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: Campaign swing takes Obama to West Coast
President Obama will wake up in Seattle on Thursday amid a four-day, multi-state tour aimed at propping up embattled Senate incumbents in Washington, California and Nevada. Obama will hold a rally and fundraiser with Sen. Patty Murray, who is fighting for her political life against Republican Dino Rossi. The president also will hold a backyard economic event focused on women, a not-so-subtle appeal to ensure Murray's voters come home.
CNN: Democrats prepare for the worst
It has been said over and over again: The 2010 midterms is the anti-incumbent, anti-Washington and by virtue of their position in power, the anti-Democratic election. A sputtering economy, 9.6 percent national unemployment rate, housing crisis and little hope for a quick turnaround on the jobs front has forced Democrats on the defense heading into November. OK, that is an understatement. Democrats are under siege all across the country and are in deep danger of losing control of the House and if a massive wave develops on November 2, perhaps even the Senate.
CNN: NAACP goes after Tea Party again
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a new study Wednesday that claims to tie members of the Tea Party to white supremacist groups, anti-immigration organizations, anti-semitic groups and independent militias. The study, conducted by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights analyzed the membership of six Tea Party organizations in the country. According to the NAACP, five of the six Tea Party groups are headed by "birthers," people who believe President Obama is not a citizen of the United States.
CNN: Murkowski: 'Consensus should not be a dirty word.'
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said officials have to be "more realistic" in their approach to problem solving in Washington, and that "consensus should not be a dirty word." In an interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Murkowski said, "I think what is important is how you achieve the ends here. When we're talking about reducing spending, lets not deceive people into thinking if you eliminate ear marks all of a sudden we will not be operating out of deficit."
Anchorage Daily News: Forty Republican leaders urge Miller to answer questions
Forty Alaska Republicans have signed an open letter to Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, urging him to start answering questions from the media and voters about his background and qualifications to serve. "It is unacceptable - and certainly not a winning strategy - to explicitly refuse to answer reasonable questions about oneself, and to disrespect the Alaska public and the press' right to do so before the questions have even been asked," said the letter, made public Wednesday.
CNN: Trail Running: Conway: 'Aquabuddha ad' will 'run its course'
Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway said his controversial campaign spot, dubbed by political observers as the 'aquabuddha ad,' won't be on the airwaves much longer. "The ad will run its course and we'll be talking about a lot of different issues," Conway confirmed to CNN. In an interview with CNN at a campaign stop in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Conway said he personally approved the ad targeting his Republican opponent Rand Paul. "I think he has to answer the questions," Conway said.
CNN: Paul's wife blasts Conway over 'smear' ad
Rand Paul's wife made a rare public speaking appearance Wednesday to blast Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Jack Conway for raising questions about Paul's faith in a controversial television ad still on the airwaves. "I am truly shocked by Conway's ads questioning Rand's faith based on nothing more than anonymous accusations from nearly three decades ago," Kelley Paul told reporters, referencing Conway's now infamous "Aqua Buddha" ad, which claims that Paul mocked religion while in college.
CNN: Biden blasts Angle: 'shame on her'
In a stump speech for vulnerable Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, Vice President Biden credited him with the "successes" of the past two years and called Reid's Republican opponent, Sharron Angle "extreme." "The alternative to Harry Reid is extreme, is extreme" Biden said. "When you start to compare our vision, Harry's vision with the lack of vision in the alternative, the choice is quickly abundantly clear."
Politico: Hispanics don't see Democrats' funding
The Democratic National Committee says it is pouring more money into Latino voter outreach than during any previous midterm elections — but don’t tell that to leading Hispanic organizers in battleground states, who say they’re seeing little evidence of it. Organizers expected a dip in activity from two years ago, when the DNC and President Barack Obama’s campaign invested an unprecedented $20 million targeting Hispanic turnout. But the major groups running campaigns in states with large Latino populations say the drop-off has been startling, reinforcing an impression that Democrats, after failing to pass an immigration reform bill, continue to take this fastest-growing voting bloc for granted.
The Hill: Schumer cutting monster checks to help out fellow Senate Democrats
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has gone on a late-season spending spree to help Democratic candidates. A new campaign finance report shows Schumer cut two checks to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) worth $1 million each in September. He has also poured money from his campaign account into state parties around the country. Friends of Schumer gave $250,000 to the Nevada State Democratic Party on Sept. 7, a crucial boost to embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
New York Times: This Donation Cycle Catches G.O.P. in the Upswing
Out in the districts where Democratic members of Congress are enduring an unrelenting avalanche of attack ads from well-financed conservative groups, some of the party’s strategists are now warning of a permanent change in the landscape. Looking beyond next month’s elections, the fear among some influential Democrats is that Republicans now enjoy a structural advantage that will continue to prove overwhelming unless Democrats move quickly to build what one operative describes as a “soft-money Death Star” of their own.
