Roger Marshall and Kris Kobach face off for Kansas GOP Senate nomination; Mark Meredith reports from Capitol Hill.
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On the roster: Today’s Kansas primary crucial to fight for Senate – Trump: Corona ‘under control,’ death toll ‘is what it is’ – Veepstakes candidate Bass: ‘I’m not a communist’ – House Dems ramp up spending in Midwest – Emmett Brown, call your office
TODAY’S KANSAS PRIMARY CRUCIAL TO FIGHT FOR SENATE
Politico: “Republicans are about to learn if they have a serious problem in Kansas — and another major threat to their teetering Senate majority. In [today’s] primary, GOP voters will decide between hard-line [immigration foe] Kris Kobach and Rep. Roger Marshall as their nominee for an open Senate seat. Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Kansas in nearly a century. But both parties think Kobach as the nominee would put the race squarely on the map, stretching Republican resources thinner as they’re already spending to protect a half-dozen vulnerable incumbents. Also on the ballot, House GOP operatives are paying close attention to embattled Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Kan.), who’s up against two primary challengers and a barrage of bad headlines over alleged ethical transgressions. If Watkins hangs on, Democrats are ready to pounce, despite the district’s pronounced pro-Trump tilt.”
Tlaib is famous, well-funded, but can’t count on Dem divisions in re-election – NYT: “Representative Rashida Tlaib, a first-term Michigan Democrat who rocketed to national attention as a vocal critic of President Trump, is fighting for her political life, locked in a close primary race… Ms. Tlaib [today] faces a rematch against Brenda Jones, the Detroit City Council president who Ms. Tlaib narrowly defeated in 2018. … For over 50 years, the district, which includes a portion of Detroit and a handful of surrounding suburbs, was represented by John Conyers, a civil rights icon. Some supporters of Ms. Jones, who is Black, have said that she would be a better fit for the district than Ms. Tlaib, who is Palestinian by descent. Ian Conyers, a former state senator and great-nephew of John Conyers who ran against Ms. Jones in a special election in 2018 and endorsed her this year, argued that her community ties would help her forge better relationships in Washington.”
Missouri rematch between Dem dynasty and progressive insurgent – National Journal: “Since her name last appeared on the ballot, Cori Bush became a movie star. The nurse and Ferguson activist was featured in last year’s Netflix documentary Knock Down the House, which profiles four Democratic women who tried to unseat incumbents in 2018. Her last scene in the film features her wiping away tears and shaking her head, having lost to Rep. William Lacy Clay. With Tuesday’s primary, she hopes for a sequel with a more upbeat ending. Bush is one of only two Justice Democrats-backed primary challengers left this cycle. Three of the group’s endorsed candidates won their party’s nomination, one cleared a top-two primary, and another three lost. After Tuesday’s primary, the last undecided race will be Alex Morse’s challenge to Rep. Richard Neal in Massachusetts’ 1st District.”
THE RULEBOOK: SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED MORE LATITUDE
“Allowing the utmost latitude to the love of power which any reasonable man can require, I confess I am at a loss to discover what temptation the persons intrusted with the administration of the general government could ever feel to divest the States of the authorities of that description.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 17
TIME OUT: A BOON FOR THE BOONDOCKERS
Smithsonian: “Over the last three years, full-time RVer Robin Barrett has slept on the grounds of a miniature train museum in Oregon, beside the sprawling vineyards of a Colorado winery and at a lavender farm in Washington state. The author of Be a Nomad, Change Your Life, a guide to mobile living, is constantly seeking out new and interesting spots to park herself for the night. … Barrett is just one of the thousands of RVers that have fallen in love with boondocking, or ‘dry camping,’ a term that generally refers to RV or van camping without access to services like electrical hookups or external water facilities. While this includes bedding down beneath the stars in federally run forests, alongside public beaches, and even in the parking lot of a Walmart or Cracker Barrel (both which typically allow overnight stays), a growing number of private lands are opening themselves up to boondocking, and in many cases, tent camping as well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, such sites have become particularly enticing across the U.S., as many travelers shy away from staying in hotels and RV rentals reach new heights nationwide.”
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: 51.8 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 11.2 points
Change from one week ago: Biden no change in points, Trump no change in points
[Average includes: 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%; Monmouth University: Trump 41% – Biden 53%.]
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: ↓ 0.4 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.
TRUMP: CORONA ‘UNDER CONTROL,’ DEATH TOLL ‘IS WHAT IT IS’
USA Today: “President Donald Trump said his administration has done an ‘incredible’ job handling the coronavirus pandemic and that despite rising deaths the outbreak is ‘under control,’ in a wide-ranging and contentious interview that aired on HBO Monday night. Axios National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan began the interview by asking Trump if his sometimes ‘wishful thinking’ and ‘salesmanship’ was suitable in a crisis that has killed more than 155,000 people in the U.S. … Trump responded to that criticism by saying he thinks the outbreak is ‘under control.’ Swan asked how he could say that as the average number of daily deaths had climbed back up to over 1,000. ‘They are dying, that's true. And it is what it is,’ Trump said. ‘But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control, as much as you can control it.’”
