Barack Obama takes the stage at an event for Hillary Clinton at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens yesterday. Obama's visit was scheduled for earlier this month but was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. (Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: President Obama has recorded a remarkable number of personalized television commercials for down-ballot Democrats to air across the country during the next two weeks.

“I will not be on the ballot, but everything we’ve done is going to be on the ballot,” he explained last week at a fundraiser for Ohio Senate candidate Ted Strickland.

It’s a stark contrast to 2014 and 2010 when many congressional Democrats only wanted the president to raise money and not stump for them.

As he prepares to become a lame duck, Obama sees this as a mix of victory lap and legacy play. Ed O’Keefe and Paul Kane, based on conversations with several Democrats who are involved in figuring out how to deploy the president, round up several examples. Here's a taste:

-- POTUS will appear in closing TV spots for at least five Senate candidates and radio ads for two more: Florida’s Patrick Murphy, California's Kamala Harris, North Carolina's Deborah Ross, Pennsylvania's Katie McGinty, and Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth. He's on radio for Nevada's Catherine Cortez Masto and New Hampshie's Maggie Hassan.

The spot running for Murphy features Obama speaking directly to the camera in Spanish. He carried the Sunshine State twice and narrowly won in 2012 because of strong voter registration among Puerto Ricans. Marco Rubio's narrow lead can be chalked up, in part, to the fact he is over-performing Trump among Hispanics. "Gracias, amigos," the commander-in-chief signs off at the end:

-- Also in Florida, he cut an ad for Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor-turned-independent-turned-Democrat who is running for a Tampa-area House seat. Recall that Crist was on John McCain's short list for vice president during the 2008 campaign. “As governor, he worked with both parties to get things done. And I know you can trust Charlie to do the same in Congress,” Obama says to camera:

-- Obama stars in TV ads for several other House candidates, some of whom he knows far better than others: Bryan Caforio, who is trying to win a House seat from northern Los Angeles County; Terri Bonoff, running in a suburban Minneapolis district; and Colleen Deacon, a former Senate aide hoping to pick up a Syracuse, N.Y.-area seat.

In his hometown of Chicago, Obama touts former Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who is trying to win back a suburban seat, and his support for stricter gun laws:

-- Obama has done targeted radio testimonials for at least five other House candidates: Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth; Tom O'Halleran, who hopes to keep Arizona's 1st Congressional District in Democratic hands; Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), seen as a rising party star; and Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen, who are running to snatch away from Republicans a pair of Las Vegas-area districts.

-- Obama is also helping out the Democratic Governors Association. When he was inaugurated in 2009, Democrats controlled 29 governorships. Today his party only has 18

In an Oregon TV spot, Obama calls Democratic Gov. Kate Brown “my friend” and credits her for boosting the minimum wage. (Watch here.)

Obama also recorded radio commercials for Vermont gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is challenging Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

-- The president has now headlined a combined 21 fundraising events for the Democratic House, Senate and gubernatorial campaign committees, per Ed and Paul. He has also headlined individual fundraising events for Cortez Masto; Duckworth; Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.); and Strickland.

-- And, of course, he's hitting the campaign trail too. The president issued a harsh repudiation in Miami yesterday of Donald Trump for refusing to commit to accept the outcome of the election. "This is not a joking matter," Obama said. "Because when you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people's minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy. Then you're doing the work of our adversaries for them. Because our democracy depends on people knowing that their vote matters, that those who occupy the seats of power were chosen by the people." 

Signifying his increasing focus on down-ballot races, Obama focused most of his criticism on Marco Rubio and Republican lawmakers who have condemned Trump yet continue to support him. “How can you call him a con artist and dangerous and object to all the controversial things he says and say I am still going to vote for him?” Obama asked. “C’mon, man. You know what that is. It is the height of cynicism!” Later, Obama circled back to Rubio, noting that he said Trump was “unfit to handle the country’s nuclear codes” and was a “con man” during the primaries. “Why does Marco Rubio still plan to vote for Trump?” he asked rhetorically. “Why does he support Trump?!” (Greg Jaffe was there.)

