By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
NEGATIVE 95,000. Employers reduced their payrolls by 95,000 employees during the month of September — more than had been forecast — while the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.6 percent, according to the latest jobs numbers out this morning. With just three weeks to go before the midterms, the numbers could be a huge momentum killer for Democrats. Republican were quick to weigh in. “Seventeen consecutive months with higher than 9% unemployment represent the final verdict on the failed economic policies of this White House and the Democrat Congress as voters head to the polls,” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. “President Obama and his left wing allies on Capitol Hill have spent trillions of taxpayer dollars with nothing to show for it but a mountain of crippling debt and chronic joblessness.” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions chimed in with this: “This report is not only the final affirmation of the failed job-killing policies of Washington Democrats, but it frames the national political debate from now until Election Day. There is now no doubt that this election will be a referendum on the Obama-Pelosi agenda.” But, the struggling economy isn't the only reason why Democrats across the country have taken a beating in the polls. Their decision to make issues like health care reform and cap and trade top priorities were major factors as well. Just one example: dozens of the latest ads currently running in key House races mention "Obama-care." http://bit.ly/dztLvN
NOTED: Making corporate America the boogeyman has been a key Democratic talking point this cycle. The President took it a step further yesterday at a rally in Maryland when he accused the Chamber of Commerce (albeit indirectly) of using foreign money to influence U.S. elections. “Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations,” Obama told the crowd. “So this isn’t just a threat to Democrats. All Republicans should be concerned. Independents should be concerned. This is a threat to our democracy. The American people deserve to know who’s trying to sway their elections.” But, while Americans say they hate the amount of influence special interests have in electoral politics, it's rarely — if ever — a deciding factor in their vote. In this "pox on both your houses" kind of environment, no candidate or party has the moral high-ground.
COUNTER-NARRATIVE. House Republican Leader John Boehner is in West Chester, Ohio today where he will deliver a campaign speech at a small manufacturing company. Here’s a preview: “Elected officials with no understanding of how our economy works spent money with reckless abandon, running up the deficit and telling us we could pay for it all by raising taxes. It was clear they believed the engine of prosperity in America is government itself. The thinking went like this: if you want more jobs, then spend more money. Collect more taxes, and redistribute them from the federal level. Make government bigger. If you've been paying any attention at all to the Obama Administration, this thinking may sound familiar. … Americans have been crystal clear about what they want: more jobs, less spending, and a more open Congress that respects and abides by the Constitution. If those things are going to happen, then we need a new majority in Congress that will stand up to President Barack Obama and insist that he start listening to the people. … Ladies and gentlemen, your government hasn’t been listening. Your government is disrespecting you, your family, your job, your children. Your government is out of control. Do you have to accept it? Do you have to take it? Of course you don’t. That’s what elections are for." http://bit.ly/ag1Dmn
VICE SQUAD. Vice President Joe Biden attends a fundraiser this morning for Democratic House candidate Denny Heck in Seattle, Washington. Heck is running against Republican Jaime Herrera in a highly competitive open seat race to replace outgoing Rep. Brian Baird, D-WA. Later, the vice president will headline a rally for Sen. Patty Murray in Tacoma. Murray, who is seeking a fourth term in the U.S. Senate is locked in a tight race with Republican opponent Dino Rossi. (President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama are also scheduled to stump for Murray between now and Election Day.) As Politico’s Carol E. Lee recently noted, Biden “continues to be an asset in places where Obama might be a detriment” and Democratic Party strategists acknowledge that the Veep has been a tireless campaigner this election season. By Lee’s count in the last three weeks alone, “the vice president has campaigned for 18 candidates in 23 cities in 16 states. He’s been on the road doing campaign events four days a week since mid-September, and he’s committed to at least 18 more events during the 3½ weeks before Election Day.” http://politi.co/db5Tbz
PREDICTION GAMES. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. But it’s still fun. We’ll bring you some of the most interesting political prognosticating between now and November. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got into the action in an appearance on Fox News last night. Here’s what he’s seeing in his crystal ball: "I'm going to be a little bit more optimistic I think this tide is just continuing to build,” he said. “I think the 10.1 percent unemployment number by Gallup is going to be devastating. I think that food stamps-versus-paychecks is very powerful. So I'm going to predict that we are probably going to be over 60 seat pick up and it will be historic. It will be the largest pick up since 1932."