Pelosi says relief talks will stretch into next week – Roll Call: “Negotiations on a COVID-19 relief bill inched forward Monday during a two-hour meeting between congressional Democrats and key Trump administration officials, though the sides remain far apart on several key issues. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told rank-and-file Democrats on a conference call that she sees talks bleeding into next week, when both chambers are scheduled to be out of session, according to two sources on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity. Pelosi earlier characterized the meeting as ‘productive,’ however, telling reporters it focused on education funding, as schools throughout the country struggle with dozens of issues related to remote learning or a hybrid schedule. ‘Opening our schools is a place where we spent a good deal of time,’ Pelosi said. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said negotiators went over the various funding levels for health care, education and economic programs in the dueling Democratic and GOP bills with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.”
Walter Russell Mead: ‘The pandemic is a dress rehearsal’ – WSJ: “The pandemic, which is mild as the great plagues of history go, demonstrates that the complexity of this global civilization has become a source of new vulnerabilities. And with the legitimacy of many institutions resting on their ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, Covid-19 challenges political leaders and institutions in ways that they cannot easily manage. The world needs to get used to that feeling. The pandemic’s legacy will be crisis and chaos — and the trajectory of human civilization has shifted in ways that will test political leaders and economic policy makers more severely than anything since World War II. This is partly because the return of great-power competition introduces new risks and complications into the international system. More fundamentally, it is because the information revolution is beginning to disrupt the world as profoundly and traumatically as the Industrial Revolution disrupted the 19th-century world.”
VEEPSTAKES CANDIDATE BASS: ‘I’M NOT A COMMUNIST’
NBC News: “Rep. Karen Bass, the five-term California congresswoman and potential Joe Biden running mate, urged Cuban American voters Monday to ‘not believe the lies’ of Republicans. ‘I’m not a socialist. I’m not a communist. I’ve belonged to one party my entire life and that’s the Democratic Party and I’m a Christian,’ Bass told NBC News. As Bass has emerged as a potential vice presidential pick, Republicans have seized on Bass’ history of visits to Cuba. It's an overture to the significant segment of Cuban American and other Latino voters in the swing state of Florida who have backed Republican candidates over their hardline stances against the communist country. Recent polls show President Donald Trump is lagging there.”
Like ‘The Bachelor’ but for the vice presidency – Fox News: “With the clock ticking, a leading adviser to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said the former vice president will use the next week or so to ‘spend some time’ with the roughly half-dozen contenders who have made his shortlist for running mate. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a co-chair of Biden's running mate selection committee, said Tuesday in an interview with MSNBC that they have ‘amazing women that have been a part of this process. We're keeping them all, we've vetted them heavily, all of them have passed the vet, and now in this next week, week and a half, Mr. Biden can spend some time with them.’ … These final one-on-one meetings – whether in-person or virtual – are seen as crucial for the Democratic candidate, who’s looking to find a running mate who will bond with him the way he did with President Barack Obama during their eight years in the White House.”
Trump said to weigh co-opting patriotic sites for virtual convention – NYT: “A presidential address in front of the Gettysburg battlefield, or at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. … Perhaps a stage for the warm-up acts built at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. These are some of the scenarios that have been under discussion among President Trump and his top aides as they hold out hope for an ambitious, Trumpian display over four nights of Republican National Convention programming. Despite the surging coronavirus pandemic, which forced Mr. Trump to cancel the convention in Jacksonville, Fla., after moving it from its original location in Charlotte, N.C., he and his advisers are counting on some form of the spectacle to serve as a boost to the flagging incumbent as he heads into the final stretch of the campaign. Mr. Trump has said he plans to travel to Charlotte to thank delegates who are still planning to gather there for meetings and the official roll call… In meetings at the White House, Trump advisers have also discussed the possibility of returning to Mount Rushmore for an encore performance. And they have proposed to Mr. Trump other national monuments closer to the White House that could serve as outdoor vistas for his renomination speech on Aug. 27.”
HOUSE DEMS RAMP UP SPENDING IN MIDWEST
The Hill: “The House Democrats’ main campaign arm has reserved almost $1.5 million worth of television air time meant to target three Midwestern Republicans whose seats are suddenly up for grabs in a tumultuous political climate. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Tuesday laid down advertising reservations that will take aim at Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), three incumbents who represent districts President Trump won in 2016. The committee will also reserve $716,000 in airtime in Oklahoma City, where freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) is seeking a second term after notching one of the most surprising wins of the 2018 midterm elections. In total, the DCCC is reserving almost $2.2 million in airtime in the four districts. The new money is on top of almost $24 million the party has already spread across 21 media markets throughout the country.”
Fauci firing latest litmus test in mega-MAGA Tennessee primary – AP: “A Tennessee trauma surgeon running for an open Senate seat is calling for President Donald Trump to fire the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert amid a pandemic. Dr. Manny Sethi attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci during a campaign event over the weekend in Knoxville. ‘This guy Fauci, I’ve had about enough of this guy,’ Sethi said at a Saturday rally to loud applause from the crowd. ‘I think maybe it’s time for the president to bring him into the board room and say, ‘You’re fired.’’ Sethi is one of the top candidates running to replace outgoing Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring at the end of his term. Sethi and Bill Hagerty, his opponent and Trump’s pick for the seat, have traded attacks over who is more conservative as the [Thursday] primary nears.”
Omar faces heat for celebrity, scandal in primary next week – St. Paul Pioneer Press: “As Democrat Antone Melton-Meaux … carried a pointed message to the voters he courted at the city’s largest Somali market: I want to focus on the work, not being famous. There’s no missing the target of the dig: Rep. Ilhan Omar. Omar … made history two years ago as the first Somali-American elected to Congress and went on to make countless headlines for making controversial statements on Israel, for tangling with President Donald Trump and for a personal life that became tabloid fodder. All the attention has helped make Omar a progressive star, but it’s also drawn criticism and a surprisingly strong primary challenger in Melton-Meaux. … [He] has drawn support from some traditional Democrats uncomfortable with Omar’s style [and] raised big money from pro-Israel groups with strong support in the city’s first-ring suburbs. And his bid has prompted a fight for votes in the Black and Somali-American communities, each roiled by this summer’s uprising over George Floyd’s death.”
Republicans tout voter registration surge – Axios: “The Trump campaign and RNC have now registered 100,000 new voters in the 2020 cycle, more than doubling their numbers from 2016 and shrinking Democrats' registration advantage in key swing states, according to new Trump Victory data provided exclusively to Axios. Democrats still have more active registered voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, but Republicans have managed to narrow the margins in those states by tens of thousands of voters since 2016. Trump won Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Iowa in 2016, but former Vice President Joe Biden is currently ahead in the polls in all but Iowa, according to FiveThirtyEight. But Republicans have narrowed the voter registration gap in key swing states, according to Axios' reviews of those states records.”
Obama rolls out first slate of endorsements – CNBC: “Former President Barack Obama released his first slate of 2020 candidate endorsements …118 candidates up and down the ballot in 17 states. Obama endorsed five Democratic Senate challengers in some of the nation’s most closely watched races, those in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina and South Carolina. … [Montana’s Steve Bullock] is one of several Democratic Senate challengers missing from the list because they’re running in traditionally red states — places where an endorsement from Obama might not necessarily help a candidate in a statewide race. The other states are Kentucky, Georgia and Texas. Other notable endorsements from the former president included dozens of state legislative candidates in Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, all states where control of one or both of the chambers is being tightly contested this year. The party that controls a state’s legislature is virtually guaranteed to have outsize influence over the 2021 redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.”
Minnesota judge extends corona election rules – [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “A Minnesota judge Monday approved changes easing Minnesota absentee ballot rules during the coronavirus pandemic for the November general election. An agreement approved by Ramsey County District Judge Sara Grewing allows voters to submit their mail-in or absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election without witness signatures. Election officials also will count ballots that arrive within seven days of the election, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. The changes are the result of an agreement between DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon and citizen groups that filed a lawsuit against the state, including the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund. Plaintiffs celebrated the decision as a win for voters worried about the health risks of voting in person during a pandemic.”
Postmaster general to face questions over mail delays, ballot woes – AP: “The House Oversight Committee has invited the new postmaster general to appear at a September hearing to examine operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are causing delays in mail deliveries across the country. The plan imposed by Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser who took over the top job at the Postal Service in June, eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and orders that mail be kept until the next day if postal distribution centers are running late. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the Oversight panel, said the Sept. 17 hearing will focus on ‘the need for on-time mail delivery during the ongoing pandemic and upcoming election,’ which is expected to include a major expansion of mail-in ballots.”
