By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
PRE-BITUARY? With just under three weeks to go until Election Day, President Obama alluded to how difficult a year it's going to be for Democrats, noting that he was struck by how “courageous” several vulnerable members of his party were to cast votes that likely put their “careers at risk.” “There are a lot of folks who took some really tough votes over the last 20 months knowing that it was bad for them politically, who voted for health care reform even though the polls said this would cause them problems in the next election, who voted for financial regulatory reform even though they knew that by supporting it, it would impact big money pouring in and directing negative ads towards them,” the president said during a forum at The George Washington University Tuesday night. "And they did it anyway. And that was risky for them.” ABC’s Sunlen Miller points out that President Obama gave shout-outs to a number of members who are facing tough election fights, including Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va., Rep. John Boccieri, D-Ohio, Betsy Markey, D-Colo. As he has at other events over the last few weeks, the president sought to energize a crowd of young voters — a group that may prove elusive to Democrats in November, according to recent polls. “Hope defeats fear,” Obama said, “and that manifests itself in you guys committing to vote.” http://bit.ly/apBJba
THE DEM’S MESSAGE. The push by top Democrats to make the secret funding sources of outside groups a major talking point heading into the final stretch of the midterms continued on Tuesday. President Obama took up the issue at his event in Washington last night saying: “We don’t know if they are being run by banks, or frustrated by some of our financial positions, we don’t know if they are being funded by foreign corporations, because they are not disclosed,” Obama said. While he acknowledged that third-party groups have “every right under the First Amendment” to run political ads, “I think all of us would agree that it would make a difference if you were watching these ads, that you found out that, well, Americans for Prosperity are actually bankrolled by a bunch of very wealthy special interests that are opposed to legislation that you support.” In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Terry Moran Vice President Joe Biden sounded similar themes, calling out the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as Karl Rove: "Just tell us where the money's coming from," Biden told Moran while campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday. "Why can't the Chamber say, 'These are where the contributions are coming from?' Why can't Karl Rove tell us where the contributions are coming from? Because that's where the base in which people make judgments.” http://bit.ly/9cvVpA
For its part the Chamber of Commerce appears to have no intention of scaling back its election efforts, in fact, just the opposite. In a letter obtained by The New York Times, the Chamber’s president Tom Donohue promised to “ramp up” the group’s political activity and characterized the White House’s effort to demonize his organization as a “smear campaign.” “It’s sad to watch the White House stoop to these depths to try to salvage an election,” Donohue wrote, according to The Times’ Michael D. Shear. “That’s clearly what this is all about. The administration and its Congressional allies are desperately trying to change the subject away from our stalled economy and nearly double-digit unemployment.” http://bit.ly/9cvVpA
NOTED. Several outside conservative groups, including American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which were set up by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, are unveiling a $50 million advertising campaign this week. As the Wall Street Journal reports, it represents “the biggest spending blitz ever by such groups in a congressional election campaign.” The Journal’s Brody Mullins and Danny Yadron report: “The coordinated effort, which the groups have dubbed the ‘House surge strategy,’ tops what the official Republican House election committee expects to spend on television ads for the entire contest. It is aimed at the few dozen competitive races where Democratic candidates have significantly more money in the bank than their Republican opponents, eating into one of the Democrats' last financial advantages.” Other groups that are part of the coalition bankrolling the latest advertising push include former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s American Action Network and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, which is run by GOP campaign strategist Scott Reed. http://bit.ly/bEJHrE
BUCKING THE TREND. In some corners of Democratic politics the uproar coming from senior party officials about how the Chamber of Commerce is paying for its massive election ad campaign is falling on deaf ears. That’s because the Chamber, which has already spent millions on ads boosting Republican Congressional candidates across the country, has also thrown its support behind ten business-friendly Democrats. The Chamber is running issue ads to help Congressional candidates Jim Marshall in Georgia, Frank Kratovil in Maryland, Glenn Nye in Virginia, Travis Childers in Mississippi, Bobby Bright in Alabama, Walt Minnick in Idaho, Mike Ross in Arkansas, Jim Matheson in Utah, John Barrow in Georgia and Dan Boren in Oklahoma, according to Federal Election Commission reports and the watchdog group, Campaign Money Watch. And despite the outcry from President Obama, Vice President Biden, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and other party leaders, none of the Democrats who are the recipients of the Chamber’s largess seem to be complaining. In Georgia, the Chamber recently sponsored an issue ad supportive of Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall, who is running for a fifth term in the House. “We’re very thankful to have the Chamber’s support,” Marshall’s spokesman Doug Moore said in an interview with ABC News. “We were glad to wake up one morning and have someone supporting us and not attacking us.” http://bit.ly/bgKRR3
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein interviews Delaware Senate candidate Chris Coons, who is seen as the favorite against the better-known Republican contender, Christine O’Donnell. Coons and O’Donnell will be facing off in their first nationally televised debate of the general election, which will be broadcast on CNN tonight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. “Top Line” also welcomes The Hill’s politics reporter Shane D’Aprile. Watch LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
MICHELLE ON THE TRAIL. First Lady Michelle Obama heads out on the campaign trail today, making Wisconsin the first stop on her multi-state tour. The First lady will be speaking at a fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, one of the most endangered Democratic Senate candidates this cycle. “You see, more than anything else, I come at this as a mom,” Obama plans to say, according to excerpts of her speech from the White House. “When I think about the issues facing our nation, I think about what it means for my girls, and I think about what it means for the world we’re leaving for them and for all our children. As I travel around this country, and look into the eyes of every single child I meet, I see what’s at stake.” She will also travel to Chicago today to appear at events for Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulis and Reps. Dan Seals, Debbie Halvorson and Bill Foster.