The First Lady waves to the crowd at an Arizona Democratic Party Early Vote rally in Phoenix yesterday. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

-- Michelle Obama, speaking to a crowd of 7,000 at the Phoenix convention center yesterday, made an affirmative case for Clinton. “I have traveled the world, and I am telling you we still live in the greatest country on Earth," she said. We have every reason to be hopeful. Remember that in difficult times, we don’t give up. We don’t discard our highest ideals. No! We rise up to meet them. We rise up to perfect our union. That is the power of hope!” (Krissah Thompson)

Gary Johnson shakes hands with supporters at Liberty University on Monday in Lynchburg, Va. (Jay Westcott/The News & Advance via AP)

-- Happening Monday: The Daily 202 goes live with Gov. Gary Johnson. I’ll interview the Libertarian presidential nominee at 10 a.m. (on Oct. 24) at The Washington Post’s headquarters. We’ll cover a wide range of issues, including some of the recent debate topics, and discuss the viability of third-party candidates. We had great turnout for our series launch with Tom Vilsack last month. Hope to see you. RSVP here.

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Clinton and Trump attend the 71st annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in Manhattan. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- “At charity roast, Trump delivered what might as well be a campaign eulogy,” Jenna Johnson writes: “It was supposed to be his opening joke, but it landed with such heavy bitterness that it prompted scattered, uncomfortable laughter. ‘A special hello to all of you in this room who have known and loved me for many, many years. It's true,’ Trump said as he took command of the dais at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner on Thursday evening, wearing a white tie and a black tuxedo coat that he kept tugging at. ‘The politicians,’ he continued. “They've had me to their homes, they've introduced me to their children, I've become their best friends in many instances. They've asked for my endorsement, and they always wanted my money. And even called me really a dear, dear friend. But then suddenly, decided when I ran for president as a Republican, that I've always been a no-good, rotten, disgusting scoundrel. And they totally forgot about me.’ Over the next 15 minutes, Trump gave a speech that might as well have been a eulogy for his presidential campaign.”

It got worse: “Hillary is so corrupt, she got kicked off the Watergate Commission,” Trump said, as the crowd turned on him and started to boo, something that simply doesn't happen at lavish charity dinners at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The face of one the guests sitting on the stage behind him was suddenly struck with horror. “Hillary believes that it's vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private,” Trump said, as the booing intensified. Trump would go on to accuse Clinton of “pretending not to hate Catholics” and mock the Clinton Foundation's work in Haiti. At one point, he wondered aloud if the crowd was booing him or Clinton, to which someone in the crowd answered: “You!” (Here's a rundown of the most memorable jokes. Here is a list of the worst jokes.)

Our video team summarized Trump's speech into two minutes:

And did the same with Clinton's speech:

Iraqis who fled violence in Mosul gather as they reach the border with Syria yesterday. (Rodi Said/Reuters)

-- Iraq’s elite counterterrorism units advanced within six miles of Mosul, as Kurdish forces opened a new front to the north — in a significant escalation of the fight for the Islamic State-held city. From Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim: “Plumes of dust and smoke rose over the majority-Christian town of Bartella, east of Mosul, as [ISIS] militants sent a barrage of car bombs to repel the advance … But by nightfall, the militants’ resistance had crumbled and the Iraqi flag had been raised …” The multipronged attacks raised the tempo of the battle for the city, which began this week. “The entry onto the battlefield of the black-clad elite forces — who have trained closely with the U.S. military — marks the beginning of what their commanders say will be a sharp push toward Mosul." Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says forces are moving “more quickly than planned” toward retaking the second biggest city in his country.

The Pentagon said a U.S. service member was killed by a bomb blast while supporting the Iraqi advance. The soldier’s death marks the fourth U.S. combat casualty in Iraq since the start of combat operations against ISIS. (Missy Ryan)

The United Nations said it is "gravely worried" that ISIS has taken 550 families from villages around Mosul and is using them as HUMAN SHIELDS. A UN Human Rights spokesman said 200 families from a Samalia village and 350 families from Najafia were forced out earlier this week and taken to Mosul in what appears to be "an apparent policy by ISIS to prevent civilians escaping." The move comes as Iraqi-led forces continue to advance towards the northern city, seeking to retake control of the militant group’s largest stronghold. (CNN)

