2024 contenders: Pricked or vaulted?



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On the roster: 2024 contenders: Pricked or vaulted? – It’s beginning to look a lot like stimulus – GM bailout architect now top Biden econ adviser – Trump boosters tell backers to skip Georgia runoff – Low wattage

2024 CONTENDERS: PRICKED OR VAULTED?
As he miserably contemplates the plot to murder his king, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth laments: “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on t’ other.”

He can’t come up with a good reason to commit regicide other than his own “vaulting ambition,” which he knows leads to ruin. But, two scenes later, he kills Duncan anyway after his old lady calls him a coward.

Which, of course, brings us to the rapidly filling 2024 GOP presidential field. They all think they’re pricked, but most of them are just vaulted.

Now, we love you, dear readers, and do not wish to cause you any pain. So don’t imagine that we thrust the prospect of another presidential election under your nose with any delight but, there’s no stopping people from trying to be in charge.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is putting on the first cattle call for the 2024 herd at the party’s winter meeting on Amelia Island in Florida. The invited list of speakers includes the blatant, like former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, as well as the less obvious, like Sen. Tim Scott.

The 2024 frontrunner will be on hand, too. Mike Pence is headlining the whole shebang.

It’s not yet clear whether President Trump, who is threatening a revenge run in four years, will attend. But whether he does or not, this is an obvious move by McDaniel to show at least a sliver of independence from Trump.

As you think about who might be at the top of the ladder for the GOP in 2024, there are some things to remember, as well as some things to forget.

History provides us a limited insight on what might take place. There have only been two other  incumbent presidents since WWII who lost their re-election bids. And in the cases of both George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, their parties essentially stayed the course in the following contest. Democrats picked Carter’s vice president in 1984 and Republicans chose another war-hero establishmentarian moderate in 1996.

Accordingly, those with 2024 ambitions seem to be betting that Republicans will not stray too far. 

These potential Trump successors fall into a few broad categories. There are those like Pence and Haley who gave unswerving personal loyalty to Trump but kept their distance on some policy points and remained silent about some of the outrageous behavior.

Then there are others, like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who never seemed to form the kind of admiring gaze that Pence and Haley did, but instead want to push Trump-style policies.

The third group, which has to include Trump himself, are those who gave themselves fully to Trumpism and MAGA. Any of the Trump progeny would fit this definition, as would Noem, Sen. Josh Hawley and 2016 runner-up Ted Cruz.

Now, none of these people, including Trump, would be able to replicate the magic of his audacious 2016 upset. Trump’s loss and subsequent tantrums will further convince mainstream Republicans that his leadership is a bad bargain. None of the other Trump-style candidates can match his gifts of salesmanship and showmanship to offer full-spectrum reality-TV populism. But that won’t stop them from trying.

There will, of course, also be some from the traditional conservative wing of the party, and probably some moderates, too. You can’t rule any of them out since we know so little of what the medium-term consequences of Trump’s presidency will be for the GOP. The current debacle points at a potential future repudiation, but the strong showing for down-ballot Republicans this year points to a legacy of lingering support.

But whatever happens, you have to count Pence as the frontrunner today. He cannot be accused of disobedience or party disloyalty. But he also knows how to speak the language of conservatism and the donor class. Party elites would be quick to forgive Pence for his part in any Trump folderol in the name of a quick and easy reconciliation.

Trump could always try to ruin things for his No. 2 either with a run of his own or potshots from Palm Beach. Again, we just don’t know what kind of appetite mainstream Republicans are going to have for Trump when all is said and done.

But as Democrats learned with Joe Biden, the most exciting candidates are not usually the ones to bet on. Pence could certainly replicate Biden’s approach in 2024. 

