**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Trump’s not waiting on Democrats – I’ll Tell You What: Don’t give up before the miracle – Warren apologizes, signals may be other documents – Pelosi vows there won’t be another shutdown – Petty level: 100
TRUMP’S NOT WAITING ON DEMOCRATS
No matter who the Democrats nominate, Donald Trump will be running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Every election is about definitions. Rival candidates seek to define each other in the worse possible terms. From the first time a tribe picked a chief, the test hasn’t been about being perfect but rather about being better than the alternative.
“Kang: Soft on saber-tooth tigers, too risky for our cave.”
So rather than waiting a year to find out the Democrats’ choice, the president is just going to go ahead and try to define the whole party.
In his State of the Union address Trump, laid out the three pillars of what will become an increasingly focused and intense attack: Socialism, infanticide and open borders.
Politicians usually avoid speaking in such absolutist terms not just because it’s demagoguery, but because voters like cooperative, agreeable candidates. There is a definite downside to talking that way.
Trump knows, however, that he will be running for re-election as a relatively unpopular incumbent and that 48 percent or so of the electorate is totally beyond his reach. Bearing that in mind, he’s going to try to win an election based on negative partisanship. Think of it as a Trumpified version of the negative re-election campaigns waged by his two most immediate predecessors.
As Joe Biden was fond of saying in 2012, “Don’t judge us by the Almighty, judge us by the alternative.”
Trump is preparing an argument that says the Democratic Party has become so radicalized that not even more moderate-sounding members could be trusted with power.
Don’t think that the president’s intense interest with Venezuela is just about foreign policy. The living, breathing embodiment of the dangers of socialism serves the president well. So too does the ongoing debacle in Virginia which, lest we forget, was kicked off by the ghastly sounding comments of the now-disgraced governor about abortion.
It’s also no coincidence that Trump has chosen El Paso, Texas for the location of his kick-off rally. Now that Democrats have had to admit that more needs to be done to shore up the southern border, Trump and his team will stay on topic.
This is why a lengthy and bruising nominating process is dangerous for Democrats. Trump is already very much in the general and is already on his talking point to. But it’s also why it is so perilous for the Blue Team to indulge the magical thinking of its most extreme members, like Ocasio-Cortez.
The “Green New Deal” that she and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., laid out today couldn’t be more useful for the Trump campaign if his campaign manager had drafted it himself. It’s expensive, invasive and ideally suited to terrify Rust Belt working-class voters. If you marry big government with higher energy costs you have found a way to tell a maximum number of Pennsylvania voters to kiss off.
The proposal is out of the Democratic mainstream, but like Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal for government-run health insurance, there will be many Democrats who are afraid to reject it.
Big taxes on the wealthy have long been a popular proposition, but when you get out into the distant atmosphere that proudly claims the name socialism you run out of oxygen pretty quickly.
Most Democrats are acutely aware of this and, as a recent Monmouth University poll shows, are primarily interested in nominating a candidate who can beat Trump. But those interests diverge from the individual ambitions of Cortez, Markey, Sanders, et al.
Keeping these divergent impulses in check will have as much to say about Democrats’ 2020 chances as anything.
THE RULEBOOK: YOUNG AND ABLE
“It is observed that select corps may be formed, composed of the young and ardent, who may be rendered subservient to the views of arbitrary power.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29
TIME OUT: ‘HE RODE A BLAZING SADDLE’
Hollywood Reporter: “On Feb. 7, 1974, Warner Bros. unleashed a 125-minute, R-rated Western from Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles. The film, nominated for three Oscars at the 47th Academy Awards, has become a pop culture touchstone. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below: Mel Brooks has come up with his most outrageous comedy to date in the brilliantly funny Blazing Saddles… Immediately setting the incredibly irreverent tone with a hilarious parody in the title song (music by John Morris, lyrics by Brooks), sung by Frankie Laine, Brooks then swiftly proceeds to satirize every Western ever made, up to and including Zachariah. Unfortunately, he has overindulged himself in the broad comedy of the final scenes and lessens the effect of the film somewhat by allowing the climactic fight to spread throughout Burbank Studios, onto a soundstage where a musical production number is being rehearsed, into the commissary and ending in the forecourt of the Chinese Theatre.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 56 percent
Net Score: -16.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; Gallup: 37% approve – 59% disapprove.]