Debbie, the wife of Harold Thomas Martin III, talks to reporters outside her home in Glen Burnie, Md., two weeks ago. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Federal prosecutors will charge former NSA contractor Harold T. Martin III with violating the Espionage Act. U.S. attorneys say they believe it to be the “largest ever theft” of classified documents, saying he took at least 50 terabytes of data and stored open banker boxes full of documents. (Ellen Nakashima)
  2. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte publicly declared a “separation” from the United States, announcing to hundreds of people in Beijing that he is realigning with China. (Reuters)
  3. The British government announced it is posthumously pardoning thousands of gay and bisexual men who had once been convicted as criminals. Dubbed the “Alan Turing law” in honor of a brilliant World War II code breaker, the move amounts to a very late apology achieved through an amendment to a bill that originally criminalized same-sex intimacy. (Max Bearak)
  4. Facing international threats of war crimes, Russia and Syria have begun a pause in airstrikes against eastern Aleppo. Aid groups say the pause will allow evacuation of about 200 severely wounded and sick people, as well as additional food and medical supply deliveries. Most in the region remain skeptical. (Karen DeYoung)
  5. Furious European leaders warned Moscow that it will face consequences if it continues its offensive on the besieged city, issuing an unusually sharp warning to the Kremlin even after European leaders fell short of the unity required to impose new sanctions. (Michael Birnbaum)
  6. The Los Angeles Sparks won their third WNBA championship, edging out the Minnesota Lynx 77-76. (LA Times)
  7. A spike in STD cases has worried federal health officials, who found more cases in the U.S. last year than ever before. A number of different factors are likely responsible, but some think a rise in dating apps – or “the Tinder effect” -- should shoulder part of the blame. (Lena H. Sun)
  8. Some astronomers now believe there is a ninth planet orbiting our solar system, making the case for an elusive, gigantic planet that exists beyond Venus and tilts the plane of our axis “like a huge lever arm.” If early findings are correct, this so-called “Planet Nine” would orbit our sun about once every 17,117 years. (New York Times)
Trump speaks to supporters in New Hampshire. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

THE DAILY DONALD:

-- This is what losing looks like. Jenna Johnson sets the scene in Ohio: “Ahead of a Thursday afternoon rally at a county fairgrounds facility north of Columbus, Trump tweeted a vague accusation that Clinton ‘was inappropriately given the debate questions.’ He then did two interviews with local television stations and abruptly walked away from both. A reporter from WCMH, the local NBC affiliate, asked Trump: ‘Nineteen days out from the election, you’ve been labeled a racist, you’ve been called a sexist, how …’ Trump turned and started to walk away, saying: ‘Thank you very much.’ She asked him to respond, and Trump said: ‘I am the least racist person you’ve ever met.’ Trump continued walking away, ending the interview…

“He then gave a 33-minute speech before about 1,500 people … a shorter than usual speech in front of a smaller than usual crowd. ‘Seriously, the debate last night was amazing — and everybody said I won, including every single online poll, and some had it at 90 and close to 90 percent, so that's pretty cool,’ Trump said rather halfheartedly, providing stats that are simply are not accurate.”

-- Approximately 69 million people tuned into the debate, easily outpacing the ratings for the final debates in 2008 and 2012, though falling short of the 84 million who watched the first debate.

-- “With 19 days until the election, the Republican Party is in a state of historic turmoil, encapsulated by Trump’s extraordinary debate declaration that he would leave the nation in ‘suspense’ about whether he would recognize the presidential election results," Philip Rucker and Robert Costa write. “The immediate responses from GOP officials were divergent and vague, with no clear strategy on how to handle Trump’s threat. Meanwhile, Trump remained defiant, refusing to back away from his position as he told an Ohio crowd that he would accept the results 'if I win' — but reserving his right to legally challenge the results should he fall short."

-- For many longtime GOP stalwarts, the aftermath of Wednesday’s debate simply brought a “feeling of finality": “The campaign is over,” said Steve Schmidt, a Trump critic and former Bush and McCain campaign strategist.

-- Prominent Republicans facing tough reelection battles criticized Trump for refusing to promise he would honor the results: “There have been irregularities in our elections, sometimes even fraud, but never to an extent that it affected the outcome,” said John McCain. "We should all be proud of that, and respect the decision of the majority even when we disagree with it.” A spokesman for Ron Johnson said he believes “we need to respect the results on Election Day,” while Ohio Sen. Rob Portman expressed “full faith” that state officials could sort out any allegations of impropriety on Election Day to ensure the integrity of the election." (Karoun Demirjian)

“The voters are going to decide this election, and Donald Trump needs to accept the outcome,” said New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is continuing to struggle after breaking with the Republican nominee. She now trails Gov. Maggie Hassan by eight points. (Kelsey Snell)

-- Even Gov. Paul LePage had harsh words for Trumpsaying his comment was an “absolute stupid move” and urging his friend to “take your licks and let’s move on." (Boston Globe)

-- Notably, neither Paul Ryan nor Mitch McConnell would comment. The silence from the country’s highest-ranking Republicans that reflects their fears of tangling with Trump.

