OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: Romney clarifies abortion stance

In the interview, Romney suggested he would not press legislation to restrict abortion rights if elected, saying "there is no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

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The remark clashed with Romney's past commitment to ensuring U.S. laws reflect the "values of preserving life," and prompted criticism from abortion-rights advocates who accused the GOP challenger of playing politics to win female voters.

Romney's campaign later clarified his position, saying the candidate is "proudly pro-life and will be a pro-life president."

The remark came on the heels of new polls that show Romney erasing the gap with women, a group that has been firmly in Obama’s camp before the first presidential debate.

Team Obama slammed Romney, however, accusing him of trying to "cynically and dishonestly" hide his views on abortion rights.

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said that with 26 days left until the election, Romney has realized his positions "haven't been working for him" and is shifting his views to defeat the president.

"He's trying to cynically and dishonestly hide his real positions," Cutter said on a conference call with reporters, "but there's no hiding when you're president."


TOMORROW’S AGENDA TODAY: Vice President Biden and GOP running mate Paul Ryan face off in their first and only debate at 9 p.m. in Danville, Ky.

President Obama will be campaigning in Florida, speaking at a grassroots event in Coral Gables at 3:25 p.m. and holding a fundraiser in Miami in the evening.

Michelle Obama will hold a campaign rally in Douglas County, Colo., at 10:00 a.m.

Mitt Romney will be campaigning in Asheville, N.C., where he will be joined by country music singer Ronnie Milsap. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Ann Romney will visit Chris Evert Children's Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at 12:35 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY: “Had a great conversation with @REALStaceyDash this afternoon. Thank you for your support!” — Paul Ryan


QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,” President Obama, about his first debate against Mitt Romney


POLL POSITION:

Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos, whose polls are aggregated into mainstream averages to show where the presidential race stands in the swing states, said he’s finished polling in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia because President Obama has no shot of winning those states.

Latino support for Republican candidates in Arizona has taken a nosedive, according to a new poll conducted by Latino Decisions for the liberal immigration group America's Voice. President Obama leads Mitt Romney by a whopping 80 percent to 14 percent among Latino registered voters in the poll, the first comprehensive look at Latino voters in the state this election.

The latest Survey USA poll of Ohio finds Obama just barely leading Romney, 45 percent to 44 percent, among likely voters and those who say they cast their ballots early.

A Pew Research poll released Wednesday found 39 percent of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Vice President Biden, while 51 percent hold an unfavorable view. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan, Biden's counterpart on the Republican presidential ticket, is viewed favorably by 44 percent of registered voters. Forty percent said they had an unfavorable view of Ryan.

The popularity of Ann Romney is climbing. Her favorability rating jumped 12 percentage points between April and October, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll. Michelle Obama's approval rating is at 67 percent, while Ann Romney's is at 56 percent.


AD WATCH:

Mitt Romney released a pair of new television commercials featuring his widely heralded debate performance to argue for his jobs and tax plan, while attacking President Obama over his handling of the economy. The two ads, called "Putting Jobs First" and "Helping the Middle Class," feature Romney touting his own economic proposals while describing economic struggles during the president's first term.

The GOP super-PAC American Crossroads is out with a new ad attacking Obama's economic policies and arguing that another term would mean "another four years focused on everything but jobs." The ad will be in heavy rotation, with $7.4 million behind it over the next week, running in four swing states: Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Vice President Biden’s pre-debate practice partner tried to paint Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as an “extreme” and “uncompromising” figure on Thursday before the first and only vice presidential debate. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who has played the role of Ryan in preparation with Biden, appears in a new Obama campaign ad blasting the GOP vice presidential nominee over Medicare provisions included in the House Republican's budget plan.


BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE:

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $12.4 million and spent about $20 million in September, and has $29.5 million cash on hand going into the last leg of the election cycle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has not yet released its fundraising totals for the month.

ARIZONA: The Arizona Republic flipped and endorsed Republican Jonathan Paton for Arizona's 1st District, a shift from 2008 and 2010, when it endorsed Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D). The editorial board wrote in its endorsement that "what sets them apart is composure," and that Kirkpatrick lost hers during their joint meeting with the board, tipping the endorsement to her opponent.

