The Invisible President

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WHERE'S POTUS? With just three weeks to go until the midterm elections and control of the Senate hanging in the balance, candidates are scrambling toward the finish line, but one key figure has been largely absent: the Campaigner-in-Chief, ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. The president has appeared at zero public campaign events this cycle, opting instead to tap into his fundraising prowess to boost democratic candidates behind closed-doors. Obama's absence on the trail underscores how the president has become a political liability for many candidates. With his approval rating down in the dumps, a personal visit from Obama would likely hurt rather than help his party's cause in the hotly contested states. It's not unheard of for the president to be scare in the run-up to the midterms. President George W. Bush headlined 15 rallies in 2006, but they were all in the final weeks, according to Brendan Doherty, professor of political science at the US Naval Academy and author of "The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign."
  • WORD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: "On Wednesday, October 15, the President will travel to Bridgeport, Connecticut for a campaign rally with Connecticut Democrats featuring Governor Dan Malloy."
  • ANALYSIS FROM ABC's RICK KLEIN: As President Obama prepares for his first public campaign rally on behalf of an actual candidate this year, on Wednesday in Connecticut, two other states are emerging as intriguing questions regarding presidential involvement. Iowa and Colorado represented both the spirit and the reality of the Obama surge. Iowa made plausible his presidential rise, and he stood a mile high in Colorado to accept the Democratic nomination in 2008. He carried both states in the general election, twice. If he's not welcome in those states, it's a statement not just on the president's eroded standing, but on the shifting politics in Iowa, Colorado, and states like them; pencil them in as first-line battlegrounds for 2016. Iowa may be the more attractive campaign choice from the White House - assuming, of course, the president is coached on how to pronounce the Democratic candidate's last name.


-KENTUCKY: DEBATE NIGHT IN CLOSEST WATCHED RACE IN THE NATION. Tonight is the first debate in the Kentucky Senate race and likely the only time we will see Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes face off. And we are pretty sure we know at least one question Grimes will get tonight. Over the weekend the Kentucky secretary of state was asked again if she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 and again she gave an awkward answer, refusing to answer, as she did to the Louisville Courier Journal editorial board last week. "I believe that all Kentuckians understand the sanctity of the ballot box. It's not about who I voted for two years ago or back in '08. It's about what I will vote for when we go to Washington, D.C," Grimes told ABC News affiliate WKBO. Wouldn't it be less awkward to just say she did and regrets it? We'll likely find out tonight. WATCH: - Shushannah Walshe

-TEXAS: WHEELCHAIR POLITICS - Wendy Davis will hold a news conference this morning to push back on criticism for her ad characterizing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott as a hypocrite. The ad, which features an image of an empty wheelchair in its opening shot, says Abbott, who was paralyzed after a tree fell on him while he was running 30 years ago, argued against victims in cases in his role as attorney general. This morning, the Abbott team released a web video compiling various news clips that criticized the ad. WATCH: - Arlette Saenz

-ARKANSAS: DEBATE DAY ADS - Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton are out with dueling ads today as the two Senate candidates are set to face off in their first debate this afternoon. Pryor's ad, titled "Questions," features voters posing questions about Cotton's voting record. WATCH: Cotton's ad highlights his experience as an Army Ranger in Iraq, saying it has prepared him to deal with issues like the threat posed by ISIS. WATCH: - Arlette Saenz


DEMPSEY: 'CHALLENGING TASK' AGAINST ISIS WITHOUT SUNNI SUPPORT FOR IRAQ GOVERNMENT. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said yesterday that the fight against ISIS would remain a "very challenging task" until the Iraqi government is able to win over the substantial Sunni population living between the capital cities of Iraq and Syria, ABC's BENJAMIN BELL reports. "The government of Iraq, which is moving but has not yet achieved a narrative that would cause the 20 million Sunnis who live between Damascus and Baghdad to believe that their future is with the government of Iraq, in the case of Iraqis, and certainly the Syrian regime is not reaching out to the Sunni population in Syria," Dempsey told ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ for "This Week." "Until those facts change, this is going to be a very challenging task. In other words, until ISIL [ISIS] doesn't have, you know, freedom of movement in and among the populations of Al Anbar Province and Nineveh Province, and in Eastern Syria, this is going to be a challenge," Dempsey said of ISIS, the extremist Islamist group also referred to as ISIL or the Islamic State.

KRUGMAN: OBAMA A MORE 'CONSEQUENTIAL' POTUS THAN CLINTON. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman told ABC News that President Obama has made more lasting changes to the country while in office than the last Democrat in office, President Bill Clinton, notes ABC's JESSICA PUCKETT. "Bill Clinton is an incredibly gifted politician," Krugman told ABC's JONATHAN KARL. "But, in fact, Bill Clinton was not a consequential president. And Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, is a consequential president." Krugman's comments follow a new cover story he wrote for Rolling Stone, in which he calls Obama one of the most "successful" presidents in American history. His defense of the president comes as a surprise because Krugman has previously been a harsh critic of Obama. In 2009, Krugman was featured in a Newsweek cover story titled "Obama is Wrong: The Loyal Opposition of Paul Krugman," which identified him as the leading liberal voice against the president.

JULIAN CASTRO TAKES THE REINS AT HUD: ABC's JIM AVILA spoke with rising Democratic star Julián Castro about his new role as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and his own political future. WATCH:


FROM THE DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: "The DSCC had its best September in the history of the committee, raising a whopping $16 million and outraising the NRSC by more than half a million. The DSCC has now raised $127.1 million for the cycle, a staggering $29 million more than the NRSC. In September the DSCC spent heavily on multi-million dollar ad buys in key states across the country and continued to build and expand investments in the Bannock Street Project, yet still ended the month with $14.2 million on hand and ZERO in operations debt."


@newtgingrich: Excited that Ellis the Elephant is back for a new adventure! Great job on From Sea to Shining Sea, @CallyGingrich!

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@BuzzFeedAndrew: AZ Democratic governors candidate Fred Duval had his driver's license suspended this year for tickets. Still drove. …

@jamiedupree: Vice President Biden & his wife are in Florida today to stump for Democrat Charlie Crist in his bid for Governor