Rush Limbaugh issues a warning to Republicans on the Supreme Court confirmation battle; The ‘Outnumbered’ panel reacts.
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On the roster: Trump attacks Kavanaugh accuser – Time Out: Commendable, amendable – In major shift, Florida race swings toward Nelson – House GOP gives goodies to vulnerable members – Don’t call him Smokey
TRUMP ATTACKS KAVANAUGH ACCUSER USA Today: “President Donald Trump unloaded on congressional Democrats Tuesday for playing a ‘con game’ over his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and he used his strongest language yet to criticize those accusing him of sexual assault. ‘The second accuser has nothing,’ Trump said of Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party when they were freshmen at Yale University. ‘She admits that she was drunk. She admits time lapses’ Trump made the remarks to reporters during a bilateral meeting with the president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, at the United Nations General Assembly. …Trump, who initially took a more cautious approach to Kavanaugh’s accusers, has increasingly ramped up his criticism of them. … On Tuesday, he took a more direct approach in questioning Ramirez’s story. ‘Now a new charge comes up and she says it may not be him and there are gaps. And she was totally inebriated and all messed up, and she doesn’t know,’ Trump said.”
Yearbook contradicts Kavanaugh’s claims about high school chastity –WaPo: “Brett Kavanaugh did more than just emphatically reject the allegations of sexual assault … during an interview with Fox News on Monday. … Kavanaugh repeatedly cited a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew him in high school and that ‘he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect,’ but one of the signatories has just renounced her support. There is a cryptic reference on Kavanaugh’s yearbook page that describes him as a ‘Renate Alumnius,’… ‘The word ‘Renate’ appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the ‘Renate Alumni.’ It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school. Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.’” Thursday hearing now in doubt – Fox News: “An attorney for the woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago has raised fresh concerns about the format for Thursday’s highly anticipated hearing with her and the Supreme Court nominee. The letter raising those issues once again could throw into doubt the scheduled hearing, which has been the subject of ever-changing negotiations since Christine Blasey Ford first went public. In the message, sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley late Monday and obtained by Fox News, her attorney took issue with apparent plans for an outside counsel to ask questions — as well as fiery comments made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accusing Democrats of a ‘smear campaign.’ ‘We are finding it difficult to reconcile your letter and [staff member Mike Davis‘] note with the Majority Leader’s speech this afternoon on the Senate floor. As Dr. Blasey Ford has been clear since her experience was first made public, she came forward because she believes it is her civic duty to tell the truth about the sexual assault she experienced,’ wrote Michael Bromwich, her attorney and a former Justice Department inspector general. … Bromwich specifically raised concerns with an email from Davis that apparently suggested an outside counsel would question Ford.” Republicans threaten vote this week –The Hill: “Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are opening the door to the panel voting on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination this week. GOP senators on Monday said that the committee could vote this week, while deferring a decision to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman. GOP Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters he would defer to Grassley on the timing of the vote but ‘Friday would be possible.’ Under that timeline, senators would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in the Judiciary Committee roughly a day after he and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault, are testifying publicly. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) predicted the panel would not vote on Thursday but that he would be ‘okay’ with the panel voting on Thursday or Friday.” Murkowski warns: Don’t dismiss accusers – NYT: “Republican Party leaders may be insisting that they will install Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is offering a blunt warning of her own: Do not prejudge sexual assault allegations against the nominee that will be aired at an extraordinary public hearing on Thursday. ‘We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,’ Ms. Murkowski [said] ‘It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.’ … Late Monday night, a freshman roommate of Judge Kavanaugh’s at Yale, James Roche, released a statement in support of another accuser, Deborah Ramirez… ‘Although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time,’ Mr. Roche wrote, adding, ‘he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.’”
THE RULEBOOK: ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTE “It is ESSENTIAL to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 39
TIME OUT: COMMENDABLE, AMENDABLE History: “[On this day in 1789] the first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people. Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification process that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to approve the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would immediately be adopted.”
SCOREBOARD Trump job performance Average approval: 41 percent Average disapproval: 54.2 percent Net Score: -13.2 points Change from one week ago: up 2.2 points [Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Gallup: 40% approve – 56% disapprove; CNN: 37% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 54% disapprove.]
Control of House Republican average: 40.6 percent Democratic average: 50.8 percent Advantage: Democrats plus 10.2 points Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 0.2 points [Average includes: Fox News: 49% Dems – 42% GOP; NBC/WSJ: 51% Dems – 43% GOP; CNN: 52% Dems – 42% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 52% Dems – 38% GOP; NPR/Marist: 50% Dems – 38% GOP.]
