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* The Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC raised $6.7 million during the first half of October. During the entire month of September, the group raised about $6 million. 


Post-ABC tracking poll: Romney 50 percent, Obama 47

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* Mitt Romney raised nearly $112 million during the first half of October, and carried forward a healthy $169 million cash on hand between its various committees. Of the totals, the Republican National committee raised $19.8 million and finished with $67.6 million in the bank. 

* In a new TV ad, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee slams Indiana Republican Senate nominee Richard Mourdock over his controversial comments about rape and pregnancy at a Tuesday debate. "Even Mitt Romney and Mike Pence believe Richard Mourdock goes too far, and should apologize," says the narrator. 

* Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has released a round of contrast ads as part of her closing  argument against Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). In the spots, voters argue that McCaskill will protect Medicare, Social Security and the middle class, while Akin won't. 

* While she called the possibility "unlikely," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time left the door open to the prospect of staying on as the nation's chief diplomat for more than a single term. "A lot of people have talked to me about staying," said Clinton, who previously vowed to step down next year. 


* RNC Chairman Reince Preibus says he will help preserve Iowa's first-in-the-nation status in 2016, despite the snags in this year's caucuses. Romney was initially declared the winner, but former senator Rick Santorum was later judged the victor after an updated tally. “I will tell you where the RNC is at right now is that we are willing and we are ready to protect Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status," Priebus said. Given Iowa's importance in the general election presidential campaign, there is incentive for Priebus to show deference to the Hawkeye State. 

* The conservative 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS is up with five new House ads as part of a previously announced $8.1 million buy. The ads target Democrats, including John Hernandez in California's new 21st District (against Republican David Valadao), Christie Vilsack (against GOP Rep. Steve King) in Iowa's 4th District, Brendan Mullen in Indiana's 2nd District (against Republican Jackie Walorski in the race to replace Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly), Steven Horsford in Nevada's 4th District (against Republican Danny Takanian), and Rep. Tim Bishop in New York's 1st District (against Republican Randy Altschuler). 

* American Commitment, a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit, is up with a new TV ad slamming former surgeon general Richard Carmona (D) in the Arizona Senate race. The ad goes after Carmona's stewardship of the Pima County health system and a Tucson hospital. "Taxpayers bailed out Carmona's mess," says the narrator. The group is expanding its buy to $1.3 million. 

* The South Dakota Republican Party contrasts the records of Rep. Kristi Noem (R) and Democratic challenger Matt Varileka in a recently released web video . The video slams Varilek for hosting a "raucous National Corn Dog Day Party" in 2006 and "defending his title as one of the few to achieve a triple-double for his beer and corn dog consumption," among other things. In case you're wondering (we certainly did) what a "triple-double" is, it's 10 corn dogs, 10 drinks (preferably Pabst Blue Ribbon beers or Jones sodas), and 100 tater tots, according to the National Corn Dog Day website


Tom Hanks + Slam poetry + Full House = Three-and-a-half quality minutes

With Aaron Blake