s guilty or innocent and should be removed from office. … As leader of the Senate, [specifically Mitch] McConnell will have broad latitude to call witnesses who may be less damaging to President Trump. He can speed up the trial or slow it down, and he can even circumvent some of the rules as dictated by the overseer of all this, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. … In some ways, McConnell and thus Republicans have more power than the Democrats in the House to shape Trump’s future. Here’s how. McConnell needs a supermajority to change the rules about how a trial works that the Senate approved in the ‘80s. But to just overrule Roberts’ interpretation of the rules, he would need a simple majority. He couldn’t easily blow up the trial process, but he can tweak around the edges.”
Pergram: Dem holdouts and next steps – Fox News: “It was never a question that the House would adopt the resolution formalizing the impeachment process. The question was the vote tally – and what may happen next. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presided over the debate on the measure from the dais in the House chamber. Pelosi also announced the result at the end. … Most House speakers rarely vote on the floor. … Republicans are now trying to build a case against vulnerable Democrats who voted yes on the resolution. Thursday’s vote codifies the impeachment roadmap, but what’s remarkable is how little we know about what’s next. We don’t know the timeline. We also don’t know if the president would ever have the opportunity to defend himself before a Senate trial.”
JOBS NUMBERS HOLD THE LINE
WaPo: “The United States added 128,000 jobs in October as the jobless rate ticked up to 3.6 percent, a performance that outperformed analyst forecasts during a month in which one of the largest private employer strikes in recent years weighed on the economy. The number was below recent averages. The General Motors strike, in which 46,000 workers shut down production for six weeks at the automaker, caused layoffs from Canada to Mexico in related industries. Unemployment claims in states like Michigan surged after the strike, as suppliers laid off workers as business slowed down. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released the report, noted that the General Motors strike dragged down employment in auto and parts manufacturing. The number of employed workers in those two categories declined by 42,000. Federal employment decreased by about 17,000, as temporary workers engaged in the 2020 Census completed their work.”
GOP working up another round of tax cuts to fight slowdown – WaPo: “White House officials and congressional Republicans have begun early talks on a new package of tax reductions and economic growth measures, under pressure from President Trump, who is agitating to announce a new tax cut proposal heading into the 2020 election. The discussions are preliminary and far from the decision stage, according to officials involved. The timeline is unclear, but White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow is playing a lead role, people briefed on the talks said. The early-stage discussions reflect Trump’s desire to refocus the economic narrative amid some signs of a slowing economy, and after the major Republican tax cut package of 2017 failed to produce enduring economic benefits or political gains for the GOP.”
Trump on radio call-in show complicates Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy – CNBC
Florida man changes official residency – NYT
Cummings’ widow exploring run for his seat – WaPo
Lindsey Graham to give up Judiciary Committee perch after 2020 – Politico
Controversial televangelist gets key White House job – NYT
Perfect situation or undone? Weezer to perform for Yang – Consequence of Sound
NRCC prank on House Dems creates headaches for police – USA Today
“He is the war room. We don’t feel the need for a war room.” – White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham dismissing the need for a war room with Bill Hemmer on America’s Newsroom Friday morning.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Tune in this weekend as Mr. Sunday presents a Democracy 2020 special with the debut of new Fox News national polls. Chris will also sit down with Kellyanne Conway and Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris: Doesn’t a candidate ‘directing’ a super pac cross a line in campaign finance laws and trigger various fines upon the pac?” – Joe Guyton, San Antonio
[Ed. note: If you ever wanted to know just how screwed up America’s campaign finance laws are, consider this: While it is forbidden for candidates to coordinate privately with outside spending groups, they may do so publicly. They can even post videos on the internet they would like to see used in ads. Abstruse, counterproductive and self-defeating – that’s America’s campaign finance system at work!]
“I grew in Parkersburg… PHS class of ‘57. I have voted for a Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1960. Admittedly, I had a write-in in 2016. I cannot conceive of voting for any of the announced Democrat candidates in 2020. However, if Senator Manchin would decide to make a run for it I would have to seriously reconsider my 60 year voting record. I think his common sense, middle of the road mentality would appeal to a very broad segment of the American voters!” – Roger Plauche, Marblehead, Mass.
[Ed. note: I think you’ll have to give up on that one, Mr. Plauche. Manchin barely wanted to stay in the Senate, let alone have to run for president. Go Big Red!]
“And so it came to pass… enjoying a front row seat in Heaven, Charles Krauthammer is all aglow at his beloved Nationals having won baseball’s most prized possession. Still, his voice is sorely missed by this Phillies fan.” – James W. Herzog, Spartanburg, S.C.
[Ed. note: I love that image, Mr. Herzog. Thank you for sharing it.]
“I love listening to you on I’ll tell you what and I so respect your knowledge. Please tell me the Netflix show you recommended to Dana in the past couple months. I have listen to two months of Podcasts in the past week trying to find it and I can’t. A big fan.” – Diane Mathey, Schererville, Ind.
[Ed. note: There have been quite a few since Ms. Perino and I always try to bring each other a present or two each week – movies, shows, books, food, posture improvement devices… One that I did enjoy recently was “Living With Yourself.” Surprisingly good!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
COUNT CHOCULITIS? KILLER NANO ROBOTS? HOT DOG FINGERS?
AP: “Authorities in Louisiana say a woman who worked at a medical clinic has been arrested for selling fake doctor’s notes to high school students so they can get out of class. News outlets report 52-year-old Belinda Gail Fondren was charged with filing or maintaining false public records. Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft says Fondren was selling medical excuses for $20 each. He says two students at Evans High School in Evans, Louisiana received excuses on 14 occasions. Deputies said a physician received a call from Vernon Parish School Board about the absence notes. He told deputies that he didn’t treat the students nor did he authorize the excuses. Craft says Fondren worked in a clerical position at the clinic. It’s unclear whether Fondren has an attorney.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The half-century campaign to eradicate any vestige of religion from public life has run its course. … Religion is back out of the closet.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Aug. 1, 2005.
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.