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On the roster: Trump expected to declare national emergency – Coronavirus and the 2020 campaign – Will Florida primary bring Bernie’s doomsday? – Cat fight
TRUMP EXPECTED TO DECLARE NATIONAL EMERGENCY
AP: “President Donald Trump is preparing to invoke emergency powers as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak, according to two people familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity. It was still unclear Friday, however, precisely what mechanism Trump would use to free up additional federal resources for testing and treatment as well as help those struggling with the economic impact. Trump is poised to speak at 3 p.m. at the White House. ‘Topic: CoronaVirus!’ he tweeted. The move comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration are laboring to finish a coronavirus aid package Friday that would fast-track federal aid to anxious Americans and calm teetering financial markets amid the global crisis… Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both indicated a deal was within reach after days of around-the-clock negotiations, with expectations of a Friday announcement. The House could then swiftly vote. Republican leaders are reviewing the details.”
Pelosi shares details of Coronavirus response bill – CBS News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered a statement Friday afternoon touting a legislative package to respond to the spread of the coronavirus which ‘puts families first,’ with measures including free testing, paid emergency sick leave, and increasing funds for food security programs and Medicaid. ‘The American people expect and deserve a coordinated, science-based and whole of government response,’ Pelosi said, adding that the legislation is ‘focused directly on providing support for America’s families who must be our first priority.’ Pelosi emphasized the package’s provision to provide tests free of cost, saying: “The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing.’ The speaker also called for unity in the government to address the crisis. ‘Working together, we will once again prevail, and we will come out stronger than before,’ Pelosi concluded.”
Let’s get a move on – WaPo: “The Trump administration announced a series of steps Friday aimed at boosting the availability of coronavirus testing, which has drawn heated criticism from lawmakers of both parties and frustrated Americans who are sick and have been unable to find out whether they are infected. Officials were discussing widening the availability of drive-through testing sites, involving private companies as well as state and local health departments, in a meeting at the White House Friday, according to three individuals familiar with the effort. One senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk candidly, said the concern now is less the supply of tests than whether Americans can get easy and convenient places to get tested — and how to set up testing sites so that they don’t expose health workers and others to the virus.”
Dem congresswoman gets CDC chief to agree to free testing – Fox News: “A Democratic congresswoman secured a commitment for free coronavirus testing from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday…‘Dr. Kadlec, for someone without insurance, do you know the out-of-pocket cost of a complete blood count test?’ Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., first asked Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services… She continued to grill Redfield…‘Doctor Redfield you don’t need to do any work to operationalize, you need to make a commitment to the American people so they come in to get tested,’ Porter shot back…‘I think you’re an excellent questioner, so my answer is yes,’ Redfield said eventually.”
Too close for comfort – USA Today: “A senior cabinet member in Australia’s government who said Friday he is infected with the new coronavirus was pictured last week standing next to Ivanka Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other White House officials. Peter Dutton, who is Australia’s minister for home affairs, released a statement saying he has been diagnosed with the virus – COVID-19 – and admitted to the hospital, where he is in isolation. Dutton was in Washington for meetings connected to the so-called Five Eyes security pact, an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain and the U.S. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also appears in the March 6 photo.”
CORONAVIRUS AND THE 2020 CAMPAIGN
NYT: “Over 18 hours from Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon, the three major candidates for the presidency, including the incumbent, made quick pivots to shape and guide the country’s new political discourse. It was an attempt to demonstrate how they would lead Americans across a muddled terrain of social disruption and stock market collapse, of worry about testing kits and concern about travel bans and crowd sizes. Just hours after Mr. Trump delivered a wooden address from the Oval Office, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought to position himself as a sober steward of the national interest… Two hours after Mr. Biden spoke, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont … warned that the death toll of Americans from the coronavirus could exceed the number of U.S. soldiers killed during World War II. … The setting of the speeches underscored the unusual situation the campaigns now face. Normally at this time candidates would be traveling the country, rallying supporters at town hall meetings, fund-raisers and mass rallies.”
