Bernie Sanders’ campaign staff demanding a ‘living wage’ and health care. Bernie Sanders pushes for a $15 minimum wage during his campaign; reaction from 2016 Sanders campaign staffer Tezlyn Figaro.

By Chris Stirewalt | Fox News

Politico: “Elizabeth Warren has cut sharply into Bernie Sanders’ front-runner standing among members of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, according to the group’s latest straw poll, while Kamala Harris vaulted ahead of Joe Biden into third place. Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor who was previously running third among the group’s progressive activists, plunged to sixth place at about 4 percent in the poll, which was released Monday and obtained first by POLITICO. No candidate other than Sanders, Warren and Harris broke single digits in the survey. The survey is less consequential as a measure of public opinion than as an indicator of activist support — and of shifting allegiances on the Democratic Party’s left flank.”

South Bend cops bash Buttigieg – Fox News: “As South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg commands national attention with his media-savvy presidential bid, the firestorm back home over an officer-involved shooting shows no sign of settling soon — with the mayor facing criticism not only from protesters but police who say his handling has crushed morale and risks a ‘mass exodus’ from the force. ‘Morale around here has been terrible. We do nothing,’ one police officer, a 20-year veteran of the force, told Fox News. … ‘At an all-time low,’ another officer said of morale. … Officers requested not to be identified for this story in fear of retaliation by the mayor’s administration. But they told Fox News that they know of multiple officers who are considering handing in their badges or taking retirement if eligible, in response to the mayor’s handling of the shooting.”

Warren bulks up – Politico: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the largest staff in the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Sen. Bernie Sanders is close behind. And others trying to go big are weighing the dangers of the most expensive piece of the ‘invisible primary’: the people running the campaigns. Warren had 303 people on her campaign payroll during the second quarter of the year, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission records. It’s a reflection of her campaign’s belief in the importance of early organizing, which is shared by Sanders’ campaign and its 282 people on salary and echoes the successful approach of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The early size of the 2020 campaigns roughly illustrates the current tiers in the Democratic primary, with the top five candidates in polling and fundraising and several underdogs hoping to lay groundwork for a future leap among the leaders.”

Beto has little support but big spending – Politico: “Beto O’Rourke is expanding his national staff despite a weak fundraising quarter, adding a number of senior hires. Nick Rathod, a Democratic operative who served as President Barack Obama’s liaison to state officials, has been hired as a senior national political adviser, a campaign spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO on Friday. Adnan Mohamed, who was deputy national political director for Rep. Seth Moulton’s presidential campaign, has been named national political director. Anna Korman, who worked with O’Rourke’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, at Precision Strategies, will be O’Rourke’s national data director. And Morgan Hill, who was research director on Richard Cordray’s gubernatorial campaign in Ohio last year, will be national research director.”

This is 2019: Candidate sleepovers are a thing – WSJ: “Sen. Cory Booker sat on the family-room floor with New Hampshire State Sen. Jon Morgan and his wife Katie, a physician assistant, until past midnight last Saturday. The next morning at 8, the room was the scene of a gymnastics show as the New Jersey Democrat swung the Morgans’ sons high into the air, and upside down, as cartoons played in the background. Mr. Booker spent the night with the Morgans, their three sons and three dogs Saturday, an experience Mr. Morgan described as ‘a little surreal.’”

“The utmost degree of firmness that can be displayed by the federal Senate or President, will not be more than equal to a resistance in which they will be supported by constitutional and patriotic principles.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 58

Smithsonian: “Despite the fact that Bob Ross produced almost 30,000 paintings over the course of his lifetime, it is virtually impossible to track down, let alone purchase, any of his signature landscape scenes. … The New York Times wanted answers. In a delightful video investigation recently published by the publication, reporters found there’s actually a relatively straightforward reason why it’s so difficult to find an original Ross painting—particularly one of the 1,143 he made as host of the popular PBS television show ‘The Joy of Painting.’ … [An] estimated 1,165 of the famously upbeat painter’s canvases are hidden away in storage at Bob Ross Inc.’s northern Virginia headquarters. None of the works housed at the facility are up for sale, and the building is closed to outside visitors. … The oil landscapes housed at the company’s Herndon, Virginia, headquarters may not be available for purchase, but Bob Ross Inc. did just donate an array of artwork and artifacts to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History earlier this year.”

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

Trump job performance
Average approval
: 44.8 percent
Average disapproval: 50.6 percent
Net Score: -5.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.2 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 45% approve – 52% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 47% approve – 50% disapprove; CNN: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; IBD: 43% approve – 49% disapprove.]

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.

