THE BIG IDEA:

BEREA, Ky.—Matt Bevin, blistered by millions of dollars in attack ads during his failed primary challenge to Mitch McConnell, refused to endorse the Kentucky senator in last year’s general election.

Democrats are now quoting from the McConnell campaign’s 2014 attacks in their own ads against Bevin, who has become the Republican nominee for governor in next Tuesday’s very competitive race against Democrat Jack Conway. It’s one of a handful of off-year contests around the country that could tell us something about 2016 — including whether once-bickering Republicans can heal internal rifts and whether a true outsider (in this case, Bevin) can win.

McConnell would love to see Bevin get across the finish line. Despite any bad blood left over from their battle, he’s offering whatever help he can in the final week.

McConnell state director Terry Carmack e-mailed Bevin directly to say that the Senate Majority Leader was available to do a press event yesterday morning in Louisville. Bevin wrote back that he already had plans.

Carmack e-mailed back to say McConnell could join Bevin for a unity event next Monday morning. He asked if Bevin would do the traditional fly-around to every media market in the state and suggested that, if Louisville was where the tour started, McConnell could join for the kickoff before flying back to Washington. Bevin initially missed the message, but discussions are ongoing.

With turnout expected to be historically low, Bevin said McConnell is also recording robocalls to help motivate traditional GOP voters.

After an event at a diner here last night, the GOP gubernatorial nominee lamented that he couldn’t put McConnell to better use. McConnell has already done three fundraisers for Bevin, including organizing one in D.C. “He’s gone to bat for me and then some,” said Bevin.

McConnell, too, says that the 2014 nastiness is water under the bridge. “I don’t care about that,” he told me as we waited to board a flight from DCA to Louisville. “I think it’s important to win, and I think we’ve got a good chance to win.” The senator celebrated the Republican Governors Association decision to dispatch $1.6 million to the state for the final two weeks, after going dark on the airwaves for the first half of October. “The RGA wouldn’t be in as big as they are if it wasn’t winnable,” he said.

Considering how viciously the two sides went after each other, and the way Bevin snubbed McConnell in the 2014 general, these comments are pretty remarkable.

For McConnell, it’s business. In 2010, after his hand-picked candidate was toppled in the primary by Rand Paul, McConnell ingratiated himself with the insurgent and now publicly endorses Paul’s presidential campaign. McConnell has spent four decades building Kentucky’s modern Republican Party and he’s immensely competitive. One of the dream items still on his bucket list is a Republican takeover of the state House here. Democrats retain a lingering registration advantage, despite the state’s conservative leanings. McConnell feels it will be harder to win control of that chamber in 2016 if Democrats have a governor who can raise millions of dollars.

For Bevin, it’s a recognition that he needs McConnell. The businessman won a four-way May primary by just 83 votes after the two presumed front-runners deluged each other with attack ads. After winning the GOP nod with essentially no support from state elected officials, Bevin moved to rally Republican regulars behind him by embracing McConnell. His team produced a very funny three-minute video to the tune of “So happy together.” It shows Bevin wearing “Team Mitch” T-shirts and even getting a McConnell tattoo. They debuted it before an establishment-minded crowd at a Lincoln Day dinner, but only after getting sign-off by McConnell aides. “Dude, you’ve got to see it,” Bevin told me as he finished up a hamburger at the end of a 30-minute interview. He pulled up his phone and watched along. (See it here.)

Some McConnell allies still complain about lack of coordination between the state GOP and Bevin. Others suggest that Bevin does not want McConnell too involved so the leader doesn’t get too much credit if he wins, or conversely so that Bevin can blame the party establishment if he loses. Bevin says that’s baloney.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— Congress and the White House reached a two-year budget deal. House Republican leaders introduced legislation just before midnight Monday and a vote could occur as early as Wednesday on the deal, “which would increase military and domestic spending and avert a potentially catastrophic default in exchange for long-term spending cuts,” per PowerPost’s Kelsey Snell. Spending would be hiked by $80 billion over two years and the federal borrowing limit would be increased through March 15, 2017 (after the next election). But early word was that House conservatives don’t like the deal, so more drama could be in the offing, especially as Paul Ryan is expected to be installed as House speaker later this week.