THE RULEBOOK: PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
“It has been observed in a former paper, that ‘the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’ If the justness of this observation be admitted, the mode of appointing the officers of the United States contained in the foregoing clauses, must, when examined, be allowed to be entitled to particular commendation.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 76

TIME OUT: CHILLED TO THE BONE
Smithsonian: “Imagine a tyrannosaur striding through the snow, leaving three-toed footprints in the powder as flurries fall on the fuzz along the dinosaur’s back. The vision might seem fit for fantasy, vastly different than the steamy and plant-choked settings we typically think of dinosaurs inhabiting. Yet such scenes truly transpired millions of years ago, with an entire spiky, feathery and beaked menagerie of dinosaurs thriving in polar habitats marked by greater swings between the seasons and prolonged winter darkness. The finds are coming fast and furious. A tiny jaw found in Alaska’s ancient rock record, and written about in July, indicates that dinosaurs nested in these places and stayed year-round. … The ongoing identification of new species, not found anywhere else, highlighted how some dinosaurs adapted to the cold. Each thread comes together to underscore how wonderfully flexible dinosaur species were, adapting to some of the harshest habitats of their time.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

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.

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE STIMULUS
Financial Times: “The top Republican in the US Senate declared that compromise was ‘within reach’ on a bipartisan Covid relief package, boosting hopes that Washington may finally agree a follow-up stimulus package in the final weeks of the Trump administration. Speaking on the chamber floor on Thursday morning, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said it was ‘heartening to see a few hopeful signs in the past few days’ and that there was ‘movement in the right direction.’ He said there was ‘strong bipartisan support’ for several policies including another ‘targeted’ round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides relief for small businesses… Mr. McConnell’s comments came two days after a bipartisan group of senators … unveiled a $908bn Covid relief bill… On Wednesday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said the bipartisan package should in ‘the spirit of compromise’”

Congress ignores Trump on military bill – NYT: “Leading Republicans and Democrats in Congress said on Wednesday that they would press ahead in advancing an annual military policy bill without adding a repeal demanded by President Trump of a legal shield for social media companies, defying his threat to veto the legislation over the unrelated issue. Republicans’ determination to advance the measure over Mr. Trump’s objections amounted to a rare refusal by his allies on Capitol Hill to accommodate the president’s hard-line stance, which has threatened to imperil the bill that authorizes pay raises for American troops. … ‘I don’t want it on this bill, because we can’t have a bill if that language is on it,’ said Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, describing what he told the president about the legal liability provision. ‘We just had an honest disagreement, very friendly.’”

House Dems tap New York moderate to lead campaign committee – WSJ: “House Democrats selected New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to lead the caucus through its next campaign cycle, choosing a chairman who represents the types of districts the party will need to win to expand their narrow majority Mr. Maloney won the race on Thursday, beating California Rep. Tony Cárdenas to chair the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, which oversees the strategy for the party’s House elections. … The soon-to-be five-term lawmaker campaigned on courting voters whom the party failed to reach in the 2020 cycle, including more conservative voters, saying he was aptly positioned to do so because he represents a district that President Trump won in 2016. He also plans to appoint people to look at Latino outreach and recruiting women to run for office.”

N.Y. House race results up in the air after 55 uncounted ballots found – AP: “Chenango County [New York] informed a state judge it had discovered 55 ballots cast during the state’s early voting period in the ultra-tight race between U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney. … The discovery of the uncounted ballots in the rural county of around 47,000 people came a day after local elections officials in the 22nd Congressional District reported what were supposed to have been their final vote totals to the judge. Those totals — which didn’t include the newly discovered ballots — had showed Tenney with a 12-vote lead. … The final result in the race won’t be known until [N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Scott] DelConte rules on challenges to more than 2,000 disputed absentee and affidavit ballots cast in the contest.”

Iowa Dem to take fight over six-vote loss to the House – AP: “A Democratic congressional candidate who trailed by six votes after a recount said Wednesday she will forgo further legal challenges in Iowa and instead appeal directly to the U.S. House for additional recount proceedings. Rita Hart’s campaign had until Wednesday afternoon to contest the election under Iowa law following Monday’s certification of results in which Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was declared the winner of the closest House race in decades. An election contest in Iowa would have set in motion the formation of a five-judge panel that would have been required to rule on who won the race by Tuesday, Dec. 8. Hart’s campaign said that quick timeline would not allow enough time to review all the ballots, including thousands of unexamined undervotes and overvotes and a small number of others that were not counted for a variety of reasons.”

