By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
CHALLENGE 2010. This has been a very interesting week for President Obama. He used a combination of small venues in New Mexico, Iowa and Virginia and one rock-em-sock-em rally at the University of Wisconsin to try to recapture the magic of the 2008 campaign — or at least to stop 2010 from being a total wipe-out. Often criticized for his inability to connect with regular folks, Obama eschewed big venues on his four-state swing for some one-on-one time with voters. He got personal in Albuquerque discussing his faith. ABC's Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller who traveled with the president, write this about his Tuesday afternoon event in Des Moines: “The Iowa that Senator Obama knew from the presidential campaign of 2008 seemed long gone. The Iowa that President Obama encountered seemed a bit more critical and questioning.” That "critical and questioning" part is the bigger problem for Obama and his party than whether or not he can get young voters, who turned out in large numbers for him two years ago, energized. There's not much Obama can do between now and November to make them feel better. The question now: Can he can do so by 2012?
HOUSEKEEPER-GATE. We took a little liberty with the headline, but alas, the plot thickens. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” Los Angeles power-lawyer Gloria Allred said she would release a document that she alleges will prove California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant housekeeper. Allred alluded to the letter, which she said was sent by the Social Security Administration to the Whitman household in the tony Northern California suburb of Atherton, in a news conference on Wednesday alongside the family’s former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz. The letter purportedly would have clued Whitman into the fact that her Diaz was in the country illegally. With tears in her eyes, Diaz alleged on Wednesday that she was an overworked, underpaid employee of the Whitman household for nine years who was later fired in an act of political expediency. In a separate interview with Stephanopoulos Whitman offered an “absolute unequivocal denial” of the allegations. “I think someone got to her,” Whitman said of her former housekeeper and nanny. “She’s being manipulated. I don’t know the back-story here. I feel terribly for Nicky. I think she’s in some real trouble here, and I am very sorry for her.” Whitman added that she never received the letter that Allred promised to produce today.
In the “Good Morning America” interview, Whitman also suggested that her opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown, and Allred were in cahoots. “Gloria Allred has been associated with Jerry Brown since the early 80’s, she’s contributed to his campaign, she’s a well known Democrat and Gloria does this just about every election cycle. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a fair amount of coordination here,” Whitman said. Brown responded with his own statement: "Once again, Meg Whitman has shown that she thinks the rules don't apply to her," he said. “From the start, Meg Whitman has failed to tell Californians the truth." Team Allred has managed to stretch this saga out for a second day, and deepening on the evidence she produces — and Whitman’s response — it remains to be seen how much of a dent this will make in Whitman’s campaign or how much this story line will resonate with voters in the Golden State. Stay tuned.
WRITE-IN, WRITE OFF. Defeated Delaware GOP Senate contender Rep. Mike Castle announced last night that he would not pursue a write-in bid against fellow Republican Christine O’Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons. "While I would have been honored to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate, I do not believe that seeking office in this manner is in the best interest of all Delawareans," Castle said in a statement. "Therefore, it's time for Jane and me to begin thinking about the next chapter of our lives." So, Castle won’t go the way of Sen. Lisa Murkowksi in Alaska even though the Alaska Republican’s write-in effort appears to be gaining some steam. A CNN poll put GOP nominee Joe Miller’s support at 38 percent, followed by 36 percent for Murkowski and 22 percent for Democrat Scott McAdams among the state’s likely voters. But is that really a sign of momentum for the incumbent senator? The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes that poll questions can’t fully capture the nature of a write-in candidacy because they tend to treat write-in candidates the same as candidates whose names actually appear on the ballot. Will voters really end up writing out Murkowski’s name when they are staring at a blank ballot line on Election Day? "These polls are clearly flawed," Alaska Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins told Cillizza. "The electoral situation is very dynamic right now."
SHOWDOWN IN RHODE ISLAND. ABC’s look at top governor’s races around the country continues today with a window on the race in Rhode Island where independent candidate Lincoln Chafee is locked in an extremely tight battle with Democrat Frank Caprio. ABC’s Huma Khan reports: “Even as Tea Party fervor spreads across the country, one former Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee, is looking to revitalize centrism and make history in his home state of Rhode Island by becoming the first independent governor in the state's history. If history is any guide, Chafee faces a tough road. Rhode Island has never elected a governor running on the Independent ticket. Even though the state is overwhelmingly blue, only one of the last four governors has been a Democrat. … What Chafee has going for him is a strong base of support and the backing of a family that has a long history in Rhode Island politics. Chafee's father, John, a Republican, served both as governor and U.S. senator. Chafee may be somewhat of a Republican refugee but he served more than seven years in the Senate and left with an approval rating of 63 percent, especially high for a losing incumbent. He's also separated himself from the pack with an unusual stance – raise taxes.”