The Bushes demonstrated that family ties are alive and well at a Houston gathering, which ended last night. The donor retreat felt a bit like “group therapy” after campaign downsizing in recent days, writes The New York Times’ Matt Flengenheimer. During a chat yesterday between Jeb and George W., Jeb praised his brother’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks and calling him a “caring, feeling ‘human being.'” George W., meanwhile, praised his brother as a “fierce competitor” who could make nice with Latinos.

Meanwhile, the Post’s Sean Sullivan points out that Marco Rubio, who Bushies branded a “GOP Obama,” was the name on the lips of everyone at the Jeb retreat. “An official with a pro-Bush super PAC mentioned Rubio’s name twice in a chat with reporters, despite not being asked about him. And a Bush ally suggested that Rubio should think about resigning from the Senate given his focus on the presidency.”

GET SMART FAST:

  1. To show backbone, the U.S. deployed a warship within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea. The Chinese objected loudly, following and warning the USS Lassen as it passed close to the Subi reef in the Spratly archipelago. But the Pentagon says the mission was completed on Tuesday “without incident.” (Simon Denyer)
  2. The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm declared processed meat a carcinogen, like tobacco, and said red meat is probably one, too. The announcement sent the beef industry into a fury.
  3. “The prices for a popular and important group of health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange will climb by an average of 7.5 percent for the coming year, a jump nearly four times bigger than a year ago,” per Amy Goldstein.
  4. A scientific study predicts that parts of the Persian Gulf could see lethally hot summers by the end of the century because of climate change. (Joby Warrick)
  5. “The Army Green Berets who requested the Oct. 3 airstrike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control,” the AP reports.
  6. “The woman who crashed into a crowd at Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade, killing four people and injuring dozens more, was held on $1 million bond Monday — as her father acknowledged that ‘she might have underlying [mental health] problems,’” NBC reports.
  7. Some members of Freedom Caucus who voted against the NDAA will now vote to try overriding President Obama’s veto of it. (Reuters)
  8. “A political neophyte best known for playing dimwitted characters on his television comedy show won Guatemala’s presidential election on Sunday as voters overwhelmingly turned their backs on the status quo,” the New York Times reports on Jimmy Morales.
  9. The Mississippi flag was taken down at the state’s public university, after student leaders, faculty and staff called for its removal because of its prominent Confederate emblem. (Susan Svrluga)
  10. After Quentin Tarantino marched against police shootings in Manhattan this weekend, the New York police union called for a boycott of his movies. (USA Today)
  11. REI, the gear and apparel store, will close for Black Friday. Employees will still get paid but asked to spend time in the great outdoors. (Fortune)
  12. Walmart applied for an FAA permit to test drones for package delivery. The moves comes almost a year after Amazon, led by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, announced its own drone-based delivery program, Prime Air. (TechCrunch).

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy will cast his 15,0001st vote in the Senate today, on an amendment to the cybersecurity bill. He’s sixth on the list of most votes cast by a single senator.
  2. President Obama will make the case for criminal-justice reform to police chiefs gathered in Chicago today. (Juliet Eilperin and Wesley Lowery)
  3. Bernie Sanders joined a picket line with Verizon workers in New York City. He also hired Howard Dean’s pollster Ben Tulchin.
  4. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey endorsed John Kasich.
  5. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to endorse Hillary in the coming weeks. (AP)
  6. Donald Trump will attend an RNC fundraiser in New York City on Sept. 9. (Politico’s Alex Isenstadt)
  7. Hillary Clinton is up with an ad promoting equal pay for women. It features a cute clip of a little girl asking at a town hall if she’d get paid the same in the White House as a man. (YouTube)
  8. Of the 66 original donors who got to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom of Bill Clinton’s White House, 34 have donated a total of $1.15 million to Hillary so far in this campaign. (Center for Public Integrity)
  9. Another poll of Iowa, this one from Monmouth University, showed Ben Carson eclipsing Trump (he leads by 14 points, 32-18).
  10. Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes on Jan. 10. (Rolling Stone)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