CNN: Florida candidates give and take during debate
Florida gubernatorial candidates Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott did not shy away from personal attacks or sharp-tongued remarks during Wednesday's debate. Scott, a former businessman, attempted to capitalize on the election season's anti-incumbent fever when he referred to Sink, the state's chief financial officer, as a "Tallahassee insider." Sink returned fire when she referred Scott, a billionaire health executive, as a "corporate raider," and questioned his business dealings.
CNN: Wilson blasts Cheney as 'traitor'
Former CIA covert operations officer Valerie Plame, whose identity was revealed during a 2003 scandal regarding intelligence gathering prior to the Iraq war, and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, are speaking out about what happened in the aftermath of the incident. In an interview with CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room, while promoting their new movie about their ordeal, "Fair Game," Wilson called Vice President Dick Cheney a "traitor" and claimed Cheney "betrayed the national security of our country" for being involved in leaking Plame's covert identity.
CNN: Obama to visit India, but not Pakistan, on Asian trip
President Barack Obama told visiting Pakistani officials Wednesday that he won't be going to their country next month on a trip to Asia that includes a stop in neighboring India. A White House statement said Obama met with the Pakistani delegation attending this week's U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue to discuss how to further strengthen relations between the countries. "The President explained that he would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and committed to visiting Pakistan in 2011, as well as welcoming (Pakistani) President (Asif Ali) Zardari to Washington," the statement said.
Cincinnati Enquirer: CPS denies it violated law in busing students to vote
The sides agree that partisan politicking involving Cincinnati Public School students shouldn't occur on school time, but they disagree if that really happened. …Mark Stepaniak, an attorney representing CPS, admits students were taken on school time in donated church vans to vote last week and were given sample ballots listing only Democrat candidates. But the ballots weren't handed out by a school employee. They were handed out, Stepaniak said, by Gwen Robinson, a former CPS principal. "We don't admit any mistakes," Stepaniak said. "We don't believe we violated the law."
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CNN: Appeals court delays injunction against 'don't ask, don't tell'
A federal appeals panel on Wednesday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that halted enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the government the delay it sought in challenging a federal judge's order last week to stop enforcing the policy around the world.
CNN Money: Cost of your health plan to rise 14%
It's that time of year when employers deliver bad news about next year's benefits. Chances are you'll learn that your 2011 health insurance tab will be sharply higher, as companies continue to shift the burden of rising costs onto their workers. Employees' share of premiums for a family plan is up an average 14%, to $3,997, vs. just a 3% rise in the total bill, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
CNN: Report sharply critical of delays, costs of FBI case management system
The FBI's troubled new system designed to help agents and analysts electronically handle evidence, reports and documents is now about $100 million over budget and two years behind schedule, according to a report by the Justice Department's internal watchdog. The stinging report by investigators for Inspector General Glenn Fine is sharply critical of the lack of progress on the automated case management system known as Sentinel. The project was intended to move the FBI from an outmoded paper-based system to an electronic system for handling and sharing information about criminal cases.
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CNN: Strikes to continue in France over pension reform bill
Strikes and demonstrations are expected to continue across France on Thursday with a large rally scheduled in central Paris in the afternoon. The demonstrators are rallying against a government proposal to raise the national retirement age from 60 to 62. The French Senate is working its way through roughly 1,000 amendments to the pension reform bill, and a final vote on the bill could be as early as Thursday and as late as Sunday.
BBC: China 'trying to block publication of UN Darfur report'
China is trying to prevent a report which says Chinese bullets have been used against peacekeepers in Darfur from being published, diplomats say. The report is being discussed by a United Nations committee which monitors sanctions against Sudan, including an arms embargo on Darfur. Beijing says it is vaguely worded and full of flaws.
Washington Post: Iran, trying to skirt sanctions, attempts to set up banks worldwide
Iran is secretly trying to set up banks in Muslim countries around the world, including Iraq and Malaysia, using dummy names and opaque ownership structures to skirt sanctions that have increasingly curtailed the Islamic republic's global banking activities, U.S. officials say. The Treasury Department has blacklisted 16 Iranian banks for allegedly supporting Iran's nuclear program and terrorist activities; other countries have followed suit with their own measures. Tehran's search for new banking avenues is a sign of the growing effectiveness of the sanctions, U.S. officials said.
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CNN Money: Fed: Economic growth still 'modest'
Economic growth continued at a sluggish pace over the past few weeks, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday, supporting views that the Fed might take action to spur the economy at its next policy meeting. In its latest snapshot of regional economic conditions, the Fed reported some bright spots in manufacturing, travel, tourism and auto sales, but still saw weakness in the housing market.
In Case You Missed It
NAACP CEO Ben Jealous discusses a new report by the NAACP that levels charges of racism at the Tea Party.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski talks about her decision to run as a write-in candidate with CNN's John King.
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