-- Perhaps the person least surprised by Trump’s remarks was debate moderator Chris Wallace, who told the Los Angeles Times that, in his year of covering Trump, he’s “learned to not be surprised by anything.” But the Fox News anchor knew the magnitude of the response required him to frame the question a second time: “I thought, ‘You need to put this in historical context,’ which is why I asked a follow-up question about one of the long traditions of democracy — the idea of the peaceful transfer of power and that we accept the results of the election,” said Wallace. “I wanted to put it in context so that it was clear that whatever Trump said, folks understood how unprecedented this would be.”

Karena Virginia is comforted by Gloria Alfred during a press conference in New York. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

-- Another woman came forward to accuse Trump of inappropriate physical contact, alleging that Trump unexpectedly put his arm around her and touched her breast while attending the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1998. From Julie Zauzmer and Rosalind S. Helderman: "Karena Virginia, who was 27 at the time, said she had attended a match with a group of doctors while working as a pharmaceutical representative. Her companions had left, and she was waiting alone outside the tennis complex to be picked up by a car service when she encountered Trump. She had never met the celebrity businessman but said he immediately started making comments about her appearance to a group of men. 'Look at her legs,' she recalled him saying before approaching her, wrapping his arm around her and then reaching down to her breast. 'Don’t you know who I am?' she said he asked. She said the encounter ended moments later when her car arrived. Virginia, now 45 and a yoga instructor, made her allegations at a news conference in New York with women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, a prominent supporter of ... Clinton. 

  • "Virginia had given an interview about her experience to The Washington Post earlier in the week but on Wednesday canceled a scheduled Thursday morning on-camera interview without explanation. Virginia’s husband, New York lawyer Charles Virginia, told The Post that his wife had confided in him about the experience when they met, about a year after it occurred. Karena Virginia had said she would provide The Post with the names of additional people she had told about the incident at the time but did not do so."
  • A Trump campaign spokeswoman, Jessica Ditto, dismissed Virginia’s allegations. “Voters are tired of these circuslike antics and reject these fictional stories and the clear efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton,” Ditto said, describing Allred as a “discredited political operative.”
Donald Trump does a parody of famous television theme songs with Megan Mullally, of the comedy series "Will & Grace," during the Emmy Awards in September 2005. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

-- The fascinating back story on Trump’s years-long public feud with the Emmys, by Elahe Izadi: “Trump’s disdain toward the Emmys wasn’t immediate. He showed up at the awards show in 2006 and performed a weird homage to reality shows … He wore overalls. [But] by 2011, Trump had had it. ‘The Apprentice,’ coming off its 11th season, hadn’t received a nomination in years. He went on YouTube to blast the Emmys, saying ‘fewer and fewer people’ watch the show ‘and for good reason.’ ‘The public is smart. They know it’s a con game,’ [he said]. ‘Everybody thought that ‘The Apprentice’ was going to win. It was the hottest thing on television, virtually … Well, it didn’t win. They picked another show [that’s] … like, an irrelevant show. I’m not talking about myself. I’m just saying the Emmys have become a boring, boring, boring show, totally predictable.” Entertainment Weekly executive editor Dalton Ross says he once went out to dinner with Trump, “in part because he wanted it explained to him why he was not being nominated for Emmys.”

-- Perhaps Trump should revisit some advice he sagely penned in a Trump University book, called “Trump 101: The Way to Success.” “Nip problems in the bud before they grow into more serious and hard-to-solve issues," he wrote. "In other words, take responsibility. People who take responsibility have no need to blame or continually find fault with others. Naysayers rarely contribute much, and they usually don't amount to much. By now, I've been in business long enough to have had ups and downs. I've enjoyed magnificent victories and suffered painful defeats. I've learned to go quickly from seeing problems to seeing their solutions. The secret to resolving problems is to emphasize the solution more than the problem; accentuate the positive without ignoring the negative." (CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski)

-- A related reminder of how obsessed Trump is with elite approval: Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian” more than 25 years ago – and still receives mail from the Republican nominee about it. “There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine,” Carter wrote in 2015. “On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. The most recent offering arrived … before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: ‘See, not so short!’ I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, ‘Actually, quite short.’ Which I can only assume gave him fits.”