— Obama weighs moving U.S. troops closer to front lines in Syria, Iraq,” by Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe: “The president’s most senior national security advisers have recommended measures that would move U.S. troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria, officials said, a sign of mounting White House dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State and a renewed Pentagon push to expand military involvement in long-running conflicts overseas … The debate over the proposed steps, which would for the first time position a limited number of Special Operations forces on the ground in Syria and put U.S. advisers closer to the firefights in Iraq, comes as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter presses the military to deliver new options for greater military involvement in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The changes would represent a significant escalation of the American role in Iraq and Syria. They still require formal approval from President Obama, who could make a decision as soon as this week and could decide not to alter the current course.”

Cruz’s quiet fundraising strength: A network of wealthy donors,” by Katie Zezima and Matea Gold: “For all his bashing of ‘billionaire Republican donors’ who ‘actively despise our base,’ the anti-establishment senator from Texas is being bolstered by his own robust base of wealthy contributors. Cruz raised $5.2 million through the end of September from supporters who gave him the $2,700 maximum — making him No. 2 in the GOP race for large donors, after former Florida governor Jeb Bush, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. Cruz’s un­or­tho­dox campaign has hit on a fundraising formula that no other candidate has been able to match: raising millions from a robust base of grass-roots supporters while building a substantial network of rich backers.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Whatever happened to Carly Fiorina? Six weeks ago, the former HP CEO turned in another strong debate performance and saw a spike in both media mentions and the polls. But since then, Fiorina has faded back into the presidential background, while another political outsider, Ben Carson, takes a turn in the spotlight.

While Carson and Fiorina were the breakout stars of the last debate, only Carson continues to climb. Carson is now leading in most Iowa polls and enjoys an ever larger share of the media voice as his poll numbers creep upward. Carson has been mentioned across all media more than twice as often as Fiorina since the last debate, according to our analytics partners at Zignal Labs, and the new round of state polls from Iowa has only increased that attention. Of course, much of the media focus on Carson has been on his penchant for saying things that most presidential contenders just don’t say, including his comparison of abortion to slavery and his statements questioning whether a Muslim would be fit to serve as president. Here’s Carson’s word cloud from Monday:

–Pictures of the day:

Ivanka Trump documented her growing baby bump:

Roger Stone made a “trumpkin” for Halloween. “Amazing, classy and YUGE,” the former Trump strategist tweeted:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tweeted a sentimental photo of his view:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) posted this from outside the east front of the Capitol:

White House Political Director David Simas also shared his view of a great fall night in D.C.:

–Tweets of the day:

Bernie Sanders made a new friend:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), locked in a bitter primary fight, reacted to reports that Rubio dislikes life in the Senate:

Rand’s campaign manager, Chip Englander, staffed the senator yesterday:

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) was one of many congressional Democrats to wish Hillary a happy birthday:

–Instagrams of the day:

Ben Carson posted this photo from a supporter:

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) picked up PJ’s Coffee in New Orleans before heading back to Washington:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Politico, “Sanders campaign: Clinton started it,” by Annie Karni: “Bernie Sanders went negative on Hillary Clinton Saturday night — but only because she started it. That’s what the Vermont senator’s chief strategist (said) Monday after the high-stakes Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa where Sanders, without explicitly naming Clinton, launched into an extended attack on her record and character. …. ‘We’d be very happy to have a straight-out debate on issues that matter to people and confine it to that,’ [Tad] Devine said. ‘But if they’re going to have a campaign that attacks Bernie on gun safety and implies he engages in sexism, that’s unacceptable. We’re not going to stand for that. We’re not going to sit here and let her attack him. We’re going to have to talk about other things if they do that. If they’re going to engage in this kind of attack, they need to understand we’re not going to stand there and take it.'”

