By MICHAEL FALCONE
--WHAT BIDEN'S INNER CIRCLE IS SAYING: ABC News has obtained a letter written by one of Joe Biden's top aides and sent to Biden's former staff, saying the vice president is still weighing whether he should enter the 2016 race and detailing what some of the main messages of a potential campaign would be. The letter was written by former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, one of Biden's oldest friends and longtime advisors who is among the handful of people directly advising the vice president about 2016, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. http://abcn.ws/1RdVyX2
--KAUFMAN SAYS THE VICE PRESIDENT IS "aware of the practical demands of making a final decision soon." Kaufman details the factors involved in Biden's decision, including how it would affect his family, what kind of campaign he would run and what kind of president he thinks he could be. "If he runs, he will run because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead. And whether we can a political consensus in America to get it done," Kaufman says. "What kind of campaign? An optimistic campaign. A campaign from the heart. A campaign consistent with his values, our values, and the values of the American people. And I think it's fair to say, knowing him as we all do, that it won't be a scripted affair-- after all, it's Joe." http://abcn.ws/1RdVyX2
--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: If Joe Biden doesn't run for president, it won't because anyone else told him he couldn't. If he does run, it won't be because not enough people around him signaled that he can make it happen. That's the unmistakable takeaway from the post-debate rumblings from Bidenland, a world of associates, aides, and advisers that's as scattered and complex as the man himself. A letter from Ted Kaufman cuts through even that noise. Sent under the cover of reaching out to former staffers, it makes a more direct point: This will and should be Biden's decision to make. Those close to the vice president were angered by the pressure they're feeling from Clinton allies in particular to declare his intentions already. At the same time, the first debate is now history, and key dates -- the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, ballot deadlines, and of course Clinton's Benghazi testimony -- start piling up, and fast. Biden boosters realize privately that the vice president has already waited too long for announcement-optimal conditions. It's inconceivable that he would still need to gather evidence about mechanics in early-voting states. It all, though, leads one to believe that Biden has been telling the truth: He's still -- still -- not sure he can make a presidential run work.
THIS WEEK on "THIS WEEK": Democratic presidential contender, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Republican presidential contender, Ben Carson, come to "This Week" Sunday. Plus, the powerhouse roundtable debates the week in politics with ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd, Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, editor of the Weekly Standard and ABC News contributor Bill Kristol, and editor and publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel.
DEMOCRATS WINNING THE MONEY RACE: The top Democratic presidential candidates are outpacing top Republicans in the third quarter campaign race fundraising race. Hillary Clinton led the pack with more than $28 million raised over the summer, but Bernie Sanders followed closely behind with $26 million, according to their campaigns and FEC reports, ABC's RYAN STRUYK and ALANA ABRAMSON report. Republican Ben Carson raised more than $20 million, according to his campaign. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who raised $13.4 million over the last three months -- just 22 percent more than the $11 million he raised in the first two weeks of his campaign. The reports show that Scott Walker burned through $6.4 million -- most of the $7.4 million that he took in during the course of his campaign -- before dropping out of the race. Rick Perry also spent about four times as much as he took in before he dropped out, according to FEC reports. http://abcn.ws/1G8tIey
MORE MONEY HIGHLIGHTS, courtesy of ABC's RYAN STRUYK:
--TRUMP'S NUMBERS: Donald Trump, who says he did not want donations to his campaign, has raised $3.8 million -- more than many other Republicans in the race. He has also given himself another $100,000 over the summer. He spent $4 million on his campaign in the last three months. Trump said he was proud of his efforts. http://abcn.ws/1G8tIey
--THE OUTSIDERS AREN'T ONLY SHOWING THEY CAN COMPETE IN THE POLLS, they can also compete at the bank. Ben Carson and Ted Cruz have more cash on hand than establishment candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, while Bernie Sanders is surprisingly competitive with Hillary Clinton.
--LITTLE DONATIONS MATTER: Only 270 of Bernie Sanders' 650,000 donors gave the maximum $2,700 allowed, according to the campaign. This means the campaign can keep going back to them for more money. On the flip side, just $877,000 of Jeb Bush's $13.3 million -- less than 7 percent of his cash -- came from donations of $200 or less.
--JEB BUSH'S THIRD QUARTER SHOWED A SLOWING PACE IN FUNDRAISING: Although he raised $13.3 million -- the second highest of the Republicans -- that was over the course of three months. In Q2, he raised an impressive $11 million in just two weeks.
