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On the roster: - Pence, Kaine try to take the heat off the top of the ticket - Swing state polls show Hillary ahead - Whiffy-leaks - How Trump used his foundation to prime his run - Hope they’re not art teachers

PENCE, KAINE TRY TO TAKE THE HEAT OFF THE TOP OF THE TICKET
FARMVILLE, Va. – There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of vice presidential candidates: the damper and the stoker.

If there have ever been a couple of dampers, it is this year’s nominees, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence. They are divided by party and ideology, but united in purpose. Both are headed to this sleepy Southside Virginia college town to render their running mates as normal, reasonable choices for president.

Stokers are those like John EdwardsSarah Palin and current Veep Joe Biden. The job is to rouse a dormant part of your party’s base and then absolutely take the paint off the other party’s presidential nominee.

Dampers, though, are meant to inspire confidence in the top of the ticket. Recent dampers have included Dick CheneyAl Gore and Lloyd Bentsen. While they are certainly called on to play attack dog, the major role is to send a message to persuadable voters that the person at the top of the ticket is a safe bet and will have some supervision if he or she gets to Washington.

So, to say the least, Kaine and Pence both have their work cut out for them tonight. Here’s the fires they will both have to put out as they face off with moderator Elaine Quijano, an online anchor from CBS News.

KAINE THE INCORRUPTIBLE
There’s a reason Donald Trump has chosen the epithet “crooked” to describe his Democratic rival. Poll after poll shows that voters think of Clinton as temperamentally fit, qualified and a strong leader. But an overwhelming majority of voters also believe that she is not honest.

Clinton’s problem is not that people think that she lies like all people do, but that she may be in fact a crook. The Trump campaign’s recent re-litigation of the 1990s is meant to remind voters of the lowlights from the former first couple’s long public career.

It’s not just the history-making impeachment for lying about the ministrations of a White House intern, but perhaps even more so the fundraising scandals, shady pardons, filched furnishings and breathtaking buck raking since 2000.

Aside from one ethical hiccup for gifts received as governor, Kaine has a reputation as a squeaky clean square. His appearance and demeanor as the absolute, middle class, suburban dad was the counterbalance Clinton was looking for when it came to picking a running mate.

Kaine looks like the guy who definitely leaves the tags on his mattresses.

He will have plenty of opportunities this evening to explain Clinton misconduct of the distance and recent past as the moderator and Pence will both likely press the former seminarian on why voters should trust her again.

Kaine is also likely to have to do some cleanup duty on Clinton flips and flops on issues like free trade as well as his own policy diversions from her new platform, including abortion, right-to-work laws, and his long-standing push for more congressional control on military engagements.

PENCE THE PACIFIC
It was widely thought that Mike Pence was too bland to run for president. But when paired up with the atomic fireball of Trump, the Indiana governor makes for a cooling contrast.

Excessive normalcy is a liability at the top of the ticket, but not when you are riding shotgun to a candidate broadly seen as hotheaded and mercurial.

Pence is well suited by appearance and demeanor to be reassuring to voters. But his test will come in explaining the sometimes inexplicable parts of Trump. This will be particularly hard for the formerly doctrinaire conservative Pence, who has had to pitch out substantial parts of his ideology to be Trump’s running mate.

Issues like debt and spending, foreign policy, trade and cultural conservativism are all sure to pose challenges for Pence. He will have to move some of his own inventory especially as it relates to Indiana’s botched religious freedom law.

So far, Pence has proven an able fire-eater, loyally accepting the top dog’s posture without complaint. But former lawyer Kaine, will surely put him to the test.

This is where Pence would have been helped if Trump hadn’t stopped giving press conferences. Kaine has the advantage that Clinton gets on the record regularly to address her own controversies. Trump has withdrawn from the larger press pool and does selective interviews instead.

Trump has more current controversies and more unanswered questions. Those will fall to Pence tonight.

THE RULEBOOK: IN DEFENSE OF VEEPS
“The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of the convention in this respect. One is, that to secure at all times the possibility of a definite resolution of the body, it is necessary that the President should have only a casting vote. … The other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the supreme executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of election prescribed for the one, apply with great if not with equal force to the manner of appointing the other.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist No. 68

TIME OUT: OCTOBER SKY
NASA: “History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world’s first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball (…22.8 inches in diameter), weighed only …183.9 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. … In addition, the public feared that the Soviets’ ability to launch satellites also translated into the capability to launch ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons from Europe to the U.S. Then the Soviets struck again; on November 3, Sputnik II was launched, carrying a much heavier payload, including a dog named Laika. … The Sputnik launch also led directly to the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In July 1958, Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act (commonly called the "Space Act"), which created NASA as of October 1, 1958 from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and other government agencies.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

SCOREBOARD
Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3.8 points
[Polls included: CBS/NYTCNN, Fox NewsMonmouth University and Quinnipiac University.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +3.4 points
[Polls included: CBS/NYTCNN, Fox NewsMonmouth University and Quinnipiac University.]

SWING STATE POLLS SHOW HILLARY AHEAD
A slew of swing state polls show Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s national advantage following the first presidential debate playing out on the stat level as well. Polls from coast to coast show Clinton leading in the key states of Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

The bright spot for Donald Trump remains the Buckeye State where blue collar white voters continue to keep him ahead. Trump has led every reputable poll in Ohio since the beginning of September.

