With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA:

MILWAUKEE — Making the case for a third term as governor, Scott Walker compared himself to the star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. The Republican was discussing Wisconsin’s 3 percent unemployment rate, 5 percent annual wage growth and other positive barometers related to quality of life. Based on those numbers, he said “it's hard to imagine” voters will throw him out of office in three weeks after sticking with him through his battles with organized labor, the recall campaign that followed and a presidential bid that kept him away from the state for months. “If you're going to the Super Bowl, that's the last time you want to pull Aaron Rodgers from being your quarterback,” he said in an interview here on Monday.

In the very next breath, though, Walker lamented the “incredibly strong” national head winds buffeting him. “It’s not just because of this year and this president. That’s the history of politics in America, and we're going against the historical trend,” he said. “But I also think the benefit for us is the strength of the economy and the recovery of this state.”

The 50-year-old Walker is a proven political survivor and embraces the mantle of underdog. An NBC-Marist poll last week showed him trailing by 10 points to Democratic challenger Tony Evers, the state’s superintendent of public instruction. A Marquette Law School survey released the day before put Walker up by one point, 47 percent to 46 percent.

The governor’s refrain whenever he’s asked about President Trump and the kerfuffle of the day dominating cable news is that this election is about Wisconsin, not Washington. “Whether you love the president or not, this is ultimately about who is going to be the chief executive of the state of Wisconsin for the next four years,” he said. “We believe that in the end this election is not going to be about the White House.”

Trump carried the Badger State in 2016 by less than one point, the first Republican presidential candidate to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1984. This is not one of the places where he’s been holding rallies this fall, though he might still make an appearance in a rural part of Wisconsin before Nov. 6. But the president is also not nearly as underwater here as he is in other battlegrounds, including elsewhere in the Midwest. Trump’s approval rating here was 45 percent in the NBC-Marist poll and 46 percent in the Marquette poll, up four points from last month. Democrats have been reluctant to focus too much on Trump lest they alienate independents who supported him two years ago.

Asked about Walker’s efforts to localize the race in an interview last night, Evers said: “This is about the only thing I agree with Scott Walker on.” The mild-mannered former high school principal has now been the state’s chief educator for a decade. He said he wants to talk about Walker’s positions on schools, roads, health care and taxes. “I’m glad he’s running on them because he’s got an awful record on them,” said Evers, 66.

The Democrat pushed back on Walker’s rosy portrait of the economy, arguing that many people he interacts with aren’t feeling the effects of what the statistics indicate. “Tell that to the 870,000 families that can’t make ends meet,” said Evers. “Tell that to the 200,000 young people who are on free and reduced price lunches in Wisconsin. Tell that to the people who want good health care and can’t afford it. Tell that to the 2.4 million people who have preexisting conditions …”

Walker believes he’s more insulated from inevitable backlash to the incumbent president than other Republicans on the ballot this year because he’s such a known commodity. It’s hard to find anyone in Wisconsin who did not already have a firm opinion about Walker before Trump even sought the presidency. “If you look at other races, oftentimes then it becomes a ballot test versus an understanding of who the personalities are and then it’s a lot more likely to go down that historical path,” Walker said. “People knowing me is not a problem that I have here. It's getting past all the false attacks that are on the airwaves. We’ve actually seen our numbers start to improve the more I was personally on TV … when I’m just looking at people, telling them what I’m gonna do.”

Walker has also been recording straight-to-camera videos from his campaign bus, including one this week in which he promises to protect people with preexisting conditions if the state’s lawsuit to kill Obamacare succeeds. “I think people are hungry to hear from me on issues like that, and plenty of others, just directly,” he explained.

Interestingly, the governor has been publicly sounding the alarm all year that a “blue wave” is coming. Walker was trying to prevent volunteers and donors who have become accustomed to winning from becoming ambivalent, especially after the GOP suffered huge upsets in special elections. “We chose to take that head on,” he said. The governor stuck with this message even as the president insisted for months that there would actually be a “red wave” in the midterms and predicted the GOP would pick up lots of seats. For his part, Trump has finally stopped talking about “a red wave” after his political team persuaded him that this rhetoric could dampen Republican turnout.

Addressing supporters at a manufacturing plant that makes pasteurizers on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Walker predicted that the election will be closer than anyone expects. He said everyone should encourage their co-workers and fellow parishioners at church to vote for him. But the governor took it a step further and asked his boosters to also try striking up conversations with strangers standing in line at grocery stores as they wait to check out, so they can make the case he deserves four more years.

Evers said Walker is so polarizing, and voters are so exhausted of drama emanating from the state capitol in Madison, that it will be hard for the incumbent to persuade new voters. The question, in that case, would be whether the governor’s base turns out for him. “I think there’s a fatigue, but the fatigue is a real practical fatigue,” Evers said. “There is a fatigue around polarization, but it’s of his own making. He started his career as governor telling the people of Wisconsin that he was going to ‘divide and conquer.’ Indeed, he has divided us. I would argue that he has not conquered us. How do you be a uniter when you say, ‘My goal is to divide.’ There’s no public policy sense to that, and there’s no rational sense for a regular Wisconsinite like me.”