Trump’s reelection activity on hold – Politico: “Nearly every element of the presidential campaign is being adjusted or put on hold, from rallies to fundraising to staff work. Advertising campaigns are being paused and both parties are trying to gauge how to reach voters online. ‘You could make a strong argument that the only thing that matters to the president’s reelection now is getting the response correct,’ said Scott Jennings, who served as a top political aide in the George W. Bush White House. … Critical strategic decisions are also being put on hold. Senior Trump aides have been anxious to start a massive advertising campaign aimed at defining likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden before the general election campaign… But with the coronavirus pandemic dominating the news, Republican officials see little point in hitting the airwaves now, saying it will likely have to wait.”
Next four primary states prep for voting amid coronavirus spread – NYT: “Elections officials in the next four Democratic primary states are taking extra precautions before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, as the coronavirus upends the 2020 race and people worry about gatherings and places where they might become infected. There are no plans to cancel primaries in the four states — Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Arizona — and officials are expressing confidence that ballots can be safely cast. Each secretary of state has sent out regular updates, reiterating recommendations from federal officials about preventive measures to stop the spread of the virus, and encouraging voting by mail or early voting. In all four states, the counties run the elections, but state officials have been trying to underscore the new basics of voting, like keeping hand sanitizer at polling locations and making sure local officials properly clean machines. At this point, none of the states are considering expanding polling hours or mail-in-ballot deadlines.”
Louisiana moves to postpone primary – Fox News: “Louisiana is moving to postpone its April 4 presidential primary due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, state election officials announced Friday. The primary – which includes mayoral races and local propositions as well as the presidential ballot – would instead be held June 20, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced at a news conference in Baton Rouge. Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, told Fox News the governor will sign an executive order Friday moving the election to the later date. The governor is also planning to hold a press conference in New Orleans on Friday.”
State party leaders wrestle over postponement of national conventions – WSJ: “The novel coronavirus pandemic is scrambling planning for this summer’s Democratic and Republican national conventions, but congressional district and state conventions are presenting an even more pressing problem. Those conventions, where delegates are elected for representation at the national gatherings, are set to start happening in the next few weeks. State party leaders are wrestling with whether to postpone them or try to hold online or telephone elections, a situation that is injecting uncertainty into the normally routine procedure of picking presidential nominating delegates.”
THE RULEBOOK: STAY SAFE, KIDS
“Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 3
TIME OUT: RAINING CATS AND… IRON?
Huff Post: “At one hot, faraway world, it’s always cloudy with a chance of iron rain. That’s the otherworldly forecast from Swiss and other European astronomers who have detected clouds full of iron droplets at a hot Jupiterlike planet 390 light-years away. This mega planet is so hot on the sunny side — 4,350 degrees Fahrenheit (2,400 degrees Celsius) — that iron vaporizes in the atmosphere. The iron likely condenses on the cooler night side of the planet, almost certainly turning into rain. ‘Like droplets of metal falling from the sky,’ said Christophe Lovis of the University of Geneva who took part in the study.”
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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/TIPP: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 47% approve – 51% disapprove.]
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WILL FLORIDA PRIMARY BRING BERNIE’S DOOMSDAY?
AP: “As the race for the Democratic nomination enters a penultimate phase, with [Bernie Sanders’] campaign on the brink of collapse and [Joe Biden’s] ascendant, attention is turning to places like Florida, which is holding its primary on Tuesday along with Ohio, Illinois and Arizona. Florida has 219 delegates, the biggest prize of next week’s election. Few places hold the electoral cachet of Florida, which has been among the most coveted swing states in the last three decades, including during the contentious, chaotic recount of 2000. It is a vital state for President Donald Trump, who would have almost no path to reelection without it. Biden’s advisers are banking on a decisive Florida victory that sends a clear message that he is much better positioned to win the state and deny Trump a second term. In 2016, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton here by 1.2 percentage points.”