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter talk to Indiana Congressman Brad Ellsworth, followed by Kate Zernike of The New York Times. Watch LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
WHITMAN WARS. Still embroiled in an ongoing controversy about California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s former housekeeper, Whitman and her opponent, Democrat Jerry Brown traded fresh jabs Thursday night. These had nothing to do with household help, but rather offensive statements Brown made on a voice mail message. As ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf notes, “California Attorney Jerry Brown left a message in early September for a union official whose endorsement he was seeking, but apparently forgot to end the call because his ensuring lively discussion with staffers is caught on tape. And Brown uses the word “whore” in connection with Meg Whitman several times. The recording, obtained by the Los Angeles Times from the Los Angeles police union, is scratchy and hard to hear. But the word 'whore'is definitely thrown around several times at the notion of Whitman making a special deal with union officials to protect their pensions.”
Brown’s camp responded last night: "At times our language was salty. We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended,” Brown’s campaign manager Steven Glazer said in a statement.
Whitman’s camp was having none of it: “The use of the term 'whore' is an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California. This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman. At the very least Mr. Brown tacitly approved this despicable slur and he himself may have used the term at least once on this recording,” said Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei.
AGAIN, ANGLE. Nevada Senate Candidate Sharron Angle has waded into controversy once again. According to a dispatch from the Associated Press, Angle recently told voters that America needs to deal with a “militant terrorist situation” and the encroaching danger of Islamic religious law. From the AP: “Her comments came at a rally of tea party supporters in the Nevada resort town of Mesquite last week after the candidate was asked about Muslims angling to take over the country … In a recording of the rally provided to The Associated Press by the Mesquite Local News, a man is heard asking Angle : ‘I keep hearing about Muslims wanting to take over the United States … on a TV program just last night, I saw that they are taking over a city in Michigan and the residents of the city, they want them out. They want them out. So, I want to hear your thoughts about that.’ Angle responds that ‘we're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe it isn't a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it.’” http://bit.ly/cQzWnw
NOTED: Nevada’s State Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio — a Republican — endorsed Angle’s opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday. Raggio, who has had a history of bad blood with Angle, called her “ineffective” as a state legislator. http://bit.ly/dlmz25
NAVAJO RESCUE? ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports on how in at least one Arizona House race, the Navajo vote could prove decisive: “For Arizona Democrat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who was born and raised on an Apache Indian reservation east of Phoenix, the key to re-election may lie with her roots. Kirkpatrick's district, the vast rural northeastern quadrant of Arizona, is home to the largest Native American population of any congressional district in the country. One-in-five voters is Native American, with most hailing from the Navajo Nation. While the Native American vote rarely receives attention in state or national elections, it could be a decisive factor in Kirkpatrick's race and other key battlegrounds this year. … Kirkpatrick, a one-term incumbent, appears neck-and-neck if not slightly behind her Republican challenger, dentist Paul Gosar, according to several polls. But her campaign has said that the Navajo vote is one reason they're fiercely optimistic.” http://bit.ly/aJNlVL
@LarrySabato: Year of the Independent? Think again. With Lincoln Chafee's decline in RI, the last reasonable shot for an I victory for Governor disappears
@jmartpolitico: In TX, Perry is the favorite – but hasn't yet closed deal.http://politi.co/bGT6ce
@HotlineJeremy: The DGA raise $10M in Q3, a record for them. They have more to spend in Oct. than they did in all of '06.
FACING TRIAL. ABC’s John R. Parkinson reports: “When the House of Representatives returns to Washington for a lame duck session after the Nov. 2 congressional midterm elections, one of the first orders of business will be settling the alleged ethics violations of embattled Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). Rangel, a 20-term lawmaker from Harlem, will face the ethics committee first in a proceeding formally called an adjudicatory hearing, on November 15, the first day the House is expected back in session after the elections. Waters, who is seeking her 11th term this fall, is set to begin her hearing November 29, the chairwoman of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced” on Thursday. Here’s how it will go, according to Parkinson: “During these hearings, Rangel and Waters will be permitted to appear before the committee to defend themselves. Members of the adjudicatory subcommittees that separately investigated each lawmaker will then vote whether Rangel and Waters are guilty of their respective charges.” http://bit.ly/am2CLm
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