Davis, Grimes, Obama vie for 2014 Akin Prize

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Buzz Cut:
• Davis, Grimes, Obama vie for 2014 Akin Prize
• Pressler under fire for investor scam
• Senate shootout in Kentucky
• GOP on alert for fraud in Colorado
• That book was a lifesaver!

Democrats’ strategy to survive a difficult 2014 midterm cycle was straightforward: They would keep the Senate by nationalizing the failures of individual Republican candidates as they had done in 2010 and 2012. Democrats were searching for a candidate similar to Todd Akin, Christine O’Donnell or Sharron Angle to win a primary, particularly in Georgia, North Carolina or Mississippi. Republicans, though, did not oblige them, even amid a buffet of ideological bait on impeachment, immigration and birth-control subsidies. In fact, it has been Democrats who have been delivering the weapons-grade blunders in the home stretch of the midterm cycle. We have been searching for this year’s Akin in the wrong party, but now looking on the correct side of the aisle, there are many, many candidates.

Running away from the pink tennis shoes - The frontrunner for the Akin Prize for Undistinguished Campaigning would seem to be Wendy Davis, Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Texas. Her decision to run an attack ad about the accident that left her opponent confined to a wheelchair is probably the worst in a decade. And like Akin’s musings on the female anatomy, is easily transportable to other races. In 2012, Democrats exploited Akin’s claim to clip other Republicans who supported the same abortion restrictions as he did. Now it is all those, like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who once celebrated Davis in her heyday, who are being asked whether wheelchair attack ads are appropriate. And like Akin, who initially refused to recant his claims on “legitimate rape,” Davis is so far refusing to budge on her spot. By the time Davis is eventually forced to back down, who knows how much damage will have been done? But that’s not to say that Davis is the only nominee for the prize.

Lots of competition - There’s the guy running for Senate in Iowa who made fun of Iowa farmers, a gaffe so heinous that it was still bringing down the house in a debate Sunday night. Or there’s the fellow who accused his opponent of being soft on Ebola and then vapor locked when asked about the topic. Utterly. Or the male candidate who opted to do a direct-to-camera ad talking about female reproductive health as part of a gynecological focus so intense that he would be dubbed “Mark Uterus.” Speaking of bad ads, how about the spot about a brutal rape and murder that was denounced by the victims’ family? While Republicans have had their own residency problems, the Democrats boast the only candidate who was forced to claim she lived with her parents in a bid to beat the rap. And then there’s the multi-stage catastrophe where Democrats engineered a candidate swap but discovered too late that their man was a plagiarist. If Davis has a real rival for the prize, though, it is Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Kentucky wonder - Despite looking a bit spotty here and there, Grimes was, until last week, a heroine for national Democrats. She was keeping the would-be majority leader pinned down in a Kentucky shootout and leaving open the possibility a red-to-blue flip. She was a Clinton Democrat contending in a potently anti-Obama state, and members of her party saw not just viability in this cycle but hope for a time beyond President Obama when they could broaden the electoral map. But Grimes imploded last week as she stolidly attempted to not answer whether she had voted for the president. It was bad. How bad? Ask The New Republic, which declared Sunday that Grimes was “running the worst Senate campaign of the year.” And given the competition, that’s saying something.

‘Make no mistake’ - Democrats, though, don’t really need an Akin to struggle this year, because they have Obama. As the gloom deepens, the blame is going straight to the top. The chorus is growing for some kind of a shakeup in the woebegotten White House and in the post-mortem on this year’s cycle, it won’t be necessary to find a scapegoat in an isolated Senate race. The man in charge of the party will be held responsible, especially as Clintonites look to outrun his legacy. And if there’s really one gaffe of the year, the boss himself has to get the credit: “But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.” That’s exactly what Republicans have been saying for two years. And Obama, like Akin, apparently doesn’t see what was wrong with saying it.

What can a brain scan tell you about happiness, morality or the key to unlocking your potential? Contrary to clickbait headlines, not a heck of a lot actually. The vogue for neural mapping has been intense as evolutionary biologists seek to prove geneticist Francis Crick’s claim that “your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.” But as the Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson observes we are at the beginning, not the end of our effort to understand consciousness: “The great quantum physicist (turned Anglican priest) John Polkinghorne once noted that very few physicists, a century ago, doubted that the mechanical model of Newtonian physics was the whole truth about how the world works. … Nowadays, Polkinghorne said, evolutionary biology is in the position of physics a hundred years ago: a young discipline full of certainties—dogmas, really—that are soon to crumble in the face of greater understanding.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42.4 percent//Disapprove – 52.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.8 percent//Wrong Track – 63 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43.7 percent// Republicans – 45.2 percent

-- 22 days until Nov. 4 --

BuzzFeed: “Following his tenure in the Senate, former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler sat on the board of a brokerage firm, Sky Capital, that defrauded investors of $140 million over an eight-year period, according to federal prosecutors. Pressler, who is running for Senate in South Dakota as an independent was on the board of Sky Capital from 2004 until he resigned in 2006, according to court documents and numerous news reports. Pressler served as non-executive director of the board. Sky Capital was founded by Ross Mandell, who served as chief executive and was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012 for conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud. Pressler was never accused of wrongdoing, but repeatedly vouched for the character of the Mandell, who was at the center of the fraud operation. In an interview Sunday night, Pressler told BuzzFeed News he regrets that he joined the board, saying he felt ‘used’ and ‘burned.’”

