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On the roster: Wisconsin shapes up as top battleground – I’ll Tell You What: Place your Beto’s – Tlaib blames Dem Islamophobia for anti-Semitism rebuke – GOP Senate scrambles to help Trump save face – Prayers may be in order…

U.S. News and World: “The 2020 presidential race is ushering in a new premiere battleground state: Wisconsin. Democrats’ selection of Milwaukee as the site for the party’s national convention next year cements the Badger State as one of the most significant prizes on the electoral map and represents a burgeoning belief that the Rust Belt will factor more crucially than the Sun Belt in this campaign for the White House. Choosing Milwaukee over the larger southern cities of Miami and Houston also discards the historical notion that the convention host city doesn’t matter politically. … The upper Midwestern state’s 10 electoral votes are also just as important to President Donald Trump‘s re-election calculus. Wisconsin, of course, was one of the three traditionally blue states – along with Michigan and Pennsylvania – that Trump was able to flip out of the Democratic Party’s column in 2016, securing his astounding upset over Hillary Clinton. Of the three, Republican operatives see Wisconsin as the most friendly turf to retain.”

Biden hints at April announcement – Fox News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden dropped a major hint on Tuesday that he’ll likely launch a Democratic presidential campaign in the coming weeks. Biden was greeted with chants of ‘run Joe, run’ as he took the podium in Washington, D.C. at the annual convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) union. Many in the crowd also were waving ‘Run, Joe, Run,’ and ‘Fire Fighters for Biden’ signs. A few minutes later, during his keynote address, Biden said: ‘I appreciate the energy you showed when I got up here. Save it a little longer. I may need it in a few weeks.’ The comment brought a standing ovation from the audience. … Sources familiar with the planning of Biden’s inner circle last week confirmed to Fox News that top advisers to the former vice president are getting their ducks in a row… Those sources pointed to a likely April campaign launch.”

Hogan to speak in New Hampshire in April – WaPo: “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is weighing a primary challenge to President Trump, has accepted an invitation from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics to speak at the Politics & Eggs series at Saint Anselm College next month. The Politics & Eggs series is a must-attend event for potential presidential candidates. Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor will speak April 23. Hogan is being wooed by Republican critics of Trump to run against him in the 2020 GOP primary. The popular governor, who is barred by state law from seeking a third term, has not ruled out a possible White House run. But he has also made clear that he would not launch a campaign unless Trump is weakened. Last week, Hogan spent two days in Iowa, the first caucus state. He attended meetings for the National Governors Association and said he was not there to lay the groundwork for a presidential run.”

Rahm Emanuel: ‘How not to lose to Donald Trump’ – Atlantic: “But Democrats haven’t won the 2020 election yet—and we’ve got a long way to go. At this stage in the 1992 election cycle, President George H. W. Bush was riding high, buoyed by America’s success in the Gulf War. Less than two years later, Bill Clinton moved into the White House. Trump might prove incapable of engineering such a dramatic reversal of fortune. But if the economy continues to hum and he racks up a couple of wins on foreign policy, the public’s perception of his presidency could shift. Democrats can’t bank on voters being more dismayed by him than they are enamored of us. For that reason, Democrats need to take a strategic approach to the next 20 months. In the last election, Democrats were too quick to dismiss the possibility that voters would take Trump ‘seriously, not literally.’ This time, we should not only take him seriously—we should take him literally when he tells us exactly how he’s going to run his reelection campaign.”

“Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

NatGeo: “Socrates is considered by many to be the founding father of Western philosophy—as well as one of the most enigmatic figures of ancient history. He wrote nothing himself, so all knowledge of the Greek philosopher has been handed down through the writings of his contemporaries and his students, primarily his star pupil, Plato. Scholars still grapple with ‘the Socratic problem’: how to distinguish the historical Socrates from the individual portrayed and interpreted by various authors through the ages. But as any law student will attest, his interrogative ‘Socratic method’ of teaching is as alive and well today as it was when the great thinker questioned everything and everyone in Athens in the fifth century B.C. Socrates first distinguished himself as a hoplite, or heavily armed infantryman, in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. … [Upon his death] [a]s chronicled by Plato, ‘He appeared happy both in manner and words as he died nobly and without fear.’”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53.2 percent
Net Score: -10.8 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.4 points 
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 55% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% unapproved; IBD: 41% approve – 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 46% approve – 52% disapprove.]

This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the emerging 2020 field, REO Speedwagon and Mitt Romney‘s Twinkie birthday cake. Plus, mailbag questions and trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Fox News: “Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, defended her colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar from backlash within their own party regarding the Minnesota representative’s controversial remarks deemed by some to be anti-Semitic. … In a preview clip of an interview on Showtime’s ‘The Circus,’ Tlaib suggested that ‘Islamophobia’ within their party could be behind the swift condemnation for the comments. ‘You know, I’m trying to figure it out. It’s just this past week, I feel, and I know this would be somewhat shocking for some, but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party,’ Tlaib answered. ‘And I know that’s hard for people to hear, but there’s only been four members of Congress that are of Muslim faith. Three of them currently serve in this institution. More of us need to get elected, but more of us need to understand as we come into this institution that I have a lot of work to do with my colleagues.’”

Who’s the boss? – Fox News: “Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Twitter bio declares her the ‘Unbossed Congresswoman’ for Michigan’s 13th District. While the moniker has roots in Shirley Chisholm’s successful campaign to become the first black congresswoman, nowadays it also could be seen as a blunt message to Democratic leadership: Nobody is bossing around the class of 2019. … [A] squad of first-year congresswomen are flexing their muscle and posing an implicit challenge to Democratic honchos like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Their stridently liberal agenda – and power to steer the national conversation via social media and press attention – has fueled tensions inside the party tent that in turn are testing leadership’s control while stirring political concerns going into 2020. ‘All of our problems are caused by three people,’ one senior House Democrat lamented to Fox News. That would be New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Tlaib – all freshmen, and all uniquely unencumbered by things like decorum or deference to party elders.”

