White House faces bad news on lockdown results

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On the roster: White House faces bad news on lockdown results – Pick six: Consensus emerges on battlegrounds – Senate can’t comply with Biden probe request – Justice Department backs church in corona suit – Tiger queen

WHITE HOUSE FACES BAD NEWS ON LOCKDOWN RESULTS
NYT: “As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double from the current level of about 1,750. The projections, based on modeling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases now. … ‘While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t work as well as we expected,’ Scott Gottlieb, Mr. Trump’s former commissioner of food and drugs, said [to CBS News]. ‘We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point.’”

Trump nudges up expected death toll, vows more relief spending – Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump promised more federal help for Americans left jobless by by the pandemic and vowed to press ahead with reopening the economy, addressing the nation in a televised town hall event at the Lincoln Memorial as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to mount. In the opening minutes of the event, broadcast by Fox News, Trump revised upward the number of Americans he expects to be killed by the virus. ‘We’re going to lose anywhere between 75, 80 to 100,000,’ he said. He had said in April he hoped deaths would total less than 60,000; the number of dead so far is more than 67,000. ‘Now we have to get it back open,’ Trump said, addressing the economic fallout of the shutdown. Trump’s first question, by video, came from an Alabama woman who said she had been unable to apply for unemployment, hadn’t received a federal stimulus check and was feeding her family on donations. ‘There’s more help coming,’ Trump said.”

Promises vaccine: ‘you’re going to have it by the end of the year’ – National Review: “President Donald Trump stated that he is ‘very confident’ the U.S. will discover a coronavirus vaccine in the next seven months, following news that his administration has organized a ‘Manhattan Program-esque’ project to fast-track development. ‘We are very confident that we’re going to have a vaccine at the end of the year, by the end of the year,’ Trump told Fox News during a town hall on Sunday night. ‘We think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of this year. We’re pushing very hard.’ … Pharmaceutical companies, the government, and the military are pooling their efforts, with the goal of 300 million vaccine doses available for Americans by the start of 2021. Experts have been bearish on the prospects of a vaccine in 2020, with most predicting twelve to 18 months before one is widely available to the public.”

At memorial to slain Lincoln, Trump says he’s had it worse – WaPo: “Sitting inside the cavernous Lincoln Memorial on Sunday for Fox News’s virtual town hall, President Donald Trump appeared to draw inspiration from his surroundings when asked about why he uses divisive language and dodges questions during White House coronavirus briefings. ‘I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there,’ Trump said from his perch on a high-backed stool, pointing at the imposing marble statue of martyred president Abraham Lincoln in the background. Lincoln was assassinated in April, 1865. ‘They always said, ‘Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln,’’ Trump continued. ‘I believe I am treated worse.’”

Pence regrets not wearing mask – Politico: “Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said that he should have worn a mask when visiting the Mayo Clinic, a reversal that came after a harsh backlash for not adhering to the hospital’s policy during the coronavirus pandemic. ‘I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic and I wore it when I visited the ventilator plant in Indiana’ two days later, Pence said at a Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday, nodding sheepishly. Pence on Tuesday toured the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he met with hospital staff and a patient. According to reporters who were there, every other person present wore a mask. The vice president has said since he is constantly tested for coronavirus and since the mask prevents people from transmitting the virus, he didn’t believe he had to wear one. He reiterated that belief at Sunday’s town hall.”

Small businesses collapsing – The Atlantic: “The government is engaged in an unprecedented effort to save such companies as pandemic-related shutdowns stretch into the spring. But Washington’s policies are too complicated, too small, and too slow for many firms: Across the United States, millions of small businesses are struggling, and millions are failing. The great small-business die-off is here, and it will change the landscape of American commerce, auguring slower growth and less innovation in the future. Small businesses went into this recession more fragile than their larger cousins: Before the crisis hit, half of them had less than two weeks’ worth of cash on hand, making it impossible to cover rent, insurance, utilities, and payroll through any kind of sustained downturn. And the coronavirus downturn has indeed been shocking and sustained: Data from credit-card processors suggest that roughly 30 percent of small businesses have shut down during the pandemic.”