GM BAILOUT ARCHITECT NOW TOP BIDEN ECON ADVISER
NYT: “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has officially selected Brian Deese, who played a leading role in bailing out the automotive industry and negotiating the Paris climate agreement under President Barack Obama, to head the National Economic Council, his transition team said Thursday. The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, highlights Mr. Biden’s plans to use economic policy initiatives to drive climate policy. It also defies pre-emptive criticism from some environmental groups, who have targeted Mr. Deese for his work in recent years as the sustainability director for asset-management giant BlackRock. Mr. Deese joins a slate of Biden appointees to top economic positions, announced earlier this week, that includes the nomination of Janet L. Yellen as Treasury secretary, Neera Tanden to be director of the Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers.”

Raimondo leads shortlist for Health secretary despite left-wing grumbles – Politico: “Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is now a top contender to be President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, according to two people close to the transition. Raimondo’s rise comes as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is no longer favored for the role, according to one of those sources and another familiar with the discussions. Raimondo, who was vetted to be Biden’s running mate over the summer, impressed the president-elect’s team in those interviews and has been under consideration for several roles in the administration, two sources said. Biden officials also believe the 49-year-old, after leading Rhode Island for over five years, has the management experience necessary to run the sprawling health department amid a deepening public health crisis.”

Grisham turned down Interior post – Fox News: “New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan rejected an offer to serve in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. Sources close to the transition told Fox News on Wednesday that Lujan Grisham was offered the position of Secretary of the Interior, but has turned it down. The same sources said they were unsure where reports that Lujan Grisham could get the lead job at the Department of Health and Human Services – which were published by CNN on Wednesday – were coming from. The outlet, citing people familiar with the matter, said she was a top contender for the post. A spokesperson for Biden’s team did not return Fox News’ request for comment. Lujan Grisham’s office has been contacted for comment.”

Economic adviser faces claims of bad management – Politico: “A former colleague of Heather Boushey, a top economic adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, is publicly airing prior accusations that Boushey mismanaged the think tank she runs and verbally abused her and other subordinates, saying she wants to prevent future White House employees from enduring a similar experience. Claudia Sahm, a former director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Boushey’s think tank, published an account of her and other former employees’ experiences working with Boushey on her personal website Tuesday night. She wrote that after her experience, ‘I learned that Heather’s abusive behavior was a pattern.’ … The complaints were serious enough that the think tank where she worked hired a management coach to work with her to improve her management style around 2015.”

TRUMP BOOSTERS TELL BACKERS TO SKIP GEORGIA RUNOFF
Fox News: “Pro-Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood urged Georgians not to participate in a runoff vote that will determine control of the Senate in January until state officials address unsubstantiated claims that President-elect Joe Biden won the White House through voter fraud. Powell and Wood are not working for the Trump campaign in an official capacity but have waged legal battles on his behalf. Speaking to the president’s supporters at a press conference in Atlanta, Powell said state residents should not vote until Georgia overhauls its procedures and ends the use of Dominion voting machines. … Powell has alleged that Dominion’s electric voting machines switched votes from Trump to Biden – a charge that election officials flatly denied. Wood took aim at Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue during the press conference, calling on the Georgia Senate candidates to speak out on Trump’s behalf.”

What a way to run a railroad – Politico: “Sidney Powell released the Kraken. And it turns out the mythological sea beast can’t spell, is terrible at geography and keeps mislabeling plaintiffs in court. A congressional candidate Powell claimed to represent in one lawsuit said that, in fact, he had nothing to do with Powell or her quixotic effort, which she dubbed ‘the Kraken,’ arguing the election was stolen from President Donald Trump. An expert witness cited in another suit named a nonexistent county in Michigan. A Wisconsin lawsuit sought data on alleged irregularities at a voting center in Detroit, which is in Michigan. And a filing in federal district court signed by Powell misspelled ‘district’ twice in the first few lines.”

