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On the roster: Buttigieg boom in New Hampshire looks real – I’ll Tell You What: Chaos caucus – Trump campaigns in N.C. armed with good jobs report – Obama nudges Bullock toward Senate race – Not a Shakira backup dancer
BUTTIGIEG BOOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE LOOKS REAL
Boston Globe: “Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, building on his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses, continued his surge among likely Democratic New Hampshire presidential primary voters, putting him and Senator Bernie Sanders in a statistical dead heat in a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll released Thursday night. Former vice president Joe Biden, whose campaign is stumbling after a disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa, saw another modest dip in his numbers. That put him in fourth place behind Senator Elizabeth Warren in Thursday’s poll, the fourth of seven the Suffolk University Political Research Center is conducting in the run-up to the nation’s first primary on Tuesday. Sanders held steady at 24 percent, while Buttigieg nipped at his heels with 23 percent. Biden slipped to 11 percent, below Warren’s 13 percent. ‘It looks like Buttigieg’s momentum is continuing, and he’s really going at the heart of Biden’s strength, which is older voters,’ said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center.”
Biden campaign in triage? – WaPo: “Biden spent Thursday gathered with his top advisers at his home in Wilmington, Del., seeking a reset and perhaps a last-ditch effort to save his candidacy, beginning with a debate Friday night. He held no public events. Following dismal results in the Iowa caucuses that have rattled many in his orbit, his campaign is now simultaneously trying to lower expectations here — with some suggesting they would consider a finish as low as third place a victory — while also bracing for a second straight difficult Election Day. In one troublesome sign for the financially strapped campaign, it canceled nearly $150,000 in television ads in South Carolina, which votes Feb. 29, and moved the spending to Nevada, whose Feb. 22 contest follows New Hampshire’s. The move seemed to acknowledge that Biden’s campaign cannot sustain a continued run of bad news.”
Chait: Dems’ options narrow – New York Magazine: “One strategy would be to rally around [Joe Biden], on the grounds that no other candidate has or will have his name recognition and ties to black voters. The other strategy is to hope his campaign collapses as quickly as possible, so that another contender can emerge. (More about them below.) At the moment it is not clear which strategy makes sense. And in the absence of an effective party to coordinate, the most likely scenario is a combination of the two: Some Democrats back Biden, others defect, and others wait to see what happens. That would be the worst possible outcome: a long, slow, painful death that prevents another liberal from taking his place and allows Sanders to gain unstoppable momentum.”
Buttigieg wins (?) Iowa – WaPo: “Three days after the Iowa caucuses, the state Democratic Party at last released all of the results, showing the tightest of races between Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Buttigieg held a narrow lead of 26.2 percent in state delegate equivalents, the traditional metric by which an Iowa winner has been determined. Sanders had 26.1 percent. The results followed a chaotic count marred by technical issues, and an official winner has not been declared. Sanders, however, held a lead in the popular vote, and he claimed victory earlier in the day, noting that he had an advantage of roughly 6,000 votes in the first round of the caucuses and about 2,500 in the second round. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) finished third, with 18 percent of state delegate equivalents. Former vice president Joe Biden earned 15.8 percent, a disappointing fourth-place finish…”
Perez under pressure – Fox News: “Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is increasingly finding himself at the center of a political storm over the fallout from this week’s botched Iowa caucuses. The Iowa state Democratic Party has absorbed the bulk of the political blows over their mishandling of Monday’s caucuses—which resulted in a severe delay in results and lingering questions over who actually won the contest. But Perez stirred a controversy of his own Thursday by calling for a recanvass, just as the final chunk of results was being reported. Perez said a recount was needed to ‘assure public confidence’ after three days of apparent technical issues, vote-counting irregularities and delays. … In turn, the move kicked up long-lingering resentment from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign and allies toward the party. … Some have even called for Perez’s resignation amid the chaos. ‘Oh yeah,’ Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, told Politico when asked whether Perez should step down. ‘We’re a party in chaos.’”
Nevada staffers ditch Warren ahead of caucuses – Politico: “A half-dozen women of color have departed Elizabeth Warren’s Nevada campaign in the run-up to the state’s caucuses with complaints of a toxic work environment in which minorities felt tokenized and senior leadership was at loggerheads. The six staffers have left the roughly 70-person Nevada team since November, during a critical stretch of the race. Three of them said they felt marginalized by the campaign, a situation they said didn’t change or worsened after they took their concerns to their superiors or to human resources staff. … The problems in Warren’s Nevada campaign heighten the importance of a rebound in New Hampshire after a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. Of the first four voting states, Nevada is the one Warren has visited the least: She has spent just 12 days there, another factor that dispirited the state’s staff. This week, her campaign also scaled back its television ads in the state by about $140,000.”
Yang reportedly shrank his gang – U.S. News & World: “Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang reportedly fired dozens of staffers after disappointing results in Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Four former staffers who were let go told Politico that the national political and policy directors of the campaign, as well as the deputy national political director, were among those dismissed. The tech entrepreneur finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses, receiving just 1% of votes. Yang is currently campaigning in New Hampshire, which is scheduled to hold its primaries Tuesday.
Patrick steps up South Carolina spending – Politico: “If Biden continues to fade, [Deval Patrick] will try to fill the vacuum. A pro-Patrick super PAC, Reason to Believe, has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into South Carolina media markets in recent weeks, with an emphasis on black radio. Patrick’s wife has made two solo trips to campaign in the state in recent weeks while Patrick spends time in New Hampshire. Reason to Believe has reserved well over $600,000 in airtime in South Carolina — $253,000 in Charleston, $246,000 in Columbia and $186,000 in Greenville, and more cash is on the way, according to a supporter of the super PAC who declined to be named — but predicted that Patrick would finish first or second in the state, which votes Feb. 29.”
THE RULEBOOK: *COUGH* PUTIN *COUGH*
“It ought never to be forgotten, that a firm union of this country, under an efficient government, will probably be an increasing object of jealousy to more than one nation of Europe; and that enterprises to subvert it will sometimes originate in the intrigues of foreign powers, and will seldom fail to be patronized and abetted by some of them.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 59
TIME OUT: BRAVO, MAESTRO!
Music critic Alex Ross writes about maestro Manfred Honeck and his musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony. New Yorker: “After listening to the Pittsburgh Symphony’s recent recording of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony for the tenth or eleventh time, I began planning a trip to Pittsburgh, in the hope of understanding how such a formidable achievement had come about. The playing is, first of all, at a very high technical level; the Pittsburgh musicians can withstand comparisons with their better-paid counterparts in Boston, New York, and Chicago. Yet note-perfect performances are hardly unusual in an age of impeccable conservatory training. What distinguishes this Bruckner Ninth is the rare and disconcerting expressive power of the interpretation. Savagely precise in detail, and almost scarily sublime in cumulative effect, it gives notice that the right orchestra and the right conductor can unleash unsuspected energies in familiar works. The right conductor, in this case, is the sixty-one-year-old Austrian maestro Manfred Honeck, who has been Pittsburgh’s music director since 2008.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 22.4 points (↓ 0.8 points from last wk.)
Warren: 14.2 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 8.4 points (↓ 0.2 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 6.2 points (↑ 0.2 point from last wk.)
[Averages include: NBC News/WSJ, IBD, Quinnipiac University, ABC News/WaPo and Fox News.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 45 percent
Average disapproval: 51 percent
Net Score: -6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 1 point
[Average includes: Gallup: 49% approve – 50% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve – 51% disapprove; CBS News: 43% approve – 51% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve – 52% disapprove.]
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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: CHAOS CAUCUS
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt weigh in on the confusion surrounding the Iowa Caucus, what the final results mean for the Democratic candidates as they move onto the New Hampshire Primary and a new study on American happiness. Dana and Chris give their thoughts. Plus, as always, trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
TRUMP CAMPAIGNS IN N.C. ARMED WITH GOOD JOBS REPORT
AP: “President Donald Trump on Friday will promote economic revitalization in low-income areas on his first trip outside of Washington since he was acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial. Before leaving for North Carolina, Trump continued to air grievances about his impeachment ordeal, saying of Democrats: ‘I think there’s a lot of evil on that side.’ He also told reporters on the South Lawn before his departure that reports that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is on his way out are ‘false.’ Trump was scheduled to deliver closing remarks at the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit at Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. It’s the first in a series of trips the president will be taking to promote opportunity zones, the White House said.”
Wages rose, too – WSJ: “U.S. hiring strengthened in January as more Americans hopped into the labor market, helping juice up the economy at the start of the year. Employers added 225,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6% from 3.5% in December, an increase that reflected more Americans looking for work, the Labor Department said Friday. Wages climbed 3.1% from a year earlier, a touch higher than December’s year-over-year rise of 3%.”
OBAMA NUDGES BULLOCK TOWARD SENATE RACE
Politico: “Former President Barack Obama met privately with Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Thursday in Washington, an adviser confirmed, as Democrats hold out hopes that the red-state governor makes a surprise, last-minute splash into the state’s Senate race. Bullock has consistently said he will not run for the Senate after dropping his own White House bid last year. And even after meeting with the former two-term president, Bullock is undeterred. … Bullock is in town for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting. Since leaving office, Obama has often met with Democrats about their political future. An Obama spokesman didn’t immediately comment. The filing deadline for the race is March 9 and four candidates have filed to run as Democrats against [Sen. Steve] Daines, a first-term GOP senator: Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins, Navy veteran John Mues, former State Department official Cora Neumann and physicist Mike Knoles.”
Granger embraces Trump to help tough primary run – Roll Call: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to rip up President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on live television enraged House Republicans. But it was Rep. Kay Granger, who once said Trump doesn’t deserve to be in the same room as war veterans, who led the effort to defend the president. The Texas Republican introduced the resolution condemning Pelosi on Wednesday after talking with Minority Whip Steve Scalise about how ‘appalled they were by the Speaker’s actions,’ according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly. The Democratic-controlled House rejected the measure on Thursday. … Granger’s leading role on Thursday’s resolution could help her among Republican primary voters who will be deciding her fate on March 3, when she faces former Colleyville City Councilmember Chris Putnam, who is backed by the conservative Club for Growth.”
Ex-GOP Rep. Joe Walsh ends primary bid against Trump – AP
AUDIBLE: MEANWHILE, IN SUPER TUESDAY LAND…
“I’m running against Donald Trump — they’re running against each other. And my polls are going up, and their polls are going down. If I were them, I’d change their strategies.” – Michael Bloomberg discussing his rivals in an interview with WPRI.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Fox News Sunday is live from Bedford, New Hampshire. Tune in as Mr. Sunday sits down with former mayor Pete Buttigieg. 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
“I have a question. I watched the impeachment trial, Democrats kept saying they have the right of oversight of the Executive branch of the government, who has oversight of the Legislative branch of the government? I hope you will answer this as it is a serious question. I suppose ultimately the people at election time but the people also have the same oversight during a presidential election.” – Jean Farrell, Fleming Island, Fla.
[Ed. note: It’s hard to imagine now given the imperial nature of the modern presidency, but the Congress is supposed to be the stud duck of this particular barnyard. The House was designed as the only body directly answerable to voters (though the Senate was changed to direct democracy in 1913) because it was perceived as the prime mover on national policy – particularly on domestic matters. The other branches and the Senate were perceived of as guardrails against the excessive exuberance of popular sentiment. Over time, the Congress has traded away its own power in the interest of making re-election of incumbents easier. The oversight power granted to Congress is intended to make sure that the executive branch is faithfully executing the laws passed by the people’s representatives.]
“Presidential impeachment inquiries have obviously become very political. Would you agree that a fairer outcome could be achieved if impeachment was tried in the Supreme Court?” – Ted Boers, Grand Rapids, Mich.
[Ed. note: What is all of this hooey I keep hearing about how impeachment has become political? It was designed to be political. That’s the whole point. That’s why the Senate, elected officials of limited terms, sit in judgement rather than the unelected justices of the court with lifetime terms. Every impeachment (and every acquittal) has been “political” in the sense that the judgements rendered by the House and Senate have been in the context of their constituent’s desires. The previous two presidential impeachments and acquittals may even more nakedly partisan than this one. But imagine if an un-elected Supreme Court removed a duly-elected president impeached on partisan lines in the House. Count me in the distinct minority in Washington who is untroubled by the use or trends in presidential impeachments. One thing that does worry me, though, is that we have a Congress that shows total incapacity to constrain the executive branch.]
“Brother Stirewalt: Thank you for the Halftime Report and your podcast. I especially enjoy the sesquipedalian routings and metaphorical mash-ups. To my question: the RCP polling averages for the general election show President Trump losing to several Democratic challengers, yet am I wrong to sense a mood of triumphalism among Republicans? Do polling trends bear this out in any way, either for incumbents generally or Trump in particular? Do we assume an un-polled cohort that moves the needle significantly? If you find yourself in the birthplace of Stonewall Jackson, you can no better than the meatballs from Minard’s. Worth a detour.” – Peter McKee, Dallas
[Ed. note: Minard’s Spaghetti Inn makes a fine meatball, Brother McKee, there is no doubt. But would you save room for a Delmonico at the Wonder Bar? More important, would you make the trip for hotdogs at Ritzy Lunch? As for the hypothetical general election polls, salt liberally until about June or July.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
NOT A SHAKIRA BACKUP DANCER
UPI: “An apparent escaped kangaroo was caught on camera in South Florida, and the origins of the Australian marsupial were unclear. The Lifestyle Miami account on Instagram posted a short video Tuesday showing a loose kangaroo wandering in the Redland area, in south Miami-Dade County. A woman’s voice can be heard questioning in Spanish whether the animal escaped from somewhere nearby. Local residents said on Facebook that photos of the kangaroo were posted by witnesses on the Nextdoor app Monday. Carrol Lyn Parrish, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said there are no records of anyone who lives in the area being issued a permit to legally own a kangaroo. A spokeswoman for Zoo Miami said the facility is not missing any kangaroos. Some locals indicated on social media that the kangaroo had escaped from the Safari Edventure sanctuary, but the facility has not confirmed or denied the reports.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The end of the Cold War changed the structure of the world. The Gulf war merely revealed it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The New Republic on July 29, 1991.
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.