Walker’s closing argument boils down to a “forward or backward” contrast. He argues that Evers would pick at old wounds that have scabbed over and healed, particularly related to organized labor, and that he’d raise taxes to pay for new spending. The 2011 legislation that eliminated most collective bargaining for public employees, known as Act 10, continues to divide the state even almost eight years later. Last week’s Marquette poll showed 42 percent want to repeal the law while 43 percent want to keep it. “We don’t want to go back,” said Walker. “He will undo the reforms we’ve put in place.”

The two candidates face off Friday in their first of two debates. “The people of Wisconsin are ready for a change,” said Evers.

More broadly, Democrats continue to hammer Walker over his 2016 presidential campaign. Mandela Barnes, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, said the main reason the governor didn’t expand Medicaid under Obamacare was his hunger to win the GOP nomination. “Because of the governor’s ambitions, because he wanted to run for president, 40,000 people here aren’t covered,” said Barnes. “We’ve been victims to his ambition long enough. His running for president didn’t work out well for him or for any of us.” Walker’s numbers took a real hit as he spent time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but he clawed his way back by the end of last year with a “listening tour” around the state and by hunkering down on parochial issues. (I wrote about this last November.)

To blunt questions about his plans, the governor announced last month that he will serve his full third term if he’s reelected but that he will not seek a fourth. That means, if he prevails, he’d leave office in January 2023. Depending on how everything shakes out, and four years is an eternity in politics, that means he could be free to run for president again in 2024.

When I asked Walker if he’s worried about voter fatigue, he replied that it’s crucial to remind people of why they voted for him three times in the past eight years. “What we’ve found is that not just my supporters, but even some Democrat-leaning voters actually, believe that, when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. They don't always agree with it, but unlike a lot of politicians that's another thing I don't have much of a problem with thankfully. Because of what we went through early in our tenure, they believe that when I say I'm going to do something, I'm not going to back down … That’s helpful.”

As the candidates try to break through the din of the attack ads clogging the airwaves, most folks around here are more focused on baseball and football right now than politics. Walker and Evers both opened our conversations by dissecting Milwaukee’s prospects in the National League Championship Series. The Brewers lost 2 to 1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers last night — tying the best-of-seven series at two games apiece. They’ll play in L.A. today before returning to Miller Park for Game Six. The Brewers have never won a World Series, so their journey into the second half of October is a feel-good story that’s dominating the local news.

Walker has been alternating between wearing Brewers and Packers gear on the stump. He often campaigns while wearing an Aaron Rodgers No. 12 jersey. A few hours after he likened himself to Rodgers during our interview, the quarterback led the Packers to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press, Trump said he will not accept any blame if Republicans lose control of the House. The AP’s Catherine Lucey, Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller report: “Trump [said] he senses voter enthusiasm rivaling 2016 and he expressed cautious optimism that his most loyal supporters will vote even when he is not on the ballot. He dismissed suggestions that he might take responsibility, as his predecessor did, for midterm losses or view the outcome as a referendum on his presidency. ‘No, I think I’m helping people,’ Trump said. ‘I don’t believe anybody’s ever had this kind of an impact.’ … He said he believes he’s doing his job, but allowed he has heard from some of his supporters who say they may not vote this November. ‘I’m not running,’ he said. ‘I mean, there are many people that have said to me . . . ‘I will never ever go and vote in the midterms because you’re not running and I don’t think you like Congress.’’ He added: ‘Well, I do like Congress.’”

  • On calling Stormy Daniels “Horseface”: “Asked if it was appropriate to insult a woman’s appearance, Trump responded, ‘You can take it any way you want.’”
  • He accused [his former fixer Michael] Cohen of lying when testifying under oath that the president coordinated on a hush-money scheme to buy Daniels’s silence. Trump on Tuesday declared the allegation ‘totally false.’ But in entering a plea deal with Cohen in August, federal prosecutors signaled that they accepted his recitation of facts and account of what occurred.
  • Trump again cast doubt on climate change, suggesting, incorrectly, that the scientific community was evenly split on the existence of climate change and its causes. There are ‘scientists on both sides of the issue,’ Trump said. ‘But what I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows.'”

-- And the president warned of a “rush” to judgment against Saudi Arabia in the disappearance of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, likening the global outrage over his suspected murder to the sexual assault allegations made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump told the AP. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. . . . We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way, as far as I’m concerned.”

-- Speaking of Kavanaugh, Chief Justice John Roberts sought to assure a Minneapolis audience last night that the Supreme Court will serve “one nation” and not “one party or one interest”: Robert Barnes reports: “Roberts told an audience of 2,700 that he wanted to speak to the ‘contentious events in Washington in recent weeks,’ and to ‘emphasize how the judicial branch is, must be, very different.’ ‘I have great respect for our public officials; after all, they speak for the people, and that commands a certain degree of humility from those of us in the judicial branch, who do not. We do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution.’”