-- Trump polling director and longtime GOP operative Jim Murphy is no longer playing an active role on the campaign, saying in an email that he is “taking a step back” for personal reasons. Since joining the campaign, Murphy has played a critical role in setting up Trump’s field programs in battleground states, often acting as a “point person” between the campaign and RNC officials, Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports.

-- Trump Seeks “American Desk” model of trade, while Clinton favors “prosecutor,” the Wall Street Journal’s William Mauldin reports: “Mr. Trump on Thursday told an Ohio audience he would combine trade-policy functions of the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce Department and other agencies. The consolidated ‘Office of Trade’ within the Commerce Department would report to an ‘American Desk’ in the White House. [Trump] offered few details, but one function of the desk is likely to be preventing American manufacturing from moving abroad. [Meanwhile], Mrs. Clinton earlier this year in Ohio vowed to appoint a ‘trade prosecutor’ to protect U.S. workers from other countries’ unfair trade practices, a proposal she repeated in this week’s debate. The prosecutor would prioritize cases against trading partners, a role that is split now between the office of U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman, … at the World Trade Organization, and the trade section of the Commerce Department, which evaluates U.S. companies’ accusations of dumping and subsidies and can impose tariffs in cooperation with yet another agency—the U.S. International Trade Commission: Mr. Trump isn’t the first to propose merging trade offices, and Mr. Obama has suggested a similar path in annual budget proposals.”

Clinton speaks with reporters on the flight back to New York from Vegas. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THE DAILY HILLARY:

-- “A portrait of John Podesta, based entirely on his hacked emails,” by Dan Zak: “John Podesta is constantly being asked to lunch. John Podesta is a one-man suggestion box for people who have ideas about the campaign. We know this because WikiLeaks dumped the contents of his Gmail inbox into the public square this month. Podesta is 67, a raspy-voiced political lifer who worked his way up the establishment to become Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff in 1998 … and now he is chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He is the Clintons’ longtime cleanup guy but now, with this email leak, he’s the source of the mess. What happens if you measure a Washington insider not by his résumé but by his inbox? His correspondence reveals what everyone already knows but is shocked to see confirmed: In private, most of us can be pretty bitchy.” Most tantalizing among these emails was Podesta’s response to a strategist (subject line “UFOs”) about how in the ’90s the CIA had stonewalled the Clinton administration’s pursuit of The Truth. “‘More to come,’ Podesta wrote. In this era of leaks, that sounds like a promise.”

-- Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress, warned Republicans about a potential future hack: "That is a snake that will bite you in the future...this is going to happen to them eventually too,” she said during a Q&A with BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith. "It’s been a tough experience. My kids names are in these emails...I’d like to make a joke about it but it’s honestly been a pretty horrible experience.” She said that since the leak people have reached out via social media to her 14-year-old daughter. Tanden described the email hack as “deeply disturbing” psy-ops by the Russian government against Americans.

Attendees stand during the National Anthem at a rally for Trump in Bangor, Maine, last week. (Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

THE BATTLEGROUNDS:

-- Both Clinton and Trump are lavishing outsized amounts of attention on RURAL NORTHERN MAINE, Katie Zezima reports: “The state splits its two electoral college votes between its two congressional districts — one in the northern part of the state, the other in the south, and the line that divides them is emblematic of the divides that have emerged this election cycle: urban vs. rural, college educated vs. not, well-off vs. working class, and Clinton vs. Trump. ‘The southern part of the state usually speaks for the northern,’ but not this election year, said [Tom] Leet, who plans to cast a ballot for Trump. The more densely populated 1st Congressional District in the south, which includes Portland, looks as though it will swing for Clinton. But the outcome is up in the air here in the 2nd Congressional District, a 27,000-square-mile swath of dense forest, rugged mountains … hardscrabble industrial cities and pretty towns that stretch to the Canadian border. Polls have shown a virtual dead heat between Clinton and Trump, and both campaigns are showing up to a place that even some Mainers said feels forgotten.”

-- Trump leads Clinton by just 2 points in GEORGIA (44-42), which is within the margin of error of a new Atlanta Journal Constitution poll. Their August poll had Clinton up 4.

-- A Suffolk University poll in OHIO shows Clinton and Trump in a dead heat (45-45). Trump led by 3 points in Suffolk’s last poll of the state.