More from her prepared remarks: “As a self-described mom-in-chief, my first priority in the White House has been making sure that my girls are happy and healthy and adjusting to this new life. Like every parent I know, my children are the center of my world. My hopes for their future are at the heart of every single thing I do. And that’s really why I’m here today.” http://politi.co/aheZyo
BIDEN ON THE SWITCH. Remember that theory first offered by Bob Woodward that Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton might switch jobs in 2012? In the vice president’s extended interview with ABC’s Terry Moran yesterday, Biden shot it down: "I have breakfast with Hillary almost every Tuesday mornin' when we're both in the country, and I assure you, she's not interested in switchin', nor am I," he said. "Nor is the president." More from Moran’s travels with Biden: http://bit.ly/9cvVpA
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT. "I think every Californian, and especially women, know exactly what's going on here and that is a deeply offensive term to women," gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said to her opponent, Jerry Brown, at a debate on Tuesday night. Whitman was referring to a recently-released taped phone conversation in which a member of Brown’s staff is heard calling Whitman a “whore.” http://lat.ms/bFW0wO
THE CLINTON FACTOR. The former president seems like he’s everywhere these days. As ABC’s Huma Khan notes, Clinton “is by far the most active and in-demand personality, even in states where candidates are distancing themselves from Obama's agenda. … By ABC estimates, he has attended or will go to more than 30 events, compared to 25 for Biden and Obama.” He’s already been to West Virginia on behalf of Senate candidate Joe Manchin and to Kentucky to stump for Jack Conway this week. His agenda for the rest of the week includes a rally in Albuquerque, N.M. for gubernatorial candidate Diane Denish, an appearance in Santa Ana, Calif. for Rep. Loretta Sanchez as well as rallies for California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is running for Lt. Governor of California. Next week, he plans to campaign for Sen. Patty Murray in Washington State, who is in a tough battle for re-election. http://bit.ly/blWYxy
THE NUMBER: $5.4 million
That’s how much Minnesota Republican Congresswoman — and Tea Party darling — Michele Bachmann raised last quarter. As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes: “That's more than any Minnesota congressional candidate has raised in an entire election — Bachmann took in 3.5 million in 2008. The $5 million boost brings Bachmann's fundraising total this cycle to just about $10 million.” http://bit.ly/cMoU9K
@jonkarl: a timely bit of history … my review of "roosevelt's purge" in today's WSJ. http://bit.ly/c7C1nZ
@damiencave: RFK Jr. endorses Charlie Crist today at event in Deerfield Beach, day after Schwarzenegger. How much does it matter? #flsen
@LarrySabato: What's telling is that Arnold hasn't endorsed Meg Whitman(R) or Jerry Brown(D) in his own state. With his 24% popularity, might not help.
@TBD: D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is resigning. Surprised? http://tbd.ly/aTmO9e
THE PIZZA MAN. In our continuing “Rookies” series, which profiles first-time candidates across the country, ABC’s John R. Parkinson talks to Illinois Congressional candidate Bobby Schilling, a Republican who is running against two-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Phil Hare in the state’s 17th District. Schilling also happens to be the owner of St. Giuseppe's Heavenly Pizza in Moline, Il. "I'm a guy that for the last 14 years I've fired up, from the ground up, my small pizza store, and, you know, worked my fingers to the bone, and, you know, had for the first three or four years really struggled to get by," Schilling told Parkinson, who also notes the candidate’s favorite pizza "Jalapeno Garden" (sausage, onion, tomato, mozzarella and jalapenos). Polls indicate that the race is up for grabs. http://bit.ly/dD7mYc
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