The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
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CNN: Democrats gird for final push
Democrats are heading into the weeks leading up to Election Day with a final push of ads, strategy and spin. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sources say they are up with ads in 36 districts. The sources said that Democrats are "heavily reserved" in air time, which could mean spending almost $50 million on advertising. Expect this to be a nasty-and personal-campaign, as Democrats try to make this a district-by-district election while the GOP continues to nationalize it.
CNN: Connecticut Senate debate focuses on economy, taxes
Economic issues dominated Monday night's Connecticut Senate debate between Democratic nominee and state attorney Richard Blumenthal and Republican nominee Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. The candidates butted heads over taxes, job creation and spending. Blumenthal accused McMahon wanting to "lower the minimum wage," an attack he has used in campaign ads. "That's a lie." McMahon said in rebuttal, a phrase she reiterated several times as Blumenthal returned to the subject.
CNN: Candidate's secret tape recording 'for my own protection'
Nevada Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian says he taped his meeting with Sharron Angle "for my own protection. "The recording of the meeting is at the center of a new controversy for Republican Senate nominee in Nevada who is in a heated contest with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Ashjian is a third party candidate trailing in the polls.
CNN: New skirmish in Murkowski-Tea Party Express feud
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska says a new commercial by the Tea Party Express that targets her as a sore loser whose sole goal is to keep her Senate seat is full of "lies," and she's urging television stations in her state not to run the ad. Tea Party Express announced Monday that they are in the process of buying ad time in Alaska and hope to start running the 60 second commercial as early as next week.
CNN: Former lawmakers to Congress: play nice
In the midst of a bitter and brutal election season, bipartisanship among candidates for Congress is highly unlikely. But that is exactly what a bipartisan group of more than 130 former lawmakers are asking for in a letter sent to all Senate and House members running for reelection and their opponents. In the letter, the former members of Congress acknowledge the advantages of partisanship, but say members of the opposing party are not "the enemy."
CQ Politics: GOP Eyes Potential Defectors
House Republicans are already examining which Democrats might want to switch parties after Nov. 2 and are mapping out a strategy for how to persuade them to make the leap. Republican aides and lobbyists said there are a handful of Democratic Members whom GOP leaders plan to target, with Member-to-Member conversations beginning immediately after the midterm elections. Incentives for switching sides could include a leadership-level position or seat on a powerful committee such as Appropriations or Ways and Means.
Wall Street Journal: In Democratic State, GOP Ties Ascent to Ex-NBA Player Vying for Governor
Oregon's Fifth District is the only congressional district in this very blue state even close to enjoying "swing" status. Although it has been in Democratic hands since 1996, the Fifth voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and includes enough rural farmland, timberland and blue-collar Portland suburbs to be closely contested by Republicans in recent election cycles. With the seat now held by a freshman Democrat, Republicans see snatching the district as essential to their goal of achieving a House majority.
Los Angeles Times: Health Insurers Pour Money into GOP Campaigns, Hoping to Limit New Regulations
The insurance industry is pouring money into Republican campaign coffers in hopes of scaling back wide-ranging regulations in the new healthcare law but preserving the mandate that Americans buy coverage. Since January, the nation's five largest insurers and the industry's Washington-based lobbying arm have given three times more money to Republican lawmakers and political action committees than to Democratic politicians and organizations.
CNN: Mondale to Obama: ditch the 'idiot boards'
Walter Mondale, vice president during the Carter administration, has some advice for President Obama if he wants to win a second term: drop the teleprompter. "He's got to connect with the American people," Mondale said, in an interview with CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. "The American people have to feel that the president senses the suffering they're going through and wants to be a part of the solution."
USA Today: Three Iowa judges may face voters' retaliation
Three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of a unanimous decision last year to allow same-sex marriage may pay the price next month as voters decide whether to keep them on the bench. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released Monday shows that 44% of Iowans who plan to vote in the retention election say they will vote "yes" to all three justices; 40% say they will vote to remove all three; and 16% say they want to retain some.
CNN: Rouse in the house: Filling Rahm's shoes
What is a day at the Obama White House without the larger than life personality of former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel? "I thought it would feel or look a lot different," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "I don't know why I thought that. It didn't, honestly," he added. Emanuel stepped down last week to explore a run for Mayor of Chicago. Monday marked the first time in the Obama administration where someone other than Emanuel guided the senior staff meetings and 'started off' the President's day.
