OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: GOP leaders escape Romney questions

In a departure from standard operating procedure, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) highlighted a report in The New York Times – a favorite GOP “whipping boy” publication — and the senators who joined him at the mics turned on their respective heels promptly after delivering their prepared statements.

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Their silence comes after The Hill reported Republicans believe Romney’s mistakes could prevent them from winning back the Senate.


TOMORROW’S AGENDA TODAY: President Obama will be in Florida, campaigning in Miami and Tampa. While in Miami, he will participate in a Univision and Facebook “Meet the Candidate” event.

Vice President Biden will be attending meetings in Washington.

Mitt Romney will hold a rally at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla.

Paul Ryan will be in Washington to meet with House GOP lawmakers and to vote on welfare legislation.

Ann Romney campaigns in Iowa and Milwaukee, Wis.

Josh Romney will be campaigning in Pennsylvania with events in Rochester and Butler, and at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa.


TWEET OF THE DAY: “Happy Birthday, @jimmyfallon! I forgot to get you a birthday present, but we could always do a sack race instead. –mo” — Michelle Obama to NBC late night host Jimmy Fallon


POLL POSITION:

President Obama has a national lead of 8 percentage points over Mitt Romney, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

Obama leads Romney in three key swing states, according to a series of new polls. Obama leads Romney by 51 to 45 percent in Wisconsin, 50 to 46 percent in Virginia and 47 to 46 percent in Colorado, according to polls conducted by Quinnipiac University for CBS and The New York Times.

Americans think al Qaeda is more scared of Romney than Obama, according to a new poll released Wednesday. Romney leads on the “scary to terrorists” question 39 to 37 percent, according to the poll conducted by Langer Research for Esquire/Yahoo! News.


AD WATCH:

Mitt Romney is up with two new ads, one on the “War On Coal” and one called “The Way of Life.”

Priorities USA, the pre-eminent pro-Obama super-PAC, is out with an ad using Romney's remarks that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent on government [and] believe they are victims" to paint him as a wealthy man hostile towards the middle class.

Paul Ryan released his first congressional television ad, part of the Wisconsin lawmaker's contingency plan if Romney's bid for the White House fails.

The pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future is up with a new ad airing in Michigan and Wisconsin, a sign the group is trying to broaden the electoral map for Romney.

"Parks and Recreation" stars Adam Scott and Rashida Jones used their brand of comedy to urge Iowans to "be the first" to vote in a new Obama campaign video. "If you vote early, Election Day is wide open, you can do whatever you want," says Scott in the video. "Whatever you want," adds Jones.


BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE:

Six GOP House members are in the cross-hairs of a new advertising barrage that seeks to portray them as lenient toward fossil fuel industries.

ARIZONA: The National Republican Congressional Committee is spending $900,000 on a two-week ad buy beginning Sept. 21 in Arizona's 9th district backing Republican Vernon Parker in his race against Kyrsten Sinema, according to the Arizona Capitol Times. A new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee IE poll put Sinema ahead of Parker by 5 percentage points, taking 48 percent of voters.

ILLINOIS: Democrats appear to have the edge in retiring Rep. Jerry Costello's (D-Ill.) open seat, according to a new poll from two Democratic groups first provided to The Hill. The poll, conducted for the Democratic House Majority PAC and SEIU, shows retired Gen. Bill Enyart (D) leading former lieutenant governor candidate Jason Plummer by 49 to 41 percent.

TEXAS: Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco (R-Texas) trails state Rep. Pete Gallego (D) by 43 to 38 percent, according to a new poll from the environmental groups LCV Action Fund and the Sierra Club, who are backing Gallego.


SENATE SHOWDOWN:

CONNECTICUT: Democrat Chris Murphy is slightly ahead of Republican challenger Linda McMahon, a shift from the last independent poll of the race, but almost 30 percent of Connecticut voters remain undecided in the state's Senate race. The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll gives Murphy 37 percent support over McMahon's 33 percent, though that's a statistically insignificant lead, considering the margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.

McMahon released a new ad that features the candidate speaking directly to the camera and clips of her spending time with family, explaining that her reason for running for Senate in Connecticut is because "as a grandmother, I'm concerned about the future for your children and grandchildren." It's another in a series of soft spots aimed at humanizing McMahon for voters in the state — a difficulty she faced in 2010.