Republicans caught in voter fraud scheme – WSB-TV: “A Florida attorney is at the center of a new state investigation after elections officials say he recently attempted to register to vote in Georgia and instructed other Florida Republicans on how to do it. Bill Price is seen in a now-deleted Facebook Live video, speaking to the Bay County GOP members in Florida on Nov. 7th. It was about half an hour after the election was called for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket. Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr recorded the nearly hour-long video Tuesday afternoon, shortly before it was deleted. … Price told the group he’s moving to his brother’s address in Hiram, Georgia in order to register to vote in the January runoff. He repeats and spells and his brother’s name and address, as members of the group jot it down. They can be heard mumbling the address in the background while some write.”

Byron York: ‘Are Trump allies trying to sabotage GOP in Georgia?’ – WashEx: “Wednesday witnessed one of the most extraordinary events in recent political history. … Wood and Powell, both wearing MAGA hats, urged Georgia Republicans not to vote for Republicans Perdue and Loeffler, indeed, not to vote at all, in the January 5 runoff. Watching, Los Angeles Times political reporter Mark Z. Barabak tweeted, ‘In decades covering politics, this is the first Don’t-Get-Out-The-Vote rally I’ve ever heard of.’ And of course, if Republicans don’t vote, Democrats win. … But that would be disaster for Republicans. It was all too much for Newt Gingrich, the Republican former Speaker of the House who represented Georgia for 20 years. ‘Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are totally destructive,’ Gingrich tweeted Thursday morning.”

TRUMP MAY FIRE BARR UNLESS A.G. BACKS FRAUD CLAIM
Politico: “President Donald Trump on Thursday declined to say whether he continues to have confidence in Attorney General William Barr, again demanding that the Justice Department investigate and back up his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Addressing reporters in the Oval Office … Trump complained that Barr ‘hasn’t done anything’ and that DOJ officials ‘haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.’ Trump went on to pledge that ‘when [Barr] looks, he’ll see the kind of evidence that right now you’re seeing in the Georgia Senate’ — repeating the fraud allegations that Republicans fear could foment depressed voter turnout in two decisive Senate runoff races early next year. … Asked Thursday whether he still had confidence in Barr in light of the attorney general’s assessment, the president paused before replying: ‘Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud,’ Trump said. A spokesperson for Barr declined to comment on the president’s remarks.”

Sounds fun… – ABC News: “While at the White House for meetings Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr had a meeting with President Donald Trump following an interview with the Associated Press in which Barr disclosed that the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News…. One source briefed on the meeting described Barr’s interaction with the president as ‘intense,’ but would not elaborate on any additional details about the content of their discussion.”

Trump releases video manifesto – NYT: “President Trump on Wednesday released a 46-minute videotaped speech that denounced a ‘rigged’ election and was filled with lies the day after his own attorney general joined election officials across the country in attesting to his defeat. Mr. Trump recorded what he said ‘may be the most important speech I’ve ever made’ in the Diplomatic Room of the White House and delivered it behind a lectern bearing the presidential seal. He then posted a two-minute version on Twitter, with a link to the full version on his Facebook page. The president once again refused to concede defeat in his bid for re-election almost a month after Election Day, repeating a long list of false assertions about voter fraud and accusing Democrats of a conspiracy to steal the presidency.”