— The Week, “Why Republicans keep missing the giant Benghazi scandal before their eyes,” by Michael Brendan Dougherty: “The conspiracy theory that motivated so much of the early popular interest in Benghazi was crude. It was premised on the notion that President Obama somehow prefers jihadis to America’s own diplomats, and allowed them to die. This itself is a more weaponized version of the conspiracy theory that Obama is a ‘secret’ Muslim, a Turk in the parlance of Reformation Europe. Republican leadership, most notably Mitt Romney, latched onto a different conspiracy, almost equally stupid. It held that the Obama administration was weak and retreating before Middle Eastern threats. The truth is almost exactly the opposite of these, and far more damning of President Obama and Hillary Clinton … The CIA operation in Benghazi was most likely a gun-running operation to Syrian rebels, part of Obama’s proxy war with Iran … . To investigate that would be to admit that Obama wasn’t impotent in the Middle East, but reckless.”

— Wall Street Journal, “When it comes to Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and his GOP foes divide,” by Gerald F. Seib:Most GOP presidential contenders fume about Russia’s new military incursion in Syria and talk of confronting Mr. Putin there before it goes further. They also call for increasing the military pressure on Russia to stop its intimidation of Ukraine, and advocate isolating or even shunning Mr. Putin. But the current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, is staking out a quite different position—almost the opposite one, in fact. He essentially welcomes the Russian intervention in Syria, saying Moscow is doing the world’s dirty work by fighting Islamic State forces there. He acknowledges that Ukraine is a problem, but says it’s largely the problem of Europe, and particularly of Germany. Overall, he says that as president he would have a ‘great’ relationship with Mr. Putin … These are not small differences.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

Rep to introduce ‘very narrow’ gun control bill. From ThinkProgress: “One congresswoman is hoping that targeting ‘bad apple’ dealers across the country can prove a bipartisan endeavor. On Wednesday, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) will introduce the Gun Dealer Accountability Act, which seeks to give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives more authority to inspect dealers with a history of selling weapons eventually used in crimes.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Trump calls media ‘scum.’ From The Hill: “The press has a lower approval rating than Congress,” he said at a morning rally in Atkinson, N.H. “They’re scum. They’re horrible people. They are so illegitimate. They are just terrible people.”

DAYBOOK:

–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton joins the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Donald Trump holds a rally in Sioux City, Iowa. Rand Paul greets supporters in Pahrump, Nevada and Denver. John Kasich rallies supporters in Westerville, Ohio. Most of the candidates are doing debate prep.

— On the Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume work on a cybersecurity bill. The House meets at 12 p.m. for legislative business.

–At the White House: President Obama welcomes the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to the White House. In the afternoon, Obama travels to Chicago, addresses the International Association of Chiefs of Police, participates in a DSCC fundraiser and delivers remarks at a DNC event. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“The evidence that we’ve seen so far doesn’t support the contention that law enforcement officials are somehow shirking their responsibility,” — White House spokesman Josh Earnest pushes back on statements by FBI Director James Comey that police officers are gun shy because of the dangers of being caught on video

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

“A cavalcade of cloudiness expands over the area in the morning with scattered light rain moving in from south to north. The best chances should be in the afternoon for widespread coverage and, though it won’t be heavy rain, it’ll be a nuisance if you have to walk outside much. Highs only manage the middle to upper 50s,” the Capital Weather Gang reports.

— Jorge Castillo previews the effects of the new offense on the Wizards’ starting lineup as their season kicks off on Wednesday in Orlando. And, remember, the World Series begins tonight.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

On a serious note, this disturbing video of a Columbia, S.C., high school student being violently arrested by a school resource officer is going viral and has prompted an investigation. Here’s our news story, but see it for yourself:

Trump said his father gave him a “small loan” of $1 million to get started. Watch the video here:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) jabbed Chris Christie over the Amtrak quiet car incident. “Unlike @GovChristie I keep quiet in quiet car & blend my own smoothie w/ real fruit (tho it 2 may not go smoothly),” he tweeted. Here’s his smoothie video:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) shared a special Halloween edition of his YouTube series, “Magic Mondays”:

Reporters pranked Kansas City Royals fan Josh Earnest:

Walter Pincus, the legendary Post reporter, takes us on a tour of his archives in The Post’s basement as we prepare to move to a new building. If you like history or know Walter, you’ll love this 2-minute video.