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: DON’T GIVE UP BEFORE THE MIRACLE
The state of the union is strong… but we’re keeping an eye on Virginia. This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the ongoing saga that is Virginia state politics, the President’s State of the Union Address and the queso that wasn’t. Plus, mailbag and trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
WARREN APOLOGIZES, SIGNALS MAY BE OTHER DOCUMENTS
Fox News: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Wednesday was once again forced to apologize for claiming Native American ancestry on a 1986 registration card for the Texas state bar, and left the door open that there may be more documents out there with a similar claim. The controversy appears to be difficult for the senator to put behind her. She had been planning to formally launch her presidential campaign on Saturday. A reporter on Wednesday asked if she would drop out of the race and she responded, ‘Thank you.’ … A Boston Globe columnist wrote flatly: With latest revelation, Elizabeth Warren can’t beat Donald Trump. … Warren, who apologized last Friday to the Cherokee Nation for revealing the results of a DNA test last autumn that showed just a trace amount of Native American lineage, was asked if there are any other documents where she claimed the ancestry. ‘So all I know is during this time period, this is consistent with what I did because it was based on my understanding from my family’s stories,’ she said. ‘But family stories are not the same as tribal citizenship.’”
Hickenlooper making moves toward 2020 run – Fox News: “John Hickenlooper, who just finished serving two terms as Colorado’s governor, appears to be moving closer to launching a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Fox News has confirmed that Hickenlooper will be making multiple stops next week in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House. Earlier this week, he met with voters and activists in South Carolina, which holds the first southern primary. And a week and a half ago, he made the rounds in Iowa, the state that kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar. ‘The more and more I travel, I see that there is an appetite for a leader who not only talks about progressive policies, but who has a proven track record of enacting them,’ Hickenlooper said in a statement to Fox News.”
Klobuchar may have issues staffing a campaign team – HuffPo: “At least three people have withdrawn from consideration to lead Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s nascent 2020 presidential campaign — and done so in part because of the Minnesota Democrat’s history of mistreating her staff, HuffPost has learned. Klobuchar, who plans to make an announcement about a potential presidential bid on Sunday in Minneapolis, has spent the past several months positioning herself to run for president. She’s beloved in her state as a smart, funny and personable lawmaker and has gained national attention for her lines of questioning at high-profile hearings. But some former Klobuchar staffers, all of whom spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity, describe Klobuchar as habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty that make it difficult to work in her office for long. It is common for staff to wake up to multiple emails from Klobuchar characterizing one’s work as ‘the worst’…”
2020 Dems eye California for big money – Politico: “A political Gold Rush is starting up in California, well before the field settles in the Democratic presidential contest. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is starring in a Feb. 23 reception at the Atherton home of Laura and Gary Lauder, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. Kamala Harris, the home-state senator in the race, is scheduled to appear at a Sunday fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by former Hillary Clinton donor and friend Susie Tompkins Buell… Tickets for Harris’ event begin at $250, while the Booker reception starts at $500. Next week, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro is planning a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he’s expected to meet one on one with potential donors, a person familiar with the meetings said. In Los Angeles, longtime supporters of Joe Biden, who is considering a run, said they’d been hearing from the former vice president and his aides of late.”