DSCC pumps up corruption attack on Rounds - Argus [S.D.] Leader: “The national Democratic Party ad buy attacking [Republican Senate contender] Mike Rounds has begun, and to no one's surprise, it's about EB-5. The ad is focused on a surprisingly ignored part of the EB-5 story in South Dakota — a moment when the Northern Beef meatpacking plant turned to a mysterious Virgin Islands shell company for a high-interest loan to advance the construction…[From the ad:] ‘You've heard about Mike Rounds' citizenship-for-sale scheme. The fallout. The investigations. Turns out there's more. After using a beef-packing plant to sell citizenship to wealthy Chinese investors, Rounds gave special tax breaks to a shady off-shore corporation to keep the scheme afloat. Scheme.’’’

AP: “They've been running for more than a year and have spent, along with outside groups, more than $32 million on a race that could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. The only thing that's been missing in the contest between Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican challenger U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton has been a head-to-head debate. That changes Monday, when the two face off in the first of two televised debates. The rivals are appearing alongside Libertarian nominee Nathan LaFrance and Green Party nominee Mark Swaney.”

WKYT: “Sen. Mitch McConnell and his challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes will square off Monday evening in their only televised debate in one of the most watched Senate races in the country.”

[The Lexington (Ky.) Courier-Journal details what to watch for in the McConnell-Grimes debate]

Dems make Mitch prime target - New on FoxNews.com: Even as most polls show Mitch McConnell holding the lead against challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, the prospect of knocking off the Senate’s top Republican is proving too much for Democrats to resist. Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, in the closing month of the Kentucky race, is making a major bet on the contest. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) recently threw $1.4 million behind their candidate -- this, on top of the half-million reportedly already spent on the race.

[Charlotte, N.C] News and Observer: “Sen. Kay Hagan, [D-N.C] under fire from her opponent, Thom Tillis, for having one of the worst attendance records on the Senate Armed Services Committee — and for missing a classified briefing to attend a fundraiser — countered on Sunday with a statement from the former director of the Army National Guard. Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., a North Carolina native who retired in January after more than 40 years of service, said in the statement that she is ‘knowledgeable about national security.’ ‘Anyone who has worked with Senator Hagan in her capacity on the Senate Armed Services Committee is familiar with her insightful questions and determination to do what’s best for our military,’ Ingram said. ‘As chair of the Emerging Threat Subcommittee, Senator Hagan has also shown both foresight and a deep understanding of how to address our nation’s greatest threats.’’’

Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, face off in their third and final debate tonight in Richmond…” Sure to be a lively topic: a recent report on Warner’s role, which allegedly included discussing patronage jobs, in an attempt to coax a Democratic Virginia state senator to stay in office: WaPo: “Warner discussed the possibility of several jobs, including a federal judgeship, for the senator’s daughter in an effort to dissuade him from quitting the evenly divided state Senate. Warner was part of a string of high-powered Virginia Democrats who in early June pressed then-state senator Phillip P. Puckett not to go through with plans to give up his seat in the middle of a bitterly partisan battle over health care…. Puckett eventually resigned, throwing control of the chamber to the Republican Party and dooming Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top legislative priority — expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”

National Review’s John Fund considers the consequences of a Colorado election law: “The law, known as House Bill 1303, makes Colorado the only state in the country to combine two radical changes in election law: 1) abolishing the traditional polling place and having every voter mailed a ballot and 2) establishing same-day registration, which allows someone to appear at a government office and register and vote on the same day without showing photo ID or any other verifiable evidence that establishes identity. If they register online a few days before, no human being ever has to show up to register or vote. A few keystrokes can create a voter and a ‘valid’ ballot. ​Once a ballot cast under same-day registration is mixed in with others, there is no way to separate it out if the person who voted is later found ineligible.”

Following a $2 million ad buy from the conservative group Ending Spending Action Fund, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is committing another $1.45 million dollars towards Republican David Perdue’s efforts to defeat Democrat Michelle Nunn. According to the NRSC, an ad blitz will begin Tuesday.  The committee is also set to spend an additional $1 million in Alaska, $1.5 million in Colorado, $1.25 million in Iowa and $1.2 million in New Hampshire.