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CNN: Times Square bomb plotter to be sentenced
Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Pakistani-American suspect in the Times Square bombing plot, is expected to be sentenced Tuesday. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life in prison for Shahzad. … Shahzad is accused of attempting to set off a vehicle bomb in Times Square on May 1, according to documents filed in federal court Wednesday. The bomb failed to detonate and he was arrested two days later while trying to leave the country on a flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Pakistan.
Los Angeles Times: U.S. counter-terrorism agents still hamstrung by data-sharing failures
Counter-terrorism analysts still lack the data-search tools that might have kept a bomb-wearing Al Qaeda operative from boarding a Detroit-bound airliner nine months ago, and probably won't have them any time soon, U.S. officials acknowledge. At the same time, officials say the terrorist threat against the U.S. is becoming more complex, with a greater risk from home-grown militants whose low profiles make sophisticated intelligence analysis more important than ever.
Washington Post: Families are trimming plans to pay for college, survey finds
American families are scaling back plans to pay for their children's college education as the stunted economic recovery continues to weigh on household budgets, according to a survey to be released Tuesday that was commissioned by college lender Sallie Mae. The study, which was conducted by Gallup, found that the percentage of families who planned to make little or no contribution to tuition increased, while the percentage who expected to cover more than half of expenses decreased.
New York Times: Plan to Expand Rail Service Imperiled at State Level
Republicans running for governor in a handful of states could block, or significantly delay, one of President Obama’s signature initiatives: his plan to expand the passenger rail system and to develop the nation’s first bullet-train service. In his State of the Union address this year, the president called for building high-speed rail, and backed up his words with $8 billion in stimulus money, distributed to various states, for rail projects. But Republican candidates for governor in some of the states that won the biggest stimulus rail awards are reaching for the emergency brake.
Chicago Tribune: The downside of awareness campaigns
As predictably as the leaves turn yellow in autumn, America turns pink each October with the arrival of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From shopping malls to football stadiums, the campaign's signature pink ribbons seem to be everywhere. Yet some experts are questioning whether this awareness campaign is truly helping women with breast cancer. The stark reality is that in the 26 years since the campaign began, deaths from breast cancer have dropped only slightly — about 2% per year, starting in 1990.
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CNN: Iraqi oil reserves estimated at 143B barrels
Iraq's estimated oil reserves have grown by nearly 25 percent, the oil ministry announced Monday. "Iraq's oil reserves which are extractable are 143.1 billion barrels," said Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq's oil minister, based on data provided by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The OPEC figures are about 28 billion barrels higher than previous estimates.
New York Times: U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels
With insurgents increasingly attacking the American fuel supply convoys that lumber across the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, the military is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable energy to decrease its need to transport fossil fuels. Last week, a Marine company from California arrived in the rugged outback of Helmand Province bearing novel equipment: portable solar panels that fold up into boxes; energy-conserving lights; solar tent shields that provide shade and electricity; solar chargers for computers and communications equipment.
CNN: China's and Japan's leaders meet, signal a diplomatic thaw
China's and Japan's top leaders met in Belgium, indicating a thaw in relations since a diplomatic battle broke out last month over Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing captain off the disputed Diaoyu Islands. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan met Monday in Brussels, on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting.
CNN: As rescue drill nears, miners in Chile still have long way to go
With 160 meters to go until the Plan B drill reaches 33 trapped miners, a breakthrough to the men may be imminent. Then what?At Camp Hope, the makeshift tent city where hundreds of family members are living, widespread celebrations will likely break out as the miners' loved ones receive news they have waited for more than 60 days to hear.But despite any euphoria, the rescue operation will be entering its most dangerous phase for the men.
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CNN Money: Bernanke flies with deficit hawks
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned Monday that the United States faces serious long-term fiscal challenges that could threaten the nation's economic future. In prepared remarks from a speech to policy analysts in Rhode Island, the central bank chief said the U.S. budget deficit should narrow over the next few years as the financial markets improve. But he said policymakers will need to make some difficult choices now to put the nation back on a path toward long-term fiscal sustainability.
In Case You Missed It
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Tom Foreman separates fact from fiction in the Connecticut campaign ads of Linda McMahon and Richard Blumenthal.
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