MAINE: Two polls out of the Maine Senate race put former Gov. Angus King (I) ahead of Democrat Cynthia Dill and Republican Charlie Summers, but they both indicate the campaign may be taking a toll on King's lead. The Maine Peoples' Resource Center Public Opinion Survey still gives King a substantial lead over his opponents, with 44 percent support to Summers' 28 percent support, and Dill receiving only 15 percent support. A poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling gives King a far smaller lead, pegging him at 43 percent support to Summers's 35 percent and Dill's 14 percent support.

MASSACHUSETTS: Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) office said the senator supports Mitt Romney’s presidential bid after the lawmaker gave an indirect response to an inquiry by The Hill.

A fourth poll in three days gives Democrat Elizabeth Warren a lead over Brown in the race for his Senate seat, cementing her momentum just a day out from the first of what could be four pivotal debates.

MISSOURI: Newt Gingrich will attend a fundraiser for embattled Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) on Monday, The Hill has confirmed. The $500-a-plate fundraiser will take place in St. Louis.

NEVADA
: Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he has a "very different view of the world" than the one Mitt Romney expressed at a private fundraiser, a sign of how dangerous the now-famous "47 percent" comment is to a swing-state senator facing reelection. "I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic, my mother was a school cook," Heller told reporters outside the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. "I have a very different view of the world and as a United States senator I think I represent everybody. And every vote is important. Every vote is important in this race. I don't write off anything."

NORTH DAKOTA: The race for Senate in North Dakota is heating up as the candidates trade blows on issues unrelated to policy and instead focus in on their opponent's possible past transgressions.

VIRGINIA: Democratic candidate Tim Kaine has taken a significant lead over Republican rival George Allen in their Virginia Senate contest, according to two new polls. In both polls, the former governor leads the former senator outside the margin of error for the first time.

WISCONSIN: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has completely wiped away Tommy Thompson’s (R) lead in the Wisconsin Senate race, according to two polls released Wednesday. A Marquette University Law School poll shows a 20-point swing from last month, with Baldwin leading by 9 percentage points, 50 to 41. Those numbers were reversed in the same poll last month. A New York Times/CBS/Quinnipiac University poll also showed Thompson’s lead had been erased, but found both candidates tied in the race at 47 percent, with 6 percent undecided.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Mitt Romney's campaign released a new memo charging that President Obama's vision for the country is one of a "government-centered society."

Obama’s campaign manager delivered an upbeat assessment of the presidential race during a visit with Senate Democrats. But campaign manager Jim Messina urged senators not to be complacent, a message Obama has emphasized to his supporters.

White House press secretary Jay Carney lambasted the Mitt Romney campaign for making “desperate efforts” to change the subject after the Republican’s team released a 1998 video discussing Obama’s support for the redistribution of wealth. Carney said the video released by the Romney campaign came on the heels of a “very bad day or a very bad week.”

Ann Romney said her husband was “absolutely not” expressing any disdain for people dependent on government entitlement programs in a recently released video. “I know the guy, I know him really well, I know he cares, and that's why we're running,” Mitt Romney’s wife told a local Fox affiliate in Denver, Colo.

Paul Ryan debuted a new stump-speech attack on Obama's "redistribution" comment in Danville, Va., as the Republican ticket looks to go on offense. "President Obama said that he believes in redistribution," Ryan told the crowd, gathered outside a tire manufacturing company just across the North Carolina border. "Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth, Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth."

Three of the six topics of debate in the first showdown between Obama and Romney will focus on the economy, according to debate moderator Jim Lehrer. ‪The Oct. 3 contest will feature six 15-minute segments, three of which will focus on the economy. The presidential candidates will also be quizzed on healthcare, governing, and the role of government.‬

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, said she always says the same things at private fundraisers as she does in her public remarks. "I always assume and I say what I believe and I think that's what Gov. Romney did. I think he said what he believed," Pelosi said during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show.

Emily's List, the Democratic group working to elect pro-choice women to Congress, and its independent expenditure arm, Women Vote!, announced the launch of an initiative to educate female voters in three competitive Senate races and four competitive House races nationwide.


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