Giuliani runs aground in Michigan – Detroit Free Press: “Relying on conspiracies, innuendo and misinformation, Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani implored Michigan lawmakers on Wednesday to take steps that would deliver the state’s 16 electoral votes to President Donald Trump. During an unorthodox hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Chairman Matt Hall, R-Emmett Township, essentially ceded control to Giuliani. Embodying his former role as prosecutor, Giuliani spent more than three hours asking questions of witnesses who accompanied him to the hearing as a means to present what the Trump campaign deems to be evidence of fraud. … When it ended shortly after 10:30 p.m., the testimony did not show any evidence of widespread fraud. As expected, Democrats on the committee were not receptive to Giuliani’s arguments. But several Republicans also pointed to issues in Giuliani’s arguments.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Report: Former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama willing to take COVID-19 vaccine live on TVNY Post

The Judge’s Ruling: Why religion is first freedom protected by the First Amendment Fox News

Trump’s confirmations still coming – Fox News

House shares 2021 legislative calendarRoll Call

AUDIBLE: TERRIBLE TWOS > SCARY SEVENTIES
“As the father of six children and the grandfather of seven, no. My children and grandchildren are much better behaved.” – Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace on if moderating the first presidential debate was like parenting, per Poynter.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“What would theoretically happen if all 52 Senate Republicans voted against ALL of the Biden Cabinet nominees under the ‘Payback Is Hell’ Theory of government consistent with many of the unanimous Democratic votes in opposition to so many of Trump’s Cabinet & Judicial nominees? Would the Cabinet positions remain in the hands of the current Trump picks or would they become vacant with the existing Agency. Deputy Administrators in charge? It seems like the Republicans might want to extract at least ‘one pound of flesh’ for the Democratic obstructionism [of] the past 4 years.” – Glenn Fuller, Laurel, Md.

[Ed. note: Why stop there, Mr. Fuller? The Senate could also refuse to approve any House-passed spending measures and force the government into a partial shutdown so that Biden’s ability to govern would be crippled. Of course, the Republicans would almost certainly go on to lose the Senate in 2022 as voters understandably rejected that kind of bone-headed and pointless partisanship. As for the question of what would happen if Republicans did refuse to consent to all of the new president’s picks, it would be up to Biden. He could keep any Trump appointees he wished, but given the kind of kamikaze approach by the GOP you are proposing, it’s hard to imagine Biden would want any Republicans around. Instead, Biden would take advantage of President Trump’s innovative use of “acting” cabinet officials to fill positions. Of course, in Trump’s case it was because he couldn’t get nominees through a Senate controlled by his own party, but it would work just as well with divided government. Then Republicans could hold pointless, showboaty hearings to demand accountability from these “acting” secretaries. There, Biden could lean on the Trump standard again and simply tell the officials to refuse to comply. We’d really be cooking with gas by then. You would have Republicans in the House militating for articles of impeachment, promising to take action if they retake the lower chamber in 2022. But, again, voters would probably just punish Republicans for acting in such an abhorrent manner. Whatever happened, you would certainly have a total disaster on your hands. To punish Democrats for meaningless opposition to Trump nominees in the minority, your plan to have the Senate majority refuse its constitutional duty to “advise and consent.” It would certainly be a kind of “hell,” but I don’t think the way in which you intend. I know losing is hard, Mr. Fuller, but the kind of conduct you’re describing isn’t “payback,” it’s selfish cruelty inflicted on ordinary Americans looking for a government that can meet basic functions. The next four years will afford lots of chances for Republicans to rightfully stymie Biden on policy questions, but please don’t think in terms of payback.]

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

LOW WATTAGE
KOMO: “Maybe a point for creativity but a driver found out the hard way his work-around for his car’s missing headlights was not exactly legal. A Washington State Patrol trooper spotted the car on I-90 near North Bend early Monday morning driving with what the trooper described as ‘extremely dim headlights’ according to WSP’s Rick Johnson. After pulling the driver over, the trooper discovered that they were not headlights per se, but large flashlights duct taped in the spots where the headlights would normally be. The car appears to have had significant prior front-end damage and was missing the original headlight lamps. To top it off, the batteries were dying, leading to the dim output. Johnson says using flashlights as headlights was not legal.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It’s a Watergate-era cliche that the coverup is always worse than the crime. In the Mike Flynn affair, we have the first recorded instance of a coverup in the absence of a crime.” Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 16, 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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