PELOSI VOWS THERE WON’T BE ANOTHER SHUTDOWN
Politico: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi is vowing that the federal government will not shut down again, even as President Donald Trump ratchets up pressure for his border wall ahead of a fast-approaching deadline. ‘There will not be another shutdown,’ Pelosi confidently asserted during a half-hour interview Wednesday in her Capitol office. ‘No, it’s not going to happen.’ After the 35-day shutdown — and the political drubbing that Trump and Republicans took during the record-breaking impasse — Pelosi predicted GOP leaders won’t go down that road again. ‘I have a club that I started, it’s called the ‘Too Hot to Handle Club.’ And this is a too-hot-to-handle issue,’ Pelosi quipped. Pelosi said she believes a bipartisan House-Senate panel negotiating on border security will come to an agreement before the Feb. 15 funding deadline. And she pledged to support any deal that emerges from those talks, even as she remains firm that there won’t be new money for Trump’s wall.”
REPORT: VIRGINIA STATE REP KNEW OF FAIRFAX ALLEGATIONS
ABC News: “Virginia Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott was made aware of allegations of sexual assault against now-Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax over a year ago by the alleged victim herself, ABC News has learned. Scott learned of the allegations directly from Dr. Vanessa Tyson, who on Wednesday released a statement detailing the alleged 2004 assault, which took place at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax vehemently denies the assault claim. In a statement given to ABC News on Wednesday, Scott wrote, ‘Allegations of sexual assault need to be taken seriously. I have known Professor Tyson for approximately a decade and she is a friend. She deserves the opportunity to have her story heard.’ Aides to Scott confirm to ABC News that Tyson first reached out to him in an email on October 20, 2017, expressing that she was ‘not a fan’ of then-candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.”
Pergram: ‘Capitol grapples with history on race’ – Fox News: “Race, ethnicity and religion wove the fabric of the American narrative. The issue of slavery dominated debates prior to the republic’s inception, continuing through the Civil War. There were questions about how to deal with African Americans, Native Americans and other minorities. There were internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. The civil rights movement rattled the nation in the 1950s and 1960s. So it’s no surprise that we’re talking about race when it comes to Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, the comments of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the House voting to disapprove of King’s remarks, President Trump, unrest in Charlottesville, Va., or Covington Catholic High School students standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial amid Native Americans. …Both parties often revel in schadenfreude when a figure of the opposite party commits a major gaffe or utters something flat-out offensive on race, but neither side is truly absolved from these transgressions. After all, the race/ethnicity/religion conversation is woven into the fabric of the nation.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: UNDERSTANDING DOE V. BOLTON
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the law surrounding abortion and late-term abortion: “In January 1973, the Supreme Court issued two abortion decisions on the same day. The better known of the two, Roe v. Wade, has been the fulcrum for political, legal, moral and religious debate as fierce as any this country has seen since the abolitionist movement challenged slavery in the era before the War Between the States. … However, thanks to Roe’s little-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the phrase ‘the health of the mother’ can mean the physical, mental, psychological or emotional health of and (inexplicably) the age of the mother. Stated differently, under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, if a mother satisfies a physician that she would suffer emotionally if she were to carry her baby to term or is too old to be a mother, in all states in the union, she can have an abortion at any time in her pregnancy — even at the end of the ninth month.” More here.
AUDIBLE: SHOTS FIRED
“The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, talking to Politico about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal.”
Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
PETTY LEVEL: 100
10TV: “Looking to get yourself a present this Valentine’s Day? The El Paso Zoo has you covered. It will name a cockroach after your ex and then feed it to a meerkat live on camera. You can message the zoo on Facebook with your ex’s name, then wait patiently for February 14 to watch the roach get devoured during the ‘Quit Bugging Me’ meerkat event, which will live-stream on Facebook and the zoo’s website. The names of those exes will also be displayed around the meerkat exhibit and on social media starting February 11. The zoo calls it ‘the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.’ ‘This is a fun way to get the community involved in our daily enrichment activities,’ El Paso Zoo event coordinator Sarah Borrego told CBS News. ‘The meerkats love to get cockroaches as a snack and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex!’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“By the time the media have exhausted their outrage over the looming abolition of free speech, judicial supremacy and affordable kale, Trump has moved on.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Dec. 8, 2016.
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.