Colorado - Monmouth University: Clinton +11

Pennsylvania - Franklin & Marshall College: Clinton +9; Quinnipiac University: Clinton +4

North Carolina - Elon University: Clinton +6; Quinnipiac University: Clinton +3; Bloomberg: Clinton +1

Florida - Quinnipiac University: Clinton +5

Ohio -  Quinnipiac University: Trump +5

WHIFFY-LEAKS
Fox News: “Anyone who stayed up late or got up early anticipating an ‘October Surprise’ from WikiLeaks heard no bombshells from the organization’s founder in an overnight appearance via video. Julian Assange, who was originally planning to make an announcement from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has lived for five years, instead appeared via videolink at a Berlin conference commemorating the leaked email clearinghouse’s 10-year anniversary. Despite widespread speculation he would reveal game-changing information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Assange’s 3 a.m. ET appearance featured no new revelations, although he did promise to publish information regarding the presidential election ‘every week for the next 10 weeks.’ Assange said he will publish documents regarding at least three governments before the end of the year.”

HOW TRUMP USED HIS FOUNDATION TO PRIME HIS RUN
As New York’s Democratic attorney general orders Donald Trump’s charitable foundation shuttered for failing to register,RCP looks at how Trump’s group helped lay the groundwork for his presidential candidacy: “From 2011 through 2014, Trump harnessed his eponymous foundation to send at least $286,000 to influential conservative or policy groups, a RealClearPolitics review of the foundation’s tax filings found. In many cases, this flow of money corresponded to prime speaking slots or endorsements that aided Trump as he sought to recast himself as a plausible Republican candidate for president.”

AUDIBLE: FIVE WEEKS
“Can this thing just end – please?” – Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges to the WaPo on Trump’s latest controversy.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
RNC brags about “Willie Horton” ad against Kaine - LAT

Ayotte says she ‘misspoke’ in calling Trump a role model - ABC News

Trump says he ‘brilliantly used’ tax laws - WaPo

Hillary tries to get back on track in Ohio with Trump tax revelations - Politico

Behind Trump’s struggles with suburban, white women - FiveThirtyEight

Furor over Trumps remarks about PTSD - USA Today

Clinton padded State Dept. advisory board with friends, donors - WashEx

David Sedaris on the mystery of the undecided voter - New Yorker

Oregon GOP gubernatorial nominee’s campaign in meltdown after comments on domestic violence - Portland [Ore.] Tribune

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Hello, Chris, Just the fact that 3 million + [of the kid-lit series “Goosebumps”] books are being read is amazing. Maybe our society isn’t going down the tubes quite so fast after all.” – Bill Dyson, Fairburn, Ga.

[Ed. Note: I am very much prone to agree, Mr. Dyson! I believe we are in a period of cultural lag in which our society is running behind our technology. We have not yet figured out how to live in the world of our own creation and the attendant dislocation can be painful indeed. What feels like death throes at times, I believe are really growing pains. America has been equal to greater tests than these and I believe there is much history yet to be written for this, the last best hope of earth.]

“Chris, in your segment on North Carolina, you referred to the importance of Fort Bragg and Parris Island.  The latter, of course, is in South Carolina.” – Stuart Barr, Durham, N.C.

[Ed. Note: I was mortified that the word passed my lips! For those who missed this week’s episode “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What” I did our Data Dive on what is shaping up as the essential battleground of 2016, North Carolina. In discussing the importance of military voters I switched the Tar Heel State’s Camp Lejeune with South Carolina’s Parris Island. To every Marine who reminded me of my slip I offer my apologies and thanks for their service. Semper Fi!]

“Love your work, Chris! Your comments on the death of consensus in our country was very insightful.  I would add two thoughts from Scripture which describe a dangerous state for mankind: From Romans, ‘Worshipping the [creation] rather than the Creator,’ and from Judges, ‘Every man did what was right in his own eyes.’ Keep up the good work!” – John Sherrod, Jackson, Miss.

[Ed. Note: Thank you so much for your kind words and your very useful insight. Keeping our eyes fixed on the things that matter is the essential struggle of this life.]

“To follow up on your Tucumcari, N.M. reference how about ‘Will Truth or Consequences be the story of the Clinton campaign?’” – Bill Panagakos, Santa Fe

[Ed. Note: Mr. Panagakos, while I believe West Virginia has the nation’s greatest place names – including Toad, Penial, Booger Hole, Pie and Red Jacket – New Mexico is definitely giving us a run for our money!]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

HOPE THEY’RE NOT ART TEACHERS
WCAX: “WINDSOR, Vt. - Two teachers were arrested for allegedly vandalizing a piece of public property close to their school… Authorities say 29-year-old Abigail Howard and 35-year-old Jennifer Rist were warned to stay away from the wet concrete and that both later returned to deface the sidewalk before fleeing for a nearby building after being approached by the project foreman. The women reportedly drew what looked like a rat with the initials ‘J.R.’ in the sidewalk. The police chief says both work at Foundations Upper Valley, a school for students with special needs in Windsor near the vandalized sidewalk. The carving caused approximately $1,500 in damage. Howard commented on the incident on the WCAX Facebook, saying the drawing was supposed to be a dinosaur, something to engage her students during walks. She went on to say, ‘In retrospect it was pretty stupid, but I didn’t realize I would be hurting anyone. It was a drawing the size of my hand.’”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.