THE RULEBOOK: THANKS GUYS
“The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in general the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. We may profit by their experience without paying the price which it cost them.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 5

TIME OUT: MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU
In honor of Star Wars Day here’s a look at how the NYT has reviewed the saga over the years. NYT: “For the movie that started it all (technically Episode IV), [Senior Critic at the time VincentCanby identified many of the writer-director George Lucas’s influences, including ‘Quo Vadis?,’ ‘Buck Rogers,’ ‘Ivanhoe,’ ‘Superman,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew,’ the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. ‘The way definitely not to approach ‘Star Wars,’’ Canby cautioned, ‘is to expect a film of cosmic implications or to footnote it with so many references that one anticipates it as if it were a literary duty. It’s fun and funny.’ Though he got in a dig at the plot — ‘the story of ‘Star Wars’ could be written on the head of a pin and still leave room for the Bible’ — Canby complimented Mark HamillCarrie Fisher and Harrison Ford (as Luke, Leia and Han Solo), noting that ‘everyone treats his material with the proper combination of solemnity and good humor that avoids condescension’…”

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

SCOREBOARD 
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 45 percent
Average disapproval: 49.8 percent
Net Score: -4.8 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.6 points
[Average includes: PRRI: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve – 44% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve – 47% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve – 51% disapprove.

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PICK SIX: CONSENSUS EMERGES ON BATTLEGROUNDS
McClatchy: “Six months from Election Day, most Americans have set aside a presidential campaign that’s been upended by the worst pandemic in modern history. While the coronavirus has tossed the mechanics of politicking in flux for the foreseeable future, leaders in both parties and officials with President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s campaigns are surveying a relatively stable political battlefield that will be concentrated largely in just about a half dozen states: the former ‘blue wall’ states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the traditional swing states of Florida and North Carolina, and the emerging battleground of Arizona. The common thread among these six states at the center of the general election map is that they were all carried by Trump in 2016, and that the president currently trails in many of the early polls there, leaving him mostly on defense heading into November.”

Kraushaar: Republicans look for safe space from Trump – National Journal: “Here are some staples of the GOP’s pre-pandemic thinking: Republicans should embrace the president at all costs, even in swing states where his job approval is underwater. It’s more important to rally the base than persuade swing suburbanites. With Republicans defending most of their Senate seats in Trump territory, simply holding the president’s voters would be adequate to maintain Mitch McConnell’s majority. Here’s what I’m hearing from smart GOP strategists now: Republicans should be talking about their work to help their communities in the wake of the pandemic, and avoid referencing President Trump’s role in managing the crisis. To win battleground Senate seats that are looking more tenuous, it will be crucial to maintain support from some Trump-skeptical independents. If Trump’s political condition doesn’t improve by the fall, prepare to talk about keeping the Senate as a check against Democratic power, even if it means acknowledging the presidency is likely lost.”

SENATE CAN’T COMPLY WITH BIDEN PROBE REQUEST
Fox News: “The secretary of the Senate on Monday said her office cannot comply with a request by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to order a search for a purported complaint made by the woman accusing him of sexual assault when he was a senator. … That statement from Biden tipped off confusion and speculation on who exactly controls documents from the Fair Employment Office. The National Archives issued a statement claiming that a Fair Employment Office complaint ‘would have remained under the control of the Senate.’ It did not, however, deny that the complaint could physically be in its possession but legally under the control of the Senate. [Julie] Adams‘ Monday statement did not deny that the complaint might exist or that it could be at the National Archives. It said that she would not be able to release the complaint if it does exist because of a law that ensures the confidentiality of such complaints.”