[Always Election Day: Early voting begins today in Georgia]

WaPo: “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised about $16 million in September, it said Monday, edging out the National Republican Senatorial Committee down the stretch ahead of the midterm election. The DSCC ended the month with $14.2 million in the bank, after heavy spending on behalf of Democratic candidates. It ended August with more than $25 million in its account. The NRSC, which said it raised $15.5 million in September, did not say how much money it had on hand…The DSCC has raised $127.1 million this election cycle. The NRSC has raised $97 million. President Obama has regularly helped the DSCC raise money.”

[WaPo breaks down the late cash race on the left and right]

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, continued to put distance between himself and President Obama in an interview with Alaska Dispatch News, saying the president’s foreign policy, “Needs Improvement.” Begich added, “I disagree with President Obama. I object to boots on the ground and see arming the rebels as a troubling potential step in that direction.” When asked about ObamaCare Begich stated, “I continue to make fixes to the Affordable Care Act to make it work better for Alaska families and small businesses.”

“Ben thinks government can do better for people with dirt under their fingernails,” so says the new ad from Nebraska Republican Senate nominee Ben Sasse. Backed with a corresponding radio spot , the ad evokes the dispatches from Paul Harvey to extoll Nebraska values, showing a farmer, a waitress and a pastor all at work. “Nebraska’s Ben Sasse grew up working in the fields, son of a football coach.  Later, he led the team that saved Midland from bankruptcy…He’ll tackle the big stuff, put the shouting aside, and just get to work…Ben’s . . . Nebraska.” Sasse holds a 22-point advantage over Democratic opponent David Domina in theRCP average.

Republicans need to flip an additional six Senate seats from blue to red to gain control of the upper chamber. Fox News First readers think the most likely states to switch are: Arkansas (13.8%), Montana (13.2%), West Virginia (12.4%), South Dakota (12%), Louisiana (11.7%), and Alaska (8.8%). Reader Bo Lollar of Berry, Alabama notes recent surveys finding enthusiasm down among Democrats, could be costly for the blue team. Lollar writes, “I think without [President Obama] on a ballot this November, turnout will be much lighter,” adding, “They don’t have a perceived…vested interest, candidate on the ballot, and that makes a huge difference.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

AP: “[Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla.] is planning to attend a Michigan Republican Party fundraiser with Gov. Rick Snyder in suburban Detroit. The ‘Governors' Gala’ event Monday costs $500 per person to attend, with breaks for young professionals and students. It's $5,000 per person or couple to attend a private round table, photo reception and the main event…Earlier Monday, Bush plans to campaign with U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land at the Kent County Republican headquarters in Grand Rapids. He's also visiting state GOP headquarters in Lansing and the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy.”

[Mitt Romney continues his swing through Iowa, holding a rally for Republican Joni Ernst in Cedar Rapids this morning.]

Liberal darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn’t hold back in her criticism of President Obama’s economic policies in a recent interview with Salon. The potential liberal alternative to 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton had some trough talk for the current president, “He picked his economic team and when the going got tough, his economic team picked Wall Street.” Warren continued, “They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education. And it happened over and over and over.”

[Hillary’s Vegas stand open to press - 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s speech today to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation will be open to press coverage, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. “Clinton is getting paid $225,000 for the speech, a fee that prompted UNLV student leaders to request that she donate some or all of the money to the university. Instead, the money will go to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation…Clinton’s speaking contract with the UNLV Foundation had called for the fundraising event to be closed to the media. But she apparently had a change of heart in light of growing public interest in what she has to say.]

The race for Arizona’s governor’s mansion took a peculiar turn with the Sunday admission that Fred DuVal, the Democratic nominee, drove under a suspended license this summer after he failed to pay a fine associated with a red-light ticket for turning right on a red without coming to a full stop. The Arizona Republic: “DuVal paid the $200 ticket…went to driving school in August but did not pay a $20 fee to reinstate his license….DuVal faces Republican nominee Doug Ducey in the Nov. 4 general election. Ducey, too, has a history of traffic violations. Between Nov. 30, 2004, and Sept. 4, 2008, Ducey had 13 traffic offenses. At least seven of them were speed-camera tickets, based on documents from Scottsdale City Court.”

We celebrate today the European discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus (pace Leif Erikson, Brendan and anyone else who unknowingly bumped into what we now call the Western Hemisphere). Columbus made multiple voyages to explore his discovery between 1492 and 1503. On the fourth and final trip, though, things got pretty dicey. Forced to beach his ship on the north coast of what is now Jamaica, Columbus and his crew were in big trouble with the local Arawak Indians who rightly surmised that these were not just windblown wayfarers but rivals for power. How did he escape? Science! Space.com has the details: “Columbus, of course, had a copy of [Regiomontanusalmanac] with him when he was stranded on Jamaica. And he soon discovered from studying its tables that on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 29, 1504, a total lunar eclipse would occur, beginning around the time of moonrise… According to Columbus’ son, Ferdinand, the Arawaks were terrified at this sight and ‘with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions and beseeching the admiral to intercede with his god on their behalf.’ They promised that they would happily cooperate with Columbus and his men if only he would restore the moon back to its normal self.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.