Politico: “White House officials and congressional leaders are closing in on a budget deal on Monday that would raise spending levels for both the Pentagon and nondefense programs while extending the debt limit until at least July 2021, according to sources close to the talks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have been leading the discussions, although GOP leaders on the Hill — as well as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — have been closely involved.”

Politico: “The Democratic National Committee raised $8.5 million in June, the month of the party’s presidential debates in Miami — less than half of the $20.7 million the Republican National Committee pulled in during that time period, disclosures show. The DNC also spent almost as much money as it raised — $7.5 million — during that time and finished the month with $9.3 million cash on hand. Meanwhile, the RNC is building a large war chest during the lead-up to 2020 and had $43.5 million cash on hand at the end of the month. The DNC spent heavily on major events during the month of the debates: The committee reported spending $221,000 on catering, $106,000 on ‘event production & site rentals,’ $61,000 on ‘event decorations,’ $50,000 on ‘event consulting’ and $19,000 on security. The filing did not specify which expenses were related to the debates in late June.”

Sanford: ‘I don’t think anybody’s going to beat Donald Trump’ – Fox News: “Ask Mark Sanford if any Republican can knock off President Trump in the Republican primaries and he’ll give you an honest answer. ‘I always like to be real, and I don’t think anybody’s going to beat Donald Trump. That’s my personal opinion,’ the former South Carolina governor and congressman said in an interview Monday with Fox News. But Sanford, who last week announced he was taking 30 days to decide whether to launch a primary challenge against the president, said that if he runs, it’s not about ousting the president. At least not completely. ‘I think it’s about trying to force a larger national debate and a debate within Republican circles,’ he said. That debate, for Sanford, centers on the national debt, which now stands at over $22 trillion.”

WashTimes: “President Trump stepped up his feud Monday with four liberal Democratic lawmakers, calling them ‘a very Racist group of troublemakers.’ ‘The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart,’ the president tweeted. ‘They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border…And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!’ He issued the tweet en route to pay his respects at the Supreme Court to the late Justice John Paul Stevens. Mr. Trump has been locked in an escalating battle with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. After he told them a week ago to ‘go back’ to their countries of origin, Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of racism. All four lawmakers are U.S. citizens; Somalia native Ms. Omar is the only one who was born in another country.”

White House sends out attack dog Miller – NY Post: “Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace confronted senior White House adviser Stephen Miller on President Trump’s long record of ‘playing the race card’ – and the conversation got heated. ‘I’ve never called any of his tweets racist,’ Wallace said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘But there’s no question he’s stoking racial divisions.’ But Miller, a key immigration aide to the president, said Trump controversial comments … are not racially motivated. ‘I fundamentally disagree with the view that if you criticize somebody and they happen to be a different color skin that that makes it a racial criticism,’ Miller said. Miller claimed that comments by Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and members of the progressive squad are far worse than anything Trump has said, especially AOC’s comparison of border detention facilities to concentration camps.”

Illinois GOP apologizes, takes down ‘Jihad Squad’ post – Chicago Tribune: “Top leaders of the Illinois Republican Party launched an effort at damage control Sunday after a social media post echoed President Donald Trump’s criticism of four Democratic congresswoman and went further, referring to them in a movie-type poster of being a ‘jihad squad’ and contending they believe any criticism is racist. The post was made to the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association Facebook page on Friday night but gained publicity over the weekend. … Mark Shaw, the Lake County GOP chairman who heads the state county chairmen’s group, said the posting was ‘not authorized by me’ and said he was ‘sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents.’ Shaw said the post had been deleted, and he called it an ‘unfortunate distraction’ from the ideological issues involving the four progressive congresswoman.”

Former Texas state senator Wendy Davis announces bid to oust Rep. Chip Roy – Texas Tribune

ABC News will host third Dem debate at Houston’s Texas Southern University in September – ABC News

Trump says he’s willing to meet with Schumer on immigration –Politico

Pergram: With Mueller hearings ahead, the ‘book’ may be better than the ‘movie’ – Fox News

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló won’t resign amid corruption, scandal uproar – NYT

Check this out: A look at what alumni of the 115th Congress have been up to– Roll Call

“I don’t just have plans. I have deadlines.” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar talking to the WaPo about the differences between her 100-day plan and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plans.

“In a From the Bleachers response you said ‘…no reasonable way to speculate on what the economy will look like a year from now…’ That is exactly correct. And it applies equally to any forecast from the OMB or any campaign promise from a politician from either team. Presidents and Congress have much less impact on the economy than they believe.” – Mike Golan,Cape Cod, Mass. 