Biden’s Michigan victory hints at trouble for Trump – NYT: “What stands out about Mr. Biden’s victory on Tuesday [in Michigan] is that he performed well not only among his bedrock supporters, black voters, but also drew solid backing from other key demographic groups — including college-educated white women, moderates and those over 45 — in a primary that shattered Democratic turnout records by more than 30 percent. ‘The massive high turnout is very, very bad news in Michigan for the Trump campaign,’ said Richard Czuba, a nonpartisan pollster who has surveyed the state for more than three decades. … Because Michigan was the first Obama-to-Trump state to vote in the presidential primary, an erstwhile brick in what Democrats once complacently called their Blue Wall, both parties pounced on Tuesday’s results for signposts pointing to November. The Trump campaign saw weaknesses for a Biden candidacy in the general election, specifically his problem appealing to voters under 45. … Independent analysts like Mr. Czuba, however, said that while it was true that motivation to vote was elevated for both parties, high turnout in Michigan historically favors Democrats.”
Where the young people at? – Atlantic: “Younger voters have not shown up in numbers nearly large enough for Sanders to overcome Biden’s strength among older Democrats; a surge in turnout among older people has obscured any gains in the youth vote, relegating Millennials and first-time voters to a smaller share of the primary electorate than they made up four years ago. But while the relative lack of enthusiasm from voters in their teens and 20s is bad news for Sanders in the short term, it could also be worrisome for Biden in the long term. In the general election, Democratic presidential candidates rely on huge margins among younger voters to counteract the conservative tilt and higher turnout rates of middle-aged and older Americans.”
Mishkin: How Biden went from flop to front-runner in 10 days – Fox News: “In the 10 days from the South Carolina primary to Michigan’s, Joe Biden went from a candidate almost incapable of uttering a coherent debate point to a prohibitive favorite to win the nomination – and arguably in stronger shape for the race against President Donald Trump in November. How’d it happen so fast? … After three straight wins in the presidential race, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the clear front-runner. … But the secret to Sanders’ success was ultimately the cause of his doom: his fierce support for his agenda, coupled with a very energetic persona in arguing for that agenda and an apparent unwillingness to compromise to expand support. … In the meantime, Biden was busy demonstrating that he was ‘safe old Joe.’ Brandishing his Obama bona-fides and the endorsement of Congressman Jim Clyburn, the former vice president decisively won the African-American vote, and the primary, in South Carolina.”
Texas Dems get confidence boost in fight for House seats after high voter turnout – Politico
Biden beefs up security, calls for Secret Service – Fox News
Stock market climb after worst fall since 1987 – WSJ
Here’s a growing list of major cancellations nationwide due to coronavirus – U.S. News
“This was the most expensive speech in history.” – Luca Paolini, a Wall Street strategist, talking with the Financial Times about how the markets tanked following President Trump’s Coronavirus Oval Office address.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Tune in this weekend as Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace sits down with Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. 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.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Tampa Bay Times: “If a cat does something adorable, but no one is there to watch it on the internet, was it actually cute? Cole and Marmalade, the internet-famous ginger tabby and his elegantly long-haired adopted brother, are as frisky as ever. But their adorable antics are missing online this week. The viral rescue cats… have gone dark online due to a lawsuit filed by Digital Pet Media…The defendant is Chris Poole, the Tampa man who owns the actual cats. In the lawsuit, Poole is accused of breaching contract and harming the Cole and Marmalade enterprise by then acting erratically and locking his business partners out of vital social media cat accounts… In a Gofundme campaign launched to raise legal defense funds, Poole implies he was wrong to think his business partners believed in ‘our efforts to raise awareness, educate and entertain the cat lovers of the world.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 8, 2018. Today, March 13, would have been Charles’ 70th birthday.
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.