Where it’s at

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On the roster: Where it’s at – Trump tries to kneecap Fauci as corona woes worsen – Trump builds behemoth campaign – Senate Republicans face fundraising panic – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles strike again

The 2016 election was the biggest upset in presidential politics in generations – truly one for the history books.

So it’s not surprising that such a remarkable event would profoundly change the way we perceive the current partisan struggle. In fact, may in politics and public life have over-learned the lessons of 2016 and used them to reach unusual conclusions.

Editors dispatched so many reporters to Appalachian and Rust Belt destinations, no diner or coffee shop could have been considered safe for the peaceful enjoyment of either biscuit or bear claw. It would be enough to make one forget that it was his success with suburban voters – about half of the electorate – that did more to make Donald Trump president than with any other group.

Twitter frothed and foamed so much over the rise of Democratic Socialism that it seemed like the Green New Deal would have been just for openers. It was hard to remember that Bernie Sanders’ success in 2016 said a lot more about Hillary Clinton than it did about him.

But, as we prepare to start the final 16 weeks of the 2020 contest, it will be helpful to check our progress this time against that of four years ago.

Given how much has transpired since then and with the pressures of another presidential campaign at midpoint, we are apt to forget how things shaped up in 2016 – before civil unrest, before the pandemic, before impeachment…

So, let’s refresh a bit.

At this point four years ago, the Republican convention was just getting underway in Cleveland. The delegates supporting Sen. Ted Cruz and others trying to pry the nomination away from Donald Trump tried an opening-night revolt. Tensions on the convention floor ran high as Team Trump, led by Paul Manafort, looked to crack down on dissent. Just 38 percent of Republicans surveyed in a pre-convention poll for the Wall Street Journal said they were satisfied with Trump as their nominee.

Democrats were getting ready for their own convention headaches. Sanders had given his endorsement to presumptive Democratic nominee Clinton only a few days before and had done so in grudging fashion. The question wasn’t whether Sanders and his crew would make the following week in Philadelphia unhappy, but how bad it would be. And the same poll showed that half of all voters said her email abuses showed she didn’t have the right judgment to be president.

It was a race like pollsters had never seen. Both candidates were broadly unpopular and enjoyed little public trust. The race had already settled into a rut from which it would never really emerge.

In an average of the five most recent properly conducted national polls at this point in 2016, Clinton led by 3.8 points – 44.8 percent to 41 percent. Less than 4 points is not a very big lead, especially in July. Of all the public polls taken in June and July of that year, Trump was ahead or tied with Clinton in half of them.

The narrowness of the race was even more obvious by looking at swing-state polls. In Florida, the largest battleground state, Clinton led by a small but steady margin similar to her national advantage. In Ohio, which has picked the winner of every presidential contest since 1960, the race was dead even in an average of good polls.

Both parties were divided and both candidates were viewed unfavorably, but Democrats believed that their small edge would prove durable enough to deliver a third term for the party. With a favorable Senate map and a strong cash advantage, it had the makings of a good year for the blue team.

Republicans, though, looked to both the surprisingly stout victory in Britain for leaving the European Union as well as Trump’s unlikely nomination victory itself as evidence that there was populist revolt taking place among working-class white voters that would carry Trump to victory.

So where are we now?

As for conventions, it’s still not clear what’s going to happen. The quadrennial mega rallies were first postponed because of coronavirus concerns. Now, with a month before the Democrats are supposed to kick off in Milwaukee, things are still in flux.

While the Dems seem to have settled on a mostly-virtual event, Republicans have already switched cities once – from Charlotte to Jacksonville – in search of a venue that will allow a large-scale indoor gathering. As Florida succumbs to a massive coronavirus outbreak, though, the red team may yet change its plans again.

The good news for both parties is that they are substantially more unified than they were four years ago.

Onetime Republican dissidents like Cruz are among the most abject in their support for Trump, who enjoyed an 87 percent job approval rate among Republicans in the most recent Fox News poll. Trump is now about as popular among members of his party as the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, was at this point in his re-election bid.