-- A bomb exploded in a school in Crimea, killing at least 10 and injuring 50 others. Amie Ferris-Rotman reports: “Russia’s National Guard said an explosive device was involved and described the cause as terrorism, [the state-sponsored] Tass news agency reported. Eyewitnesses at the school, attended by children between the ages of 14 and 18, said gunmen fired into the air before the explosion, the local Kerch FM radio station reported. The attack took place in Kerch, a city on the east of Crimea, a peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine four years ago. Kerch is also where a new Kremlin-financed bridge connects Crimea to Russia.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. CDC officials are investigating an increase in a mysterious, polio-like illness known as “AFM,” which mostly affects children, can paralyze extremities and has already spread to 22 states. The spike in the frightening illness began in 2014. As of Tuesday, health officials said there are at least 127 confirmed or suspected AFM cases in the United States. (Lena H. Sun)
  2. The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 30. One Florida official described the figure, which is considered relatively low given the storm’s devastation, as “nothing short of a miracle.” (Mark Berman)

  3. Severe flooding in Central Texas has killed at least one person. The powerful waters also caused a bridge to collapse in Kingsland, but water levels are now receding. (Jason Samenow)

  4. Wall Street banks have valued Uber at as much as $120 billion. The eye-popping public offering, which could take place early next year, would make the ride-hailing giant more valuable than General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined. (Wall Street Journal)

  5. Some former members of the U.S. Special Forces worked on months-long mercenary missions in Yemen, where they were tasked with assassinating prominent clerics and Islamist political figures. The soldiers who carried out the attack were reportedly hired by Spear Operations Group, a company founded by Abraham Golan, who lives outside of Pittsburgh. “There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he said. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.” (BuzzFeed)
  6. Subpoenaed to appear before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, the head of Fusion GPS invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Glenn Simpson’s attorney decried the committees’ proceedings as “an utter sham” that would “make Senator Joseph McCarthy proud.” One panel member, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), questioned whether Simpson had the legal right to refuse to answer Congress’s questions. (Karoun Demirjian)
  7. Mary Bono lasted only five days on the job as the interim president of USA Gymnastics. Bono, a former Republican congresswoman and the widow of Sonny Bono, resigned under pressure after posting a photo to Twitter suggesting she was boycotting Nike for its partnership with Colin Kaepernick. (HuffPost)
  8. A DOJ inspector general’s report found a senior FBI official accepted two sports tickets “as a gift” from a news reporter and then lied about having paid for them. The inspector general said accepting the tickets violated federal regulations, but prosecutors declined to bring a case against the now retired official. (Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett)

  9. Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof, a Republican who capitalized on his successful HBO reality show “Cathouse”  and had launched a campaign for the state legislature that he was expected to win, has died. He was 72. (CNN)
  10. The United States is the world's most competitive economy for the first time in a decade, reclaiming its No. 1 spot on the World Economic Forum's annual index. The report praised strong economic growth in the United States but said there was “room for improvement” on social issues. (Wall Street Journal)

THE LATEST ON JAMAL:

-- Trump’s remarks to the AP last night were his most concerted defense yet of the Saudis — and put him widely out of step with many world leaders. Carol Morello, Erin Cunningham and Souad Mekhennet report: “They also could complicate talks planned [today] between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish leaders on the Khashoggi case. . . . Turkish investigators have not wavered in their claims of Saudi involvement. On Tuesday, Turkish authorities sought to expand the scope of their investigation, demanding access to the main Saudi diplomatic residence in Istanbul and vehicles in the consulate fleet.”

-- “While Trump had earlier promised to 'leave nothing uncovered' in the case of Khashoggi’s disappearance, he and his administration now appear more eager to contain any damage the incident” could cause for U.S.-Saudi relations. Anne Gearan notes. “Pompeo’s trip to Saudi Arabia was the administration’s most visible effort to address a growing diplomatic crisis with implications for Trump priorities in the Middle East and billions in arms sales, but it included no public mention of the writer who vanished.”

-- Pompeo said he received assurances from Saudi officials that they would hold accountable any wrongdoers connected to Khashoggi’s disappearance accountable. Carol Morello and Loveday Morris report: “‘They promised accountability for each of those persons whom they determine as a result of their investigation deserves accountability,’ he said. Asked whether that includes members of the royal family, Pompeo added, ‘They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable.’ … Pompeo said the investigation gives the Saudis the opportunity to prove they are telling the truth. ‘They promised that they would achieve that,’ he said. ‘And I’m counting on it. They gave me their word. And we’ll all get to see whether they deliver on that commitment.’”

-- At least 11 of the 15 men listed by Turkish officials as suspects in Khashoggi's disappearance have ties to the Saudi security services. Shane Harris, Erin Cunningham, Aaron C. Davis and Tamer El-Ghobashy report: “Three days before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the United States earlier this year for a nationwide tour, another Saudi traveler who identifies online as a member of the Saudi Royal Guard also arrived in Washington, passport records show. His stay overlapped with that of the prince. Two times before that, this traveler had made other trips to the United States that coincided with visits by top members of the Saudi royal family, including King Salman and another one of his sons. That same traveler, Khalid Aedh Alotaibi, has now appeared on [the suspect list]. … On Tuesday, Turkish officials provided passport scans for seven members of what they called a hit squad, and that information helped confirm Alotaibi’s travels to Washington. …

“Alotaibi and eight others identified as suspects by Turkish officials appear to have profiles on MenoM3ay — a phone directory app popular in the Arab world — identifying themselves as members of the Saudi security forces, with some claiming to be members of the Royal Guard. … Five of the eight others are repeatedly identified in the app as either officers in the Royal Guard or employees of the royal palace. Two of the Saudis on the list, Naif Hassan S. Alarifi and Saif Saad Q. Alqahtani, are repeatedly identified in the app as even closer to the royal family — specifically as employees of the ‘Crown Prince office.’”

