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 Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Pompeo on Senate run: 'I always leave open the possibility that something will change' CNN's Cuomo spars with Kris Kobach over whether Trump's tweet was racist 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 McConnellMcConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime 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 BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world 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 ObamaFormer Michelle Obama aide calls for 'honest conversation' about immigration Biden jokes he's ready for a pushup competition with Trump Michelle Obama calls on teachers to help students register to vote MORE's foray onto the campaign trail hit another bump Thursday, when she identified Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats hope some presidential candidates drop out — and run for Senate  Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' Gardner gets latest Democratic challenge from former state senator MORE (D-Colo.) as "a fifth-generation Coloradan." Udall was actually born in Tucson, Ariz.; his opponent, Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout 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 PaulFirst responder calls senators blocking 9/11 victim funding 'a--holes' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Jon Stewart rips into Rand Paul after he blocks 9/11 victim compensation fund: 'An abomination' 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 ClintonMilitary spending has many points of contention: Closing overseas bases isn't one of them More adult Twitter users follow Obama than Trump: survey Pro-impeachment Democrats wary of Al Green's floor vote push 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 ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump rally: 'The time has come again' to fight for democracy Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – 'Being righteous and losing sucks' 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 CapitoAnyone for tennis? Washington Kastles Charity Classic returns this week The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal 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) ManchinDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Kentucky Democrat says primary challenge to McGrath 'might be helpful' 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 LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world 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 ShaheenEpstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research 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 YoungGOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz Congress: Pass legislation that invests in America's water future MORE (R-Alaska), suggesting "government largesse" has contributed to the suicide rate in his state