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On the roster: Harris got what she wanted, but can she deliver? – I’ll Tell You What: History will repeat itself – Republicans get a headache from Georgia runoff – Trump suggests he’s given up on rallies – Thank you, safety squirrel
HARRIS GOT WHAT SHE WANTED, BUT CAN SHE DELIVER?
The successful model for presidential running mates in recent years has been to calm things down rather than spice them up.
There have been eight people nominated by a major party to serve as vice president this century. Only three of them, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden and Mike Pence, have assumed office.
Not exactly a wild and crazy bunch, right? Most of the losers had that same mayonnaise-sandwich quality, too. Like their winning counterparts, Joe Lieberman, Paul Ryan and Tim Kaine, were also chosen for their neutral flavor and spongy texture.
The other two, John Edwards and Sarah Palin, were different and exciting for sure. Just not in good ways. Ambitious, telegenic and undisciplined, the two worst running mates of the past two decades happened to be the biggest personalities of the bunch.
So which kind of running mate will Kamala Harris be?
There are reasons just beyond bad judgment that John Kerry and John McCain made the mistakes they did.
In Kerry’s case, he got buffaloed by Edwards. The saccharine senator essentially ran a public campaign for vice president, pushing polls and making appearances to show his popularity.
He did so just as Kerry was struggling to consolidate a party that was becoming increasingly besotted with the kind of economic populism Edwards was hawking. Who knows what would have happened if he had picked Dick Gephardt or Tom Vilsack – someone who didn’t seem like he was selling miracle cures on late-night TV.
Kerry’s problem was not knowing his own weaknesses and believing that he, once dubbed “Live Shot” for his thirst for airtime, was just dripping with gravitas. When he declared joking-not-jokingly that he and Edwards had “better hair” than George W. Bush and Cheney, Kerry had inadvertently identified the weakness of their ticket.
Whatever you think about Bush, his deadpan game was hotter than a $2 pistol. A reporter asking Bush for his first public reaction to Edwards said – and we are not making this up – that the then-North Carolina senator was described as “charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist and even sexy.” Seriously. “How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?” The reporter asked. Bush shot back: “Dick Cheney can be president. Next?”
McCain rightly knew his weaknesses in the eyes of voters – too old and too tied to the unpopular Republican mainstream. He also wanted to exploit lingering resentment among female voters for Barack Obama cutting in line ahead of Hillary Clinton. Obama had chosen the most conventional running mate possible in Biden and McCain, trailing in late August, wanted to shake things up.
What McCain didn’t factor in was the incompetence of his campaign team and his own self-defeating affinity for maverickiness. The Palin pick wouldn’t have made it through a good campaign, but McCain’s campaign couldn’t be good because he, a little like our current president, always wanted to go with his gut and disdained structure. After a brief boost, Palin turned into just one more boat anchor dragging the Republican ticket down. Once the Panic of 2008 was in full swing, she fulfilled her destiny as the worst running mate pick in decades.
Harris’ place on the leaderboard will depend a great deal on how well the Biden campaign deploys her and how well her own independent organization gets along with Biden’s long-established crew. But it will most rely on her approach to the job.
On one hand, she loves the spotlight and had no qualms about launching a presidential run as a freshman senator (though with considerably more experience than the two most recent presidents). From her look to her stentorian speaking style she seeks to embody power.
On the other hand, she’s a product of machine politics. Harris worked her way up from San Francisco assistant district attorney to the city attorney’s office to her run for district attorney in her own right and then state attorney general. She had been plowing forward for 27 years before she even ran for Senate.
And given the fact that she was in Congress for as long as Obama and that the current president was the most politically inexperienced in history, maybe even her rapid run for president looks more like a sign of the times than pure ambition. Plus, Biden’s been around longer than the Senate bean soup, so a little freshness can’t hurt.
What Biden needs from Harris is competent messaging, deference and a gift for serving up red meat for the Democratic base in the form of blistering attacks on the incumbent. That last one is not a role that Pence had to fill given his number-one’s proclivities, but he, Biden and Cheney all fit the bill nicely overall.
While Harris may have to play a larger role given Biden’s demolition-derby approach to public speaking, the sign of success for her will be that she doesn’t make any huge headlines between the end of the Democratic convention and her debate with Pence on Oct. 7.
Her track record indicates she can be the kind of team player Biden needs. But her own presidential campaign – a confusing mess – leaves open the question of her competency. We’ll now find out if she’s equal to the task.