[Ed. note: Quite so, Mr. Golan. The secret to politics isn’t usually about forming a marching band but rather looking confident when you jump out in front of one and starting swinging your mace!]

“Are we to believe that just ‘randomly’ Biden is with his two staunchest critics on stage one day while Warren and Sanders are pitted against each other the next? Please! It seems like CNN who generally I enjoy viewing doesn’t want Biden to be the nominee and goes out of their way to keep him under fire.  This pairing makes it look even more so. Could CNN be exhibiting the same bias they accuse Fox of? Their constant need to bring up Biden’s shortcomings and no other candidate’s seems like steering.” – Brian Davis, Minneapolis

[Ed. note: Oh, now, Mr. Davis! Yes, it’s true that of the four truly top-tier Democratic contenders, CNN ended up with two good pairings, I hardly think there’s reason to suspect foul play. Once one accounts for the fact that the rules require equal distributions of the haves and have nots, the probabilities here are pretty high. The chances of getting Warren-Sanders and Biden-Harris or Warren-Harris and Sanders-Biden or Sanders-Harris and Warren-Biden were each quite robust. I’m confident not only that the drawing was on the level, but also that Biden would catch hell from whichever of his three main rivals happened to be on the stage with him.]

“Lots of your political analysis talks about influencing the ‘independents.’  Not sure how many of them there are left.  As a proud southeast Pennsylvania resident, the deciding factor in 2016 in my state (where Dems significantly outnumber Republicans in voting registration) was turnout and not fence-sitters, and Trump brought out his R voters and Clinton did not bring out her D voters. I would welcome more political analysis along the winding road of this 2020 campaign as to how the inevitably zany events, mistakes, tactics, and news items will likely influence the respective parties’ turnouts in key battlegrounds. I have a sense that pleasing the base and energizing the electorate are actually two separate things. Also, Chris, as a man who admittedly enjoys his fair share of meat and cheese, and who must travel past our area between New York and Washington, I nonetheless do not believe that you have ever discussed our famous Philly cheesesteaks. Are you a fan or a hater? Happy to send you some of our best if you haven’t partaken enough. Thanks for all that you do. (You too, Brianna)” – Ken Levine, Lionville, Pa.

[Ed. note: Good question, Mr. Levine. Let’s look at the numbers. About 48 percent of Pennsylvania’s nearly 8.5 million registered voters are Democrats, 38 percent are Republicans and 14 percent are unaffiliated/other. In your own district, the gap is a little more pronounced – 52 percent Democratic, 32 percent Republican, 16 percent independent/other. And while you are right that Clinton faced a serious enthusiasm gap. Exit polls show that the 2016 electorate statewide was electorate was only 42 percent Democratic – 5 points below par – Republicans were 39 percent of voters, essentially maxed out. About an equal number of self-identified Democrats and Republicans switched sides in their presidential votes. So how did Donald Trump win the state by a little less than 3/4ths of a point? Because he won among independents by 7 points. The answer in politics is usually that you have to walk and chew gum at the same time – win your base and persuade the persuadable. Trump’s narrow Pennsylvania victory relied on three factors: depressed Democratic turnout, energized Republicans and winning with the unaffiliated. One other thing about independent voters: “Independent” does not mean “moderate.” Independent voters range from the very liberal to the very conservative. There is, though, reason to believe that these voters tend to be more persuadable. As for delicious Philly cheesesteaks, I wonder who could be a hater. My tastes run to Dalessandro’s Steaks by Wissahickon Valley Park – amazingly tender, fantastic atmosphere – and John’s Roast Pork on Snyder Avenue – the steak is divine but the roast pork with spinach is worth a trip, too.]

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

WCMH: “An award-winning lamb is under investigation after veterinarians at the Logan County Fair discovered illicit drugs in its system. The Ohio Department of Agriculture says the grand champion market lamb showed by a young 4-H member between July 7-13 tested positive for diuretics before it was sent to slaughter. ‘We don’t know how it got in there, and we may never know. But it’s the exhibitor’s responsibility to present an animal to the fair for competition that’s free of all of those,’ said Dr. Tony Forshey, the state veterinarian at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Dr. Forshey explained diuretics cause dehydration and can make an animal’s muscles feel leaner. The drug not only gives exhibitors an unfair advantage, but it can also contaminate the meat. ‘More importantly is the food safety aspect,’ said Forshey. ‘We don’t want any of these animals going into the human food chain that are carrying adulterated products.’”

“[Gerald R. Ford] was no giant. Nor did he leave a great policy legacy. But he is justly revered for his decency and honor. His great gesture was pardoning Richard Nixon, an act for which he was excoriated at the time and which cost him the 1976 election.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on July 27, 2017.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report.

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