Axelrod says veep vetting didn’t uncover assault claim – Fox News: “Former Obama adviser David Axelrod said over the weekend that the sexual assault allegation leveled against Joe Biden did not come up in 2008 during the Obama campaign’s vetting process for their eventual vice presidential pick. Axelrod, who was the chief strategist for the campaign and later a White House senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, said that Biden was carefully vetted before being announced as Obama’s running mate and that nothing surfaced to cause concern, including this. ‘Before @JoeBiden was selected VP by @BarackObama, letters for the campaign scoured every aspect of his record, career and life,’ Axelrod tweeted this weekend. ‘Tara Reade or complaints of sexual harassment or assault never came up.’ He added: ‘I know. I was there.’”

Axelrod and Plouffe: What Joe Biden needs to do to beat Trump – NYT: “Adjusting to the new political realities is imperative for Mr. Biden, who ran his first campaign for office a half-century ago. In order to break through and be heard, he will have to up the tempo of his campaign, fully utilize his army of powerful surrogates and embrace a new suite of virtual, data-driven tools and creative tactics. … For Mr. Biden, the challenge is to transform a campaign that lagged behind many of his Democratic competitors during the primary in its use of digital media and timely, state-of-the-art communications techniques. While television remains a potent force, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are all essential in a Covid-19 world in which candidate travel and voter contact will be severely limited. In many respects, they are the campaign, not an important part of it.”

SENATE GETS UNDERWAY WITH TIGHT RESTRICTIONS
Fox News: “The U.S. Senate returns in earnest Monday for the first time since March 25, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling lawmakers back to Washington amid enhanced precautions due to the coronavirus. Congress has been largely out due to the pandemic, except for limited sessions with skeleton crews. The House remains out, with leaders having announced they will not be back this week, though they will have a committee hearing on COVID-19 response. Senate leaders are expected to deliver remarks on the floor late Monday afternoon, with an evening vote on the confirmation of Robert Feitel to serve on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Senators are expected to pop in, vote and leave to maintain social distancing. While senators themselves will be present, much of their staff is expected to continue working remotely. The Capitol Attending Physician issued guidance Friday recommending that their offices have as few people as necessary for the time being.”

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BACKS CHURCH IN CORONA SUIT
Fox News: “The Justice Department is siding with a Virginia church suing Gov. Ralph Northam after police threatened a pastor with jail time or a $2,500 fine for violating the state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions by holding a 16-person church service on Palm Sunday. The DOJ decision came after police in protective garb served a summons to Kevin Wilson, the pastor of Lighthouse Fellowship Church on Chincoteague Island, for holding the service on April 5 with 16 people spaced far apart from one another in a church that could fit 293 people. … ‘The Commonwealth of Virginia has offered no good reason for refusing to trust congregants who promise to use care in worship in the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers, and other workers to do the same,’ the DOJ said in a statement…”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump attacks George W. Bush for unity plea – USA Today 

AUDIBLE: VOICE ACTORS
“When your side is up, instead of remaining silent you’re going to be handed the microphone. Are you going to use that opportunity to throw softballs? I don’t know.” – Irv Gornstein, executive director of Georgetown University’s Supreme Court Institute, talking to the NYT about how the first-ever audio broadcast of Supreme Court oral arguments may encourage more questions and more posturing from justices.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Let it be noted that I would much prefer a Republican House this next Congress, but I am sick of the ongoing hypocrisy of the Republican Congressmen who blame and mock Pelosi and the D’s for hunkering down at home and refusing to come back to work. I’m not aware the [Speaker of the House] has the authority to make her Republican colleagues ‘shelter in place.’  There is no reason they are not all reporting for duty right now on Capitol Hill. They could use the time to build their strategy for the fall, dominate the airwaves in DC and certainly the optics of Nancy hunkered down with her mountains of ice cream while the opposing party is in place and ready to tackle the country’s multiple problems would be a daily reminder of the D’s lack of concern for the American people. Republican Congressional legislators should either, ‘Show up or Shut up!’” – Jim Kinney, Hoschton, Ga.

[Ed. note: Mr. Kinney, one thing I have learned about Congress is that the less people have to think about it, the better they like it. And I’m not sure what these 196 Republican stalwarts would be doing to “dominate the airwaves.” The news sure isn’t on Capitol Hill these days. It’s out in the states where governors, local officials and the leaders of businesses and other organizations try to figure out how in the aitch-e-double-hockey-sticks to get things going again as illnesses and deaths persist. Plus, leaders in both parties know that if you have them in town without any way to keep them busy, the lunkheads in their conference will be in an immediate demolition derby to see who can say the dumbest thing most loudly. There’s nothing to vote on and it will be weeks before there is. And when voting time comes, leaders will skip all the regular order and process and try to jam through whatever the next round is with as little discussion and debate as possible. From a tactical perspective, your suggestion could be a good one. But the problems of execution would make it impossible.]

“Since Members of both the Senate and House are working ‘successfully’ from home with their staff isolated elsewhere, why can’t they return to Washington to work alone and continue to connect with staff as they do now. That would make social distancing easier and fewer corona test kits needed. I am sure they can find the light switch without an army to support them.” – S. Willis, Toronto, Canada

[Ed. note: Well, some of them are insecure because of their prior infections, and not from the coronavirus. Potomac Fever is a pre-existing condition for many in Congress. Symptoms include the inability to go anywhere without a retinue of subordinates behind you looking importantly perturbed and murmuring exasperated-sounding things while they check their phones. Another key sign is the inability to interact directly with normal humans or answer questions in a forthright way. Everything has to be “run up the flagpole” or “kicked around” by a staff of seven before even a simple yes or no. A related symptom is needing to have your staff check with the staffs of other, slightly more important people on all matters. Does the ranking member have any guidance on how my member should say he is feeling today? Are we all on the same page about who will be invited to the roundtable for planning the event?  Do we have buy in on our talking points about our messaging? If you asked six members afflicted with PF what they wanted for lunch, it would take two days, nine Zoom calls and would involve power dynamics on par with the Treaty of Versailles. Having been babied and protected from reality so long in their Potomac Fever convalescences, you can’t suddenly expect members to go about with no one clotting around them like curds of cottage cheese with political science degrees. Who will admire their lapel pins? Who will tell them that even their most banal gurglings are brilliant and “on point”? Who will remind the cashier at the restaurant that extra roasted red peppers means EXTRA even if it’s carry-out?  Who will laugh heartily at their jokes before immediately reminding them never to repeat the joke in front of anyone else? Who will compliment them on correct hashtag usage? The American taxpayers spend millions every year to employ these people in order to protect Potomac Fever victims in their very fragile conditions. These staffers are surely doing heroic work by remote to construct a fantasy world of meetings and memos — a world in which people care what the distinguished gentlelady from Porcupine Snout County thinks, a world where lapel pins still matter — but don’t demand miracles. They’re already too busy fundraising.]

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

TIGER QUEEN
UPI: “About 10 armed police officers and a helicopter crew responded to a rural property on a report of a loose tiger that turned out to be a life-sized sculpture. Kent police confirmed the officers and a National Police Air Service helicopter responded to Mote Road in Ightham, Kent, England, on Saturday after a member of the public reported spotting a big cat in the area. ‘My son Duncan rang up and said there were armed police on the hill leading up to my house,’ resident Juliet Simpson, 85, told The Guardian. … ‘I went up and said: ‘Do you want to be introduced to this tiger?’’ The ‘tiger’ was actually a life-sized sculpture Simpson had assembled from chicken wire and resin more than 20 years ago. Simpson said the officers were amused by the mix-up and posed for photos with the tiger sculpture.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“America today is the closest the world has ever seen to God. But, alas, the gap remains great. We are not quite omnipotent, and we cannot be ubiquitous.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Aug. 24, 2003.

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.

Source: Fox News

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