-- “One of [the suspects], Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007, according to a British diplomatic roster. He traveled extensively with the crown prince, perhaps as a bodyguard,” the New York Times’s David D. Kirkpatrick, Malachy Browne, Ben Hubbard and David Botti report. “[Mutreb] was photographed emerging from airplanes with Prince Mohammed on recent trips to Madrid and Paris. He was also photographed in Houston, Boston and the United Nations during the crown prince’s visits there, often glowering as he surveyed a crowd.”

-- Turkish officials said the Saudi agents beat, drugged, killed and dismembered Khashoggi without interrogating him. The Wall Street Journal’s David Gauthier-Villars, Jessica Donati and Summer Said report: “Turkish officials said they shared evidence in recent days, including the details of an audio recording, with both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to support their conclusion that Mr. Khashoggi was killed at the hand of Saudi operatives. It wasn’t clear how Turkish officials had an audio recording. The recording indicates how Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the office of the Saudi consul general, Mohammad al-Otaibi, minutes after he walked into the consulate building … [O]n the recording, a voice can be heard inviting the consul to leave the room, the people familiar with the matter said. The voice of a man Turkish authorities identified as Saudi forensic specialist Salah Al Tabiqi can be heard recommending other people present to listen to some music while he dismembered Mr. Khashoggi’s body, the people said.

THE AGENDA:

-- The Trump administration abruptly transferred a HUD political appointee to serve as the acting watchdog for the Interior Department — an unusual move that comes amid four ongoing inquiries into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Lisa Rein, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Juliet Eilperin report: Suzanne Israel Tufts “will oversee four ongoing investigations into [Zinke’s conduct], including inquiries into his wife’s travel and a Montana land-development deal backed by the chairman of the oil services firm Halliburton. Tufts, who has served as HUD’s assistant secretary for administration since December, is a lawyer from Queens. Before joining the Trump administration, she founded a consulting firm that focused on providing services for tax-exempt organizations and emerging companies.”

-- Bob Mueller is expected to issue key findings in his Russia probe shortly after the midterm elections. Bloomberg News’s Chris Strohm, Greg Farrell and Shannon Pettypiece report: “Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and [Trump’s] 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice, according to [one official] … That doesn’t necessarily mean Mueller’s findings would be made public if he doesn’t secure unsealed indictments. … Rosenstein has made it clear that he wants Mueller to wrap up the investigation as expeditiously as possible, another U.S. official said. … There’s no indication, though, that Mueller is ready to close up shop, even if he does make some findings, according to former federal prosecutors.”

-- “The Trump administration is now allowing more chicken-processing plants to operate at faster speeds,” Heather Long reports. “Plants that receive a waiver from the Trump administration will be able to process up to 175 birds per minute, up from the old limit of 140 birds per minute . . . The National Chicken Council, which represents the poultry industry, praised the move . . . But labor, consumer and animal rights groups decried the change as a capitulation to big business that will open the floodgates to most of the nation’s more than 200 poultry-processing plants operating at the faster rate.”

-- State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News host Heather Nauert is being considered as a potential  replacement for outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports: “White House aides view her as a capable advocate for the Trump administration’s foreign policy. She is also a leading candidate to replace [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] when she leaves the White House, though that job may be less appealing given that the frequency of on-camera press briefings has vastly diminished over the last two months. … But White House officials stressed that the process for selecting Haley’s replacement is still in the early stages and that the pool of candidates, which includes ambassadors Kelly Knight Craft, Jamie McCourt, and Ric Grenell — Trump’s envoys to Canada, France, and Germany, respectively — will likely change before the president makes a final selection.”

-- A caravan of more than 1,000 Honduran migrants continued its trek toward the U.S. border, triggering outrage from Trump who threatened to “withdraw all aid to Honduras” unless it somehow recalls the caravan. Joshua Partlow reports: “On Tuesday morning, after the group had crossed into Guatemala, Trump wrote on Twitter that he had informed Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández that ‘if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!’"

-- Obama-era rules on erasing student-loan debt took effect, despite opposition from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and for-profit colleges. Laura Meckler reports: “That means that [DeVos] is now responsible for implementing a rule that she said makes it too easy for students to cancel their student loans and that she has fought to kill. Consumer advocates back the regulations, saying the government must take a more aggressive stance against colleges that they say routinely take advantage of veterans and vulnerable students. But conservatives worry about the hit to taxpayers if a large number of student borrowers are allowed to avoid paying off their loans."

-- South Carolina lawmakers fear that Trump’s trade war with China may negatively impact the state’s auto industry. The Post and Courier’s David Wren reports: “Volvo Cars — which has started building a redesigned S60 sedan at its new Berkeley County campus — might reconfigure one of its Chinese plants to make the same car for sale in that country … Volvo had planned to export locally made S60s through the Port of Charleston to China, but said that won’t be feasible due to 40 percent tariffs China has imposed on U.S.-made vehicles. … Meanwhile, a BMW executive said China’s tariffs will cost its plant in Greer about $347 million in lost earnings this year.”

THE MIDTERMS:

-- Nancy Pelosi said Democrats could “find common ground” with Trump if they regain control of the House. Mike DeBonis reports: “Speaking at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, Pelosi (Calif.) said Democrats would ‘have to always try’ to find opportunities to govern in tandem with Trump. Moments later she said that one of Trump’s key policy demands — construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall — amounted to a ‘manhood issue’ she had no interest in indulging … Pelosi said any opportunities for Democrats to work with Trump would be limited — perhaps on a national infrastructure plan . . . But in other areas, she said, compromise would be impossible. Asked by a Harvard student what Democratic priority she would be willing to trade for Trump’s border wall, Pelosi said, ‘Nothing.’

-- Mitch McConnell blamed the ballooning deficit, which he called “very disturbing,” on federal spending  and not the GOP tax cuts. From Damian Paletta: “McConnell, in a Bloomberg News interview, also said there was little chance Republicans would be able to cut government spending next year if they retained control of Congress because any changes would need leadership from Democrats. McConnell (R-Ky.) said that tackling the mandatory spending programs such as Medicare and Social Security, as well as Medicaid, could not be done by Republicans alone, suggesting that it was unlikely to occur unless Democrats controlled at least one chamber of Congress.”

-- Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott abruptly resigned over recent “inappropriate comments,” complicating the state’s crowded gubernatorial race. The Anchorage Daily News's Annie Zak, Tegan Hanlon and Alex DeMarban report: “Details about what Mallott said, and to whom, were not immediately clear, though Gov. Bill Walker described the remarks as inappropriate overtures to a woman earlier this week. A new lieutenant governor, Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson, was immediately sworn in … Walker, elected on an independent ticket with Mallott in 2014, faces Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Mike Dunleavy. … Walker said Davidson would assume Mallott's role as his running mate, although Mallott will officially remain on the ballot.”

-- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) apologized for a newspaper ad that included the names of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or rape without their permission. Several were also misidentified. John Wagner and Sean Sullivan report: “The ad was fashioned as an open letter to Rep. Kevin Cramer, Heitkamp’s Republican opponent, criticizing comments he made during the confirmation process for [Kavanaugh]. In a statement Tuesday, Heitkamp said that her campaign ‘recently discovered that several of the women’s names who were provided to us did not authorize their names to be shared or were not survivors of abuse.’ ‘I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction, personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this and taking the necessary steps to ensure this never happens again,’ the statement said. . . . The ad included names of 127 women. It was not clear how many names were erroneously included or how they came to be part of the newspaper ad.”

-- The lingering effects of Hurricane Michael are having an impact on Florida’s closely watched and consequential elections. Politico’s Marc Caputo reports: “With power out in many areas and phone lines down, it’s still not clear how many voters across the state have been affected. Nor is it clear which voter precincts were damaged, or what exactly the state should do to make voting easier for survivors and the displaced. Then there are the more crass political considerations. The state’s Senate and gubernatorial races are virtually tied at the moment — and 8 of the 11 counties without power, an area affecting 135,000 customers, are Republican-performing counties.”

-- Senate Democrats’ top super PAC is spending millions of dollars to attack Sen. Bob Menendez’s Republican opponent in reliably blue New Jersey. HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard reports: “Senate Majority PAC, which is controlled by allies of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), will use [$3 million] to air a statewide ad attacking Menendez’s opponent, former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, as an ally of [Trump] in a state where the president is deeply unpopular. … [Menendez] leads in most recent public polling of the contest. But Democrats fear his lead isn’t big enough in the face of the millions that Hugin has spent and will keep spending on the airwaves out of his personal fortune.”

-- Democrat Beto O’Rourke came out swinging against Sen. Ted Cruz in the second Texas Senate debate, claiming the Republican incumbent had earned his nickname from Trump of “Lyin’ Ted.” The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek and Matt Zdun report: “Trump, who is coming to Houston on Monday for a rally with Cruz, fueled a number of contentious exchanges during the debate . . . Early on, O'Rourke accused Cruz of not being able to stand up to the president for Texans, while Cruz went on to dismiss the idea O'Rourke would be able to work with the president after expressing support for his impeachment. … As O'Rourke hammered Cruz as more interested in his political career than representing Texas — ‘Ted Cruz is for Ted Cruz,’ the challenger said at one point — Cruz pressed his long-running case that O'Rourke is captive to the activist left and too liberal for Texas.”

-- A new CNN-SSRS poll found Cruz leading O’Rouke by seven points. CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports: “Cruz appears well-positioned . . . Just 9% of likely Texas voters say there's a chance they could change their mind about the Senate contest before Election Day, although O'Rourke's voters are more apt to be locked in to their choice (92% say their minds are made up) than are Cruz's backers (87% say they've made a final decision).”

-- “What happens when you put 16 Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz supporters in a room together,” by Vice News’s James Novogrod: “The [Texas Senate race] has become a symbol of the battle over a state that Democrats have long wanted to turn blue. So when 16 Texas voters — half supporters of each candidate — came to face-to-face, it’s no surprise a national issue like immigration dominated the discussion. … Eight of the sixteen panelists had at least one parent born outside of the U.S. But that didn’t mean all panelists wanted to loosen immigration laws. ‘Should there be a path to citizenship? I'm Hispanic, and I don't think so,’ said Josue Gonzalez, a 32 year-old security contractor and Cruz supporter.”

-- “[I]f there is a blue wave this year, the real driving force will be the country’s politically moderate suburban women,” BuzzFeed News’s Molly Hensley-Clancy reports. “Conversations with more than three dozen suburban women voters across three swing districts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota illuminate that stark shift. For many of these women, a longstanding personal dislike of Trump has seeped into the Republican Party since the 2016 election — even to many Republican incumbents who have scrambled to distance themselves from the president. More than a dozen women who said they voted for Republicans in those districts in the past — splitting tickets or even voting straight down a party line — echoed a similar sentiment: Not this time.”

-- Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com fears journalists have not learned enough about polling since 2016. Margaret Sullivan writes: “Now that we’re three weeks away from the midterm elections, Silver is seeing some of the same tendencies in media coverage and social-media chatter that plagued 2016’s coverage. … ‘I get nervous about how people overstate things’ he told me. That, for example, it’s ‘all but inevitable’ that Democrats will win control of the [House] or that there’s really no way Republicans will lose the Senate. … While it’s quite probable — and has become slightly more likely — that we’ll see a split decision in Congress, there’s a solid chance it doesn’t go that way. There’s actually a 40 percent chance that both houses of Congress will end up in the hands of one party, Silver said.”

-- The rejection of hundreds of ballots in a suburban Atlanta county has prompted legal challenges and accusations of voter suppression. Amy Gardner reports: “Among the reasons cited for ballots being tossed are signatures that do not match those on file, missing addresses and incorrect birth years, according to state data. The data show that more than 1,200 ballots have been rejected statewide. The number of rejected ballots is most concentrated in Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, where 465 ballots had been tossed as of Monday night — 38 percent of all those rejected statewide.”

-- Indiana Senate candidate Mike Braun (R) loaned his campaign nearly $2.4 million in the third fundraising quarter, after pledging earlier this year that he would not self-fund his general election campaign against Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly. (Indianapolis Star)

-- A Colorado ballot measure will decide how close oil and gas drilling can safely be to homes and workplaces. Jennifer Oldham reports: “Proposition 112 is pitting homeowners against Fortune 500 companies and even neighbor against neighbor. The stakes involved are immense in a state that is the nation’s seventh-largest oil producer and fifth-biggest supplier of natural gas. Opponents say increased setbacks would put tens of thousands of people out of work, plunge Colorado into a recession and jeopardize U.S. energy independence. … Proponents counter that industrial operations pollute the air and threaten health and safety. "

-- “How America’s urban-rural divide is changing the Democratic Party,” by the Hill’s Reid Wilson: “For decades, the shotgun marriage between the Minnesota Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party engineered by Hubert Humphrey created a prairie populist machine that ran this state. Republicans have not won Minnesota’s electoral votes since 1972. No Republican candidate running for a U.S. Senate seat or the governorship has won more than 50 percent of the vote since Arne Carlson in 1994. But now, as Minnesota’s largest cities surge and rural communities lose both population and economic staying power, that coalition is fraying, fractured by tensions between urban and small-town residents worried about their futures.”

-- Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) is locked in a tight race in his heavily Republican district after he was indicted for alleged insider trading. From John Wagner: “Collins leads Democrat Nate McMurray, 46 percent to 43 percent, according to a Spectrum News-Siena College poll of likely voters in New York’s 27th Congressional District released Tuesday. The poll result falls in the margin of error in a district that is home to more than 40,000 more Republicans than Democrats and where a solid majority of voters would like to see Republicans maintain control of Congress.”

2020 IS ALREADY UNDERWAY:

-- Trump’s reelection campaign war chest has given the president a $100 million head start on his eventual Democratic opponent. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “Trump, who began raising money for his reelection campaign shortly after winning the presidency, disclosed Monday that his campaign and affiliated committees have raised at least $106 million — an enormous sum that exceeds what any of his predecessors amassed so early in their presidencies. More than half the money the committees raised in the most recent fundraising quarter came from individual supporters who are giving in amounts of $200 or less. These supporters also are turning up at Trump-headlined rallies, where their information is being pulled into the [RNC’s] expanding voter database. The party is connecting with 1 million voters per day and forging an army of volunteers — with a test run of this machine underway in the November midterm elections.”

-- Trump became entangled in another crude spat sparked by his disparaging comments about women’s appearances — in this case, his reference to Stormy Daniels as “Horseface.” From Elise Viebeck and Ashley Parker: “Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti, a possible 2020 presidential contender who has aggressively criticized Trump, responded with mocking references to Trump’s genitals and accused him of hating women. The remarkably crude spat on Twitter — which began with Trump cheering the dismissal of Daniels’s defamation lawsuit against him — represented the third time in as many weeks that the president has gone out of his way to attack a woman whose interests or views are at odds with his. The episode also comes just three weeks before the midterm elections, where Republicans are struggling to attract female voters, particularly in the suburbs.”

-- Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime consigliere, is now planning to campaign against him in 2020. CNN’s MJ Lee reports. “Marking the latest escalation in Cohen's growing animosity towards Trump, [one] source said [Cohen] is open to doing a range of things to try to help the Democratic Party [in the 2018 midterms], including … giving speeches and helping raise money. Notably, Cohen … would call out and refute anything that he considers to be lies from Trump . . . What is less clear is how realistic it is for Cohen to get involved in national politics. Cohen has not had any meaningful conversations at this point in time with Democratic leaders about the possibility hitting the campaign trail or donor circuit for the party … [And] his ability to hit the campaign trail is also physically constrained: US District Judge William Pauley has limited Cohen's travels to parts of New York City, Washington, Florida and Illinois as he awaits his sentencing [in December].”

-- Julián Castro, a former Obama administration official and San Antonio mayor, said he would “likely” challenge Trump in 2020. “I'm likely to do it. I have a strong vision for the country. I believe that our country's going in the wrong direction and that it needs new leadership. I'll make a final decision after November, but I'm inclined to do it,” Castro told Rolling Stone. Andy Kroll of Rolling Stone writes: “ For months, the 44-year-old Castro has been hopscotching between Nevada, Florida, Arizona and other battleground states to campaign for Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterms. He dutifully trekked to the Iowa State Fair in August for a turn on the famous political soapbox. Last weekend, Castro was back in Iowa to stump for Democrat J.D. Scholten, who is challenging alt-right-winger and neo-Nazi sympathizer Rep. Steve King (R-IA).” 

-- Strategists for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are starting to sketch out a presidential primary strategy. Politico’s David Siders reports: “[The strategy] would focus heavily on Iowa, but with an eye toward high-value nominating contests coming later in Nevada, South Carolina and California — more diverse states where her candidacy might resonate with larger minority communities. Harris, a first-term senator, would still face significant obstacles in each of those states. But as a black woman who has also won statewide elections in California — where the black proportion of the electorate is relatively small — Harris could be well positioned to compete in both the Southeast and the West.”

-- Trump predicted that if Michael Bloomberg runs for president in 2020, Democrats would “eat him up.” From Felicia Sonmez: “Trump said in an interview with Fox Business network’s Trish Regan[,] ‘You know, you have a lot of people running. I’m hearing names that are shockingly bad, but they’re nasty.’ Bloomberg announced last week that he has registered as a Democrat. He has said that he will ‘take a look’ at a potential White House bid after the midterms.”

-- Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test has sparked pushback from a number of Native American leaders and activists. From Alex Horton: “‘It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven,’ Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. … [Warren] appeared to concede a main line of criticism from Native American leaders — that sovereign tribal groups determine citizenship and cultural lineage, not DNA tests such as the one she took.”

-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said it would be “like, terrible” if a DNA test revealed he had any Iranian heritage. From Felicia Sonmez: “As the interview concluded, ‘Fox & Friends’ co-host Steve Doocy invited Graham to ‘come back in a couple of weeks and we’ll take a look.’ Brian Kilmeade, another co-host of the show, added, ‘We’ll find out who you really are.’ Graham quipped back: ‘I’ll probably be Iranian. That would be, like, terrible.’ Doocy and Graham shared a moment of laughter, after which Kilmeade quickly sought to amend Graham’s remark. ‘Well, they have great people, just bad leaders,’ he said, to which Graham responded: ‘Yeah, bad leaders. I’m not in the ayatollah branch.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Election experts expressed shock at early-voting numbers. From a University of Florida professor:

Republican senators implored the Treasury secretary to cancel his planned appearance at a Saudi investment conference:

A Post reporter corrected Trump's tweet about his financial ties to Saudi Arabia:

Fox News's research team tweeted about Trump's past business transactions with Saudis:

A former senior strategist to John McCain and John Kasich challenged Trump's comments about "rogue killers" being involved in Khashoggi's disappearance:

From a GOP pollster:

From a Princeton history professor:

A former senior adviser to Obama offered this reminder:

This obit went viral:

A CBS News reporter encountered two senior White House advisers on an airplane:

From a CBS News reporter:

Trump went after Ted Cruz's Democratic opponent:

And he insulted supporters of Elizabeth Warren:

A veteran called out Graham's comments about the possibility of having Iranian heritage:

A writer for The Fix compiled a list of Trump's comments about women's appearances after he referred to Stormy Daniels as "Horseface":

From a retiring GOP congressman:

From a former Democratic senator:

From a Post columnist who writes about gender:

From a National Review writer:

A Post reporter drew attention to Trump's grammar in his Stormy Daniels tweet:

And a conservative commentator offered this metaphor:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- The Atlantic, “Was Gary Hart set up?” by  James Fallows: “In the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the presidency, the political consultant Lee Atwater learned that he was dying. Atwater, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the [RNC], had suffered a seizure while at a political fund-raising breakfast and had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In a year he was dead. Atwater put some of that year to use making amends. Throughout his meteoric political rise he had been known for both his effectiveness and his brutality … In [South Carolina], he helped defeat a congressional candidate who had openly discussed his teenage struggles with depression by telling reporters that the man had once been ‘hooked up to jumper cables.’ [He apologized for that, and to Michael Dukakis] for the ‘naked cruelty’ of the [infamous Willie Horton ad] … And in a private act of repentance that has remained private for nearly three decades, he told Raymond Strother that he was sorry for how he had torpedoed Gary Hart’s chances of becoming president.”

