**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**On the roster: Elizabeth Warren, front-runner? - Biden bro traded on promises of help from former veep – Obama engages on redistricting fight - Dems pitch short-term funding bill - See, what had happened was…  

ELIZABETH WARREN, FRONT-RUNNER?That sound you hear is the excited squeal of political reporters contemplating the possibility that what so many of them had predicted (and hoped for) in the Democratic presidential nominating process is finally coming true.  A poll from Monmouth University on Monday may have been out of step with all of the other surveys out there, but it was very much in step with what reporters and pundits have been talking about for months: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders tied in first place, just ahead of Joe Biden.   The problem with the Democratic contest so far, at least in the eyes of those who make their living covering politics, has been the cardinal sin in journalism: It’s so boring. The well-known, well liked, moderate former vice president has been doubling up his closest competitors for months. The debates, moderated in kindly, kid-glove fashion have been snooze fests. The polls have been steady for months. Ho hum.    To make matters worse, the front-runner has neither embraced the trash-talking pugilism some Democrats say is necessary to confront the incumbent president, nor has he embraced any of the sweeping, salvific-sounding policy positions his less experienced competitors glommed onto in the opening weeks of the race. Biden is selling moderation and predictability just at the moment when the political class – practitioners and journalists – had decided that everything has changed.  Biden’s ordinariness as a political figure is an affront to the central lesson many in this world took from 2016 that the old world has been burned away. Biden’s candidacy and success to this point have been strong arguments for the position that things aren’t nearly as different in the Trump era as many have imagined them to be. But what if Monmouth isn’t an outlier, as the Biden campaign argues, but is, in fact, a harbinger of things to come?  If that poll is on the money, then Biden’s candidacy is already kaput.  Being the consensus choice for a party’s nomination relies on the presence of… consensus. There will be no O’Rourke-ian existential journey nor any Buttigieg-ian quiet persistence if Biden really does slip from the top spot. Instead, the same party establishment that has sustained Biden would turn on him sharply.  It’s hard to imagine that Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, would let “Sheriff Joe” stagger on in a doomed effort without at least applying some considerable, quiet pressure to call it quits. Warren’s enthusiastic supporters, both inside and outside of journalism, should therefore be worried about succeeding too soon. No matter how many puff pieces about the ways in which the party establishment or Wall Street or whomever is warming up to Warren, smart Democrats know the hurdles she would face as a general election candidate. It is possible that she could beat Donald Trump, but her far out positions and angry rhetoric of class warfare also create the possibility of a catastrophic wipeout that would hurt Democrats up and down the ballot. Warren looks a lot like her fellow senator Ted Cruz did in 2016. She’s checking a lot of the right boxes for party activists but is struggling to outrun the notion that nominating her not only would reduce chances for success on the presidential level but also carry with it more profound dangers for the party. If Biden doesn’t like having the bullseye on his back as the front-runner, neither would Warren enjoy it. It seems improbable that the more moderate majority of Democrats would not rally to another candidate in the face of such a threat. And even before the forces of normalcy could gather, Sanders would surely train his fire more directly on his colleague from the state next door.   That’s why those folks polling at 3 percent or 5 percent keep hanging around. If Biden really does crack up, his votes aren’t going to Warren or Sanders, there would instead be a reinvigoration of the race and a chance for another moderate to rise.THE RULEBOOK: BIG BLOOMERS “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 Hamilton, Federalist No. 36TIME OUT: MAKE PIE, NOT WARSmithsonian: “In the early 1900s, the United States was at war—over pie. On one side were the traditionalists, who saw pie as ‘an article of necessity in every household as much as the bed and cook stove,’ according to a Chicago Daily Tribune report in 1899. On the other side were the food reformers, who wanted to break this unhealthy and corrupting habit. ‘Pie really is an American evil,’ Kate Masterson wrote in the New York Times in 1902. … By the turn of the century, Americans were eating more apple pie than any other variety. Apples, first brought to the continent by the colonists, grew well across large swaths of the country and could be stored through the winter, unlike most other fresh fruits. The phrase ‘as American as apple pie’ would not be coined until a 1924… But the idea was already so deeply ingrained that pie eating became a way for the country’s newest arrivals … to assimilate.”Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.SCOREBOARD Average approval: 41.8 percentAverage disapproval: 54.4 percentNet Score: -12.6 percentChange from one week ago: up 0.8 points [Average includes: Monmouth University: 41% approve – 53% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 43% approve – 55% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve – 56% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve – 54% disapprove.]WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?  You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!BIDEN BRO TRADED ON PROMISES OF HELP FROM FORMER VEEPPolitico: “Joe Biden’s younger brother told potential business partners that the former vice president would help their firm land business with court systems and would incorporate their health care model into his 2020 presidential campaign, according to new allegations made in a court filing in Tennessee. The allegations are consistent with others made over the years that relatives of Biden have sought to enrich themselves off of his public service. But they go further, representing the first explicit claims that James Biden offered to have the former vice president use his clout to further private business interests. The allegations come in sworn declarations made by executives at firms suing Biden’s brother that were filed in federal court on Friday. They do not allege any wrongdoing by Joe Biden or indicate that the former vice president had knowledge of his brother’s alleged promises.”Biden gets personal on ObamaCare in new ad - WaPo: “Joe Biden knocks both President Trump and some of his fellow Democratic White House hopefuls in a television ad that debuted Tuesday in Iowa in which the former vice president suggests they are all a threat to the Affordable Care Act. Health care has emerged as a fault line in the Democratic primary debate, with Biden calling for building upon President Barack Obama’s signature achievement while other leading candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), advocate for a Medicare-for-all single-payer plan. In his 60-second spot, Biden highlights the importance to his family of having had health insurance at key moments as well as the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 while he was vice president. ‘The fact of the matter is, health care is personal to me. Obamacare is personal to me,’ Biden says, as a picture is shown of Obama… Biden does not mention any of his Democratic rivals by name in his ad.”Drucker: Warren’s base not buying electability argument - WashEx: “To some degree, Warren is a beneficiary of the Trump phenomenon. The conventional media narrative about the populist Republican in 2016 was that his sharp tongue and hawkish position on immigration, among other issues, rendered him unelectable. He won, capturing three states a GOP nominee had not won in decades, plus battleground Florida. In Iowa and Ohio, two other swing states, Trump routed. That outcome is buoying Warren supporters amid naysayers and some polling data suggesting she might be a weak nominee. ‘No one knows who can win,’ said Sheri Smith, a Warren supporter in her early 50s who is on disability. ‘I don’t think you know; I don’t think I know and I don’t think anybody on Sunday morning really knows.’”Sore losers in debate derby grouse at DNC - Fox News: “With the deadline to qualify for next month’s third round of Democratic presidential debates closing in, the Democratic National Committee is facing an angry chorus of criticism from the candidates not likely to make the cut. At issue is the DNC’s criteria for the contenders to take part in the prime-time showdown, including contributions from 130,000 individual donors and reaching at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls. ‘The DNC’s process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most,’ charged Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – a lower-tier White House contender who is all but certain not to qualify for the third round. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who also needs a miracle to qualify by the end-of-Wednesday deadline, argued that ‘these DNC debate rules have turned this primary into the ‘The Hunger Games’ — each step of this seems to be all about getting donors.’”Yang predicts he will double campaign cash haul in third quarter - Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says he believes he will double his campaign cash haul when he reports his fundraising figures for the third quarter of this year, contending that his White House bid ‘is catching.’ ‘We are going to raise more than twice as much money in the third quarter than we did in the second quarter, at a time when many other campaigns are starting to shrink,’ Yang told Fox News. The tech entrepreneur from New York, once viewed by many observers as the longest of long-shot hopefuls seeking the Democratic nomination, was interviewed after unveiling his climate change plan during a campaign swing in New Hampshire. … Yang brought in $2.8 million in the April-June second quarter of fundraising — a respectable figure for a lower-tier presidential contender but far short of frontrunners' much more substantial hauls.”OBAMA ENGAGES ON REDISTRICTING FIGHT Fox News: “Former President Barack Obama is back in the political arena, announcing a new initiative to combat partisan gerrymandering — though Republicans say the efforts are really about helping Democrats. The ‘Redistricting U’ program, which is part of the ‘All on the Line’ campaign, aims to recruit and train individuals to take up the fight against drawing congressional districts based on partisan interests. ‘Training is at the heart of organizing. It’s why I’ve always made it a priority — from my 2008 campaign until now,’ Obama tweeted Monday. ‘And it’s why I’m proud to announce @allontheline’s in-person training initiative, Redistricting U.’ Republicans, though, have accused Democrats of making it sound like they want fairness — when in reality they are hoping to place their party in a better position. … ‘Redistricting U’ was created in February after Obama merged his Organizing for Action group with former Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Redistricting Action Fund.”DEMS PITCH SHORT-TERM FUNDING BILL CNBC: “Democrats are considering the possibility of passing a short-term funding bill to keep the government running after Sept. 30. During a caucus conference call on Friday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer raised the specter of a stop-gap measure that lasts through Nov. 22 in order to prevent a government shutdown, according to a person briefed on the talks. Another person suggested a more likely date could be Dec. 6. Politico was the first to report on the discussions. Lawmakers are currently on summer recess and will not return to Washington until Sept. 9. Floating a so-called continuing resolution is an acknowledgement that Congress simply will not have enough time to pass all 12 spending bills before the end of the fiscal year, one of the sources said. … So far, the House has passed 10 appropriations bills. The Senate has not passed any, as the Republican-led chamber waited on President Donald Trump to strike a deal with Democrats on top-line spending numbers. Trump signed that agreement early this month.”PLAY-BY-PLAYFederal Election Commission lapses into shutdown mode after commission calls quits - WaPoHalf a year on, poll shows Northam rebounding from blackface scandal - WTOPJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes first public appearance Monday after completing radiation - WaPoPressure to replace NAFTA grows from swing-district Dems - WSJAUDIBLE: KENNEDYS DON’T WAIT   “I hear the folks who say I should wait my turn, but with due respect — I’m not sure this is a moment for waiting.” – Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., talking about his possible Senate run against Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., per the Boston Globe.Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.SEE, WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS…  KSLA: “After reporting his truck stolen, a Washington man was arrested because investigators determined he had been inside a store, robbing it, during the theft. William Kelley, 42, reported his Chevrolet pickup truck had been stolen Sunday morning, according to a report from the Kennewick Police Department. Kelley said he had left his keys on the front seat while looking for a nearby bathroom. An unidentified man on a 10-speed bike rode by the truck, discovered Kelley’s keys, put his bike in the bed and drove away. … But upon watching surveillance video from the tavern, investigators determined that … Kelley arrived at the location about 5:30 a.m. He is accused of then going into a business across the street from the tavern to burgle it. While he was inside, allegedly stealing items, his truck was stolen. Police confirmed the car theft with surveillance video.”AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “In a normal election, the FBI and WikiLeaks factors might be disqualifying for a presidential candidate.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Nov. 3, 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.

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