--REMEMBER THESE NUMBERS ONLY TELLS PART OF THE STORY: Jeb Bush's Super PAC raised more than $100 million in the first six months of the year, more than any campaign total so far. And some Republicans have 501c4 "dark money" groups that don't disclose contributions or donors. Still, campaign cash is better because it can be spent in direct coordination with campaign efforts and can garner cheaper prices for TV ads -- unlike Super PACs.
TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: It's a very busy day in New Hampshire: Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, Martin O'Malley, Rand Paul, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore are all in the state. Today is the New Hampshire Housing Summit at the St. Anselm Institute of Politics in Manchester where many candidates will discuss the country's housing policy, housing needs, and affordable housing. O'Malley is the only Democrat attending. Meanwhile, Clinton holds a town hall this morning in Keene and an afternoon meet and greet in Nashua. (Another big story today: her closest aide Huma Abedin will be on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the House Select Committee on Benghazi, just six days before Clinton's own testimony before the committee). Donald Trump is in Massachusetts for an evening rally in Tyngsboro. Marco Rubio will give an address on energy this afternoon in Salem, Ohio. Bernie Sanders will be on "Real Time with Maher." Carly Fiorina is in Iowa again today. Vice President Joe Biden is at the White House today and will attend the president's bilateral meeting and working lunch with South Korean President Park.
with ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI and PAOLA CHAVEZ
DONALD TRUMP, BEN CARSON THREATEN TO BOYCOTT NEXT DEBATE. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson are threatening to boycott the next GOP debate scheduled to air on CNBC on Oct. 28. In a joint letter from Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump to CNBC, which was obtained by NBC News, the two GOP hopefuls have taken issue with the proposed length of the debate, as well as the exclusion of opening and closing statements. According to the letter, CNBC is proposing "two hours of debate time" along with four commercial breaks. The candidates write that neither "will participate in your debate if it is longer than 120 minutes including commercials and does not include opening and closing statements," the letter said. ABC's CHRISTOPHER DONATO has more. http://abcn.ws/1MFIlY3
JOHN KASICH CALLS FOR GUTTING FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION, EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS. Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Thursday in his first major policy speech of the campaign that, as president, he would gut the U.S. transportation and education departments and would balance the budget within eight years. According to ABC's BEN GITTLESON, the governor of Ohio said downsizing the two federal agencies and returning much of their power and funding to individual states would send money and control away from Washington and back to the states, a centerpiece of his economic plan. http://abcn.ws/1LmKqnk
HILLARY CLINTON OPENS DOOR FOR POTENTIAL VP PICK. Hillary Clinton opened the door Thursday for Julian Castro to be a possible pick for vice president if she wins the Democratic nomination, saying she is "going to really look hard at him for anything, because that's how good he is." During a Q&A in San Antonio, Texas, with the president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Javier Palomarez, Clinton was asked her thoughts on the young, Hispanic U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary as her possible running mate. "I think really highly of him, and I am thrilled to have his endorsement today." Clinton said. ABC's LIZ KREUTZ has more. http://abcn.ws/1VUxdqB
2016 CANDIDATES REACT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA'S AFGHANISTAN ANNOUNCEMENT. Presidential candidates immediately offered their opinions on President Obama's plan unveiled Thursday to extend the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and increase the number of troops in the country through 2016. Some GOP presidential candidates expressed approval of the proposal, but were not completely satisfied, ABC's ALANA ABRAMSON notes. Jeb Bush said in a statement that he supports troop increases but thinks the president is not doing enough to carry out the vision of military commanders. And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote that he "welcomed the President's decision," but disagreed with what he characterized as a premature decision to announce another withdrawal before the end of his presidency. On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders has declined to comment so far, and Hillary Clinton, who is campaigning in Texas, has not yet commented. http://abcn.ws/1OxHQAL
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
WHY YOU MAY NEED TO LEARN KOREAN TO FIND OUT IF JOE BIDEN IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. As the time ticks down for Vice President Joe Biden to make up his mind on a possible presidential run in 2016, he took some time to laugh off reporters shouting questions at him Thursday. "Are you running for President?" a reporter yelled at Biden walking out of his residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D., ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN notes. http://abcn.ws/1GflRvI
@maggieNYT: Does Hillary Clinton not have access to the Obama list? http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/15/politics/joe-biden-family-2016-election-decision/index.html ...
@JohnJHarwood: Huckabee on how Wall Street rot led to crash: "didn't produce things. didn't make or manufacture. betting, a casino" http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000432848 ...
@jonward11: DES MOINES - JANUARY 24, 2016 -NEWS BREAK: Biden source says decision likely to come within "next few days"