As for Sanders and the Democrats, despite the Vermont socialist’s far better showing in key primaries this cycle than four years ago, he has abandoned even token resistance. After presumptive nominee Joe Biden smashed him in a series of contests starting in South Carolina, Sanders quit the race early and instructed his delegates to make no trouble. A recent poll conducted for the New York Times found that 87 percent of battleground state voters who backed Sanders in the primary are all in for Biden with just 4 percent defecting to Trump – a far cry from the mass defections of 2016.

One place where the 2016 and 2020 do seem very much alike at this point is in their consistency.

In an average of the five most recent properly conducted national polls, Biden leads Trump by an average of 9.6 points, 51 percent to 41.4 percent. While Biden has added a bit to his lead in recent weeks, he had long enjoyed an advantage of about double what Clinton did in 2016. And steadily so.

In nearly 100 national public opinion surveys of all types taken this year, Trump led in only one. He hasn’t been ahead in a kosher poll since mid-December.

The most important swing states tell a somewhat better story for Trump, albeit with scant data – due to limited polling in a year of coronavirus coverage. In two recent sound polls conducted in Florida, Biden has an average lead of 6.5 points while Ohio looks a lot like July 2016 with a 1-point race.

Democrats believe that Republicans are on the verge of an epic wipeout and have pressed their advantage by not just targeting states that have been solidly red for years like Arizona, Texas and Georgia but by making a play for the Senate. Despite being snake bit by their unexpected 2016 loss, Democrats are starting to think big.

Republicans now acknowledge that their current situation is grim, but rightly point out that 16 weeks is still a long time in political terms. What they can’t figure out is how to start climbing out of the hole. While Trump is focused on the same kind of culture war struggles that energize his base, he has yet to find a way to drag Biden down to a point where Trump could pull off another upset.

That’s why you can bet that things will get much, much nastier from here on.

“The door ought to be equally open to all; and I trust, for the credit of human nature, that we shall see examples of such vigorous plants flourishing in the soil of federal as well as of State legislation…” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 36

History: “On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. Continued at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia (where Joan Baez famously kicked it off by telling the crowd ‘this is your Woodstock, and it’s long overdue’) and at other arenas around the world, the 16-hour ‘superconcert’ was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations. In a triumph of technology and good will, the event raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa. Live Aid was the brainchild of Bob Geldof, the singer of an Irish rock group called the Boomtown Rats. In 1984, Geldof traveled to Ethiopia after hearing news reports of a horrific famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and threatened to kill millions more.”

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Trump: 41.4 percent
Biden: 51 percent
Size of lead: Biden by 9.6 points
Change from one week ago: Biden no change in points; Trump no change in points
[Average includes: IBD: Trump 40% – Biden 48%; Monmouth: Trump 41% – Biden 53%; CNBC: Trump 41% – Biden 49%; USA Today/Suffolk: Trump 41% – Biden 53%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 44% – Biden 52%.]

(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)
[Full rankings here.]

Average approval: 40.8 percent
Average disapproval: 56.4 percent
Net Score: -15.6 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.6 points
[Average includes: IBD: 39% approve – 56% disapprove; Monmouth: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; CNBC: 43% approve – 57% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 40% approve – 58% disapprove; NPR/PBS: 41% approve – 57% disapprove.]

NYT: “President Trump’s advisers undercut the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, over the weekend, anonymously providing details to various news outlets about statements he had made early in the coronavirus outbreak that they said were inaccurate. The move to treat Dr. Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for decades, as if he were a warring political rival came as he has grown increasingly vocal in his concerns about the national surge in coronavirus cases, as well as his lack of access to Mr. Trump over the past several weeks. … And it came just days after the White House called school reopening guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overly restrictive, part of a pattern of the administration trying to sideline recommendations that could slow the reopening of the economy, which Mr. Trump views as vital to his flailing re-election effort.”

Fellow task force member takes potshot – Bloomberg: “One of President Trump’s coronavirus task force members said Sunday that infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci doesn’t necessarily ‘have the whole national interest in mind’ in suggesting responses to the pandemic. Fauci, who’s also on the task force, ‘looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view,’ Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘He admits that.’ The comments reflected tension in the administration between the goal of tamping down transmission of Covid-19 as much as possible and Trump’s desire to boost the economy, now in recession, before the November election. Giroir spoke as the U.S. continues to post record daily cases, especially in Sun Belt states. Florida on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new cases, the highest for any state — including New York when it was the epicenter of the pandemic in the spring.”

More big school districts opt out of in-person classes – NYT: “California’s two largest public school districts said Monday that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. The Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts, which together enroll some 825,000 students, are the largest so far in the country to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. More than a third of California’s coronavirus cases are in Los Angeles County, and San Diego County has had 18 community outbreaks over the past week, more than double the state’s acceptable threshold.  The joint announcement came as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continued to press the Trump administration’s case to quickly reopen public schools, not only for students’ social and emotional development, but also to allow parents to return to work fully.”

Price tag for school reopening could be astronomical – The Hill: “Congress is under growing pressure to provide billions of dollars to help schools reopen as part of the next coronavirus aid package while debate rages nationwide over whether it’s safe to send students and teachers back to classrooms. Democrats and Republicans are increasingly in agreement that education funding will be a key part of the negotiations this month for a trillion-plus aid package. But divisions are emerging over how the funds should be allocated directly to K-12 public schools or through special vouchers for parents. Without the funding, education groups warn that schools won’t have adequate protective gear, cleaning and ventilation systems needed to keep students, teachers and staff safe in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”

As Congress debates new aid to states, a fight over previous package – WaPo: “A $150 billion federal program designed to help states, cities and counties respond to the coronavirus pandemic has pit some governments against each other, forcing them to scrap over the fast-dwindling, limited aid. The fight has intensified as Congress and the White House near deadlines to decide the scope of the next round of coronavirus relief. State and local leaders have demanded between $500 billion and $1 trillion in new assistance, but the vast uncertainty surrounding the initial tranche of funding has fueled accusations that money is being misspent or hoarded. The funds were supposed to help local governments purchase personal protective equipment, pay first responders and cover other public-health costs related to the pandemic. But restrictions in how the aid can be used, and confusion around how it is supposed to be doled out, mean that many have struggled to take full advantage of the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund four months after Democrats and Republicans authorized it.”

AP: “The Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s campaign say they have now hired 1,500 field staffers, aiming to convert their financial advantage over Democrats into votes in November. Trump Victory, the joint field effort of the two organizations, announced Monday the hiring of an additional 300 staffers set to hit 20 target states by Wednesday in the largest field operation ever mounted by a Republican. The goal is to turn out votes on behalf of Republicans up and down the ticket this fall. The Trump team says it is on pace to eclipse the 2.2 million volunteer total that helped reelect President Barack Obama in 2012. The announcement comes as public and private polls show Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden across key battleground states and nationally. The president’s team argues that polls also showed Trump down in 2016 but he nonetheless pulled off a win.”

Trump super PAC spends big in Ariz., N.C., Pa., and Wisc. – Axios: “America First Action, a leading pro-Trump super PAC, will focus on Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in a $23 million anti-Biden summer ad campaign beginning next week. The ad buy signals which swing states the groups sees as most vulnerable for President Trump. Arizona and Wisconsin were not included earlier this year in the core battleground strategy. One PAC official tells Axios North Carolina and Arizona may be the tightest of these. The ads, to begin July 24 and continue through Labor Day, will serve as a bridge before the Trump campaign’s planned $100 million advertising blitzkrieg that will begin in September and run through the election. The majority will be spent on broadcast (52%) and cable television (17%). Digital (14%) and mail resources (14%) also will be deployed.”

With convention options dwindling, it’s up to Trump – AP: “After months of insisting that the Republican National Convention go off as scheduled despite the pandemic, President Donald Trump is slowly coming to accept that the late August event will not be the four-night infomercial for his reelection that he had anticipated. After a venue change, spiking coronavirus cases and a sharp recession, Trump aides and allies are increasingly questioning whether it’s worth the trouble, and some are advocating that the convention be scrapped altogether. … Ultimately, the decision on whether to move forward will be Trump’s alone. … Still, Trump and his aides had pinned their hopes on creating the pageantry of a formal acceptance speech in Jacksonville, envisioning an arena of packed with supporters, without face masks. Outwardly, the White House and the RNC have said they’re full-steam ahead with the revised plan.”

Mishkin: Trump needs more than his base – Fox News: “Rather than trying to appeal to centrist voters — moderate Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats — to widen his base of support, Trump is doubling down on his most extreme positions in an effort to boost turnout by his most fervent supporters in November. … While these hardline positions may be pleasing to many voters in Trump’s base, the president’s base alone is not big enough to reelect him. As a result, Trump is giving Biden a wide swath of the ideological landscape to harvest — from the far left to some parts of the center-right. November is still a long time from now in politics, but at this point polls suggest Trump’s strategy will result in Biden’s election in a landslide that could also give Democrats control of the Senate as well as the House. The Democrats have thus far successfully made the campaign into a referendum on Trump — and Trump has fallen into the trap of giving them plenty of arguments to use against him.”

Politico: “Last month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee prepared a slideshow for Senate chiefs of staff full of bleak numbers about the party’s failure to compete with Democrats on digital fundraising. … The slideshow, obtained by POLITICO, painted a grim picture of the GOP’s long-running problem. Republican senators and challengers lagged behind Democrats by a collective $30 million in the first quarter of 2020, a deficit stemming from Democrats’ superior online fundraising machine. Since then, Democrats’ fundraising pace accelerated further, with the party’s challengers announcing huge second-quarter hauls last week, largely driven by online donors giving through ActBlue, the party’s preferred fundraising platform. The money guarantees Democrats nothing heading into November 2020. But with President Donald Trump’s poll numbers sagging and more GOP-held Senate races looking competitive, the intensity of Democrats’ online fundraising is close to erasing the financial advantage incumbent senators usually enjoy. That’s making it harder to bend their campaigns away from the national trend lines — and helping Democrats’ odds of flipping the Senate.”

Bloomberg: “Senator Lindsey Graham is preparing to invite former Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a Senate panel about the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to a spokesperson for the panel’s Republican majority. Graham of South Carolina, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted earlier that he would grant a prior request by Democrats on the panel — made in 2019 — for Mueller to appear. He’s been hinting at such a move for some time as a way to grill Mueller about the origins of the Russian probe and what many Republicans see as bias against President Donald Trump by the nation’s law enforcement agencies. Two days earlier Graham described the Mueller investigation as having been ‘biased and corrupt.’ Graham finally acted after the publication on Saturday of an opinion piece in the Washington Post, in which Mueller defended his efforts against ‘broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper.’”

Mueller outlines Stone crimes – AP: “Former special counsel Robert Mueller sharply defended his investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, writing in a newspaper opinion piece Saturday that the probe was of ‘paramount importance’ and asserting that a Trump ally, Roger Stone, ‘remains a convicted felon, and rightly so’ despite the president’s decision to commute his prison sentence. The op-ed in The Washington Post marked Mueller’s first public statement on his investigation since his congressional appearance last July. It represented his firmest defense of the two-year probe whose results have come under attack and even been partially undone by the Trump administration, including the president’s extraordinary move Friday evening to grant clemency to Stone just days before he was due to report to prison.”

Judge wants to know if Trump wants Stone to skip fine, probation – Fox News: “A federal judge on Monday ordered the government to explain the ‘scope’ of President Trump’s commutation of longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, including whether the move only involved the sentence of incarceration, or also the period of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the government to provide the court by Tuesday, July 14, ‘a copy of the Executive Order commuting the defendant’s sentence and to address the question of the scope of the commutation, in particular, whether it involves the sentence of incarceration alone or also the period of supervised release.’ In February, Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison, along with 24 months of supervised release and a $20,000 fine.”

Romney, Toomey denounce Trump’s commutation of Stone – Politico: “Sens. Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey condemned Donald Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone — the first elected Republicans to denounce the president’s Friday night move. ‘Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,’ Romney (R-Utah) wrote on Twitter Saturday. GOP lawmakers have been mostly silent about the commutation… In a statement, Toomey (R-Pa.) noted that the president ‘clearly has the legal and constitutional authority to grant clemency for federal crimes,’ but said commuting Stone’s sentence was a ‘mistake’ due in part to the severity of the charges against him.”

Roll Call: “Voters in three states will head to the polls Tuesday to decide the matchups in a trio of competitive Senate races and a slew of House contests. Primaries in Maine, and primary runoffs in Texas and Alabama, were initially delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Campaigns in Texas and Alabama have also had to navigate a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Tuesday’s primaries may follow a common theme in 2020: waiting on results. In Maine, not only will more voters cast their ballots by mail, but the state uses ranked-choice voting, which could further delay results in the competitive three-way Republican primary in the 2nd District. Under the ranked-choice system, voters order candidates from most to least favorite. If no one gets over 50 percent outright, then the last-place finisher is eliminated, with his or her votes reallocated to the other candidates based on the voters’ second choices. This repeats until someone crosses 50 percent. Counting in a race that requires ranked-choice voting would extend beyond election night.”

Sessions faces judgment day – NYT: “For a moment, the whole room was on his side. … But then, as Mr. [JeffSessions turned to his brief tenure as President Trump’s attorney general … his momentum, as it so often did at this juncture of his stump speech, sputtered. … It was the kind of abrupt tonal shift in crowd reaction that Mr. Sessions has faced time and again in his long-shot bid to reclaim his old Senate seat, which will be decided Tuesday in a runoff election between Mr. Sessions and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach. … The runoff seems destined to be a final word of sorts on the yearslong Sessions-Trump melodrama, with Alabama Republicans refereeing between a native son and a president they admire. … With polls showing Mr. Tuberville ahead of Mr. Sessions, who won four Senate elections and served from 1997 to 2017, Tuesday’s runoff will also serve as a preview of voter attitudes in a deeply Republican state ahead of Mr. Trump’s re-election bid in November.”

The high price of virus voting – AP: “The demand for mail-in ballots is surging. Election workers need training. And polling booths might have to be outfitted with protective shields during the COVID-19 pandemic. As officials prepare for the Nov. 3 election, one certainty is clear: It’s coming with a big price tag. ‘Election officials don’t have nearly the resources to make the preparations and changes they need to make to run an election in a pandemic,’ said Wendy Weiser, head of the Brennan Center for Justice’s democracy program. ‘We are seeing this all over the place.’ The pandemic has sent state and local officials scrambling to prepare for an election like few others, an extraordinary endeavor during a presidential contest, as virus cases rise across much of the U.S. COVID-19-related worries are bringing demands for steps to make sure elections just four months away are safe. But long-promised federal aid to help cash-starved states cope is stalled on Capitol Hill.”

Thousands of mail-in ballots rejected for tardiness – NPR: “Mail-in voting, which tens of millions of Americans are expected to use this November, is fraught with potential problems. Hundreds of thousands of ballots go uncounted each year because people make mistakes, such as forgetting to sign the form or sending it in too late. An NPR analysis has found that in the primary elections held so far this year, at least 65,000 absentee or mail-in ballots have been rejected because they arrived past the deadline, often through no fault of the voter. While the numbers are relatively small — around 1% in most states — they could prove crucial in a close election, especially one in which many more voters are expected to cast absentee and mail-in ballots to avoid going to the polls during a pandemic.”

Who’s wearing a mask and who isn’t – Gallup

China slaps Cruz, Rubio, others with sanctions for efforts to end concentration camps – AP

“I think [the Republican Party is] going to be looking to, ‘How do we go about becoming a bigger tent party?’” – Gov. Larry Hogan discussing the future of the Republican Party on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“As a voter that isn’t afraid to vote for a Democrat (and have) for any office, I’m wondering whether I can vote for Biden this year. I usually vote for the more conservative candidate which is usually Republican, and I did begrudgingly vote for Trump in 2016 (couldn’t vote for Hillary because I really think she was/is crooked).  My conundrum now is what to do since I’m not sure I can back what Trump has done to the presidency. I thought Obama was a narcissist, but Trump takes it to a new level.  I guess you can count me into what people deride as the ‘Squishy middle,’ but I relish in my open mindedness to different approaches of government. I feel until we can embrace our squishiness, we can’t compromise and get to a common respect for one another and move away from the disgusting rhetoric we see from both sides of the extremes. Time for the ‘Squishy middle’ to rise up against the extremes and bring some calm, common sense to government at all levels.  Thing is, can this happen by just voting for Biden and removing Trump? Thanks in advance for your advice.” – Trent Aschliman, Ossian, Ind.