THE RULEBOOK: IT TAKES ALL KINDS
“There is sufficient diversity in the state of property, in the genius, manners, and habits of the people of the different parts of the Union, to occasion a material diversity of disposition in their representatives towards the different ranks and conditions in society.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 60
TIME OUT: ‘SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW’ IN OCONOMOWOC
History: “The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland and featuring words and music by E.Y. ‘Yip’ Harburg and Harold Arlen, [received] its world premiere in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, on August 12, 1939. The beloved characters and familiar plot points were mostly all there in the original children’s book, from the Kansas farm girl in shiny slippers transported to Munchkin land by a terrible tornado, to the wicked witch, the brainless scarecrow, the heartless tin woodsman and the cowardly lion she encounters once she gets there. But what’s missing, of course, from Frank Baum’s bestselling novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is the music that helped make those characters so beloved and those plot points so familiar. First published in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was adapted numerous times for the stage and screen and even set to music prior to 1939. It was that year’s film adaptation, however, that earned Baum’s work a permanent place not only in cinema history, but also in music history.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE
Trump: 40.6 percent
Biden: 51.4 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 10.8 points
Change from one week ago: Biden ↓ 0.4 points, Trump no change in points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: Trump 41% – Biden 51%; Fox News: Trump 41% – Biden 49%; ABC/WaPo: Trump 44% – Biden 54%; Quinnipiac University: Trump 37% – Biden 52%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 40% – Biden 51%.]
BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)
Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 40.8 percent
Average disapproval: 56.8 percent
Net Score: -16 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve – 54% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 40% approve – 58% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve – 56% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 36% approve – 60% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 42% approve – 56% disapprove.]
GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELF
This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss all of the news surrounding the 2020 Presidential elections. They revisit the top contenders for Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate selection, plans for the Democratic National Convention, Tuesday’s primary races in Minnesota and Georgia, and continued violence in many American cities. Plus, Chris answers August 11th world event trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
[Ed. note: This week’s episode was recorded prior to the announcement of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate.]
REPUBLICANS GET A HEADACHE FROM GEORGIA RUNOFF
AJC: “Marjorie Taylor Greene won Georgia’s 14th Congressional District GOP runoff, and she is likely to become the first QAnon supporter to earn a seat in Congress. Addressing supporters shortly after 9 p.m., she credited her willingness to buck party leadership in her win over neurosurgeon John Cowan. ‘The Republican establishment was against me,’ she said. ‘The D.C. swamp is against me. And the lying fake news media hates my guts. It’s a badge of honor. It’s not about me winning. This is a referendum on every single one of us, on our beliefs.’ Many Georgia Republicans endorsed Cowan over Greene after the media reported on racist and anti-Muslim videos she posted on social media. … Greene in her victory speech took aim at Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying her victory was part of a conservative tide that will result in a change of control in the U.S. House.”
Omar dispatches primary challenger despite many controversies – AP: “Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota survived a stiff Democratic primary challenge Tuesday from a well-funded opponent who tried to make an issue of her national celebrity, the latest in a string of victories by a new generation of emboldened progressive lawmakers. Omar, seeking her second term in November, easily defeated Antone Melton-Meaux, an attorney and mediator who raised millions in anti-Omar money. Omar and her allies gained confidence in her reelection chances after primary victories last week by fellow ‘Squad’ member Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and by Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who ousted a longtime St. Louis-area congressman. … ‘Tonight, our movement didn’t just win,’ Omar tweeted. ‘We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown.’”
Progressives’ next project in doubt after sexual misconduct claims emerge – The Hill: “Progressive Massachusetts House candidate Alex Morse’s campaign is grappling with allegations of inappropriate behavior with college students during his time as mayor of Holyoke, Mass., and a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, putting his political future in jeopardy. Morse, 31, has until now seen his star rise among the Democratic Party’s left flank since launching an insurgent bid for House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s seat in the 1st District. Morse has been the mayor of Holyoke, a city of about 40,000 people, since 2012, the youngest and first openly gay person to hold that position. But Morse’s campaign was dealt a major blow on Monday when the Sunrise Movement suspended its campaigning on Morse’s behalf following the allegations, sending a clear signal to other progressives. Additionally, the group’s Western Massachusetts Coalition announced on Monday that its members voted to rescind its endorsement of Morse.”
GOP gets its pick to take on Minnesota’s Petersen – Fox News: “Former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach on Tuesday declared victory in the GOP primary for Minnesota’s 7th congressional district in the rural western part of the state. It sets up what is likely to be one of the most competitive battleground states as the GOP aims to end the 30 year dominance of Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson. In a contentious five way primary, Fischbach, who earned crucial endorsements from both Minnesota GOP and President Trump in the final weeks, dominated the race by more than 59% of the total vote. She easily defeated out her strongest opponent, Air Force veteran and the GOP challenger from the district in 2016 and 2018, Dave Hughes by almost 40%.”
TRUMP SUGGESTS HE’S GIVEN UP ON RALLIES
Fox News: “President Trump in two separate interviews on Tuesday indicated that he may not be holding any more in-person rallies before the Nov. 3 presidential election due to coronavirus concerns, a blow to the candidate who thrives on stage, riling up crowds with his fiery speeches attacking opponents and touting his own accomplishments. Trump spoke with Fox Sports’ Clay Travis on ‘Outkick the Coverage’ … that rallies may be a thing of the past for his campaign. ‘You can’t have empty seats,’ Trump said to Travis while discussing some of the college football crowds he’s seen, which he said impressed him compared to NFL crowds. ‘If I had five empty seats, for instance, they said, when I do a rally, sir, the reason I won’t do them because you can’t have one seat and then seven around that seat, sir, have to be empty. Oh, that’ll look great.’ Trump added: ‘You have one person and everything’s … empty around them. You can’t do that. And I’m not sure that college football can do it but we’ll have to see.’”
Silver: Trump’s chances are poor, but better than some may think – FiveThirtyEight: “While the polls have been stable so far this year, it’s still only August. The debates and the conventions have yet to occur. [Joe] Biden only named his running mate yesterday. And the campaign is being conducted amidst a pandemic the likes of which the United States has not seen in more than 100 years, which is also causing an unprecedented and volatile economy. Nor has it been that uncommon, historically, for polls to shift fairly radically from mid-August until Election Day. Furthermore, there are some reasons to think the election will tighten, and President Trump is likely to have an advantage in a close election because of the Electoral College. That, in a nutshell, is why the FiveThirtyEight presidential election forecast, which we launched today, still has Trump with a 29 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, despite his current deficit in the polls. This is considerably higher than some other forecasts, which put Trump’s chances at around 10 percent. Biden’s chances are 71 percent in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, conversely.”
Dems’ assail postmaster’s plan to increase rates for ballots – NYT: “The Senate’s highest-ranking Democrat assailed the Postal Service on Tuesday for what he said was an effort to jack up the cost to states of mail-in voting, a new line of criticism in the escalating dispute over ensuring Americans can vote safely this fall in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said the Postal Service under the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major donor to the Trump campaigns, had ‘informed some states that they may need to pay a first-class rate to deliver ballots rather than the normal rate — nearly tripling the cost.’ At issue is whether states choose to categorize their mail-in ballots as first-class mail or marketing mail, the latter of which carries about one-third of the cost but gets lower priority. ‘At a time when people will have to vote by mail in record numbers because they can’t or won’t go vote in person, the postmaster general is saying we should triple the rate of cost to vote by mail?’ Mr. Schumer said. ‘What a despicable derogation of democracy.’”
PELOSI POOH-POOHS TALK OF A DEAL
Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democratic leaders and White House officials remain far apart regarding any deal to provide more emergency aid to American families and workers still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. ‘We’re miles apart,’ Pelosi told MSNBC during an interview on Wednesday, citing, in particular, a stalemate over education funding, eviction protections and additional money for food stamps. Negotiators are trying to bridge the divide between a $1 trillion aid package put forward by Senate Republicans at the end of July, and the $3 trillion legislation passed by House Democrats in May. The Trump administration rejected an offer by Pelosi last week to meet in the middle on a $2 trillion price tag. ‘It’s a chasm,’ Pelosi said. Talks between the two sides broke down last Friday, putting at risk potentially trillions of dollars in aid for families, businesses and the U.S. economy, including a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks, extra unemployment aid for millions of out-of-work Americans and $100 billion to help reopen schools.”
Big questions about Trump’s dole – WSJ: “An extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits is likely to take a couple of weeks to reach workers and funding could be exhausted a month and a half later, a senior Labor Department official said. The official said states should be able to begin delivering the payments after applying for funding with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and making technical changes to systems to distribute the money. Based on the current number of unemployment benefit recipients, the official said the $44 billion in funds allocated for the enhanced benefits could be spent in five or six weeks, if all states participate. That timeline would put the benefits on pace to expire sooner than the December termination set in Saturday’s executive action by President Trump. More than 30 million workers were receiving some form of unemployment benefits in the week ended July 18, the Labor Department said last week.”
