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On the roster: Ocasio-Cortez on a Biden presidency: ‘Oh God’ – Labor-backed PAC lands early shot on McSally – House looks to curb Trump’s war powers against Iran – Bolton says he will testify if called – Rambo ruffles feathers
OCASIO-CORTEZ ON A BIDEN PRESIDENCY: ‘OH GOD’
Politico: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview published Monday that Democrats nationwide can cultivate ‘too big of a tent,’ asserting that she and her party’s 2020 frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, would be in different political parties in any other nation. Asked for a profile by New York Magazine about what role she might play as a member of Congress should Biden capture the White House, the freshman House Democrat from New York responded with a groan. ‘Oh God,’ she said. ‘In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.’”
Biden scores backing from key swing-district House Dems – Philadelphia Inquirer: “Joe Biden, who uses his middle-class Scranton roots to cast himself as the Democratic candidate who can win back areas that President Donald Trump won in 2016, now has the backing of two Pennsylvania members of Congress from battleground districts. U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, of Chester County, and Conor Lamb, of Pittsburgh’s suburbs, are endorsing Biden along with Rep. Elaine Luria, from Virginia Beach, Va. All three represent districts traditionally held by Republicans in key swing 2020 states, feeding Biden’s narrative that he is a consensus candidate in the critical month leading to the primaries. Biden campaigned for Houlahan, Lamb and Luria in their bids for Congress in 2018. He also has the support of Pennsylvania Reps. Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle and Sen. Bob Casey.”
Castro endorses Warren – Fox News: “Four days after he ended his bid for the White House, Julian Castro endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for the Democratic presidential nomination. ‘Elizabeth and I share a vision of America where everyone counts. An America where people—not the wealthy or well-connected—are put first. I’m proud to join her in the fight for big, structural change,’ the former San Antonio, Texas mayor and Housing secretary during former President Barack Obama’s second term wrote on Twitter Monday. Though Castro – who was the only Latino candidate in the large field of Democratic White House hopefuls – tangled a couple of times with former Vice President Joe Biden, he always seemed to have warm relations with Warren.”
Poll: Dems prefer experience to outsider status – Monmouth University: “A majority of voters who self-identify as Democrats and Democratic leaners are likely to be ideology-first voters, with 30% classified as prioritizing progressive issue positions, 21% moderate positions, and just 2% conservative positions. However, a sizable number of Democratic voters (28%) prioritize political experience over any ideological position, while just 2% prioritize being a political outsider as their top candidate value. Another 17% of Democrats are mixed in their candidate quality priorities.”
Dems confront prospect of a long slog to Milwaukee – Politico: “Democrats are now beginning to confront a very real scenario where the nomination – and the winnowing – will not be decided in states where campaigns have been plowing ground for more than a year, but in places and calendar dates so deep into primary season that until recently they’ve received almost no attention at all. The Iowa field is bunched together with little daylight between a handful of well-funded candidates. Each of the four early voting states continues to present the prospect of a different winner. And, at the end of that gauntlet on Super Tuesday, a free-spending billionaire – Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor – is waiting to challenge whichever candidate or candidates emerge.”
Bloomy has more than 800 staffers, surpasses $100 million in spending – NBC News: “Michael Bloomberg is wasting no time building out his campaign’s ground game, with 500 organizers and staff in more than 30 states, including all 14 of the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states, his campaign told NBC News. The ramp-up — both in staff and in spending on TV ads — has been quick. Just six weeks after he announced his candidacy, the former mayor of New York now boasts more than 800 staffers on his payroll and over $100 million spent on advertising. The roughly 300 staffers working in the campaign’s New York headquarters are set to move into a new building in Times Square to accommodate their burgeoning ranks, aides said.”
Judge Judy’s all in – Fox Business: “Judge Judy Sheindlin of the long-running television show ‘Judge Judy’ made good on her endorsement of Michael Bloomberg for president by starring in his latest campaign ad. ‘I like to say you can judge someone’s character by what they’ve done,’ Sheindlin says. ‘Mike Bloomberg has done amazing things and will be a truly great president.’ ‘No one comes close to Mike Bloomberg’s executive achievement, government experience and impactful philanthropy. His steady leadership will unite our country and bring us through these very challenging times,’ she said. Sheindlin wrote a USA Today op-ed endorsing Bloomberg in October about a month before he entered the 2020 race.”
Yang’s gang divided on how to spend newfound riches – Politico: “Andrew Yang has more money than his campaign knows what to do with. He still can’t quite get accustomed to his surprising fundraising haul — Yang collected $16.5 million in the fourth quarter — or how to allocate it in the run-up to the Iowa and New Hampshire contests. … The reality is that his newfound campaign riches are creating internal tension about whether to beef up the Iowa operation or bet it all in New Hampshire. Yang’s strong focus has always been on New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state where he has spent more time than any of the top-tier candidates. The campaign sees it as ripe ground for him… Suddenly though, with money to play in Iowa as well, there is a vigorous debate about where to spend the cash and Yang’s other precious commodity — his time.”