CALIFORNIA: Republican Ricky Gill leads Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) by 46 to 45 percent in a poll released by his campaign.

FLORIDA: Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is attacking his Democratic opponent for supporting $716 billion in Medicare cuts — the same cuts West backed when he voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plans. In a new ad, West blasts Patrick Murphy (D) for supporting President Obama's healthcare law, which cut Medicare spending by $716 billion. The 30-second spot features seniors calling Murphy "dangerous" to Medicare. But West voted for the same reductions when he supported Ryan's last two budget plans. Both sets of cuts are aimed at extending Medicare's lifetime. Murphy's campaign released a statement charging that the ad shows West's "desperation to hide" his own record.

ILLINOIS: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee trimmed $740,000 from its Oct. 23-29 ad reservation in Chicago. The House Majority PAC just launched a $2.4 million buy in the media market, and the DCCC has been cutting back routinely in markets after Majority PAC put money in. The National Republican Campaign Committee made a similar move in upstate New York, canceling an ad reservation after the GOP super-PAC American Action Network made reservations there.

MASSACHUSETTS: Democrats are scaling back spending in the expensive Boston ad market to better use funds elsewhere. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is cutting $650,000 from the Boston broadcast market for the week starting Oct. 23, according to a Democrat tracking media buys, in part because the party doesn't face a fight in Massachusetts's 9th District, where Rep. Bill Keating (D) is expected to win handily. But the DCCC still retains $700,000 on the air in the market, more than double what Republicans are spending there. The Democratic funds have not yet been allocated to any races, but three in the area — in New Hampshire's House races and Massachusetts's 6th District — remain fierce battles.

MINNESOTA: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is out with a new ad hitting her opponent on Democrats' healthcare reform law. Bachmann will likely win her race but is taking no chances. 

PENNSYLVANIA: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Campaign Committee both pulled down ads reservations from Philadelphia's expensive media market, a sign four races Democrats had hoped to target — Reps. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) — have fallen off the radar.

TENNESSEE: Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Tea Party House member, had an extramarital affair and then pushed the woman to have an abortion, according to a report in the Huffington Post. The freshman lawmaker has been dogged by allegations of violence in his 2001 divorce, and now by charges that he was involved with a patient 12 years ago whom he pushed to end her pregnancy.

TEXAS: The Blue Dog PAC has endorsed Pete Gallego (D) in his bid against freshman Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco (R-Texas). The two are locked in a tight race in the toss-up district. The Blue Dogs will likely see their numbers dip a bit after this election due to retirements and members who have been targeted in redistricting.


SENATE SHOWDOWN:

ARIZONA: Dueling internal polls of the Arizona Senate race released within hours of each other — and shortly before the candidates will debate for the first time — paint starkly different portraits of a race that has been tightening in recent weeks. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made public a poll on Wednesday afternoon a poll that gives Democrat Richard Carmona a 4-point lead on Rep. Jeff Flake (R), with 47 percent support to Flake's 43 percent support. But less than two hours after the DSCC poll came out, Flake's campaign released its own internal polling, which shows the opposite outcome: in its survey, Flake leads Carmona by 6 points, with 49 percent support to Carmona's 43 percent support. And the National Republican Senatorial Campaign is up with a new ad tying Carmona to President Obama.

FLORIDA: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) raised $2.3 million in the third quarter, bringing the candidate's cash on hand to more than $6.5 million, which his campaign says is at least twice what opponent Rep. Connie Mack (R) will report. That marks more than $16 million raised by Nelson for his reelection bid thus far. Mack has not yet released his numbers.

INDIANA: Richard Mourdock (R) raised $3 million in the past three months and has $1.3 million cash on hand, his campaign announced. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is also up with a new ad accusing his Senate opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), of failing to pay his taxes.

MAINE: Former Maine Gov. Angus King (I) has a 26-point lead in a new poll, a contrast from other recent public polling that has shown a tighter race. King leads Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers (R) by 50 to 24 percent, with state Sen. Cynthia Dill (D) at 12 percent, according to a new poll from the Pan Atlantic SMS Group.

Dill decried out-of-state spending in the race. "Frankly, I find the levels of fundraising by out-of-state interests and Super PACs to be shocking and repugnant," she said in the statement. It comes as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to hold a fundraiser for King.

MASSACHUSETTS: An environmental group is hitting Massachusetts voters with a direct mail campaign that attempts to tie Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to Big Oil. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is spending $200,000 on the effort. Brown and Elizabeth Warren (D) hold their third debate at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. It will air on C-SPAN.

Brown released another "from the road" ad, one in a series that features him driving in his iconic truck to visit local Massachusetts voters. In this ad, he visits voters in Springfield, Mass. — the location of Wednesday's debate. And Massachusetts Democrats launched a new offensive on Brown, filing a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee over Brown's failure to disclose legal clients which they say must have paid the senator enough in fees that they were required to be disclosed by federal law.

MISSOURI:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is releasing a new set of ads featuring victims of sexual assault who criticize Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) position on contraception. 

NORTH DAKOTA: Republicans are focusing in on Democratic nominee Heidi Heitkamp's campaign donors in an attempt to frame the candidate as beholden to liberal interests, an effort they believe could tip one of the closest races in the nation in their favor.

VIRGINIA: Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is up with a new ad touting his bipartisan work as governor on welfare, economic and education reform, in an appeal to independent voters. Three labor groups are going after Allen on health issues. AFSCME, SEIU and the National Education Association are spending a combined $2.25M on ads, saying Allen's plan "cuts Medicare" and "reduces care for women." Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched an ad accusing Allen's opponent, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), of supporting tax increases and defense cuts.

WEST VIRGINA: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) cocks his gun in a new ad out on Wednesday, but this time — unlike in the last ad where his rifle featured prominently — he doesn't shoot. "I know what you're thinking, but I don't need to shoot the cap-and-trade bill. I already killed it," he said.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

President Obama said despite his “bad night” at the debate and Mitt Romney’s subsequent spike in the polls, the fundamentals of the presidential race are still in his favor. "Well it's not the first time I've had a bad night,” Obama will said according to a transcript from a pre-recorded interview set to air on ABC. “But I think what's important is the, the fundamentals of what this race is about haven't changed. You know, Governor Romney went to a lotta trouble to try to hide what his positions are."

Paul Ryan hasn't called Sarah Palin for advice on his upcoming presidential debate. "You know, I haven't," Ryan told CNN when asked about it.

Romney has taken a more centrist stance on the campaign trail recently, a move that coincides with the GOP nominee giving speeches that are more personal in nature and showing a new-found confidence to voters.

Romney’s campaign accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people through "incomplete and indirect" responses to questions on the terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi as the first day of congressional testimony on the violence wrapped up.

Romney will no longer reference having met one of the former Navy SEALs who died in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi after a complaint from the slain soldier's mother.

Romney looked to boost his post-debate momentum and get in some practice for his next encounter with a town-hall meeting in Ohio, where he fielded questions from voters in the crucial battleground sate. Romney saw a bounce in the polls after his strong performance against Obama in last week's debate, but Ohio is one state where Obama has fared well since that showdown.

ABC News confirmed that Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC News senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, who is set to moderate the vice presidential debate Thursday night between Vice President Biden and Ryan. The news, which was first reported by the conservative website The Daily Caller, prompted howls of disapproval from conservatives, who questioned whether Raddatz will be a neutral moderator. In a statement, an ABC News spokesman called accusations that Raddatz has a conflict of interest "absurd."

Michelle Obama said her husband’s campaign has been doing just fine in the fundraising department, dismissing critics who dwell on the fundraising gap or the "up and down" polls. "Sort of the up and down, that was a part of it too, sort of 'we’ll never make it,' or 'we’re not raising enough money'; well, yeah, we are, actually," she told iVillage.

Michelle Obama warns her daughters that every moment can be captured and shared with the world through social media. The first lady said in a new interview with NBC's iVillage that she jokingly tells Malia and Sasha: "Just don’t dance on the tables; just stay off.”

Ann Romney co-hosted ABC's "Good Morning America,” joking that after raising five boys, she was ready to handle morning TV.

Americans would rather become friends with Obama on Facebook than Romney, according to a poll from Esquire and Yahoo! News.


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