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IN MAJOR SHIFT, FLORIDA RACE SWINGS TOWARD NELSON Quinnipiac University: “In the Florida U.S. Senate race, which could be critical to control of the Senate this year, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson moves into a 53 – 46 percent likely voter lead over Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. This compares to a 49 – 49 percent dead heat in a September 5 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll. Today, women back Sen. Nelson 58 – 41 percent as men are divided, with 51 percent for Gov. Scott and 47 percent for the incumbent. White voters back Scott 53 – 45 percent. Supporting Nelson are black voters 90 – 10 percent and Hispanic voters 61 – 39 percent. Republicans back Scott 89 – 10 percent. Nelson leads 94 – 5 percent among Democrats and 56 – 40 percent among independent voters. Among Florida likely voters who name a candidate choice, 94 percent say their mind is made up. Nelson gets a 53 – 41 percent favorability rating, while Scott gets a negative 46 – 51 percent favorability rating. Florida likely voters give President Donald Trump a negative 44 – 54 percent job approval rating.”
Arizona stays hot – NBC News: “Arizona’s closely watched Senate race is a statistical tie, according to a new NBC News / Marist College poll that shows Democrat Kyrsten Sinema leading Republican Martha McSally by three points with likely voters, within the poll’s margin of error. The poll finds Sinema garnering 48 percent support from Arizona likely voters in a two-way contest, while McSally has the backing of 45 percent. Among all registered voters, it’s a similar margin at 47 percent for Sinema, 44 percent for McSally. That result shows that the race has tightened since June, before McSally clinched the GOP nomination. At that time, Sinema led McSally among registered voters, 49 percent to 38 percent. … In the head-to-head contest among likely voters, Sinema leads with independents (52 percent to 38 percent), white college graduates (54 percent to 42 percent), Latino voters (54 percent to 33 percent), voters under 30 (66 percent to 25 percent) and women (53 percent to 38 percent). McSally’s strongest supporters include Trump backers (86 percent to 8 percent), men (53 percent to 41 percent), and whites without a college degree (53 percent to 40 percent).” Records cast doubt on Sinema’s claim of homeless upbringing – Fox News: “A Senate Democratic hopeful in Arizona may have embellished her homeless upbringing, according to a new report that dug into a key part of her personal narrative. Kyrsten Sinema, a congresswoman who’s running against Republican Martha McSally in one of the highest-profile midterm races, came under fire after her repeated claims that she was homeless and lived in an abandoned gas station in Florida with no running water or electricity were called into question. The New York Times obtained court records detailing her parents’ payments for an electric, phone and gas bill while they were living in the abandoned gas station – contradicting some aspects of her story. The records were part of her parents’ divorce case, in which Sinema’s mother and her stepfather revealed their monthly payments for utilities while living in the service station, which was owned by the stepfather’s parents. … Sinema’s claim of living in an abandoned gas station without running water or electricity has been a common theme during her campaigns for public office.” HOUSE GOP GIVES GOODIES TO VULNERABLE MEMBERS Roll Call: “As the House prepares to wrap up its fall legislative business this week before going on recess for the duration of the midterm campaign season, half of the vulnerable Republican incumbents will be leaving with parting gifts. Those gifts come in the form of floor votes on bills they have authored. By the end of the week, 28 of the 57 House Republicans whose seats are considered in play this cycle, according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, are set to go home with the chamber having voted this month on at least one of their bills. The House was not supposed to adjourn for the midterms until after the first two weeks of October. While no changes to that schedule have been announced as yet, several Republican lawmakers and aides say they expect GOP leaders to cancel next month’s sessions to have their members out on the campaign trail the entire month leading into the Nov. 6 elections.”
Gun control group sets sights on 15 vulnerable House Republicans –Politico: “Everytown for Gun Safety, the pro-gun control group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is rolling out a $5 million digital ad campaign targeting 15 House races, as the group continues heavy investment in the midterm elections. The group announced plans to target House districts embedded in suburban communities outside of cities like Atlanta, Kansas City, Miami and Minneapolis. The 15 districts are all featured on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s ‘Red to Blue’ target list, a program that denotes top-tier races. The full list of targeted Republican incumbents includes Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Karen Handel of Georgia, Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Erik Philip Paulsen of Minnesota, Mike Bishop of Michigan, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey and Barbara Comstock of Virginia. The group is also going after seven open, Republican-controlled seats representing districts that include suburbs in metro areas from Seattle to New York City.”
House candidate in long-shot Florida race dies suddenly – [Sarasota] Herald-Tribune: “April Freeman, the Democratic candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney in District 17, died Sunday. Her husband, David Freeman, posted the news on her Facebook page Monday afternoon by writing: ‘It’s with great sadness that I feel I must inform all of you that my beloved wife April passed away suddenly last night. To all of her family and friends here on Facebook, my heart aches with you.’ In a brief phone interview Monday, he added, ‘It appears that she was having a heart attack. That’s all I know right now,’ Freeman continued. ‘I’ll post more … I have no further comment.’ April Freeman, 54, was making her third run for Congress, opposing the Republican nominee, Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube, for the District 17 seat. She lost to Rooney in 2016 and in 2014 lost the District 19 seat to Curt Clawson.”