[Ed. note: In a word, no. I don’t want to suggest that how you vote doesn’t matter, but these bloody partisan wars in which America now finds itself trapped will not be resolved by anyone running for president this year. Trump is promising to wage this conflict with even greater intensity and promises his supporters that he will lead them to victory. But nobody ‘wins’ a culture war. What happens is that the conflict changes the battlefield, but nothing is resolved. Issue sets change but it basically comes down to the fact that we have deep divisions along economic and cultural/geographic/racial lines and the tribes will always find ways to be in combat. Fighting each other is what gives the groups real definition and Trump is promising four more years of war. Biden, on the other hand, promises to ratchet back the partisan intensity. He’s striking moderate poses, reaching out to Republicans and promises something of a unity government. I doubt he could deliver any such thing. If elected, Biden will quickly find Republicans recoiling from his hand given the pressure of primary elections. That would leave him hostage to a Democratic Party that is increasingly radical and make more likely a resumption of the conflict at least at the Obama-era levels. You should feel free to vote for whomever you like, or not to vote or to write in Philo T. Farnsworth with confidence that none of the candidates can solve the problem. What will help solve the problem is an attitudinal shift in which voters line up for institutional reforms for the way we select nominees and conduct the business of government. I am reminded of the old joke. Two guys open up their lunch pails and one guy says, “Ugh. Tuna salad again.” His friend says, “Why don’t you tell your wife to stop packing you tuna?” He retorts “Hey, I pack my own lunch!” We keep making our own meals but still act surprised at how they turn out. Until Americans are ready for real reform, no individual will end the fight.]

“I love the Halftime Report and I’ll Tell You What is my favorite podcast. Your Roquefort dressing recipe is out of the world good! I was hoping to get your take on Corey Gardner‘s chances of winning reelection?” – Tyler Swirka, Buena Vista, Colo.

[Ed. note: I cannot offer Senator Gardner very much in the way of hope at this point. In 2016 for the first time ever there were no states that elected senators of a different party than their presidential preference. The Senate elections were thoroughly nationalized, continuing a trend that has been with us for a couple of decades. Joe Biden is right now on track to win Colorado by something more than 15 points. While I expect Gardner to outperform Trump in Colorado, that’s a delta so wide that few freshman senators could ever dream of closing. Unless Trump gets back in the game, Gardner looks like a down-ballot casualty. The good news is that he can enjoy a tangy and creamy Roquefort dressing any time he likes since I’m going to commit the Wheeling-style sauce to pixels here and now. INGREDIENTS: 2 tbsp sugar (or equivalent), 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 dashes nutmeg, 4 tbsp Heinz ketchup, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s or Dukes), ¼ pound sharp and stinky Roquefort cheese, crumbled. TO PREPARE: Combine all ingredients except for mayo and cheese into a deep red slurry of smooth consistency. Whisk in the mayonnaise and adjust for taste and color. It should be tangy and very lightly sweet and the color of a 2-year-old flamingo — a pale pink coral color. Fold the cheese in gently and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.]

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

Fox News: “A crook looking for some dough got served up something else when trying to hold up a pizza shop in Delaware on Friday. Delaware State Police said they are searching for a man who attempted to rob Stargate Pizza in Sussex County, and only fled after the owner flung pizza at him. Officials said they received a call about the incident in Greenwood at 10:30 p.m. The owner told troopers that while he was closing his business for the night, a man with a machete approached him and demanded money. ‘The store owner advised the suspect that he did not have any money and threw a pizza at him, causing the suspect to flee,’ state police said. The suspect then ran from the scene and got into a vehicle, driving off northbound on Sussex Highway. The store owner did not sustain any injuries during the incident.”

“What distinguishes Trump Derangement Syndrome is not just general hysteria about the subject, but additionally the inability to distinguish between legitimate policy differences on the one hand and signs of psychic pathology on the other.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 8, 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.