PRESIDENTIAL PLANNER. President Obama is back in Washington today after a multi-state swing. ABC’s Sunlen Miller notes that the president will meet today with Treasury Tim Geithner, and later, with Democratic congressional leaders in the Oval Office. At night, the president heads to two fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee — a dinner at a private residence in Washington, D.C., and a Gen44 event at DAR Constitution Hall.
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein chat with Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, a Republican leader in the House and a founding member of the GOP’s “Young Guns.” Also on the show, Kara Rowland of the Washington Times. Watch LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.
BOEHNER’S VISION: The House Republican Leader will be at the American Enterprise Institute today to deliver what one close adviser said amounts to “his personal vision of how we need to reform Congress to restore trust in ‘the people’s House.’” Boehner plans to say: “Reform should be an ongoing and inclusive effort. I don't have all the answers, and wouldn't pretend to. I welcome ideas and helping hands from any lawmaker, expert, or citizen about how we can make this institution function again.” He will highlight what he sees as the failure of Democratic leaders and argue that the Congressional session is not “concluding,” it is “collapsing.”
GOTV, PALIN STYLE. Sarah Palin will headline a pair of Victory 2010 fundraising rallies in October — one in Anaheim, Calif. on Oct. 16 and the other in Orlando, Florida on Oct. 23 Politico’s Mike Allen reports today. Palin will be joined by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, CNN reports: “According to a copy of the invitation acquired by CNN, contributions for the events range from $25 per person to attend one of the rallies to $30,400 per couple for a private meeting and reception with Palin and party leaders.”
NASTY IN NEW YORK. New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino “had to be separated from a reporter during an angry confrontation over allegation's regarding his Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo,” NY1 reports. The confrontation occurred between Paladino and New York Post editor Fred Dicker, who was covering a New York State Business Council meeting where Paladino was speaking. More from NY1’s report: “The confrontation started after Dicker asked Paladino to provide proof for Paladino's claim that his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo, had extramarital affairs 10 years ago. That's when Paladino attacked Dicker, accusing him of sending a photographer to follow around Paladino's 10-year-old daughter, whom Paladino has admitted to fathering out of wedlock. At one point, Paladino can be heard telling Dicker ‘I'll take you out.’” WATCH video of the scuffle.
THE NUMBER: 3
The number of polls that show Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio ahead of his opponents, Gov. Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek, by double digits in Florida. A Quinnipiac University poll out today shows Rubio ahead of Crist by 13 points. Rubio clocked in at 46 percent, followed by Crist, the independent, at 33 percent and Meek, the Democrat, far behind with 18 percent. A CNN/Time Magazine poll as well as a Rasmussen poll, both released on Wednesday, show Rubio out in front of Crist by 11 points.
@jeffzeleny: Is President Obama's purity on outside money playing a role in major spending advantage from GOP groups? http://nyti.ms/bDU4ox
@jdickerson: New CEA Chair Austan Goolsbee takes to the white board….attack of the big red eggs, http://bit.ly/ct912C
@davidfrum: My column: Who was James O'Keefe really punking? http://bit.ly/cANRBA
@DavidMDrucker: GOP Sens. Coburn (OK) & McCain (AZ) transfer $1 mil each 2 NRSC; Cornyn looks 4 more:http://www.rollcall.com/issues/56_33/news/50390-1.html
@evanmc_s: Rudy Giuliani tells me he doesn't "know yet" if he's voting for Carl Paladino http://tpm.ly/bFJdvT
‘MAMA GRIZZLIES’ MEET. Via Politics’ Daily’s Matt Lewis, the Web site Smart Girl Politics is organizing a two-day “Smart Girl Summit” geared toward conservative women that begins today in Crystal City, Virginia. Among the conservative rock stars that will speak at the event: Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., Liz Cheney, radio personality Tammy Bruce and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington State. Smart Girl's spokeswoman Rebecca Wales tells Lewis: “We aim to inspire activists for the next 30 days leading up to the midterms, and engage them to keep up the fight into 2012. Women are leaders in the conservative movement, the ‘mama grizzlies’ who are the organizers with their heels on the ground and the need is high for training and networking is in high demand. Smart Girl Politics will continue to fill that need.”
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