PLAY-BY-PLAY Oklahoma Democrat challenges opponent in statehouse race to shooting contest –Fox News
Meet the man who lost nine Senate primaries in one year –WaPo Rosenstein to meet with Trump in wake of ‘wire’ report, amid firing speculation –Fox News
Mueller explored Trump’s ties to billionaire Russian-Azerbaijani family –WSJ
AUDIBLE: ‘FUNNY LIKE I’M A CLOWN? I AMUSE YOU?’ “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.” – President Trump, addressing the United Nations General Assembly after world leaders erupted in laughter at his claim that he had accomplished more than “almost any” president in history.
FROM THE BLEACHERS “Chris, I’m of the opinion that the hoo-hah about Mr. Rosenstein was a brilliant tactical maneuver by some genius in the administration to deflect coverage of the Kavanaugh controversy; a ruse. Watched an hour long noon news program Monday where 35 minutes went by before Kavanaugh the subject of came up. On the subject of judge Kavanaugh, the thought of Hirono and Trump, Jr. being moral anchors is a clear sign that the Republic is in trouble. Especially after the histrionics of Sens. Harris and Booker. Am convinced the voters will put paid to the nonsense that dominates most media outlets and the bloviating of some politicians and implement term limits by an election (the way it should be) in November.” – James Ronan, Lake Wylie, S.C.
[Ed. note: Hoo boy, Mr. Ronan. Maybe I’m too close to see it and maybe the view is actually clearer from the pleasant shores of Lake Wylie than from where I sit. But the way it looks to me and to those I talk to who are in positions to know, they are doing their double darnedest to barely keep the wagon out of the ditch at the White House. Every administration is chaotic, but this one is just bonkers. Some individual agencies and offices are well run and disciplined, but the White House from the president on down is substantially running on an ad hoc basis. They are highly reactive to what is done to them and what they do to themselves. They seem to be barely holding on as they careen from one crisis to another. Even after successive purges, the administration remains leaky and factious. There have been many successes, but they have come in spite of, not because of, the bedlam at 1600 Pennsylvania. Now, there is an argument to be made that some of the successes have been a result of the giant, usually damaging distractions caused by the president and his top aides. We would be talking a lot more about specific, controversial policies if we weren’t all veering from one outrage to the next. But I certainly don’t think that’s by design.]
“I am most concerned that the damage to the Supreme Court’s stature done by this selection process will deeply weaken our tri-party form of governance for decades to come and in doing so create lasting damage to our country. The Court with justices appointed for life was intended to counter balance and rise above the partisan tides, but has now been inundated by them. Half the people will now reasonably view the Court’s decisions as just another expression of a partisan head count much equivalent to acts of congress. I believe that we should reconstitute a required 60 (of even 66)-vote majority for the appointment of Supreme Court justices. They would likely require at least a somewhat bipartisan majority approval and substantial reduce the risk of the profound damage to an immensely important institution that now seems likely.” – Matthew Lincoln, Portola Valley, Calif.
[Ed. note: I think you’re quite right, Mr. Lincoln. We have many times here lamented the slow demise of the Senate as an elevating force in our politics. The decision to lower the threshold first for lower-court nominees and then the Supreme Court will reverberate for many years to come. And I further assume that we will eventually see the threshold for legislation dropped to a simple majority as well. In that era we will see large and largely unpopular legislation crammed through on 51-vote margins. I am afraid to say that we will probably see all of that and more before we become so sick of partisanship that voters begin to rebel.]
“Chris, I offer a humble tip of my hat to the Trading Places reference in Monday’s Halftime Report. It’s clear a contemporary reference to those of us coming of age in the 1980’s.” – Dan Burch, Turlock, Calif.
[Ed. note: And so I say unto you “Looking good, Billy Ray.”]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown. DON’T CALL HIM SMOKEY UPI: “A bear that knocked out electricity for 4,500 California residents may also be responsible for starting a fire, officials said. Pail Moreno, a spokesman for utility provider PG&E, tweeted that power was knocked out to many residents in upper Butte Creek Canyon when a ‘bear apparently climbed a wooden pole and contacted high-voltage equipment at about 12:40 a.m.’ Monday. Moreno said PG&E was initially asked by not to restore power in some areas to safeguard firefighters battling the Nimshew Fire. The Nimshew Fire started about the same time as the power outage, but PG&E and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said they have not yet been able to confirm whether the bear’s actions were responsible for the fire.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “[Bernie Sanders] failed to understand that Clinton scandals are sprawling, multi-layered, complex things. They defy time and space. They grow and burrow.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Aug, 25, 2016.
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.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.