Politico: “Senate Republicans are trying to head off a collision with President Donald Trump over the border wall this week… Some GOP senators are discussing a potential compromise with the White House in order to limit Republican defections on a vote this week to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, according to GOP senators and aides. The matter was unresolved as of Monday evening, senators said… Republican senators queasy about the legality and precedent of Trump’s unilateral move to fund his wall are exploring whether the president will commit to signing a bill amending the National Emergency Act and curtailing presidential power. In exchange, they would consider standing with the president and potentially vote against the House-passed disapproval measure. …  Two GOP senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, discussed the potential changes to the law with the White House over the weekend.”

Pergram: Republicans’ dessert dilemma – Fox News: “President Trump’s national emergency declaration plunders various appropriations silos, which Congress targeted for specific Pentagon and ‘Military Construction’ projects. The national emergency redistributes money for the wall. GOPers want the wall. But they also don’t want President Trump to pilfer their pet project back home. So, maybe the best solution to the quandary is the appropriations equivalent of an ice cream cake. All lawmakers know right now are the general pots of money from which the Trump administration will loot funds for the wall. But everyone’s in the dark when it comes to specifics.”

Fox News: “British Prime Minister Theresa May‘s Brexit deal was given another thumping defeat in Parliament on Tuesday, despite her last-minute efforts to secure concessions from E.U. leaders — just weeks before Britain is set to leave the bloc. The withdrawal agreement, hashed out with European leaders in 2018, was defeated 391-242, despite a dramatic, last-minute trip to Strasbourg by May on Monday, after which she had declared she had secured legally binding changes to the deal in an effort to appease parliamentarians. It was the second such defeat for the bill, after it was rejected 432-202 in January — the largest defeat for a prime minister in the history of the House of Commons. May and her allies had sought to rally MPs to the deal in the hours before the vote, with a series of speeches urging lawmakers to back the deal to make sure Britain can leave the bloc with a deal on March 29.”

Rep. Al Green brushes off Pelosi pushback, says he’ll pursue Trump impeachment – Fox News

Former Vice President Dick Cheney challenges Pence face-to-face over Trump foreign policy – Fox News

David Brooks: ‘If Stalin had a smartphone’ – NYT

N.Y. AG issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for Trump projects – NYT

“I was so far off in the wings that I felt like a Ugandan swimmer at the Olympics.” – John Kasich said in reference to the 2016 Republican debates while at the South by Southwest festival over the weekend.  

“Chris, Let me start by saying I enjoy hearing your comments on Special Report. It reminds me of the insights we used to get from Charles Krauthammer. Your commentary on the Debt Farce is spot on.  So how do we break this situation and force the politicians to make the painful and difficult decisions that will basically alienate some fraction of the voters against them? To me this is the key right now.  The politics say that we will never address the deficit until we default and have to inflate our way out of the problem and pay off the creditors with worthless script that is ‘backed by the full faith and credit of the US government.’” – Peter Eick, Houston

[Ed. note: Good salesmanship is very much about timing. The guy selling beer and tanning oil at the beach does better on Saturday afternoon than the guy selling aspirin and aloe vera. But Sunday morning is a different story. I believe that the dereliction of both parties on the subject of fiscal responsibility has created substantial peril for the republic, but I also believe that it has created a substantial opportunity for other politicians. Our balanced budgets at the end of the previous century were the result of the dawn of the information age and the end of the Cold War, but they were also caused by the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, who poked both major parties with a very sharp stick on the subject of debt and borrowing. Voters want balanced budgets and creative candidates will sooner or later find a way to make it a winning issue.]      

“As a [Massachusetts] resident perhaps I’m in no position to ask this question but… what is up with the … districts which elected Reps. [Ilhan Omar] and [Rashida Tlaib]? Was there really no viable opponent in either case? Or was it a matter of low turnout deciding for the district as a whole, as was the case with [Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez]? Thanks!” – Frank Townley, Dover, Mass.

[Ed. note: Omar’s Minneapolis district and Tlaib’s Detroit district are among the most Democratic in the nation. It would be about as likely for a Republican to win there as it would be for a Democrat to prevail in North Georgia or Eastern Kentucky. And as is the case in many such districts, red and blue, the primary is the only real contest. In the case of both Omar and Tlaib, crowded primary fields and a breakdown in party machinery allowed unlikely winners to slip past more mainstream choices. In Tlaib’s case, the situation was compounded by the resignation of longtime Congressman John Conyers amid a #metoo scandal. While Ocasio-Cortez felled an entrenched incumbent in New York, her fellow insurgents had easier rows to hoe.]   

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

WKRC: “The season of Lent means Christians are fasting and giving up certain pleasures or vices. One Ohio man is taking a page from history. For 46 days, Del Hall is drinking only beer. … Hall says he’s taking a nod from monks in the 1600’s that would fast during the season by a bock beer diet. ‘Being master brewers, they decided they would take a popular style of beer in Germany, bock beer, make it extra hearty and that would be their liquid bread and that’s what they call it,’ Hall said. ‘So the monks in Bavaria, they would call doppelbock liquid bread and basically it would sustain them through the 46 days of Lent.’ … ‘So I’m just curious if I’m up to the challenge, if I’m going to be able to do it or not.’ The beer connoisseur will still consume water during the fast and will be checking in with a doctor.”

“Trump’s people have already shown a delicate touch in dealing with his bouts of loopiness.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the Washington Post on Feb. 23, 2017. 

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.


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