MCCONNELL WARNS GOP OF ‘TOUGH’ FIGHT TO HOLD SENATE
NY Post: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he feels ‘optimistic’ that Republicans will be able to hold on to the Senate come November — but warned it was going to be ‘tough.’ McConnell (R-Ky.) offered his take on where things stood for the GOP ahead of the election during an appearance on Fox News’ ‘Bill Hemmer Reports’ Tuesday, after being asked if his party could keep Senate control. ‘Yeah, we can, but this was always going to be a tough cycle for us. This is a big class of incumbents because we took the majority six years ago,’ the Kentucky Republican said. Senators serve six-year terms. All those who helped return majority control to the Republican Party in 2014 — the last midterm election under President Barack Obama — are up for re-election this cycle. … Republicans are defending 23 seats in the Senate, while Democrats are defending 12. The difference in number of races, as well as the number of swing states where the GOP face numerous Democratic challenges, leave Republicans with an uphill battle.”
Kennedy primary bid losing steam – Politico: “Joe Kennedy was once thought to be such a lock to defeat Sen. Ed Markey that there was widespread speculation in Massachusetts that Markey might just retire to avoid a humbling end. But Markey is piling up endorsements and closing in on the young congressman in the polls by running a policy-heavy campaign that seems tailored for the moment. There’s growing sentiment that Kennedy underestimated the backlash he’d face for challenging the veteran incumbent, who has become beloved among progressives for his work on the Green New Deal. … Markey’s once-lackluster approval rating and name ID helped explain why two lesser-known Democrats — Shannon Liss-Riordan and Steve Pemberton — launched primary challenges to the low-key incumbent. But they dropped out when Kennedy, the heir to the state’s best-known political dynasty, entered the contest in September.”
SupCo temporarily blocks Oregon redistricting ballot measure – Reuters
Ocasio-Cortez to play kingmaker in 20201 New York mayoral race – Politico
AUDIBLE: JUNE CLEAVER IS IN THE BAG
“The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me.” – President Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I have heard you mention multiple times your displeasure of Presidential Primaries. To continue with your informative civic lessons, would you please explain how Presidential candidates were selected before the current primary system was established.” – Steven Lentz, Cypress, Texas
[Ed. note: Conventions were necessary gatherings at the local, district and state level in the days before easy travel and communication made other arrangements impossible. But it wasn’t rapid travel and instant communication that killed the convention, it was progressivism and populism which generally hold that more democracy is better. The imagining of post-1968 American politicos was that voters would just come out in droves for primaries. But they didn’t. That left the parties quite subject to hostage taking by highly motivated extremists. These low-turnout affairs enhance the power of fringe groups and create great incentives for trashing one’s own party. If you’ve got to work your way up through a convention system, you’re a heckuva lot less likely to want to tear things down.]
“[For the conventions] will there be fake crowd noise like in hockey and baseball? And by the way my dad now is a major fan of yours after reading your book. Very impressed, and that was before I told him you were from Wheeling – he is from right over the line in ‘WashPa’ and got the Wheeling Feeling many times as a young man. Keep up the excellent work and thanks for your insights.” – Terry Haines, Alexandria, Va. (but born in Washington, Pennsylvania which of course is more important)
[Ed. note: I hope he didn’t tell your mother about the feelings of Wheeling! My hometown was a famous vice capital of the 20th century. Mobster Bill Lias ran an independent operation that provided for the boozing, gambling and *ahem* companionship needs of working men from the Ohio Valley and beyond. I know my dad knew all about where to find a dice game in Wheeling long before he ever moved there. As for the canned applause business, I sure hope not. It is as awful as canned laughter on a sitcom and reminds viewers of the absence of fans rather than compensating.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
THANK YOU, SAFETY SQUIRREL
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The head of the [Wisconsin] Department of Natural Resources is telling employees to wear face masks on teleconferences — even when they’re not around others and at no risk of spreading the coronavirus. Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole reminded employees in a July 31 email that Gov. Tony Evers’ mask order was going into effect the next day. That means every DNR employee must wear a mask while in a DNR facility, noted Cole, an appointee of the Democratic governor. ‘Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff,’ Cole told his employees. ‘Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others.’ The governor’s mask order requires people to wear masks when they are indoors — other than in private residences.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Consider the oath of office that we take for granted. Whenever we bestow upon anyone the authority to wield the power of the state over free citizens, we make them swear to protect not the people, not the nation, not the flag, but the Constitution of the United States. A piece of paper.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) in a column from the Washington Post on Nov. 29, 2018, excerpted from his posthumous book, “The Point of It All.”
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.