Deval Patrick tries to convince voters ‘it’s not too late’ – WMUR: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s campaign said Monday it launched a six-figure television and digital ad buy in the four early voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina. It is the first major ad buy for Patrick, who joined the presidential race in November. The campaign said it is making a ‘significant investment’ in New Hampshire and South Carolina. … Titled ‘Not Too Late,’ the 30-second spot was shot in Boston and Patrick’s hometown on the south side of Chicago. The ad features his wife, Diane, who reflects on her battle with cancer and discusses their decision to get into the race. ‘Some people say it’s too late for me to run for president. But growing up on the south side of Chicago, people told me then what I could and couldn’t do. I’ve been an underdog my whole life, and I’ve never let that stop me,’ says Patrick in the ad.”
Chaffee, who ran as a Dem in 2016, now running as a Libertarian – WPRI: “Former [Rhode Island] Gov. Lincoln Chafee is taking steps to make a second run for president, this time under a different party banner. Chafee filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission on Sunday creating a Lincoln Chafee for President campaign committee based in Teton Village, Wyoming, where he and his wife now make their home. A related website indicates he plans to run for the Libertarian Party nomination, as he has previously suggested he might do.”
THE RULEBOOK: PATERNITY TEST
“Calculating upon the aversion of the people to monarchy, [writers against the Constitution] have endeavored to enlist all their jealousies and apprehensions in opposition to the intended President of the United States; not merely as the embryo, but as the full-grown progeny, of that detested parent.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 67
TIME OUT: HUBBLE BIRTHDAY TO YOU
Space.com: “Astronomers kicked off 2020 by welcoming the 30th anniversary year of NASA’s venerable Hubble Space Telescope [in Honolulu] at their largest annual gathering. During the first full day of the 235th American Astronomical Society conference (Jan. 5), a team of scientists affiliated with the instrument shared their highlights from the mission. Over the course of its decade in flight, the Hubble Space Telescope has produced not just scientific results, but also a host of iconic images of the universe around us. … And as scientists emphasized throughout the presentation, many of Hubble’s impacts couldn’t have been predicted when the instrument launched. … Scientists are well aware that things could have gone very differently for Hubble. … But Hubble was special: It had been designed so that astronauts flying the space shuttle could repair it. In 1993, the first such mission launched and fixed Hubble’s infamous mirror issue…”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26.2 points (no change from last wk.)
Sanders: 18.6 points (no change from last wk.)
Warren: 16.2 points (no change from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 9.4 points (no change from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 5.2 points (no change from last wk.)
[Averages include: NBC News/WSJ, CNN, Quinnipiac University, USA Today/Suffolk University and NPR/PBS/Marist.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.8 percent
Average disapproval: 51.4 percent
Net Score: -7.6 percent
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; CNBC: 40% approve – 49% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 48% approve – 50% disapprove.]
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LABOR-BACKED PAC LANDS EARLY SHOT ON MCSALLY
Roll Call: “A new super PAC is targeting GOP Sen. Martha McSally in an early sign that the competitive Arizona Senate race could attract plenty of outside spending. The group, named ‘Middle Class Fighting to Restore Arizona’s Unity and Decency,’ or ‘McFraud,’ is launching a five-figure TV and digital ad buy with a 30-second spot accusing McSally of changing her positions on immigration issues and highlighting an Arizona Republic editorial that labeled her as ‘disingenuous.’ … ‘Arizonans rejected flip-flopper Martha McSally’s brand of anti-worker politics in 2018 and we are confident they will again in 2020,’ said Frank Hawk, vice president of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, one of the groups funding the super PAC.”
Markey falling behind Kennedy in fund race – Boston Globe: “Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III [D-Mass.] raised more than $2.4 million over the last three months of 2019, outpacing incumbent Senator Edward J. Markey by about $1 million, according to preliminary numbers shared with the Globe by the Senate candidates’ campaigns. Markey’s campaign said he raised more than $1.4 million in the final quarter of 2019, a total that represents the Malden Democrat’s best quarterly haul to date and a 30 percent increase from the prior three-month period. Yet the top-line numbers indicate Markey — at least so far — hasn’t been able to match Kennedy, his chief Democratic challenger, when it comes to the crucial competition for cash.”
Former Rep. Scott Taylor switches races, will again seek House seat – Roll Call: “Former Rep. Scott Taylor, who lost Virginia’s 2nd District in the 2018 midterms, is now running for his old House seat, dropping his challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. ‘We’re going to take the seat back,’ Taylor said on local television station WAVY Monday morning. The Republican former Navy SEAL is hoping to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who defeated him by 2 points in 2018. President Donald Trump carried the Norfolk-area district by more than 3 points in 2016.”