-- The Clinton Super PAC, Priorities USA, made its first foray into PENNSYLVANIA Senate race, seeking to tie Sen. Pat Toomey to Trump for his controversial comments on abortion. “The ad, ‘Punishment,’ reprises Trump's comments made earlier this year in which he said that there ‘has to be some form of punishment’ for women for seeking abortions if they are banned,” Abby Phillip reports. "He later attempted to walk back the comments. Trump’s prominently-featured remarks are followed by 2009 footage of Toomey declaring he 'would support legislation in Pennsylvania that would ban abortion, and I would suggest we have penalties for doctors who perform them.'"

-- “Trump’s strained relationship with the Cuban-American community is imperiling his presidential bid in must-win FLORIDA and forcing Republicans to consider the nation’s most populous purple state taking on a bluer hue,” the Wall Street Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes. “Miami-Dade, where nearly three out of four Republicans are Cuban-American, was the only county Mr. Trump lost to Mr. Rubio in the March primary. Mr. Trump is leading Mrs. Clinton by 7 percentage points among Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dad ... [and the two were tied in a separate poll last month]. Those figures signal a drastic drop in Republican support from 2004, when Mr. Bush won 78% of the Cuban vote in Florida and set a high-water mark for GOP nominees with at least 40% of Hispanics nationwide … [Now], Mr. Trump is trying to shore up the Cuban-American vote in Florida as polls show other swing states are drifting out of his reach.”

-- “Bayh didn't stay overnight in Indiana condo once in 2010,” by the Associated Press’s Brian Slodysko: “Evan Bayh says that his Indianapolis condominium has long been his home, and that he has spent ‘lots and lots’ of time there since deciding to run for his old Senate seat. But a copy of his schedule shows Bayh did not stay overnight there once during his last year in office in 2010. The schedule provided to The Associated Press shows the Democrat spent taxpayer money, campaign funds or let other people pay for him to stay in Indianapolis hotels on the relatively rare occasions he returned from Washington, D.C. During the same period, he spent $3,000 in taxpayer money on what appeared to be job hunting trips to New York, despite the assertion of his campaign that the trips were devoted to official media appearances.The AP obtained Bayh's schedule from a source who requested anonymity because the information was private.”

-- This would be devastating for Democrats if the ILLINOIS Senate race was close --> “Tammy Duckworth's record: Few legislative successes, some veterans programs sputtered,” from The Chicago Tribune: “Fresh off a stinging defeat for Congress in 2006, Democrat Tammy Duckworth was asked by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to head Illinois' Veterans' Affairs Department and instantly handed a list of new missions to accomplish. Her top priority, Blagojevich declared, was to step up efforts to sign people up for the state's fledgling Veterans Care program to… ‘thousands of Illinois veterans.’” But at its high-water mark during her tenure, records show, the program averaged fewer than 100 veterans enrolled. A [Tribune] examination of Duckworth's record after a decade in public service shows several of her initiatives at the state VA fell flat, her subsequent post at the federal VA mostly focused on public relations and her two terms in Congress have been marked by only a few legislative successes.”

-- In the face of mounting evidence that Clinton will win, ARIZONA Republican Sen. Jeff Flake redoubled his call for his party to confirm Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to prevent Clinton from picking someone more liberal. "I said if we were in a position like we were in in '96 and we pretty much knew the outcome that we ought to move forward,” Flake told Politico. “But I think we passed that awhile ago … If [Clinton] is president-elect then we should move forward with hearings in the lame duck. That's what I'm encouraging my colleagues to do.” Flake all but admitted that Trump (whom he opposes) is “toast.”

-- Bernie Sanders mobilized his network of small-dollar donors this week to help 13 like-minded House and Senate candidates, raising just shy of $2 million in a two-day period. The senator’s solicitations come as part of “Our Revolution,” an organization he launched after exiting the race. (John Wagner)

-- Katy Perry will campaign for Hillary in NEVADA tomorrow, and Miley Cyrus will stump for HRC in Northern VIRGINIA, speaking to millennials at George Mason University and then door-knocking. (Helena Andrews-Dyer)

-- The Clinton campaign has an event in Toledo this morning to launch “Hombres for Hillary,” featuring several Latino leaders.

The candidates at the Al Smith dinner (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

-- Clinton's campaign spent $66 million on media buys last month alone, doubling her August efforts and nearly tripling the amount of airtime bought by Trump in September. From Matea Gold: “Clinton spent a total of nearly $95 million through her campaign and two joint fundraising committees in September, exceeding the $85 million in campaign contributions raised through all three entities. About 27 percent of her money came from contributions of $200 or less. When October began, she still had more in her campaign coffers than Trump: $59 million to his $34.7 million.”

-- Trump’s campaign spending, which nearly doubled in September, was driven by last-minute investments in ads and voter data. From Matea and Anu Narayanswamy: For the third month in a row, the biggest vendor was San Antonio-based web firm Giles-Parscale, of Trump's digital director, Brad Parscale. The company was paid $20.6 million for digital consulting and online ads, up from $11.1 million in August. Another $23 million went to Trump's television media buyers …” Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign shelled out $5 million to Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics firm backed by Robert Mercer. That's a huge increase over August, when the company was paid $250,000.”

-- Hedge-fund manager S. Donald Sussman gave $21 million to the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA, putting him on track to be the Democratic nominee's biggest financial backer this cycle. From Matea: “The Florida-based investor said he has contributed $40 million to Democratic super PACs and allied groups in 2016, double what he had planned to spend at the beginning of the election. He said he was driven by the desire ‘to leave my children a better country’ by helping elect candidates who will restructure a system that allows such huge donations in the wake of the [Citizens United] decision. 'It’s very odd to be giving millions when your objective is to actually get the money out of politics,' he said. '[But] I think the only way to accomplish that is to get someone like [Clinton], who is committed to cleaning up [its] unfortunate disaster.'"

-- Paul Ryan’s campaign donated another $250,000 to Wisconsin’s Republican Party, bringing his total contribution this year to $1 million. The money is going to voter outreach to help Ron Johnson and others down ballot, the Racine Journal-Times reports. Meanwhile, the speaker cut a nearly $4 million check to the NRCC to be “immediately deployed" for vulnerable races in the final weeks. (Washington Examiner)

A man wears a mask depicting Clinton while holding a doll depicting Trump in Phoenix. (Reuters/Ricardo Arduengo)

PUNDITS WEIGH IN:

-- Former Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said he will not vote for Trump in November, saying the GOP nominee has “captured that racist underbelly … of American life and gave voice to that.” “I was damn near puking during the debates,” said Steele, who led the party from 2009 to 2011. He said he will not be voting for Clinton. (Buzzfeed)

-- Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer will write-in either Paul Ryan or Ben Sasse on his ballot.

-- “The Republican Party must reform or die,” says MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. “Because if it stays on its current course, George W. Bush’s fear may be proven right. He may be the last Republican ever elected to the White House.”

-- “Reality TV is about winning – it doesn’t matter how you manage to be a ‘survivor,’ so long as you stay on the island. That’s the sensibility that Trump, the ultimate reality-television star, brings to foreign policy,” says Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius. “In Trump’s world, winners don’t have to worry about alliances, nuclear proliferation or human rights — if they come out on top. Leaving people in suspense about his actions is part of Trump’s self-proclaimed ‘art of the deal.’ Why would he be any less highhanded in dealing with the American public than with his business associates? For Trump, life is a validation of the cynical aphorism that ‘might makes right.’ The best thing you can say about Clinton’s debate performance was that she took aim at this untethered, overinflated dirigible and kept landing zingers.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Kellyanne Conway enjoyed this mention during Clinton's Al Smith dinner speech:

Laura Ingraham stuck up for Trump:

But many conservatives who are not Trump loyalists criticized Trump for his harsh tone:

And media figures:

This moment caused jaws to drop:

Here's the clip (click to watch):

Check out these images that sum up the evening:

Celebrities are stoked about Clinton's debate performance Wednesday night:

Ryan Seacrest stopped by the White House:

Mitt Romney campaigned for Mark Kirk in Illinois:

GOOD READ FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- Esquire, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” by Thomas Rid: “Russian spies did not wait until the summer of 2015 to start hacking the U.S. This past fall, in fact, marked the twentieth anniversary of the world's first major campaign of state-on-state digital espionage. “In 1996 [the Pentagon] began to detect high-volume network breaches from Russia. The Russians' tactics became more sophisticated over time; they even hacked satellites to cover their tracks. But while the American code names used to track the Russian effort changed—from Moonlight Maze to Storm Cloud to Makers Mark—the operation itself never really stopped. Over the next two decades, the FSB (successor to the KGB) and the GRU (Russia's premier military intelligence organization) went after political and military targets, while the NSA and the UK's GCHQ returned the favor. This sort of espionage was business as usual, a continuation of long-standing practice. And during the cold war, both the USSR and the United States subtly, and sometimes covertly, interfered with foreign elections. What changed over the past year, however—what made the DNC hack feel new and terrifying—was Russia's seeming determination to combine the two.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Drudge Falls for Fake Racist Pro-Trump Stunt,” from the Daily Beast: “On Monday, YouTube ‘star’ Joey Salads claimed he had damning evidence that the ‘black community is very violent toward [Trump] and his supporters.’ ‘So what I did was, I got a car, put some Trump apparel on it, and we’re gonna park it in a black neighborhood and see what happens,’ [Salads said on video].” After the intro, a black man is shown walking up to the car, later joined by four other black men, who begin  attacking the car with a metal pipe and a rock, smashing the car’s windows while ripping off some of the Trump signs. Within hours of its posting, the video racked up more than a million views and was featured at the top of The Drudge Report. “’As you can see from this video, the black community is very violent toward Trump and his supporters,’ Salads [said afterwards]. The only problem? The entire video was staged. …”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Kansas House leader calls Hitler’s words ‘profound’ in Facebook post,” from The Wichita Eagle: “A Kansas House leader said Thursday that her intent was to criticize Planned Parenthood when she called Adolf Hitler’s words profound in a Facebook post. ‘Great quote from Hitler in the video,’ [Peggy Mast] … the No. 3 Republican in the Kansas House, posted to her Facebook page Thursday morning. ‘Please listen to it closely. His words are profound! Let’s start using discernment.’ Mast, who is not seeking re-election, did not return phone calls. She did, however, take to social media to clarify her position. Mast’s perceived praise for the leader of the Third Reich, who ordered the slaughter of 6 million Jews, drew sharp criticism. ‘There’s nothing profound, and there’s no room in American politics for the words or thought of Adolph Hitler,’” said Kansas Interfatih Action director Rabbi Moti Rieber.

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Trump campaigns in Fletcher, N.C., and Johnstown and Newtown, Pa.; Pence speaks in Exeter, N.H. Clinton rallies supporters in Cleveland, Ohio; Kaine does the same in State College, Pa. Bill Clinton speaks in Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.

At the White House: Obama meets with NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly. Later, he speaks at an event in conjunction with BET. Biden participates in a cancer roundtable at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vt. Later, he speaks at a Clinton campaign event in Wilkes Barre, Pa. and at an awards ceremony for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Integrated Networks Cancer Program.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“*She has to be for TPP*. She called it the ‘gold standard’ of trade agreements. I think opposing that would be a huge flip flop,” Ron Klain emailed Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan almost exactly one year ago in a message released by WikiLeaks. “She can say that as President she would work to change it. She can say that it can be better. But I think she should support it.” Sullivan replied that he agreed, but others in the campaign did not.

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Here comes our fall cold front – and this time, it looks like it’s gonna be for good. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “As a strong cold front aims to break our summer-like warmth, at least occasional showers are probable for much of the day. That threat focuses from west to east from about midday through mid-to-late afternoon. We may even hear a rumble of thunder and have 15 mph and gusty southerly winds switch to the northwesterly direction midday into the afternoon. Unfortunately for gardeners, this probably won’t be a soaking in most spots, but we’ll take what we can get. Temperatures hover in the upper 60s to mid-70s as highs of the day, but drop noticeably after sunset.”

-- The Capitals beat the Panthers 4-2.

-- Virginia Tech hammered Miami, 37-16

-- D.C.’s beloved three-year-old panda “Bao Bao” is moving to China in the winter of 2017. Her move comes as part of a breeding arrangement between the Smithsonian and wildlife conservation groups, which dictate that giant pandas born at the zoo in the District are sent to China by their fourth birthday. (Dana Hedgpeth)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Here's a flashback to Romney's Al Smith dinner speech:

Priorities USA released a new TV ad aimed at African Americans:

Here's Trump walking away from a local television interview (click to watch):

Some comedian responses to the third debate:

In case you missed it, check out Chris Wallace 'dad-monishing' Trump, Clinton and the audience at the debate:

Another great moment from C-SPAN's Washington Journal:

Finally, watch the New Zealand police jam session that went viral: