Iowa GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst might have been taking cues from Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes's disastrous meeting with the Courier-Journal's editorial board when she canceled her own with the Des Moines Register this week.

Last week, Grimes drew heavy flack from Republicans and pundits for refusing to answer three times whether she voted for President Obama during her editorial board meeting. Her inelegant dodge drew more attention than she likely would've if she had simply acknowledged her vote and distanced herself from the president.

Ernst was trying to avoid a similar situation. Her campaign said a recent editorial critical of the candidate's support for a "personhood" amendment made it "perfectly clear" where the Register stood on the race, and suggested it wasn't worth Ernst's time to speak with them as they finalize their endorsement.

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But the paper's writers took to social media to criticize Ernst, one wondering whether the Republican was "avoiding tough questions." Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE's (D) campaign manager Sarah Benzing accused Ernst of choosing to "run away from the press."

So perhaps Ernst should've taken another lesson from Grimes: A dodge is sometimes the worst thing a candidate can do.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

AK-SEN (BEGICH): A controversial ad from Sen. March Begich (D-Alaska) that linked his opponent to an alleged murderer and sex offender mistakenly appeared on Alaska television Thursday morning after a station inadvertently ran the ad more than a month after the campaign pulled it from the airwaves.

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): The Duggar family, stars of the popular TLC reality show “19 Kids And Counting” and occasional conservative activists, will campaign with Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Tough questions await Trump immigration plan Pat Robertson: Alabama 'has gone too far' with 'extreme' abortion law Pat Robertson on if Equality Act passes: The land will 'vomit you out' MORE (R-Kan.).

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): In an Federal Election Commission filing, Republican Scott Brown listed his employer as “Commonwealth of MA” and his occupation as “state senator” on a $244 donation he gave to his own campaign.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act MORE (R-Ky.), asked about the news that he’s offering all-expenses-paid trips to volunteers, as first reported in The Hill, said “I’m not sure what to say about that.”

SD-SEN (OPEN): An FBI investigation into South Dakota’s controversial EB-5 visa program, which has contributed to former Gov. Mike Rounds’s (R ) unexpected vulnerability in the Senate race there, is ongoing. And Rounds said he knew nothing about a $650,000 loan to a beef plant that one of his Cabinet secretaries signed off on before leaving to work for the company that managed that loan. 

Rounds is facing further scrutiny over a new report suggesting he and his campaign manager had a financial stake in companies that benefited from government grants they oversaw as members of the state’s Board of Economic Development.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichFormer GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world Dem governors on 2020: Opposing Trump not enough MORE (D-Alaska) said he voted for President Obama but was dismissive of the question, arguing “The president’s not relevant. He’s gone in two years.”

CO-SEN (UDALL): First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama to headline Essence Festival Obama shares tribute to Michelle to celebrate Mother's Day 111-year-old woman gets free tickets to see Michelle Obama book tour MORE's foray onto the campaign trail hit another bump Thursday, when she identified Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDenver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' Gardner gets latest Democratic challenge from former state senator Setting the record straight about No Labels MORE (D-Colo.) as "a fifth-generation Coloradan." Udall was actually born in Tucson, Ariz.; his opponent, Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat MORE (R-Colo.), has made a point of emphasizing on the campaign trail that his family's Colorado roots extend five generations back. 

GA-SEN (OPEN): President Obama is urging voters to help Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn defeat Republican David Purdue, telling a radio station Thursday that Democratic control of the Senate depends on her victory. Meanwhile, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulUS ambassador to Germany ruffles State Department with budget stand Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Rand Paul: Bolton is a 'malign influence' MORE (R-Ky.) will campaign with Perdue on Friday.

IA-SEN (OPEN): Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has canceled her meeting with the Des Moines Register editorial board Thursday as the paper works to finalize its Senate endorsement.

Republicans are gleeful at the fact they've surpassed Democrats in early and absentee voting in Iowa, something they've never done before. They say it bodes well for their chances in the competitive House and Senate races there.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

MN-08 (NOLAN): Vice President Biden stumped for Rep. Rick Nolan (D), drawing a crowd of about 600 and praising Nolan’s bipartisanship.

FL-18 (MURPHY): Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton Democratic leaders' impeachment tightrope Several factors have hindered 'next up' presidential candidates in recent years Criminal justice includes food security — we can't ban the social safety net MORE will campaign for Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) in Palm Beach, Fla., this Sunday.

NY-18 (MALONEY) Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWarren policy ideas show signs of paying off Biden at campaign kickoff event: I don't have to be 'angry' to win Top Dem: Trump helps GOP erase enthusiasm gap; Ohio a big problem MORE will campaign for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Oct. 27 at a Women for Maloney event.

WV-2 (OPEN): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will purchase $600,000 of airtime to defend the seat held by Senate nominee Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoCongressional Women's Softball team releases roster Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race Kushner, Miller talk immigration at Senate GOP lunch MORE, while the National Republican Congressional Committee will purchase $250,000 of ad time. 

WV-3 (RAHALL): Endangered Rep. Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE is running as fast as he can from President Obama, but there’s one fellow Democrat he’s happy to embrace: Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinLabor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners Labor leader: Trump has stopped erosion of coal jobs Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat MORE, The Hill’s Scott Wong writes from the Mountaineer State. 

 

AD WATCH

IA-SEN (OPEN): The Chamber of Commerce released a bizarre “Chicken Dance” ad against Rep. Bruce Braley (D), bringing back up his farmer gaffe and other missteps. 

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuDems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world Former New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president MORE’s (D-La.) latest ad features P.K. Scheerle, a registered nurse and CEO of Gifted Healthcare, hitting Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) on the Violence Against Women Act.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) features a clip of his father, a popular former congressman in the state, in his latest ad, and says “when things seem impossible, I try to do what he would’ve done.”

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): Freedom Partners Action Fund launched a seven-figure advertising campaign targeting independent Greg Orman, calling him the “deciding vote for more of Obama’s unchecked agenda” in one ad, and suggesting he hasn’t offered his positions on key issues in another. Meanwhile, Orman launched two new ads

GA-SEN (OPEN): Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D) stars in an ad for his daughter, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, touting her accomplishments and joking that he’s a “little biased” in the race. 

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Country music star Randy Owen appears in an ad from the Chamber of Commerce endorsing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

SD-SEN (OPEN): Former staffers of independent Larry Pressler launched a super-PAC and a new ad supporting their old boss and pushing back on negative attacks against him.

Republican Mike Rounds’s latest ad focuses on the state’s Ellsworth Air Force base and the jobs it provides, calling it “concerning” that Democrat Rick Weiland has been endorsed by the Council for a Livable World, which the ad says “wants to eliminate the B1 and Ellsworth’s critical missions.”

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Small-business owners tout Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenForeign Relations senators demand Iran briefing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again Bipartisan senators seek sanctions on Russian pipeline work MORE’s (D-N.H.) work cutting taxes and securing grants for New Hampshire businesses, while charging Republican Scott Brown “is for Scott Brown and big money.”

AR-04 (OPEN): Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt (D) touts his bipartisan credentials in a new ad

MN-08 (NOLAN): House Majority PAC hits Republican Stewart Mills for his support from “New York billionaire Koch brothers,” saying “millionaire Stewart Mills and his billionaire friends don’t care about you.”

NY-18 (GIBSON): Rep. Chris Gibson’s new ad contrasts his military service with Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge, hitting him for moving to the district to run. 

TX-23 (GALLEGO): House Majority PAC’s new ad hits Republican challenger Will Hurd for being “supported by those’ who want to cut Social Security benefits. 

 

POLL POSITION

MI-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Gary Peters (D) holds a hefty lead over former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in a new Public Policy Polling survey conducted for the pro-Peters League of Conservation Voters, taking 53 percent to Land’s 29 percent support among likely voters.

SD-SEN (OPEN): An internal poll shows that Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) leads the field with 48 percent support among likely voters, with 24 percent backing Democrat Rick Weiland and 16 percent backing independent Larry Pressler.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): A new CNN/ORC poll gives Sen. Jeanne Shaheen 49 percent support to Republican Scott Brown’s 47 percent support among likely voters. An American Research Group poll showed nearly the same outcome, giving Shaheen 49 percent support to Brown’s 48 percent support.

 

CO-SEN (UDALL): A Reuters-Ipsos poll gives Rep. Cory Gardner (R) 47 percent support to Sen. Mark Udall’s (D) 45 percent support among likely voters.

IA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is closing in on state Sen. Joni Ernst in a new Quinnipiac poll, taking 46 percent support to Ernst’s 48 percent support among likely voters.

 

2016 RUMBLINGS

BUSH: Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) stumped with Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) for her reelection in the critical early primary state. Asked about a possible White House bid, Bush said it was a “big decision” and he’d make a decision by the end of the year. “The next presidential race has to be about the future," said Bush. "It has to be about fixing some big problems we have ... so I have to be comfortable that I can do that."

PAUL: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will make a decision about a 2016 presidential bid in the spring, he told BuzzFeed. But National Journal reports he’s gathering his top political advisers in Washington for a strategy session just eight days after the midterms. 

CUOMO: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) appeared at a rally with Hillary Clinton on Thursday and indicated he hopes the former secretary of State runs for president in 2016 — despite speculation he could make his own bid.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn't have the suicide problem."

—Rep. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungCongress: Pass legislation that invests in America's water future Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns Deceptions may sink plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge MORE (R-Alaska), suggesting "government largesse" has contributed to the suicide rate in his state