HOUSE LOOKS TO CURB TRUMP’S WAR POWERS AGAINST IRAN
Fox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced overnight that she plans on taking measures to potentially curb President Trump’s ability to conduct military operations against Iran. Pelosi and other Democrats have been critical of Trump’s decision to conduct an airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, claiming he did not properly notify Congress in advance and warning about the risk of escalation in the region. Trump has also threatened additional action if Iran retaliates for Soleimani’s death. ‘This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,’ Pelosi wrote in a letter to fellow Democrats, referring to a similar Senate resolution to be introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. ‘It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.’”
Report: Trump team couldn’t stop Iraq vote to expel U.S. forces – Axios: “The Trump administration tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade top Iraqi officials to kill a parliamentary effort to force the U.S. military out of Iraq, according to two U.S. officials and an Iraqi government official familiar with the situation. The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution [Sunday] calling on the Iraqi government to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, after the U.S killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and a leader of an Iraqi militia with a drone strike near Baghdad airport. This resolution could ultimately lead to the U.S. military being forced out of Iraq. But the outcome remains uncertain, and the prime minister who needs to sign it recently resigned.”
BOLTON SAYS HE WILL TESTIFY IF CALLED
NYT: “John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said on Monday that he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial if he was subpoenaed. ‘I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,’ Mr. Bolton said in a statement on his website. The development is a dramatic turn in the impeachment proceeding, which has been stalled over Democrats’ insistence on hearing from critical witnesses Mr. Trump blocked from testifying in the House inquiry into his pressure campaign on Ukraine.”
Graham wants to go nuclear on Senate trial – WaPo: “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham suggested Sunday that Republicans should try to change Senate rules governing impeachment if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold the charges against President Trump — an unlikely 11th-hour bid to begin a trial within days without the actual documents. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was unequivocal in a Senate floor speech on Friday that ‘we can’t hold a trial without the articles; the Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that.’ But Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump, floated the idea of a unilateral GOP move, saying he would work with McConnell to allow the Senate to proceed without the two charges against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.”
Kelly Loeffler to be sworn in as Georgia’s newest senator today – AJC
Amy Kennedy, wife of former Rep. Patrick, looks to challenge turncoat Rep. Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey – WaPo
AUDIBLE: HOT TAKE
“You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.” – Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais to the evening’s prospective winners referring to the Swedish girl who started boycotting school at age 15 to fight global warming.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Here’s the main difference between partisan Democrats and partisan Republicans in this day and time: had president Obama ordered and executed the drone strike on Gen. Soleimani, Republicans, for the most part, would have thanked and praised him for the bold action. Today’s Dems have nearly unanimously condemned Pres. Trump’s action in carrying his presidential duties.” – Lou Banas, Brea, Calif.
[Ed. note: I’m not sure I follow you, Mr. Banas. If Trump did something Republicans disagreed with – like when he withdrew protections from Kurdish fighters – Republicans went ape and pressured Trump to at least partly reverse his policy. In this case, hawkish Republicans agree with Trump’s decision in the region and strongly support him. Had Obama, who, like his predecessor George W. Bush, reportedly decided against killing the Iranian leader, decided to carry out such a strike Democrats would have gone bananas. I also imagine that the libertarian wing of the GOP, which has shriveled under Trump, would have felt much more emboldened to rip the commander in chief.]
Also Read: Joe Biden dismisses Sanders claims he can’t energize voters: I don’t respond to Bernie’s ridiculous comment
“I have to say that I don’t always agree with everything you say but I deeply respect that you are working hard to do an honest job of commenting on all aspects of the political situation today. We could use more of your style of multi-faceted commentary and less of the mono-faceted commentary that dominates the media and still less of the growing chorus of half-faceted commentary.” – George Fuller, St. Louis
[Ed. note: I don’t agree with anyone all the time. Grover Cleveland, my pick for the most underappreciated president of the 19th Century, is said to have loved pickled herring. Nobody’s perfect! Thank you for counting our facets. We will endeavor to keep our faces where they ought to be.]
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RAMBO RUFFLES FEATHERS
AP: “When someone in a Florida neighborhood heard chilling cries and the words ‘Let me out!’ they dialed 911. Little did they know the cries were that of a 40-year-old parrot named Rambo. After the call, four Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies pulled up and questioned a man who appeared to be repairing a car in his driveway. The Palm Beach Post reports that when the deputies explained their concerns, the man smiled, then told deputies he’d introduce them to the perpetrator. When he returned with the parrot, the deputies burst out laughing. The man told officers that he taught Rambo to scream ‘Let me out!’ when he was a kid and Rambo lived in a cage. PBSO officials could not be reached for more details. The agency did tweet a link to a video Saturday, saying, ‘Our deputies in Lake Worth Beach came to the help of someone screaming for help. Hilarity ensued.’
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“If public prayer has any purpose, it is the bringing together of individuals in common devotion.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The New Republic on April 9, 1984.
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.