Washington (CNN) – Bad timing: Carl Paladino's critical comments about gays couldn't have come at a worse time for him and other Republicans. Paladino is down double-digits to his Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor's race, but beyond his own race why is this important? With 22 days to go until Election Day, GOP candidates in the Empire State and across the country would prefer to be talking about other things such as their plan to revive the economy – not Paladino's remarks.
"It is not good for the cause," said a senior Republican Party strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There are Republican candidates running for other offices in that state who are not going to want to have to answer questions about Carl Paladino instead of going on the offense about jobs and the economy."
Paladino spent the day trying to clarify the incendiary comments, but the story is not going away anytime soon. The New York tabloids – the Daily News and New York Post - as well as his hometown newspaper the Buffalo News have the story prominently displayed on their respective Web sites.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released in August shows that the nation is split on the issue of whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marriage: 49 percent say yes while 51 percent say no.
Not great news for GOP, but worse for Democrats. Election Day is closing fast and a new CNN Opinion Research Corp. poll, released a few hours ago, shows that only 31 percent of Americans approve of how Republicans are handling their jobs, 3 points less than how they think Democrats are performing. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3 points - meaning that the two parties are statistically tied on this question.
So, why is this important and are Democrats on firmer footing heading into the midterm elections? Not necessarily. Democrats are prepared to suffer big losses on November 2 and their goal is to build a firewall that allows them to hold onto control of the House and the Senate. But Democrats face a tough challenge – take a look at how voters view Republicans and Democrats on the key issues, especially the economy.
Put this on your radar
• President Obama is at the Coral Gables, Florida, home of basketball great Alonzo Mourning raising funds for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – helping to raise as much money as possible to help Democrats construct their Election Day firewall.
• Tea Party-backed Republican Rand Paul squares off against Democrat Jack Conway in a Senate debate at Northern Kentucky University.
• President Obama holds a Democratic National Committee town hall meeting at George Washington University, continuing to try to fire up young voters, which Democrats think are key to them holding on to control of Congress. Vice President Biden makes a stop in Iowa for Rep. Leonard Boswell and then jumps over to Illinois for an event for Gov. Pat Quinn. Obama and Biden will be spending more time on the campaign trail in the closing weeks.
• Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown face off in a gubernatorial debate at Dominican University in San Rafael in Northern California. Less than a week after a Brown aide was overheard calling Whitman a "whore," will it be civil?
• Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal meet in a debate that will take place in New London. Will former wrestling executive McMahon try to put the sleeper hold on Blumenthal – polling shows she needs to make up ground.