Census Bureau nixes corona delay – Politico
GOP politicos among those propping up Kanye West’s meltdown campaign – NY Mag
Half of independents, 71 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats hold negative views of news media – Gallup
TikTok deal in doubt as Trump says Microsoft should pay Feds for the privilege – WSJ
AUDIBLE: KEEPING THE ‘ME’ IN ‘GOVERNMENT’
“He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that’s OK. That’s his right. And, again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.” – President Trump to Axios when asked whether he thought civil rights leader John Lewis had lived an impressive life.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I wasn't completely satisfied with your answer to Mary Anne Kenerson (Michigan) about the differences in ‘absentee voting’ and ‘mail-in voting.’ My understanding of ‘absentee voting’ (and this is the process my husband and I go through in NC) is you request a 2020 State Absentee Ballot Form be mailed to you from your County Election Board. The form arrives, you fill it out with personal information. If you fill it out with ANY important false information, you can be charged with a Class I Felony. You sign it and mail the completed form into your County Election Board. When you receive your ballot by mail, you fill it out, have it signed by two witnesses and mail it to the Election Board. Yes, it is ‘voting by mail,’ but there are a lot of safeguards along the way for ‘absentee voting’ as you fill out the forms to hopefully, prevent fraud, etc. Real ‘mail-in voting’ is, in my opinion, sending out a bunch of ballots to EVERYONE who is on the books in each precinct. The voting rolls may have false or out-of-date info on someone. You may be dead. They certainly do not purge the voting rolls on a regular basis. A lot of dead people vote in each election. You may have moved and they have an ‘outdated’ address for you, and if so, when the person who lives at your outdated address receives the ballot, THEY ‘may’ fill it out, forge your name on it, mail it in AND they may NOT vote for the person you wanted to vote for. There are a lot of other ways, as well, for fraud and mischief to occur with the ‘mail-in voting’ that I have just described. I think a lot of people are confused about the differences and don't understand how crooked the process can be when a person automatically receives a ballot in the mail that they have NOT asked for.” – Hope Councill, Chapel Hill, N.C.
[Ed. note: Ms. Councill, I certainly take your point. Your state was the scene of one of the most egregious absentee ballot frauds of recent memory when the results of a congressional race were thrown out last year because of corruption. But I think you are using the term “mail-in” as a pejorative for the administration of elections of which you disapprove and “absentee” to refer to votes cast by mail under terms you think are appropriate. You should consider a different approach since the distinction you’re trying to make gets lost in the complexities of state voting laws. Five states – Colorado, Washington, Utah, Hawaii and Oregon – already conducted all of their elections solely by mail prior to the pandemic. California, Nebraska and North Dakota already allowed counties to opt-out of in-person voting. In all of those places, state and local elections officials have different rules about how ballots are distributed and collected, some of which are very stringent. It wouldn’t be right to say they were all bad because of their use of the mail given their track records of success. So far, 17 states and the District of Columbia have changed their absentee voting rules because of the pandemic. In California, Vermont and D.C., elections officials are going to follow the lead of the all-mail states and send out ballots to all registered voters, a dubious choice given that they don’t have experience and making such a big change amid straitened circumstances seems unwise. In 10 states – Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland Delaware and Massachusetts – officials will mail out absentee voting applications to the addresses of all registered voters. West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri and Arkansas have moved to what is now the majority of states and offer “no-excuse” absentee voting in light of the pandemic – voters are free to vote by mail, but must request a ballot themselves. Something like three-quarters of Americans will be able to vote by mail this fall without demonstrating special needs. But in those states where those limits remain in place – New York, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas – millions of Americans will still vote by mail once they jump through the additional hoop. That’s a very long way of saying that there are LOTS of different ways to cast absentee ballots. Some are better than others and security measures tend to vary widely. Trying to say that “absentee'' ballots are good but “mail-in” ballots are bad seems to miss the point you’re trying to make. If you want to decry the kind of corruption you saw in North Carolina, be specific and make actual claims rather than lumping good and bad together with confusing terms. And as for fraud and mischief, there is a long history of that in our elections, particularly the in-person kind. Committed crooks will always find a way. Election officials must find ways to defeat them without placing undue burdens on honest voters whatever the means of ballot casting.]
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EMMETT BROWN, CALL YOUR OFFICE
CNET: “We've been promised flying cars for seemingly decades, and although we still don't have one ready for production, New Hampshire has gone ahead and given them the OK. [Last] Wednesday, the Granite State passed House Bill 1182, aka the ‘Jetson Bill,’ into law, and the transportation bill includes a prevision that makes flying cars legal on public roads. There aren't any to hit the roads today, but it's a future forward gesture, I suppose. To be clear, the legislation doesn't let future flying cars zip above roadways, but it does allow them to operate as a traditional vehicle on public roads. Essentially, it lets tomorrow's drivers/pilots drive to the airport and then takeoff towards the skies. And no funny business, either; flying cars will not be allowed to take off and land on public roads. Although they don't exist today, there are two companies that continue to aggressively pursue the segment.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“When you live in a town with a great team, you go to see them win. When you live in a town with a team that is passing rapidly through mediocrity on its way to contention — the Nats have an amazing crop of upcoming young players — you go for the moments.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the Washington Post on Sept. 1, 2011.
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.