-- Clicker --> “24 hours in America,” from the New York Times: “When this project was being conceived, a storm named Florence did not exist. It had not formed far off in the Atlantic yet, and it had not swirled toward North Carolina, where it would unload more than 30 inches of rain and remind us again of a simple, elemental truth: The weather contains us, not the other way around. [Florence] wasn’t the only event we could not have anticipated. Miles outside Nashville there was an accident. An organ donor died, 20 years old. … Dawn broke that morning and the doctors and nurses went to work the same way they always did. They drank their coffee and kissed loved ones goodbye ... By the end, just before 11 p.m. a man had a new heart. Sunday at noon in the United States. … Two girls and their dolls, salvation and stories in the air. … Welcome to 24 Hours in America.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Ron DeSantis Rose By Trafficking In Racist, Islamophobic Conspiracy Theories,” from HuffPost: “The morning after Florida’s primaries, Rep. Ron DeSantis ― the state’s newly chosen GOP candidate for governor ― went on national television and used a racist dog-whistle to comment on his opponent. ‘The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda …,’ DeSantis said of [Andrew Gillum], who is black. The comment shouldn’t have been that surprising. … DeSantis has made a name for himself by promoting conspiracy theories that are trumpeted by the radical right and play into racial stereotypes. On four occasions, he has spoken at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has touted white Americans’ role in freeing black people from slavery and said that ‘the country’s only serious race war’ is against white people. … DeSantis defends the Founding Fathers for agreeing to the compromise because ‘counting slaves as less than a full person for purposes of representation benefitted anti-slavery states.’ … [And] in 2016, DeSantis agreed with Fox Business host Neil Cavuto that he was worried [ISIS] could be recruiting from Black Lives Matter protests.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“'Donald Daters' the New Dating App for Trump Supporters Leaked Its Users' Data on Launch Day,” from Time Magazine: “Donald Daters, a new dating app for Trump supporters, has leaked users’ personal information on the day of its launch. The app, which markets itself as an ‘American-based singles community connecting lovers, friends, and Trump supporters alike,’ had more than 1,600 users when it launched on Monday, according to security researcher Elliot Alderson, who was reportedly able to download the entire user database. Alderson shared his findings in a tweet, stating that the data he managed to gain access to included users’ names, profile pictures, device types, private messages and access tokens that can be used to log into their accounts. The Donald Daters app was founded by Emily Moreno — a former aide to Sen. Marco Rubio — who confirmed the leak on Tuesday. ‘We have taken swift and decisive action to remedy the mistake and make all possible efforts to prevent this from happening again,’ she said … ‘We are also taking immediate steps to engage a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to … ensure it is secure against other vulnerabilities.’"

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will meet with workers about “Cutting the Red Tape, Unleashing Economic Freedom.” He will then host a Cabinet meeting and later present the Medal of Honor.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Trump told the Associated Press he is “definitely” running in 2020: “I don’t want somebody to destroy it because I can do a great job, but the wrong person coming in after me sitting right at this desk can destroy it very quickly if they don’t do the right thing. So no, I’m definitely running.” (AP)

 

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

-- It will be mostly sunny and breezy in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Skies turn mostly sunny this morning, and with a milder wind from the west we should see highs head for the mid-to-upper 60s. Those westerly winds are rather breezy at around 10-20 mph with some higher gusts, turning more from the northwest toward evening.”

-- The D.C. Council repealed Initiative 77, the voter-approved ballot measure that would have raised the minimum wage for the District’s tipped workers. Fenit Nirappil reports: “After hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign spending, tens of thousands of voters heading to the polls and hundreds of angry calls and emails to lawmakers, a contentious fight over restaurant workers’ pay in the nation’s capital ended with a quick vote by the D.C. Council. … The Council again voted 8 to 5 to repeal the initiative, the same margin as the first vote earlier in the month. Lawmakers who opposed repeal unsuccessfully tried to preserve a watered-down version of the law. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) plans to sign the bill.”

-- The council also decided to postpone a final vote on a bill to regulate short-term rentals, including Airbnb properties. After a unanimous preliminary vote two weeks ago, some council members have raised concerns over an estimate from the city’s CFO that the legislation would cost the District  $104 million over four years. (Robert McCartney)

-- The list of priests in the D.C. area who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse in recent decades has sent shock waves through the region’s Catholic community. Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein report: “Some of these clergy’s crimes were widely known. Eighteen of them were eventually arrested for their behavior, and at least five more turned up on lists of accused clergy in publicly searchable databases. But the crimes allegedly committed by others were kept secret for decades. Only on Monday did their former parishioners learn their priest had ever been accused of abuse.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Jimmy Kimmel delved into the Twitter spat between Trump and Stormy Daniels:

Stephen Colbert interviewed “Melania Trump” about her relationship with the president:

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) falsely claimed his Democratic opponent, Abigail Spanberger, ran ads about Obamacare that earned four Pinocchios. The claim won him his own four Pinocchios:

The Fact Checker also awarded four Pinocchios to Sen. Bob Menendez's Republican opponent for one of his attack ads:

And high school students in Texas are now required to watch this instructional video on interacting with the police: