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U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Wednesday that GOP state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano has a "wonderful record" on immigration issues and deserves to defeat his Democratic rival in a tight suburban race for the Illinois House.

But Gutierrez' endorsement was belittled by a top aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has invested heavily in the campaign of Saviano's opponent, Addison school board member Kathleen Willis.

"I've just got to tell you he's been a great guy, Skip. He has a wonderful record, and I'll stand on that record, and my endorsement will stand on that record," Gutierrez told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"In the end, I feel it's the right thing to do and let people to know. The other candidate to me, I don't see they have a record, and Skip does. I'd rather have Skip there knowing he'll stand up and support us whether on the DREAM Act, drivers licenses or this building of jails [to house immigration violators]," Gutierrez said.

"I don't know anything about the other candidate. I will tell you, if they'd chosen a candidate who had a very clear record of accomplishment, commitment and history, it might've been different. But I have to say it wasn't a hard decision to make in the end," he said.

Saviano's district was redrawn by Madigan to be heavily Latino in a bid to drive him from the Illinois House, so Gutierrez' endorsement could help swing the race that at least one recent poll has called a dead heat.

The congressman, who is a surrogate for President Barack Obama assigned to energize Latino voters in swing states, has recorded a robocall on Saviano's behalf that will be blanketing the district this week.

But Madigan spokesman Steve Brown questioned the value of the Gutierrez endorsement, which was first reported by the Sun-Times on Tuesday.

"I think I read somewhere where he had two people out there working," Brown said of Gutierrez. "We're down to the get-out-the-vote phase of a campaign. Everyone knows that. Voters already have been bombarded with direct mail and radio/TV, cable. If he's got boots on the ground, that's one thing. But I haven't heard any testimonials that that's the case.

"Gutierrez has a distinguished in Congress, but I don't know he has that kind of record as a field organizer," Brown said.

Willis has run a virtually invisible campaign, declining to return repeated phone calls from the Chicago Sun-Times. That tactic has been encouraged by Madigan strategists in other House races the speaker has targeted in the past in which he has paired up a little-known candidate against a Republican incumbent.

During a phone interview Wednesday with the Sun-Times, Gutierrez also took a shot at state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), a Madigan ally who disrupted a Latino candidates' forum during the weekend by standing on a chair and imploring attendees not to vote Republican in the 77th House District race.

"To watch my fellow Democrat just simply disrupt it, saying 'Republicans are bad,' that's not the kind of America we need," Gutierrez said. "Not every Democrat is good and not every Republican is bad. It's that kind of rhetoric that all Republicans are bad, that they're all evil, that won't allow this country to heal and make it a great nation."

Gutierrez expressed little concern when asked whether he worried about any potential backlash from Madigan for backing a Republican in a race in which the speaker has invested his resources and certainly some of his vast political capital.

"The majority leader in the House of Representatives is Nancy Pelosi. I don't think Nancy Pelosi and I are going to have any problems with this endorsement if it ever were to come to her attention," Gutierrez said. "I'm a member of Congress. That's where I focus my energy and attention. I am not concerned, worried or take too much into consideration anything other than how I get it done in the House of Representatives."

A taxpayer-funded mailer from U.S. Rep. Robert Dold touting job fairs he has hosted is hitting homes in the 10th Congressional District this week while striking a nerve with Dold's Democratic rival.

Members of Congress are prohibited from sending out public mailings with 500 or more pieces during a 90-day window leading up to an election.

But Dold's piece, which cost less than $250, falls under an exemption in congressional franking rules because it went out to 499 or fewer homes in his north suburban district.

"This doesn't raise any red flags on our end," said Steve Dutton, a spokesman for the House Franking Commission, whose members include Dutton's boss, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).

Still, Democrat Brad Schneider's congressional campaign is crying foul, saying it's improper for the Kenilworth Republican to send out the taxpayer-funded mailing alongside campaign mailers so close to the election.

"It's reprehensible that Congressman Dold is spending taxpayer money for a thinly disguised attempt at boosting his campaign. People are frustrated, and with good reason, by the way things are done in Washington, and having their representative take advantage of a congressional privilege to send taxpayer-funded mailers a week before the election simply reinforces the fact that Washington is broken," Schneider said in a prepared statement.

"Congressman Dold wants to stay in Washington, and it seems he's willing to use our tax dollars to do it," he said.

Dutton forwarded questions about the exact size and cost of Dold's mailing to the Republican's congressional campaign.

Dold spokesman John McGovern said the mailing did, in fact, go out to no more than 499 homes in the district and belittled Schneider's campaign for making it into an issue, particularly considering it cost less than $250.

"A congressman doesn't stop representing constituents just because it's election season, and Congressman Dold will continue to help people in the 10th District find jobs in this tough economy," McGovern said.

"Unemployment is a real problem, but apparently Brad Schneider doesn't think creating jobs is as important as making cheap political attacks," he said. "This is really a story?"

View Map of proposed Chicago digital sign sites in a larger map

Our Fran Spielman reported today that the city has released a list of proposed sites for new digital signs along highways in the city. Above is a Google Map of those locations and a PDF of those locations is after the jump.

walshoct31.jpgReporting with Natasha Korecki

A SuperPAC that has been in and out of the 8th congressional race says it is back in to support Joe Walsh with a $1 million boost just six days before the election.

The Now or Never SuperPAC tells the Chicago Sun-Times it is investing $1 million again. That's still short of the $2.5 million it had promised earlier in the month.
However, just yesterday, another SuperPAC -- FreedomWorks For America -- committed the $1.7 million to Walsh that it had promised last week.

Now or Never last week announced Walsh was so far ahead of Tammy Duckworth, its money was better spent elsewhere.

"Duckworth wants the voters to ignore her own legal problems and mismanagement while she attempts to paint Congressman Walsh as a man he is not," said Tyler Harber, spokesman for Now or Never PAC.

This week, another SuperPAC that aims to take down Walsh, CREDO, released a poll showing Duckworth with a sizable lead. Walsh's campaign has disputed a wide lead, saying their numbers show the race much closer.

Each side has traded barbs over allowing outside spending in the campaign, with each threatening to file complaints with the Federal Election Commission for appearing to coordinate with the outside donors, which is not allowed.

AP Photo

An Illinois House candidate backed by abortion-rights groups condemned a political-action committee for handing out fliers targeting her "anti-Catholic view of the unborn" at Catholic parishes in the northwest suburbs.

Independent Dee Beaubien, who is running in the 52nd House District, said the flier urging voters to back her GOP rival, David McSweeney, was put on car windshields in parking lots at St. Anne Catholic Church in Barrington and Transfiguration Catholic Church in Wauconda during masses the past two Fridays.

"To be attacked in this way at a church, when people are there to pray, is horrendous," Beaubien told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The flier produced by the Illinois Citizens for Ethics PAC criticized Beaubien for taking nearly $120,000 in donations from abortion-rights groups Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC, opposing anti-abortion legislation and accepting money from "machine politician Michael Madigan and the Illinois Democratic Party."

The literature went on to question "why does she openly oppose her own church's teaching on the sanctity of life?"

Beaubien said the tactic was "terribly troublesome," particularly considering that the funeral mass for her late husband, former state Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-Barrington Hills), took place at St. Anne.

"My position on choice is clear: We are all pro-life, and I am not pro-abortion," Dee Beaubien said. "I only feel that the government does not belong in that decision and that if we educated our children with comprehensive sex education, as is done in Europe, then the need for abortion would be lessened."

An aide to McSweeney Wednesday denied knowledge of the anti-Beaubien flier being distributed on church property.

"It's definitely not coordinated with our campaign," McSweeney campaign manager Jim Thacker said. "This kind of stuff happens. But like I say, this really has nothing to do with our campaign."

The Rev. Msgr. Richard Hynes, director of parish life and formation for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said any distribution of the pamphlet that occurred happened without the churches' blessing.

"In terms of a person running for office, we don't support or [oppose] the person," Hynes said.

The PAC behind the flier acknowledged spending "under $2,000 printing fliers that inform voters about McSweeney's and Beaubien's stances on abortion" and that the material was "distributed in various venues, including outside churches."

But that amount of resources is a pittance compared to the amount that abortion-rights advocates have pumped into Beaubien's campaign, the group said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

"Is Ms. Beaubien objecting to our expenditure of under $2,000 while pro-abortion forces are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting her?" the statement said. "Are you kidding?"

WASHINGTON--Are Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania really in play this close to the election? Is Mitt Romney expanding his path to 270 electoral votes? Obama senior adviser David Axelrod says no--and made a bet with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Wednesday that he would shave his moustache of 40 years if Obama failed to win those states.

After Scarborough contended the map is expanding for Romney on the Wednesday show, Axelrod disputed him saying, "here's what is true. In the era of super PACs, there's a lot of money out there and people can take flyers on states that they don't necessarily think they're going to win. I'm telling you Joe, with all due respect to the public polls that are out there, they are all over the map. I can only rely on the information that I have that I count on, that is solid research.

"I will come on "Morning Joe" and I will shave off my mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those three states."

Scarborough clarified, "So if you lose Minnesota, Michigan or Pennsylvania, you will shave off that mustache?"

Axelrod agreed to do the deed on the show and added a provision for Scarborough: "Yes, but what I should do is make a deal with you, is that you'll grow one if we win them."

Said Scarborough, "But I will grow a mustache if you guys win Florida or North Carolina. How's that? Is that a deal?

Axelrod clarified, "Florida and/or North Carolina?"

And the deal is made.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party of Illinois has the deepest pockets during this round of legislative campaigns, more than doubling what the Illinois Republican Party has invested in trying to win control of the Statehouse.

That's the main finding in a new analysis released Wednesday by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a government watchdog group.

The state Democratic Party, which is controlled by Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago), has given $4.9 million to legislative candidates since July 1.

No. 2 on the group's list is the state GOP, which has contributed $2.2 million during the period.

Third on the list is the Senate Democratic Victory Fund, the committee run by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and devoted to electing Senate Democrats. It has given $2 million this campaign cycle.

The GOP counterpart to the Cullerton fund, the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee, was fourth on the ICPR list of givers, providing $1.2 million - an amount demonstrating the financial disadvantage the Senate GOP faces against Cullerton's fundraising operation.

And fifth is the Illinois Education Association, which has donated $1 million during the cycle.

A complete list of the top 20 donors can be found on the watchdog group's website.

Back in the saddle after the storm, President Obama plans to visit Hilliard and Lima Ohio for campaign events as the final days are upon us before Tuesday's election.

The announcement came after Obama canceled a series of events this week due to Hurricane Sandy.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton continues his campaigning for the Dems today and Thursday.
Clinton will deliver remarks at a "grassroots event" in Waukesha, Wisconsin -- a Republican stronghold in the swing state.

Clinton will then head to Ohio for events in Toledo, Akron and Chillicothe.

Aldermen celebrate Halloween by trading places

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A pair of Chicago aldermen celebrated Halloween Wednesday by trading places.

all times EST

‹ Romney
speaks in Tampa, Fla., at 11:10 a.m., in
Coral Gables, Fla., at 2:20 p.m., in Jacksonville, Fla., at 8 p.m.

speaks in Eau Claire, Wis., at 8:35 a.m., in Green Bay, Wis., at 11:15 a.m.,
in Racine, Wis., at 2:45 p.m.

speaks in Sarasota, Fla., at 11:30 a.m.,
in Ocala, Fla., at 3 p.m.

Obama has no formal campaign events scheduled but
will tour areas of New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie.

from AP...

Any talk of Republican Mitt Romney narrowing the gap with President Barack Obama in Illinois is bunk, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

We Ask America, a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, found that Obama had 57 percent of the vote compared to 41 percent for Romney.

The group surveyed 1,198 likely voters in an automated poll Tuesday. Its margin of error was plus or minus 2.95 percentage points.

Romney held leads over Obama Downstate (51-46 percent) and in the collar counties (55-44 percent). But Obama more than offset those advantages in Chicago and suburban Cook County.

The president led Romney in the city by an 82-16 percent margin. And in suburban Cook, the spread was 66-31 percent in Obama's favor.

"There's been a surprising amount of conjecture coming our way lately about the possibility of Mitt Romney inching closer to Barack Obama in Illinois. We've not paid much attention that that conjecture until it started to be uttered in some national circles and a handful of reporters we respect called to ask if there was anything to it," the group said on its website. "There isn't."

WASHINGTON--A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News Swing State poll released Wednesday showed the contest in Florida and Virginia just about a tie and President Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney in Ohio. Women voters are helping Romney close a gap.

FLORIDA: Obama 48 percent, Romney 47 percent
OHIO: Obama 50 percent, Romney 45 percent
VIRGINIA: Obama 49 percent, Romney 47 percent.

For cross-tabs and details, click HERE

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama returns to the campaign trail on Thursday, stumping in battlegrounds Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado after being sidelined by Hurricane Sandy. On Wednesday, Obama is touring New Jersey storm damage with Gov. Chris Christie--with the pair the new odd couple of politics.

Subject to change because of the need to deal with Sandy, Obama does an airport stop at Green Bay and then aims at the youth vote with rallies at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the College of South Nevada in North Las Vegas.

Read my column about Obama and Christie--and other developments in the campaign six days out HERE.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday whirled through five battleground state interviews in his role as a surrogate for President Barack Obama. He did live remotes via satellite for WWBT in Richmond, Va.; WTMJ, Milwaukee; WBAY, Green Bay; WFUR, Miami and WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire.

(Obama campaign photo)

(Obama campaign photo)

WASHINGTON-- First Lady Michelle Obama, sidelined in Chicago because of Hurricane Sandy, on Tuesday visited the Obama for America headquarters in the Prudential Building and did some phone-banking to get-out-the vote in battleground Wisconsin.

I'm told Mrs. Obama was at the HQ between 12:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and at one point delivered a pep talk to hundreds of campaign staffers. She focused her calls at Wisconsin--where Ann Romney and Paul Ryan both campaigned on Tuesday. V

I'm also told Mrs. Obama "thanked staff and volunteers, and wanted "to encourage them to keep up their great work through the homestretch. She also joined volunteers to make a few calls to supporters and learned about the President's early voting advantage in battleground states from senior campaign leadership."

Mrs. Obama spent Sunday and Monday nights in Chicago and will overnight again on Tuesday. She flies back to Washington on Wednesday morning. My post on Mrs. Obama flying to Chicago to get ahead of Hurricane Sandy is HERE.

Romney reporting back to Wisconsin this week

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Mitt Romney is back on for Wisconsin.

"Romney will be at State Fair Park Friday morning," Brian Schimming, first vice chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday.

After Hurricane Sandy started building, Romney had canceled an event scheduled for West Allis -- right outside of Milwaukee -- on Monday.

Obama, too, had cancelled events in Green Bay, Wisc. for Tuesday.

But Wisconsin's electoral votes remain important to both campaigns. Vice Presidential contender Paul Ryan was out in different parts of the state on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stumped in Ohio for President Barack Obama on Tuesday, targeting fellow Catholics in the battleground state where Obama is tied with Mitt Romney.

This was Durbin's second Ohio trip in the last two weeks. Durbin is in a unique position to talk about Obama, taking him under his wing when he was running in the 2004 general election for an Illinois Senate seat. Durbin was one of the first to urge Obama to run for president.

Durbin's Tuesday stops: In Cincinnati, Catholics for Obama phone banking, canvassing, get-out-the-vote drive and a talk to College Democrats at Xavier University a Jesuit, Catholic school. Also, in Dayton, another Catholics for Obama event, plus a number of Ohio radio interviews.

Last weekend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel targeted fellow Jews in Ohio; the weekend before that, he shored up the Jewish vote in Florida, another battleground.

Rahm vows community engagement before school closings

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Tuesday promised an extensive "community engagement process" before closing dozens of under-utilized schools they claim should have been closed over the last decade.

From the White House

2:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I want to thank Gail and Charlie who are on the scene doing work every time we have a disaster here in the United States of America. But obviously, the Red Cross is doing outstanding work internationally, so we want to thank them for their outstanding work.

A few things that I want to emphasize to the public at the top. This storm is not yet over. We've gotten briefings from the National Hurricane Center. It is still moving north. There are still communities that could be affected. And so I want to emphasize there are still risks of flooding, there are still risks of down power lines, risks of high winds. And so it is very important for the public to continue to monitor the situation in your local community, listen to your state and local officials, follow instructions. The more you follow instructions, the easier it is for our first responders to make sure that they are dealing with true emergency situations. So the better prepared individual families are for the situation, the easier it is going to be for us to deal with it.

Next, obviously, I want to talk about the extraordinary hardship that we've seen over the last 48 hours. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who have lost loved ones. Unfortunately, there have been fatalities as a consequence of Hurricane Sandy, and it's not clear that we've counted up all the fatalities at this point. And obviously, this is something that is heartbreaking for the entire nation. And we certainly feel profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended and are going to be going through some very tough times over the next several days and perhaps several weeks and months.

The most important message I have for them is that America is with you. We are standing behind you, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get back on your feet.

Earlier today I had a conversation with the governors and many of the mayors in the affected areas, including Governor Christie, Governor Cuomo, and Mayor Bloomberg. I want to praise them for the extraordinary work that they have done. Sadly, we are getting more experience with these kinds of big impact storms along the East Coast, and the preparation shows. Were it not for the outstanding work that they and their teams have already done and will continue to do in the affected regions, we could have seen more deaths and more property damage. So they have done extraordinary work working around the clock. The coordination between the state, local, and federal governments has been outstanding.

Obviously, we're now moving into the recovery phase in a lot of the most severely affected areas. New Jersey, New York in particular have been pounded by this storm. Connecticut has taken a big hit. Because of some of the work that had been done ahead of time, we've been able to get over a thousand FEMA officials in place, pre-positioned. We've been able to get supplies, food, medicine, water, emergency generators to ensure that hospitals and law enforcement offices are able to stay up and running as they are out there responding.

We are going to continue to push as hard as we can to make sure that power is up throughout the region. And obviously, this is mostly a local responsibility, and the private utilities are going to have to lean forward, but we are doing everything we can to provide them additional resources so that we can expedite getting power up and running in many of these communities.

There are places like Newark, New Jersey, for example, where you've got 80, 90 percent of the people without power. We can't have a situation where that lasts for days on end. And so my instructions to the federal agency has been, do not figure out why we can't do something; I want you to figure out how we do something. I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible.

So I want to repeat -- my message to the federal government: No bureaucracy, no red tape. Get resources where they're needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible, and for the duration, because the recovery process obviously in a place like New Jersey is going to take a significant amount of time. The recovery process in a lower Manhattan is going to take a lot of time.

And part of what we're trying to do here is also to see where are some resources that can be brought to bear that maybe traditionally are not used in these kind of disaster situations. For example, there may be military assets that allow us to help move equipment to ensure that pumping and getting the flooding out of New York subway systems can proceed more quickly. There may be resources that we can bring to bear to help some of the private utilities get their personnel and their equipment in place more swiftly so that we can get power up and running as soon as possible.

So my message to the governors and the mayors and, through them, to the communities that have been hit so hard is that we are going to do everything we can to get resources to you and make sure that any unmet need that is identified, we are responding to it as quickly as possible. And I told the mayors and the governors if they're getting no for an answer somewhere in the federal government, they can call me personally at the White House.

Now, obviously, the state, local, federal response is important, but what we do as a community, what we do as neighbors and as fellow citizens is equally important. So a couple of things that I want the public to know they can do.

First of all, because our local law enforcement, our first responders are being swamped, to the extent that everybody can be out there looking out for their neighbors, especially older folks, I think that's really important. If you've got a neighbor nearby, you're not sure how they're handling a power outage, flooding, et cetera, go over, visit them, knock on their door, make sure that they're doing okay. That can make a big difference. The public can be the eyes and ears in terms of identifying unmet needs.

Second thing, the reason we're here is because the Red Cross knows what it's doing when it comes to emergency response. And so for people all across the country who have not been affected, now is the time to show the kind of generosity that makes America the greatest nation on Earth. And a good place to express that generosity is by contributing to the Red Cross.

Obviously, you can go on their website. The Red Cross knows what they're doing. They're in close contact with federal, state, and local officials. They will make sure that we get the resources to those families as swiftly as possible. And again, I want to thank everybody here who is doing such a great job when it comes to the disaster response.

The final message I'd just say is during the darkness of the storm, I think we also saw what's brightest in America. I think all of us obviously have been shocked by the force of Mother Nature as we watch it on television. At the same time, we've also seen nurses at NYU Hospital carrying fragile newborns to safety. We've seen incredibly brave firefighters in Queens, waist-deep in water, battling infernos and rescuing people in boats.

One of my favorite stories is down in North Carolina, the Coast Guard going out to save a sinking ship. They sent a rescue swimmer out, and the rescue swimmer said, "Hi, I'm Dan. I understand you guys need a ride." That kind of spirit of resilience and strength, but most importantly looking out for one another, that's why we always bounce back from these kinds of disasters.

This is a tough time for a lot of people -- millions of folks all across the Eastern Seaboard. But America is tougher, and we're tougher because we pull together. We leave nobody behind. We make sure that we respond as a nation and remind ourselves that whenever an American is in need, all of us stand together to make sure that we're providing the help that's necessary.

So I just want to thank the incredible response that we've already seen, but I do want to remind people this is going to take some time. It is not going to be easy for a lot of these communities to recovery swiftly, and so it's going to be important that we sustain that spirit of resilience, that we continue to be good neighbors for the duration until everybody is back on their feet.

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you, Red Cross. (Applause.)

END 2:28 P.M. EDT

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama will tour Hurricane Sandy damage on Wednesday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie--and while off the campaign trail will be making a very presidential statement--helping one of his harshest critics recover from the storm.

Christie, who bashed Obama as a Chicago ward politician last August, had praise for him Tuesday in the wake of the disaster.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney heads to Tampa later today.

In a House district that is 51-percent Latino, state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano said Tuesday he has lined up backing from the best-known Latino politician in Illinois.

Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), who is running against Democrat Kathleen Willis for the 77th House District, plans to announce an endorsement by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) during an event Tuesday at Saviano's Wood Dale campaign office.

"The leaders of the community know what I've done, and I've been working to get that message out," Saviano told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"This just solidifies my whole record with the community," Saviano said of Gutierrez' endorsement.

Messages left with Gutierrez and Willis' offices weren't returned Tuesday.

The move follows a dust-up involving state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), who disrupted a community forum geared toward Latino voters in Melrose Park Saturday by standing on a chair and shouting his disdain for Republicans. A police officer later escorted Sandoval from the gathering.

Late Monday, Sandoval kept up his anti-Saviano haranguing with the release of a typo-filled, poorly punctuated campaign statement.

"Much in the same fashion as Congressman Sensenbrenner, Governor Brewer and Sheriff Arpaio of Arizona, the Saviano campaign this week have (sic) threatened, intimated (sic) and suppressed my right to promote a Democrat - Kathleen Willis, in the 77th District which includes: Unincorporated Leyden Township, Stone Park and Melrose Park," said Sandoval. "The Saviano campaigns (sic) engaged in having a biker follows (sic) and spew racial slurs, to (sic) calling local law enforcement to intimidate."

On state ethics disclosure forms, Sandoval identifies himself as a contractor for the village of Melrose Park, whose mayor, Ron Serpico, has endorsed Willis after initially backing Saviano in their House race. Serpico has refused to return a phone call to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Saviano said the catalyst for Gutierrez' endorsement was "all this Sandoval stuff."

The congressman is "livid because he said, 'Skip, you've been so great to our community. I've got to step up. Even though you're a Republican, I have to say, this is wrong,'" Saviano said.

Saviano was among 29 House co-sponsors for a 2011 state law that set up a public fund that would route privately financed college scholarships to as many as 95,000 children of undocumented immigrants.

Saviano also was among 28 House co-sponsors of 2007 legislation that narrowly passed his legislative chamber allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's certificate in lieu of a driver's license if they presented proof of auto insurance and paid a fee. The measure died in the Senate.

Willis has received nearly $380,000 between July 1 and last weekend from the Democratic Majority and Democratic Party of Illinois campaign funds, which House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) controls. Saviano has derided Willis in a cable television commercial as an "obedient Madigan duckling."

Despite Madigan's influence in the race, Saviano has the backing of traditional Democratic-supporting labor unions like the Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers and AFSCME Council 31. He also got former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar's backing last week.

Pool report on Obama's remarks at Red Cross:

Obama stood at a small podium and spoke for about 10 mins about the local/state/fed response to Sandy and the role that Red Cross plays going forward. As he spoke, dozens of Red Cross staffers stood behind him and around the room watching.

Will give fuller remarks later, but here are some highlights:

He began, "This storm is not yet over."

Described the "extraordinary" hardship seen over the last 24 hours. "Obviously this is something that is heartbreaking for the entire nation."

Said his "most important message" to people with days and possibly weeks of struggles ahead is "America is with you."

Said coordination between state and local officials has been "outstanding."

"We're going to continue to push as hard as we can" to provide resources to places like Newark, NJ, where there are major power outages.

Says his message to govt officials is "no bureaucracy. No red tape." Do whatever it takes to get resources out as swiftly as possible.

Obama says looking ahead, the Red Cross "knows what it's doing" and it's time for people to show some "generosity" by giving donations to aid their work.

He praised the "spirit" and "resilience" of NYC folks, specifically citing those at NY Hospital "carrying fragile newborns to safety" and the firefighters bravely wading in water to save lives.

After he wrapped, a reporter shouted a question about when he plans to return to campaign trail, but Obama had already walked away.

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama visited the Red Cross headquarters in Washington D.C. in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Obama also called mayors and governors all along the east coast hit by the storm.

At the Red Cross, Obama said his message to government officials is "no bureaucracy. No red tape." Do whatever it takes to get resources out as swiftly as possible.

Obama says looking ahead, the Red Cross "knows what it's doing" and it's time for people to show some "generosity" by giving donations to aid their work, according to the pool report.

Who was called, according to the White House...


North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley

Delaware Governor Jack Markell

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Corbett

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett

New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch


District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray

City of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

City of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

City of Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy

Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate

National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb

The President was joined in the Situation Room by Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan, Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Richard Reed, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, Deputy Communications Director Jen Palmieri, and other senior members of the President's team.

New update to come out at 1:30 (central time) on Hurricane Sandy response:

Today, October 30 at 2:30 p.m. EDT, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, NOAA's National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Dr. Rick Knabb, Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Charley Shimanski, and U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Robert Parker will hold a conference call with media regarding Hurricane Sandy. The call will provide the latest storm details, coordination on the response efforts, important information for those impacted by the storm, and how the federal family is working with state, tribal, local and non-profit partners in response to the storm.

New update to come out at 1:30 (central time) on Hurricane Sandy response:

Today, October 30 at 2:30 p.m. EDT, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, NOAA's National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Dr. Rick Knabb, Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Charley Shimanski, and U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Robert Parker will hold a conference call with media regarding Hurricane Sandy. The call will provide the latest storm details, coordination on the response efforts, important information for those impacted by the storm, and how the federal family is working with state, tribal, local and non-profit partners in response to the storm.

WASHINGTON--New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie-- ferocious critic of President Barack Obama--who bashed him last August as "nothing more than a Chicago ward politician"--is praising him Tuesday for his Hurricane Sandy assistance to his storm battered state.

Christie, a major surrogate for Mitt Romney, is providing a testimonial to Obama a week before the election. Obama called Christie last night--as he did other New York and New Jersey officials who are dealing with the disaster.

"He called me last night around midnight, again, to say -- ask what else could be done and what we did last night. He was able to move forward very quickly with a major disaster declaration for New Jersey. He worked on that last night with me, offered any other assets that we need to help," Christie told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"i have to say the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them, and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this."

The day before Christie keynoted at the Republican National Convention he told the California delegation, "The president is nothing more than a Chicago ward politician," he said. ..."We've had enough of Chicago ward politics in the Oval Office. We need a real leader back in the Oval Office and we all got to work to get Mitt Romney there."

My column on Christie bashing Obama and Chicago is HERE.

President Obama has canceled his Wednesday events because of Hurricane Sandy.

Mitt Romney is headed to Florida.

Here's the details:

Boston, MA - On Wednesday, Mitt Romney will attend Victory Rallies at Landmark Aviation in Tampa, Florida, the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Florida and the Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, Florida. He will be joined at all events by Governor Jeb Bush and Congressman Connie Mack, U.S. Senate Candidate and at the first and second event by Senator Marco Rubio. The following events are open to the press.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Event: Governor Romney Attends Tampa Victory Rally with Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Jeb Bush, and Congressman Connie Mack, U.S. Senate Candidate

Location: Landmark Aviation

2450 N. Westshore Boulevard

Tampa, Florida

Doors Open: 8:45 AM EDT

Invite Time: 10:45 AM EDT

Program Time: 11:10 AM EDT

Tickets: Tickets may be picked up at the following locations:

South Tampa Victory Office

4465 Gandy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33611

Brandon Victory Office

1602 Oakfield Drive, Suite 207

Brandon, FL, 33511

Temple Terrace Victory Office

234 Bullard Pkwy

Temple Terrace, FL 33617

Tickets may also be obtained by visiting


Event: Governor Romney Attends Coral Gables Victory Rally with Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Jeb Bush, and Congressman Connie Mack, U.S. Senate Candidate

Location: BankUnited Center

University of Miami

1245 Dauer Drive

Coral Gables, Florida

Republican Bob Dold and Democrat Bill Foster hold leads in their suburban congressional races, newly released polling shows.

We Ask America, an affiliate of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, had Foster holding a lead over Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, though that race amounts to a dead heat.

The group's automated poll of 1,303 voters in the 11th Congressional District, taken on Sunday, showed Foster with 50.4 percent of the vote compared to 49.6 percent for Biggert.

The margin of error in the survey was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

The group showed women were evenly split at 50 percent between the two candidates, while men slightly favored Foster by a 50-48 percent margin.

Dold, meanwhile, had more daylight between himself and his Democratic rival, Brad Schneider, in the We Ask America poll of 1,257 likely voters.

The group had Dold with 53.6 percent of the vote compared to 46.4 percent for Schneider, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spent the weekend stumping in battleground Ohio for President Barack Obama, votes early on Tuesday, a week before the election. He'll do the deed at 3:15 p.m. Chicago time at the McKinley Park Fieldhouse, 2210 West Pershing Road.

No questions, please. City Hall advises, "this is a b-roll and photo opportunity only."

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama scratched stumping in battleground Ohio on Wednesday to remain at the White House to deal with the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

WASHINGTON--Hurricane Sandy has knocked First Lady Michelle Obama off the campaign trail for Tuesday. She stumped in Iowa on Monday and overnighted in Chicago--where she was also scheduled to be on Sunday night. Mrs. Obama's office said she has no public events on Tuesday and will overnight in Chicago.

President Barack Obama is at the White House on Tuesday and will be off the trail on Wednesday as well.

WASHINGTON--As Hurricane Sandy raged through the east coast and beyond Monday night this is what President Barack Obama was doing, according to a White House official:

"Throughout the night, the President was updated on the impacts of Sandy as it came ashore and moved inland. Overnight the President also spoke with New York Governor Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Christie, New York City Mayor Bloomberg, Jersey City Mayor Healy and Newark Mayor Booker. The President will also receive another briefing this a.m.

"Overnight the President also provided major disaster declarations for the states of New Jersey and New York - building on resources already available - and providing additional federal support for state and local efforts, as well as direct federal assistance to affected individuals in declared counties."

Hurricane Sandy batters the East Coast and triggers a flurry of storm-relief events -- in swing states.

West Allis, Wisc. -- A campaign rally by Mitt Romney was canceled in the swing state of Wisconsin on Monday due to Hurricane Sandy.

But that won't keep the GOP ticket from hitting the state -- and other swing states -- in the final days before next week's election. Expect the same out of the Democrats with Bill Clinton expected to make a stop in Wisconsin sometime this week, possibly on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan will make two stops in Wisconsin while Romney will visit Ohio -- both candidates call the visits storm relief-related.

Ryan's travels through his home state includes stopping by the La Crosse Victory Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Hudson Victory Center in Hudson, Wisconsin, "where he will thank volunteers who are delivering or collecting items for storm relief efforts," according to the campaign.

President Obama canceled a visit planned for Green Bay on Tuesday. Clinton though will be in Minneapolis Tuesday morning, then head to Duluth, MN and then to Colorado.

U.S. Attorney short list excludes judge, includes one woman

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Lori Lightfoot

The short list for the next U.S. Attorney has some surprises -- namely, who's not on it.

A committee that is helping screen potential choices for the next U.S. attorney has whittled the list of contenders from eight to four, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday.

Outside of the elections, this is the biggest political move that will affect the Chicago area.

"The legal profession in Chicago is almost more interested in who the U.S. Attorney is than who their elected officials are," said Kay Hoppe, of Credentia Inc., a legal consulting firm in Chicago.

The selection committee will forward a final list of names to U.S. senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill).

(To view a listing of the U.S. Attorneys across the country, including Bush-era holdovers: Click here.)

The four who sources say have been notified they are still in contention are:

Jonathan Bunge
◆ Jonathan Bunge, a former deputy chief of the U.S. attorney's general crimes section in Chicago, who now works with the Kirkland & Ellis law firm.

Zach Fardon
◆ Zach Fardon, who prosecuted former Gov. George Ryan in Chicago and was first assistant U.S. attorney in Nashville before going into private practice with Latham and Watkins in Chicago.

◆ Lori Lightfoot, who is the only female and only minority on the list. Lightfoot is one of the city's leading African-American attorneys and was once the chief administrator at the Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards. Lightfoot works with the Mayer Brown law firm.

Gil Soffer
◆ Gil Soffer, who worked in Washington, D.C., under former Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, who is co-chair of the selection committee, has served as a commissioner on the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission. The Harvard Law graduate is National Co-Head of White Collar Defense, Internal Investigations and Compliance Practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

The list does not include two candidates who insiders believed would be among the finalists -- U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall, who has traveled the world educating other jurisdictions on how to institute laws and prosecutorial practices against sex trafficking and child exploitation, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins, who spearheaded Operation Safe Road, which led to charges against Ryan -- one of the most significant investigations in the history of the office.

While Kendall was under consideration for the post, her caseload had been transferred to other judges. U.S. District Court Clerk Tom Bruton said on Monday that has not changed.

A Durbin spokeswoman would not comment Monday. But both senators have said they would work together and each has veto power over possible candidates.

A joint statement about the selection procedures said the committee will screen applicants "with the goal of recommending candidates of top quality," to senators Durbin and Kirk. Durbin and Kirk would then conduct interviews of finalists and consult with one another before submitting names to the White House, according to a release made available in June.

Though both senators said the process would be "transparent," several potential candidates who did not want to be named complained that they learned of the round of eight finalists from reading the newspaper and either were not given an opportunity to interview or were not notified by way of professional courtesy that they were no longer in the running.

Meanwhile, an unconfirmed list of four candidates had been circulating in the legal community for more than a week.

The topic of who would replace former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been the talk in the legal community since he announced his retirement in the Spring. But it has intensified of late.

"It's a crucial appointment, not only for former assistants, but for practically every law firm in Chicago. There's tremendous interest," Hoppe said. "[Former[ U.S. Attorneys or former assistants have been the backbone of the profession in this city. This is not an insignificant office. In this city, it's just a crucial office. The assistants are the finest and some of the most respected litigators in this city."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel opposes expelled, indicted former state Rep. Derrick Smith's election, but that doesn't equate to an endorsement of Smith's third-party opponent.
"The mayor is doing everything he can to re-elect the president which requires a great deal of the time he can dedicate to politics right now. He does not think Mr. Smith deserves to be re-elected," said Tom Bowen, executive director of Emanuel's political fund, The Chicago Committee.
Pressed on whether that means Emanuel is prepared to endorse Lance Tyson, who is backed by Secretary of State Jesse White, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and other Democratic Party leaders, Bowen demurred.
"Will just stick with the [the] statement for now," Bowen answered.
Smith was expelled from the Illinois House in August after being indicted on a federal bribery charge for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an FBI informant in exchange for helping a purported daycare operator obtain a state grant.

A new poll released Monday spelled bad news for Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh in his re-election bid against Democrat Tammy Duckworth.
Duckworth, the disabled Iraqi War veteran, had 54 percent compared to Walsh's 45 percent in an automated We Ask American poll of 1,010 likely voters in the 8th Congressional District. The survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, was taken Sunday.
"Walsh surprised many by keeping this race competitive as long as he did, but Duckworth's campaign has taken advantage of Walsh's without-exception pro-life views while whacking him for not paying child support," the polling firm said in a statement on its website (
"That one-two punch seems to have pushed Walsh over the edge where he now may be in a free fall," said the group, which is affiliated with the Illinois Manufacturers' Association.
Walsh's campaign did not respond Monday to a message, seeking comment on the results, which came out along with another survey that showed Walsh trailing Duckworth.
The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found Duckworth leading Walsh by 54 to 40 percent in a poll of 500 likely voters in the suburban congressional district. The survey, taken last Thursday and Friday, carried a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
The poll was commissioned by CREDO SuperPAC, which has targeted Walsh for defeat.
Both polls come after a Chicago Sun-Times report Saturday about a conservative SuperPAC, the Now or Never SuperPAC, opting against pumping another $2.5 million into Walsh's campaign after plowing $2 million into it earlier.

State senator jeered, booted from candidate forum

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Martin Sandoval, the Democratic state senator from Cicero, isn't on the ballot in next week's election in the 77th Illinois House District. Yet, he became the star attraction at a candidate forum in that heated race in Melrose Park.

In a video posted on YouTube, Sandoval stood on a chair and attempted to shout his disdain for Republicans during a forum Saturday. The crowd drowned him out by chanting the Spanish word for "respect," and event organizers and a police officer herded him out of the church hall where the event was held.

Updated with Duckworth react...

WASHINGTON--Outside groups are spending millions of dollars in Illinois House races with the most, so far, in a hotly contested race in central Illinois and the least in the Chicago area battle between Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, according to Federal Election Commission records.

It appears that Duckworth's lead in the north/northwest suburban district has convinced outside groups--overall-- to keep their spending down. A close race between Rep. Bobby Schillling (R-Ill.) v Democrat Cheri Bustos in a district anchored near Peoria has spurred a spending war.

The FEC requires outside groups to report independent expenditures for or against a candidate. Outside spending is separate than money raised for a candidates' campaign. Independent expenditures consist of spending by individuals, groups, political committees, unions or corporations.

Under the rules, "these expenditures may not be made in concert or cooperation with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, the candidate's campaign or a political party," according to the FEC.

With the election this close, spending above $1,000 must be reported to the FEC on a daily basis. The money is not divided equally. Duckworth spokesman Anton Becker said, "the ratio of outside spending is 10 to 1 against us and for Joe Walsh. I don't think the ratio is that one sided in the other races."

Here is the top spending in the most contested Illinois House races as of Monday, according to the FEC:

8th Congressional District, Walsh v Duckworth

10th Congressional District, Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) v Democrat Brad Schneider

11th Congressional District, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) v former Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.)

12th Congressional District, Democrat William Enyart v Republican Jason Plummer

13th Congressional District, Democrat David Gill v Republican Rodney Davis

17th Congressional District, Rep. Bobby Schillling (R-Ill.) v Democrat Cheri Bustos

WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are scrubbing Monday afternoon and Tuesday events because of Hurricane Sandy. President Barack Obama already canceled Monday and Tuesday events. This puts both campaigns on hold to an extent in the final week before the election.

From the Romney campaign:

"Out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy, we are canceling tonight's events with Governor Romney in Wisconsin and Congressman Ryan in Melbourne and Lakeland, Florida. We are also canceling all events currently schedule for both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan on Tuesday. Governor Romney believes this is a time for the nation and its leaders to come together to focus on those Americans who are in harms way. We will provide additional details regarding Governor Romney's and Congressman Ryan's schedule when they are available." -- Gail Gitcho, Romney Communications Director

WASHINGTON--Former President Bill Clinton is on final week sprint for President Barack Obama--who will be loosing campaign days due to Hurricane Sandy. Clinton is stumping for Obama in Florida and Ohio on Monday--here is the rest of his schedule:

From the campaign:
Obama for America announced today that former President Bill Clinton will campaign this week in Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. After joining Vice President Biden for a grassroots event in Youngstown Ohio today, President Clinton will travel to Minnesota for campaign rallies on Tuesday.

President Clinton's trip will include both a mix of battleground states, where he will continue to lay out the choice for the American people in this election, and states with strong Democratic bases, where he will fire up supporters and urge them to help get out the vote for President Obama.

Get More: Music News

President Obama took time to answer questions from MTV viewers in a special segment called "Ask Obama Live: An MTV Interview With the President" hosted by MTV News' Sway Calloway.

Obama largely covered his boilerplate campaign statements, but did take time to talk about the murder and violence epidemic in Chicago, pointing out that shootings happen just blocks from his Kenwood home:

"I live on the South side of Chicago," said Obama, who lives in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood. "Some of these murders are happening just a few blocks from where I live. I have friends whose family members have been killed."

"What I know is that gun violence is part of the issue," he said. "But part of the issue also is kids who feel so little hope and think their prospects for the future are so small that their attitude is, 'I'm going to end up in jail or dead.' And they will take all kinds of risks."

"If they've got mental health issues, are they getting the kind of services and counseling that they need early on?" he said.

"Are we making those investments in those young people so that by the time they're 11, 12, 13, 15 ... they can make responsible choices because they feel they've got something at stake?"

This interview comes on the same weekend that Chicago tied its total murder count from 2011 with 435 homicides - before the end of October this year.

The interview first aired Friday live and you can catch the rest of the segments here.

MTV - and its viewers - have come a long way in covering elections and the questions asked since this watershed moment in American history:

Get More: MTV Shows

WASHINGTON--Hurricane Sandy has forced President Barack Obama to cancel more campaign activities--on Tuesday--one week before the election--Obama scrubbed a rally in battleground Wisconsin, in Green Bay. Mitt Romney stumps in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis on Monday night. Romney tapping Janesville Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate helped put Wisconsin in play.

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama scratched an Orlando rally with former President Bill Clinton on Monday morning, instead flying back to the White House as the wrath of Hurricane Sandy is already starting to be felt on the east coast. Clinton will appear solo for Obama this morning and twin with Vice President Joe Biden later today for a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.

Obama flew to battleground Florida on Sunday to get ahead of Hurricane Sandy and rallied his troops last night at a campaign office where he delivered pizza and a pep talk. By Monday morning, the plan had changed and Obama was winging back to the White House to monitor the storm. A rally with Clinton in northern Virginia had already been cancelled.

President Obama on Sunday signed five emergency declarations, authorizing federal aid and assistance to response efforts, as Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast this weekend.

That includes New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C., Massachusetts and New York.

The turbulent storm is hitting the East Coast a little more than a week before the Nov. 6 election. It had the president take a detour from several events in key battleground states.

However, he is still to appear with former president Bill Clinton in Orlando, Florida on Monday. Vice President Joe Biden will step in for Obama at other Clinton events.

Obama on Sunday was part of an operations briefing at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington D.C. and spoke with governors for potentially impacted states and mayors of the cities possibly impacted.

In an availability, Obama called Sandy a "serious and big storm," and urged residents "to take this very seriously" and follow advice of state and local officials.

"As Craig (Fugate) has emphasized, this hasn't hit landfall yet," Obama said earlier Sunday. "So we don't yet know where it's gonna hit, where we're going to see the biggest impacts and that's exactly why it's so important for us to respond big and respond fast as local information starts coming in."

He sent a message to those potentially impacted by the storm: "Anything they need, we will be there." And said the administration would provide the "Best possible response to a big and messy system."

"As conditions worsen along the Mid-Atlantic and other parts of the East Coast, residents need to listen to the direction of local officials," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in a statement. "This is a large storm and the potential impacts from wind, coastal flooding, inland flooding, rain and snow will affect many states. If you're on the coast, it's time to act and follow evacuation orders. If you're inland, now is the time to make final preparations. Be ready for power outages and stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, medications, and other supplies."

As if the prospect of another week of presidential campaigning - and ads - weren't scary enough, Joss Whedon has introduced zombies into the fray.

Whedon's may just have Clint Eastwood beat with this spot telling us that a vote for Romney is, essentially a vote for the inhuman walkin dead a Romney presidency would lead to. Maybe it's a side effect of Romnesia.

At least Whedon's getting into the halloween spirit. Though this guy may have stolen the thunder of the idea.

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama is further cutting back on his campaigning because of Hurricane Sandy, on Monday heading back to the White House after an event with former President Bill Clinton in Orlando, Fl. to deal with the storm. Obama and Clinton were supposed to stump in three battlegrounds on Monday: Florida, Virginia and Ohio. The northern Virginia event is scrubbed and Vice President Joe Biden will appear with Clinton in Youngstown, Ohio.

Statement by the Press Secretary on Additional Changes to the President's Travel on Monday

Tomorrow, the President will return to the White House following his event in Orlando, FL, to monitor Hurricane Sandy, which is currently forecast to make landfall along the Eastern seaboard later tomorrow. The event in Youngstown, OH, will move forward with President Clinton and include Vice President Biden.

The President continues to be regularly updated on the storm. Today, he participated in an operations briefing at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. During the briefing, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate updated the President on ongoing deployments of teams and resources by federal partners to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas. The President also received an update on the storm from National Hurricane Director Rick Knabb, and later spoke directly with Governors and Mayors from potentially impacted states to ensure there were no unmet needs. The President continues to receive regular updates on the storm, and continues to direct his team to make sure all available resources are brought to bear to support state and local partners.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended President Barack Obama on Libya and praised him as a decisive leader on Sunday, after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) again accused the President Barack Obama of either "massive cover-up or massive incompetence" over the Sept. 11 attacks where four Americans were killed.

Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff and McCain, who ran against Obama in 2008, were guests on CBS' "Face the Nation," where they represented the Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. Emanuel did the interview from Akron, spending the weekend in battleground Ohio stumping for Obama.

McCain, who was interviewed first, turned to Obama's handling of Libya and the shifting explanations of the administration over what happened when the consulate in Bengahzi was attacked. "It is still the -- it is now the worst cover-up or incompetence that I have ever observed in my life," said McCain, who has made that point in previous public appearences.

He added, "I don't know if it's either cover-up or gross -- the worst kind of incompetence which doesn't allow -- it doesn't qualify the president as commander in chief."

Emanuel mounted a defense that echoed Obama administration explanations: "You have an event, a changing event. You don't have people on the ground, in a sense, for that information. The intelligence community, many different apparatuses from military intelligence, national security intelligence, CIA is assembling that information to give you the best picture, and events change," Emanuel said.

Moving on to Obama's foreign policy record, Emanuel said, "At every level of America's foreign policy abroad, in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Mideast is respected because they have seen this president take decisive leadership, take positions that he has executed from Iran to the protection of Israel to changing the war in Iraq and America's foreign policy to rebuilding us at home, reorienting America's resources to the threat coming or the challenge coming from China.

"That is a foreign policy that has made America continue to be the leader of the free world and with its values. And I would actually disagree with what the senator said. And if you look across the waterfront, America's leadership has never been stronger."

Obama to church on Sunday

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WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama, Malia and Sasha attended church Sunday morning along with Kaye Wilson, who the girls have known forever since she is their godmother from Chicago. A little after church, Obama headed to FEMA headquarters for a briefing on Hurricane Sandy.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who is flying to Chicago Sunday to get ahead of Hurricane Sandy--so she can make her Iowa Monday stop--was not with them because she was getting ready to leave early for her trip, the White House said.

They walked from the White House across Lafayette Park to St. John's Episcopal Church, about a block away.

The Obama family rarely attends public church services; they never picked one Washington church to attend. The White House reminded Sunday that while "they have visited St. John's on a number of occasions, and have also worshipped with many other D.C.-area churches, including 19th Street Baptist Church, the Washington National Cathedral, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, and Evergreen Chapel at Camp David."

One of the last times the Obama family attended church was Aug. 19; see my post about that visit HERE.

Before that, the last time the Obama family attended church in Washington D.C. was last Easter; read my post HERE.

WASHINGTON--With Hurricane Sandy working its way up the east coast, President Barack Obama on Sunday is off the campaign trail and, after church, will visit the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating the federal government response for the monster storm coming in the final week for the election.

From the pool report: "While at FEMA the President will participate in a briefing on the storm and be updated on the ongoing efforts to support local preparedness efforts in potentially affected areas."

WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney stumps in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis on Monday night, hitting battleground Wisconsin--and avoiding any problems from Hurricane Sandy. He will headline a rally at the Expo Center at the State Fair Park. Milwaukee's western suburbs are rich in GOP votes.

On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden was in Kenosha--stopping at a local landmark familiar to a lot of Chicagoans hitting the outlet malls on I-94 or heading home from Lake Geneva: Mars Cheese Castle. Biden was campaigning at the nearby University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama--in a change of plans--will fly to Chicago on Sunday and spend the night in her home town in order, I am told, to get ahead of Hurricane Sandy and make her Monday campaign stops in battleground Iowa. President Barack Obama also scrambled is travel schedule and is leaving the White House Sunday night to stump in battleground Florida with Bill Clinton Monday there and in Ohio. Because of the storm, working its way up the east coast, Obama is canceling his northern Virginia stop with Clinton on Monday in order to return to the White House to monitor developments.

Mrs. Obama is also planning to spend Monday night in Chicago. No word yet if she is going to their South Side home.

WASHINGTON--Hurricane Sandy is disrupting the Obama and Romney campaigns' final week sprint, with events scrubbed and the storm impacting early voting in battleground states.

As the colossal storm works its way up the East Coast -- with predictions it could turn inland -- forecasters are issuing dire warnings of days-long power outages, flooding, strong winds, rain, snow and cold temperatures.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama, who stumped in battleground New Hampshire, was briefed on emergency preparations aboard Air Force One, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinated federal assistance to state and local first responders.

As the Eastern Seaboard is braced for the brunt of the storm, Obama is finding his last days of campaigning curtailed to deal with the potential disaster. A Hurricane Katrina-like disaster response -- which haunted former President George W. Bush -- could create an enormous problem for Obama just before the election.

On Saturday evening the White House announced Obama is canceling one of three events with former President Bill Clinton on Monday to return to the White House "to continue to monitor Hurricane Sandy," predicted to make landfall late Monday. Also, a visit to Colorado Springs on Tuesday has also been canceled -- with possible additional scrubs.

"The president will continue to receive regular briefings [on emergency preparations] and has made clear that he expects his team to continue to lean forward as Hurricane Sandy approaches," the White House said.

The battlegrounds most potentially impacted are Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, with the storm possible blowing as far west as parts of Ohio. Extended power outages could curtail early voting place operations.

With Romney and Obama focused on winning the battleground electoral votes, RealClearPolitics estimates Obama still has a slight Electoral College edge, 201 to 191, with 146 electoral votes up for grabs; 270 are needed.

The rundown:

† Romney canceled his Sunday Virginia stops and instead will join running mate Paul Ryan on a bus tour of battleground Ohio.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday declared a state of emergency, which influenced Romney's decision to scratch his visit. Campaigning in Kissimmee, Fla., Romney said Saturday, "I was looking forward to being in Virginia tomorrow, but you know the hurricane is headed up there."

Early voting started in battleground Florida on Saturday.

† Biden's Saturday visit to Virginia Beach -- to stump with his wife, Jill, and son Beau Biden, the Delaware attorney general -- was canceled "out of an abundance of caution" so to "all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm."

† Obama's Monday appearance with Clinton in Prince William County, Va., is the one shelved. Obama and Clinton are still booked for Orlando, Fla., and Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday.

† Sandy could head as far north as Massachusetts and New Hampshire, where a rally headlined by first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday at the University of New Hampshire has been canceled. A Boston swing is also canceled.

With some of the East Coast in the state of emergency Saturday, President Obama will cancel some campaign events Monday -- including one with Bill Clinton -- and return to the White House.

Obama will still attend an event in Youngstown, OH, with Clinton but then will return to Washington D.C.

"The President will return to the White House to continue to monitor Hurricane Sandy, which is currently forecasted to make landfall along the Eastern seaboard late that day," Obama's press secretary said in a statement. "As a result, the events in Northern Virginia on Monday and in Colorado Springs on Tuesday have been cancelled. Additional changes to Tuesday's schedule will be announced as warranted."

"The President is being regularly updated on the storm and ongoing preparations, and he has directed his team to continue to bring all available resources to bear as state and local partners continue to prepare for the storm. FEMA has already deployed teams and has pre-staged resources to potentially affected states and areas ahead of the storm, and FEMA remains in close contact with emergency responders in states up and down the East coast to ensure there are no unmet needs. The President will continue to receive regular briefings on these efforts, and has made clear that he expects his team to continue to lean forward as Hurricane Sandy approaches."

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to campaign in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin on Monday.

WASHINGTON -- Hurricane Sandy is disrupting the Obama and Romney campaigns' sprint to the finish as the storm works its way up the East Coast, with events in battleground Virginia already canceled.

With Sandy's main hit expected Monday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also have to weigh what voters will think if they are on the stump -- and not in the White House.

The storm could have an impact further west -- in another key battleground state, Ohio. High winds have already been blowing through battleground Florida -- where early voting starts on Saturday.

Virginia is in line for a beating. Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday declared a state of emergency with flooding and widespread power outrages expected starting late Saturday or early Sunday, especially in the eastern part of the state.

With the action in the battlegrounds, Romney is up in Virginia by 1.2 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

As RCP is calling it, Obama still has a slight Electoral College edge, 201 to 191 for Romney, with 146 electoral votes up for grabs; 270 are needed to clinch.

The rundown:

† On Friday, Obama was briefed by Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan and National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb on preparations for Sandy. A Katrina-like disaster response could create an enormous problem for Obama just before the election.

† Biden's Saturday visit to Virginia Beach -- to stump with his wife, Jill, and son Beau Biden, the Delaware attorney general -- has been canceled "out of an abundance of caution" so "all local law enforcement and emergency management resources can stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm."

† Romney's Sunday stops in Virginia may not take place because of the storm.

† At least one of Obama's Monday appearances with former President Bill Clinton -- the one in Virginia -- may be at risk. Obama and Clinton are booked in Orlando; Youngstown, Ohio, and in Prince William County, Va., not far from Washington.

† Sandy could head as far north as battleground New Hampshire, where a rally headlined by first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday at the University of New Hampshire has been scrubbed.

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel hits battleground Ohio to stump for President Barack Obama on Saturday and Sunday--revving up Obama volunteers and shoring up Jewish votes. Obama's former chief of staff is a headliner on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday morning; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. is also booked on the show to represent the Mitt Romney campaign.

Both Emanuel and McCain stumped for their respective candidates in Florida last week..

WASHINGTON--The campaign fund for Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) who has been away from Congress since mid-June--and is now back at the Mayo Clinic to treat his bi-polar disorder and depression--took in $11,550 between Oct.1 and Oct. 16, according to a pre-election report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

The donors were political action committees; no individual contributions had been made. The Jackson fund reported spending $11,342 during his period, including the $5,000 monthly payment to the firm run by Jackson's wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson, who also runs his campaign. Jackson's general election campaign most public display was a robo call to district voters last week.

WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle won't be missing Halloween at the White House--a presidential tradition.

From the White House: "On Wednesday, the President will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio and Akron, Ohio for campaign events. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the North Portico of the White House."

Obama told Jay Leno on Tuesday, referring to the crucial swing state Ohio: "If anybody comes from Ohio to the White House, they will get a Hershey bar about this big. It'll be huge."

Vice President Joe Biden was just up the road from Chicago on Friday in Kenosha in battleground Wisconsin--stopping at a local landmark familiar to a lot of Chicagoans hitting the outlet malls on I-94 or heading home from Lake Geneva: Mars Cheese Castle. Biden was campaigning at the nearby University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Here's the pool report from Huffington Post reporter Jen Bendery

To everyone's delight, the motorcade rolled up to Mars' Cheese Castle at 3:18 for an OTR pit stop.

The store actually looks like a castle, with drawbridge chains and everything. It sells all kinds of freshly made cheese, including chocolate cheese, and has statues of large mice eating cheese in various spots around the store.

Biden walked in and began introducing himself to people lined up by the door. Most of what he said was out of earshot, but there were several "I'm Joe" and "how are ya" exchanges.

He went up to 12-year-old Shane and said, "Hey little buddy, how are you?" Shane replied, "I'm... good." Biden, now with his arm around the kid, said, "You look like you're good, man."

Biden turned to Shane's brother Tyler, who is 15, and shook his hand. "You got a great handshake man."

A third kid standing there was identified as their friend. Biden told him, "Hey friend. I'm Joe Biden. Nice to see ya."

Your pooler talked to them afterwards and asked their mom, Kathy Griffin, if she was an Obama supporter. She said she's still undecided.

Asked if talking to Biden had any effect on her position, Griffin said, "Um, I don't want to say for sure."

Biden introduced himself to several others as he made his way to the back, where cheese was on display. He said hello to Charlotte Cahill, from Chicago, who praised him for his debate performance. He also met Allison Vercauteren and Brad Berth from Green Bay, who just got engaged yesterday.

Tyson Wehrmeister, the general manager of the store, walked Biden through all their varieties of cheese. Everything came to a screeching halt when Wehrmeister pointed to their 13-year-old sharp cheddar. "Wait wait, no no no, where" Biden said, before Wehrmeister could go on. "I'm going to get some."

Wehrmeister also pointed to their chocolate cheese and said Biden had probably never heard of that. "That's true, I haven't," he said, turning to the press. "Have any of you guys ever had chocolate cheese?" (Nope)

Their chocolate cheese was apparently featured on the Food Network.

Biden finally made his cheese picks and posed for pictures before heading out. Amid the hubbub, one woman walked up to the cheese counter with her kids, who seemed confused by Biden and the all the cameras. She told them, "There's an election and they want to win it....I just need some Lindberg cheese."

Motorcade rolled out around 3:35, headed to campaign event.

One interesting looking spot we passed on our drive: a lingerie show at the Dead End Saloon.

Photo: Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

The conservative SuperPAC that had already plowed $2 million on Tea Party conservative Joe Walsh, and had sought to put in another $2.5 million, is now putting the money elsewhere.

A spokesman with the Now or Never SuperPAC told the Chicago Sun-Times today that the group believes Walsh is secure and no longer needs its money. Walsh, already a flame thrower, made national headlines last week by declaring that abortion was never necessary to save the life of a mother. In an atypical move, he held a news conference the following day to clarify his remarks.

A Tribune/WGN poll released Friday showed Duckworth ahead by 10 points, though Walsh's campaign said that poll has been inconsistent with numbers it has seen all along.

From Tyler Harber, Now or Never spokesman:

"The Now or Never PAC has analyzed the IL8 race, weighing the candidate's individual campaigns, activities of outside groups and the trajectory of the race itself," said spokesman Tyler Harber. "We have concluded that Walsh is on his way to a win over Tammy Duckworth, allowing Now or Never to devote resources to helping Republicans win the U.S. Senate by entering the Arizona, Ohio, Montana and North Dakota races.

This does not mean that we are leaving Walsh completely. Our initial investment of nearly $2 million dollars continues to influence voters daily. In fact, one of our most recent pieces of mail in the race was received as recent as this week.

We are spending the $2.5 million elsewhere now. However, we have reason to believe that several other outside groups will continue to make significant investments in the IL8 race in the coming days."


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not appear to have any serious injuries after his motorcade was involved in a multi-car accident in Las Vegas, according to sources familiar with the incident. He walked into the hospital on his own power.

Bill Clinton joins Obama to campaign in key swing states

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As the two parties battle over key swing states, President Obama is enlisting some help from one of his biggest weapons -- Bill Clinton.

Clinton will appear with Clinton next week in Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Romney, who spent all day Thursday in Ohio, will hop across to Wisconsin on Monday.

From the Obama campaign:

On Monday, October 29, President Obama and President Bill Clinton will campaign in Orlando, Florida; Youngstown, Ohio; and Prince William County, Virginia. President Bill Clinton will introduce the President at all three grassroots events, and will lay out a clear picture of the economic choice Americans face in this election.

While on the trail, President Obama will share his vision to create an economy that's built to last versus going back to the same failed top-down policies that hurt middle-class families. The President has a concrete and specific second-term plan to continue restoring economic security to the middle class and to avoid returning to the same policies that crashed the economy. To view the President's plan, visit The President will highlight the choice facing Americans in this election between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy, create middle-class jobs and restore middle-class economic security.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been taken via ambulance to a Las Vegas hospital after what's reported to have been a five-vehicle crash on Interstate 15 involving his motorcade.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, a source reports that Sen. Reid had no visible injuries but his trip to University Medical Center Trauma was a precaution. While more details on the crash - other injuries and how it happened - aren't currently available, the Sun did report, "Trooper Loy Hixson said five vehicles were involved in the accident: two vehicles carrying Reid and members of his party; two Metro Police vehicles; and one civilian vehicle."

Reid's wife, Landra, was scheduled to speak at an event in Las Vegas along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Mitt Romney visits Wisconsin Monday

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After spending all day in Ohio on Thursday, Mitt Romney has his sights on Wisconsin.
His campaign today said he will visit West Allis Wisconsin for a rally on Monday night.


Event: Governor Romney Attends West Allis Victory Rally

Location: Wisconsin Products Pavilion

640 South 84th Street
West Allis, Wisconsin

Doors Open: 5:00 PM CDT
Invite Time: 7:00 PM CDT
Program Time: 7:30 PM CDT

WASHINGTON--For a $150 donation--or even less--to the Obama campaign, a contributor will be entered in a lottery to get "right up front" with President Barack Obama in Chicago on election night.

The latest Obama fund-raising gimmick came Friday in an e-mail from Obama senior strategist David Axelrod, who made the appeal for $150 personal.

Axelrod excerpt...

"I first met Barack Obama in 1992.

"Back before he was a state senator, a candidate, the President of the United States, a husband or a father, he was a 30-year-old guy running voter registration drives in Chicago. He made an impression on me -- and when, in 2007, he decided to run for president, I signed up without hesitation.

"I thought, if I could help Barack Obama get to the White House, I would have accomplished something great in my life.

"Supporters like you, who were with us in 2008, know it's been a long and amazing journey, and our small team of a few became a movement of millions. Now, we're in the final days of his last campaign, fighting to keep Barack Obama in the White House, and he needs your support more than ever. We're planning his last Election Night -- and he wants you to be there.

Donate $150 or whatever you can today, and you'll be automatically entered to meet President Obama and be right up front at his Election Night speech.

"I don't know how this is going to end. But no matter what, I know each of us will have given this campaign everything we've got. ..."

What's in a name? In Lake County race, a murky background

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carbone.jpeg He's running as Michael Carbone but for most of his life, he's been Michael Jorudd

Michael Carbone is running for Lake County Board on a promise to lower property taxes, create jobs and keep the workings of government transparent.

But it's Carbone's own past that is murky.

For most of his life -- including at Antioch High School, where he graduated -- he was known as Michael Jorudd.

Under that name, he racked up criminal arrests and charges that include driving on a suspended license, criminal trespass to property, assault and two DUI charges.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Carbone insisted that the fact he's now using a different name doesn't mean he's trying to hide anything.

"We went through the process, and I came up victorious every time," he said of his bouts with the law. "I was young, a different age. People aren't perfect. I never said I was perfect. I am not a perfect person."

Read the rest of the story here: Carbone Jorudd

Duckworth opens up 10-point lead over Walsh, poll finds

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Tammy Duckworth has a 10-point lead over U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh in their battle for the 8th Congressional District, according to a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll.

Duckworth, the Democratic challenger, was supported by 50 percent of respondents, compared with 40 percent for Republican Walsh, according to the poll.

The poll cited a particularly large gender gap, with women choosing Duckworth 54 percent to Walsh's 34 percent.

Read the complete poll results here

Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu was on CNN Thursday night discussing the election with Piers Morgan. Morgan asked Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, what the endorsement today by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, for President Obama meant.

Morgan wondered if Powell should switch parties in light of this, his second endorsement for Obama.

There are many lines of reasoning, argument or reason Sununu could have taken to answer the question. In fact, he started by pointing out that former President George W. Bush has endorsed Romney. But, instead, he went with race:

"Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder if that's an endorsement based on issues, or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama?"

"What reason would that be?" Morgan asked.

"Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."

Bypassing the ballot box

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According to an analysis by Prof. Michael McDonald at George Mason University, early voting (also termed "mail-in" voting or "absentee" voting depending on the state) appears to be practiced most prominently in western, and particularly west coast, states.

This includes Oregon, where 100% of all votes cast are done so through mail-in ballots following a 1998 ballot initiative standardizing the practice.

Nationally, early voting continues to trend upward:

1972: Just 4% of voters cast their vote early.

2004: 20% of votes were cast early.

2008: 30% of votes were cast early.

So far this year, more than 8 million Americans have already cast their vote early.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, greets supporters on the tarmac upon his arrival on Air Force One at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012.
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Obama is upping the slams on GOP challenger Mitt Romney as Election Day approaches. In a soon-to-be-published interview with Rolling Stone, a clip of which was obtained by Politico, Obama had a harsh word for his opponent. According to Politico, Douglas Brinkley reports in the interview:

"We arrived at the Oval Office for our 45-minute interview ... on the morning of October 11th. ... As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. ... [S]he said, 'Tell him: You can do it.' Obama grinned. ... 'You know, kids have good instincts,' Obama offered. 'They look at the other guy and say, "Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell."'"

Added to his previous comments about "Romnesia" and his "horses and bayonets" slam at this week's debate, it all signals a hyper-aggressive approach from a president who stayed above this kind of fray when he ran in 2008. Expect mass GOP hysteria in 3... 2... 1...

A new car service that allows Chicago taxicab riders to use their smart phones to order cabs is in hot water with City Hall for tacking a 20 percent tip onto the metered fare.

A Chicago police officer who returned to the force despite being shot in the throat and paralyzed has been elected to represent his fellow officers on their pension fund's board.

Mike Lappe, whose dramatic story was detailed in the Chicago Sun-Times in July, claimed victory Thursday in the seven-way race for a three-year term as a police pension board trustee.

Lappe, 58, nearly died from the injuries he suffered while responding to a disturbance in Jefferson Park 24 years ago. Still, Lappe insisted on returning work in a "limited-duty" role and now says he "can perform every kind of function, except run."

It took downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) two years and 30 legislative rewrites to push through his plan to license and regulate condominiums turned into hotel suites.

Obama "very excited" about Colin Powell endorsement:

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From this morning's pool report:

"The Obama team had no advance warning of Colin Powell endorsement and learned about it while holding before the event in Tampa.

Before taking stage, Potus called Powell to thank him, though there was no discussion of any joint appearances. (Jen) Psaki said they were "very excited" about the endorsement: "We think it sends a strong signal about why he should be sent back for another four years to be commander in chief."

Verbal gaffes are something that hurt both sides of political contests. See: President Obama's "You didn't build that" comment or any number of things Vice President Joe Biden has said over the years. But lately it's been conservatives that have really stuck their foots in their mouths. And I'm not even including the latest buffoonery from Donald Trump. This week alone has shown three high profile examples:

  • Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock whose comment invoking religion in pregnancies from rape has netted him enough bad press that Todd Akin is probably sending him a thank you card.
  • Ann Coulter, the Nickleback of punditry (because millions read her but no one will admit to it), delivered another misstep when, after this week's debate, she called President Obama a "retard."
  • And, last but not least, former Alaska governor, VP candidate, and reality TV star Sarah Palin garnered scorn for using the racially insensitive phrase "shuck and jive" when referring to President Obama.

(No word on how Palin, whose son Trig has Down syndrome and has rallied against the use of the word "retard," feels about Coulter's comment.)

It was all a little much for our own Mary Mitchell, who weighed in with her most recent column and in the video above. Says Mitchell today:

African-Americans have heard so many white pundits use racially insensitive language to criticize the nation's first African-American President, and they have sucked it up.

After all, what first black anything didn't have to endure racist taunts.

But Palin used language that is not only linked to slavery and Jim Crow, but is associated with the kind of "clowning" educated black people frown upon.

Palin doesn't know anything about that.

Be sure to read all of Mitchell's column on the issue here.


President Barack Obama touches down in Chicago for a few hours to early vote to send a message to backers to follow his example. The Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns are mounting massive early vote drives in order to lock-up supporters. Obama will be in Chicago less than three hours; then he returns to his battleground state blitz.

Obama's Chicago schedule:

3:25PM THE PRESIDENT arrives Chicago, Illinois

O'Hare International Airport

4:10PM THE PRESIDENT votes early in-person

Chicago, Illinois

6:00PM THE PRESIDENT departs Chicago, Illinois

O'Hare International Airport

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fl.--At a Thursday morning rally in Tampa, President Barack Obama is jumping on the rape comment by GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock to make an appeal to female voters, saying women "should be making their own health care decisions."

The Obama team is highlighting Mitt Romney's endorsement of Mourdock--and the ad he made for him.

Said Obama, "While we're at it, as we saw again this week, I don't think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making health care decisions for women. Women can make those decisions themselves. I don't think your boss or your insurance company should be making those decisions. Women should be making their own health care decisions. That's why the health care law we passed put those choices in your hands. That's where it belongs. And that's where it'll stay as long as I am President of the United States."

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fl.--Once again, former Secretary of State Colin Powell is endorsing President Barack Obama. The backing of the Republican in 2008 was an important vouch for Obama's military and national security credentials. If Powell had supported Mitt Romney, it would have been a blow to Obama. The endorsement comes as Romney is blistering Obama on defense spending.

Could speed cameras generate far more cash than Rahm says?

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel is counting on new speed cameras to pump as much as $30 million into the cash-strapped city's budget next year, but the potential revenues from the cameras ultimately could be far greater, judging by Washington, D.C.'s experience with the devices.

The Washington Post reports that one speed camera alone generated $11.6 million in fines in less than two years, with the capitol city's top 10 speed cameras bringing in $41.6 million over the same period.

Washington has 46 speed cameras, while Chicago plans to start its program at about 40 locations near parks and schools.

As in Chicago, critics in Washington say the cameras are just a money grab. But D.C. police told the Post that the cameras deserve credit for a drop in traffic fatalities there.


Two west suburban congressional candidates clashed over gay marriage in a debate at WTTW on Wednesday night as Democratic candidate Bill Foster blasted his opponent, charging she had yet to evolve on the issue.

Foster criticized his opponent, U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert for only supporting civil unions, saying it didn't go far enough. He said she was too slow to change on the issue, even though his own position on the issue had recently changed.

"She has not yet evolved. So, she's crawling out of the swamp or something," Foster said in an availability. Asked if he too were slow to coming out of the swamp, Foster replied: "I'm all dry, fluffed off and happy to be a hominid."

The 11th Congressional District is one of three hotly contested races in northern Illinois, one that could help shift the balance of power in Washington.

Biggert, of Hinsdale, has been in Congress for 14 years, but after a congressional remap, she's running in a new district heavily favoring Democrats.

Foster, who lives in Naperville, served one term in Congress representing a neighboring district. He lost his re-election bid and now is in a statistical dead heat with Biggert, according to recent polls.

Each candidate has spent millions of dollars on the race and launched attack ads against the other.

During the debate Biggert said she was on her way to supporting same sex marriage, but wasn't quite there yet. "I think this is a matter for the state," she said.

"I support marriage equality, it is not ambiguous," Foster responded.

Foster later acknowledged that he came to support gay marriage relatively recently and could not recall if he was on record opposing it during his last unsuccessful run for Congress in the former 14th Congressional District, a more Republican-leaning district.

They were asked to comment on the controversial comment that Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock made in a Tuesday debate. Mourdock was explaining the only exception he had for abortion was the life of the mother. "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen," he said.

"I think that was not a good statement at all," Biggert said.

Foster said it was symptomatic of a whole party gone astray.

"It's something you see over and over," Foster said. "The extreme, rightward lurch of the Republican Party."

LENO: The senate candidate Richard Mourdock. He made a statement today -- or I -- or at least I saw it today. I want quote what he said. He said -- he was asked about rape and -- "I struggled with it, myself, for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God. And even if life begins in a horrible situation of rape, it is something God intended to happen " which -- I mean, this seems like we're back to Todd Akin time again.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well -- you know, I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition.

LENO: Mm-hm.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so, these various distinctions about rape and, you know -- don't make too much sense to me. Don't make any sense to me. The second thing this underscores, though, this is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians -- mostly male -- making decisions about women's health care decisions. I -- women are capable of making these decisions in consultation with their partners, with their doctors. And, you know, for politicians to want to intrude in this stuff, often times without any information, is a huge problem. And this is obviously a part of what's at stake in this election. You've got a Supreme Court that -- you know, typically a president is gonna have probably another couple of appointments during the course of his term. And, you know, Roe vs. Wade is probably hanging in the balance. You've got issues like Planned Parenthood where, you know, that organization provides millions of women cervical cancer screenings, mammograms -- all kinds of basic healthcare.

LENO: Right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And so I think it's really important for us to -- to understand that women are capable of making these decisions and that these are not just women's issues. These are family issues.

On Trump, Leno asked what was the issue between Trump and the president after Trump offered Obama $5 million Wednesday if he released his college and passport records.

Obama told Leno that the beef dates back to when he and Trump were growing up Kenya.
"We had constant run-ins on the soccer field," Obama said. "He wasn't very good and resented it. When we finally moved to America I thought it would be over."

17087002H25160153.jpegSarah Palin had the Internet stirring again with debate over a reference she made to President Obama's "shuck and jive" and lies about what happened in Benghazi.

From Palin's initial post on her Facebook page:

Obama's Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies by Sarah Palin on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 10:39am · As I mentioned on "On the Record" last night, there is breaking news that just two hours after the September 11th attacks on our consulate in Benghazi, the White House and State Department knew that an Islamic terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda claimed credit for the attack. We now know that the State Department sent an email to the White House, the Pentagon, the FBI and others in the intelligence community about this Islamist group claiming responsibility. And yet for days afterwards the White House and State Department led everyone to believe that the attack was the result of a spontaneous protest over an obscure YouTube video that had been uploaded months prior. Anywhere from 300 to 400 people from the administration and our intelligence community would have seen that email. Why the lies? Why the cover up? Why the dissembling about the cause of the murder of our ambassador on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil? We deserve answers to this. President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end. - Sarah Palin

Screen Shot 2012-10-24 at 10.08.18 PM.png

The former Republican candidate for vice president, not one to shrink away from the cacophony of criticism, broke out a reaction - again on Facebook - to those would accuse her of racist ranting:

For the record, there was nothing remotely racist in my use of the phrase "shuck and jive" - a phrase which many people have used, including Chris Matthews, Andrew Cuomo, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to name a few off the top of my head. In fact, Andrew Cuomo also used the phrase in reference to Barack Obama, and the fact that Mr. Cuomo and I used the phrase in relation to President Obama signifies nothing out of the ordinary. I would have used the exact same expression if I had been writing about President Carter, whose foreign policy rivaled Obama's in its ineptitude, or about the Nixon administration, which was also famously rocked by a cover-up.

I've been known to use the phrase most often when chastising my daughter Piper to stop procrastinating and do her homework. As she is part Yup'ik Eskimo, I'm not sure if this term would be deemed offensive when it's directed at her or if it would be considered benign as in the case of Chris Matthews' use of it in reference to Rachel Maddow. Just to be careful, from now on I'll avoid using it with Piper, and I would appreciate it if the media refrained from using words and phrases like igloo, Eskimo Pie, and "when hell freezes over," as they might be considered offensive by my extended Alaska Native family.

The outrageously outraged reaction to this expression from perennial hypocrites like Chris Matthews has only made me laugh. Mr. Matthews, let me share with you my favorite Irish toast: "May we always be happy, and may our enemies always know it."

- Sarah Palin

One of those critics was the Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell, who has no time for this kind of discourse seeping continuously into the American political discussion, particularly where it applies to the first African-American President of the United States. Mitchell writes:

African Americans have heard so many white pundits use racially insensitive language to criticize the nation's first African-American president, and they have sucked it up.

After all, what first black anything didn't have to endure racist taunts.

But Palin used language that is not only linked to slavery and Jim Crow but is associated with the kind of "clowning" that educated black people frown upon.

Palin doesn't know anything about that.

If she did, she wouldn't have accused a Harvard-educated black man who rose to become president of the United States of "shucking and jiving." That's would be like me calling the former governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Honey Boo Boo.

Hollywood action icon Clint Eastwood caused quite the stir at the Republican National Convention when he hit the stage with an empty chair, no script and a freewheeling attack on the policies of the Obama administration.

Now, Eastwood is back and as serious as can be in his call to "fire" Obama after four years of so-called failed policies.

The last time Eastwood hit the airwaves with a sober message of importance, he was hawking Chryslers and it was Halftime in America. There was conjecture during the Super Bowl when that spot appeared that a political message was embedded in the 2-minute spot. There's no doubt this time where the actor stands.

City Hall Reporter

Three more City Colleges will prepare students for more than 80,000 jobs over the next decade in three growth industries -- information technology, advanced manufacturing and the culinary and hospitality industry, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.
Companies that specialize in those areas will partner with the colleges to help write the curriculum, teach and mentor students and, hopefully, place them in jobs when they graduate.

On Tuesday night in a debate among contenders for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, a Republican candidate made a controversial comment on rape. Richard Mourdock said that he does not support abortion rights for women in the case of rape because those babies are something "God intended to happen."

The Democrats wasted no time responding, releasing the ad shown here which features Mitt Romney endorsing Mourdock - a spot that just hit the airwaves Monday.

The Romney campaign quickly worked to distance itself from the Mourdock statement.

"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul in the statement.

It's hard to believe but someone just topped Todd Akin in the "ridiculous rape and abortion remarks" department. During a debate tonight, Richard Mourdock, Indiana's GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, dropped the latest in a line of controversial sound bites by Republican candidates during this election cycle about abortion. During the debate, after saying the only exception for abortion he'd allow is if the mother's life is in danger, Mourdock then explained why he doesn't support abortions in the case of rape: "I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from god. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin raised hackles earlier this year when he claimed women who were victims of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant. Closer to home, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, locked in a tense battle with Tammy Duckworth for his Congressional seat, claimed abortions were never necessary to save a mother's life.

In Indiana, the latest polls show U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) as holding a slim lead over Mourdock who is currently Indiana's state treasurer. Mourdock's website proudly displays an endorsement from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Update: After the debate, Mourdock backed off his comment, saying, "Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think God ordained or pre-ordained rape? No, I don't think that anyone could suggest that. That's a sick, twisted - no, that's not even close to what I said."

Our sister publication in Merrillville, Ind., the Post-Tribune, has details on the debate.

With the third and final debate in the rearview mirror, here are some memorable moments from Boca Raton, Florida, the site of the final presidential showdown.

Click all photos to embiggen.

US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the crucial toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign.

This is the new ad Bill Foster is running against Judy Biggert, which in part hits the Republican incumbent for being in Washington too long.

The race between Biggert and Foster for the 11th congressional district is among the most closely watched in the state. Foster, once an incumbent himself, is trying to unseat his opponent, who the Democrats see as particularly vulnerable.

A new poll by the HouseMajorityPAC shows Foster up slightly with 49 percent and Biggert with 45 percent. The margin of error is +- 4.9 percent though, so it's a statistical dead heat.

The two are to meet up on WTTW's Chicago Tonight 7 p.m. Wednesday for a televised debate.

rush.jpeg U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s November opponent, Brian Woodworth, lashed out at comments U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush made on Monday as he sought to defend Jackson's more than four-month absence from congress. Jackson disappeared from Congress in mid-June -- after the feds were actively investigating his campaign fund.

Woodworth took special exception to a comparison between Jackson Jr., who is under federal scrutiny, and Chicago Bulls phenom Derrick Rose. Woodworth went on to say that when a player is "seriously injured ... they would cut him from the team and replace him permanently."

"The comparison between Jackson and Chicago Bulls' star player Derrick Rose must rate among the most ridiculous in history," Woodworth said today in a statement. "If a professional basketball player sustained a minor injury, he would be temporarily replaced on the court--we have never seen a basketball team play with only four players."

"A temporary replacement in Congress is, of course, not an option. If, however, a player were seriously injured, and the team believed he would be unable to fulfill his contract, they would cut him from the team and replace him permanently. This is obviously the more fitting analogy."

Woodworth too exception with Rush's statement that Jackson only missed 32 days of work and: "Nothing really occurred in those 32 days, that his constituency has suffered."

"We are thrilled to finally have a Democrat congressman on the record, admitting that most of the time, they don't actually do any work," said Woodworth. " Congress averages only 112 days in session per year. Since you're not doing a damn thing, the American public can expect you to refund your salary back to the Treasury, right?"

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported earlier this month that federal authorities were probing "suspicious activity" related to his congressional funds. Here's the overview: Probe

HIGHLAND BEACH, FL.--The Mitt Romney campaign is looking for a fund-raising spurt to fund ads in the crucial battleground states--with a fund-raiser Nov. 2 at the Chicago home of Ron and Christina Gidwitz expected to raise about $1 million--with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $75,800 per person. The headliners at the Near North Side reception are Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell--with Virginia one of the top tier battleground states.

The price points:



Other hosts, besides the Gidwitzs' are Muneer Satter, the Illinois Romney Victory Finance Chairman and National Finance co-chairman, the Illinois GOP congressional delegation and Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, the Illinois Romney campaign chairman.

Congressman Joe Walsh will appear before the media later today with his son -- Joe Walsh Jr. -- to combat recent attack ads that refer to the Tea Party Republican as "Deadbeat Joe." He has called on Duckworth to pull the ad, that he calls "graceless" and says unfairly attacks him and his family. He calls the ads "Chicago machine politics at its worst."

A news release from the Walsh campaign indicates: "Walsh and his son Joe Walsh (speaking on behalf of his siblings) will hold a press conference today to respond to the recent attack ads on Congressman Walsh and his family currently being aired by the Duckworth Campaign."

Walsh's campaign said that in April, a lawsuit filed against Walsh for delinquent child support payments was dismissed by a judge and noted that Walsh, along with his ex-wife, issued a statement that he is not and never was a "deadbeat dad."

"For Tammy Duckworth to bring up this private family matter that was resolved and dismissed is nothing short of graceless," Walsh said. "It shows how desperate her campaign has become since polls have shown me ahead and it represents the worst in our political system. Ms. Duckworth has demonstrated she will do and say anything to win this campaign."

"Because of my children, it has always been my priority to keep this a private matter. I've always campaigned as an open book and have been honest with voters about my life. But for Ms. Duckworth to drag my family into this campaign by running on a case that was dismissed months ago, shows that she and her campaign have no limits to the lows they will achieve," Walsh continued in a statement.

"This is Chicago machine politics at its worse, but it is what is expected from a Blago protege like Ms. Duckworth. I will not stand for it, and I call on the Duckworth campaign to stop these untrue and offensive attacks on my family.
"It's Ms. Duckworth's hope to distract voters from the fact she is currently being sued by two Illinois Veterans Affairs whistleblowers that she tried to fire and humiliate. I think we deserve better from our candidates than what Ms. Duckworth is resorting to in this campaign, and we deserve better from public officials than what Ms. Duckworth did to two whistleblowers when she ran the Illinois VA."

On Monday, Duckworth's campaign responded by saying she "refuses to be lectured" by Walsh.

"Walsh has attacked Tammy personally throughout this campaign on everything from her military service to the clothes she wears and now his supporters are running negative ads attacking her again," said spokeswoman Kaitlin Fahey. "She refuses to be lectured on personal responsibility by a politician who has failed to meet his own responsibilities."

Mitt Romney and President Obama tangled in their final debate, focusing on foreign policy, Monday night. Following in the full transcript of their exchange at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

You can also check the liveblog the Sun-Times ran to see what our columnists had to say as the night progressed.

The transcript:

SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential
Debates. This one's on foreign policy. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News. The questions are mine, and I have not shared them with the candidates or their aides. The audience has taken a vow of silence - no applause, no reaction of any kind, except right now when we welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules and they are simple. They've asked me to divide the evening into segments. I'll pose a question at the beginning of each segment. You will each have two minutes to respond and then we will have a general discussion until we move to the next segment.

Tonight's debate, as both of you know, comes on the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, perhaps the closest we've ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.

So let's begin.

It was another testy, feisty debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And just like previous debates, there were several quotable moments for sound bites. But President Obama delivered perhaps the biggest line - and his most harsh - of all the debates when tackling Mitt Romney's assessment of the current state of the U.S. military. Whether it will help or hurt Obama remains to be seen, but it was the biggest punch the president landed.

Italy US Presidential_Newm.jpg
Two statuettes depicting President Barack Obama, left, and Republican rival Mitt Romney are backdropped by the Stars and Stripes in a shop which sells Christmas nativity figures in Naples, Italy, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, hours ahead of their third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

After a whirlwind three weeks that's seen just about everything we thought we could see in an election, the two major party candidates for President of the United States - Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney - hold their final debate of the election season tonight. Going into the first debate less than three weeks ago in Denver, Obama was poised for a runaway win barring any major speed bumps. But that's what happend in Denver when Obama put forth a listless, lackluster performance by the president plus a new populist approach from Romney turned things around and put the wind at Romney's back, changing the entire course of the race. A testy, fiery Vice President Joe Biden turned up in the VP debate against GOP nominee Paul Ryan. And last week, Romney and Obama engaged in a heated, electrice debate, the candidates stalking the stage, often circling one another as they unleashed attacks on the other.

Tonight's moderator, CBS' Bob Schieffer, has experience with debates, having moderated one in each of the last two presidential election, and has already announced his list of topics for tonight's debate, centered on foreign policy:

  • America's role in the world
  • Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Red Lines - Israel and Iran
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II
  • The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World

Tonight should be a lively debate and we've got our best columnists and pundits along to provide live commentary. Below you can find both live video via YouTube of the debate and, below that, the running commentary from the Sun-Times staff. Before we go live at 7:30 p.m. and throughout the debate, take some time to check out some of our other posts about the upcoming election and check out even more coverage at our Election Page.

Bears or Debate? What are you watching?
Roeper: Presidential circus continues
Ghosts of Elections Past: Ohio and Florida
Sifting through presidential endorsements
Googling the next president
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at last week's Alfred E. Smith dinner
Obama campaign rolls out new "Romnesia" stump speech
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver on The Daily Show

Yet another Berrios who has found a spot on a public payroll

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Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios -- who also is chairman of the county's Democratic Party -- has come under fire for employing a son, daughter and sister at the assessor's office.

But today's Sun-Times Watchdogs column told the tale of a Berrios relative -- 23-year-old nephew George Erasmo Berrios Jr. -- who instead turned up last year on the payroll of Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White.

Berrios' nephew began working for the state only five weeks after his Uncle Joe hired the son of White's longtime chief of staff, Thomas Benigno.

White spokeswoman Beth Kaufman said both hires were on the square and had nothing to do with clout.

On Monday afternoon, Kaufman added that Berrios' nephew was qualified for the state job by virtue of his customer-service experience at Menard's and at a Grossinger car dealership.

While controversy has swirled around the Berrios family, the 41-year-old twin daughters of Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans have worked on their father's staff. Another Watchdogs story today traced their rise through the ranks.


If the most recent Bears Monday Night game is any indication, more Chicagoans might be tuned into the contest against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field tonight than into that other contest in Boca Raton, Fla., which Lynn Sweet writes is a "make or break" moment for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

For the week of Oct 1-7, (which also included the first presidential debate on Oct. 3) the Bears-Cowboys game on ESPN was the second highest rated broadcast (just ahead of the same game's broadcast on WGN and just below the Bears' Sunday, Oct. 7 game vs. Jacksonville.)

The Wednesday night debate made just 3 of the top 20 broadcasts for that week in Chicago (ABC with 500,000 viewers, NBC with 415,000 and Fox with 356,000).

This being the Bears first game off a bye week versus a division rival, and the fact that Illinois is one of the least "swinging" states, in terms of the presidential election, could lead to another big evening for Monday Night Football in the Chicago market. But at the national level, if recent trends continue, tonight's debate could potentially break the latest viewership level of 69.9 million in 1992.

Prior to that, the presidential debate ratings record was set in 1980, when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan faced off before 80.6 million Americans.

Roeper: Presidential circus continues

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AP Photo/Richard Drew

Even as President Obama and Mitt Romney prep for arguably the most important, serious debate of their lives, the circus around them continues to swirl.

Staunch Republican and big-time Obama-basher Donald Trump says he has a big, big, BIG announcement about the president, and he'll "probably" make the announcement on Wednesday, and you can go "The Twitter" to get the news.

I can picture Trump now: "I have definitive proof Barack Obama was not born in the United States. All of these pictures come from a place called the Photoshop, so I know they're authentic."

Remember, this is the same Donald Trump who sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to uncover the "real truth" about Obama's birth, the same Donald Trump who wants to know the details of Obama's college transcripts, the same Donald Trump who promised he'd be a MAJOR part of the Republican Convention, the same Donald Trump who is a walking punch line but doesn't seem to realize it.

What could Trump possibly say on Wednesday that will actually have an impact on the election? Will he even make an announcement, or will he say he's decided to keep it under wraps "for the good of the country"?

I don't know--but I'll be watching, or at least following the Donald on "The Twitter."

And her name is G-L-O-R-I-A

Meanwhile, reports surfaced Monday speculating Gloria "Is this microphone on?" Allred is planning her own "October Surprise" about Romney.

What, he once almost came close to thinking about having a sip of "near beer"? He's caught on tape laughing in the background about a limerick that began with, "There was a young man from Nantucket"? He also strapped the family cat to a car? Those binders of women included the category of "Hot or Not"?

Say what you will about Romney, that's one candidate who doesn't seem like much of a candidate for scandal.

Trump and Allred. They can't stand each other, but wow, what a team. Why can't we get these two crazy kids together, maybe as a team on "The Amazing Race"?

-- Richard Roeper


FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics are two sites that have garnered acclaim and traffic during the election season as voters try to get a leg up of the latest prognostications. While we can't know exactly how the election will turn out, these sites have forecasting down to a science. But there's another website that could give us a peek into who will win this year's hotly contested presidential election: Google. The megabeheamoth search engine is actually a source of tremendous - and entertaining - data and some it of can actually correlate with election outcomes as Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explored at the New York Times.

While so much of the information gleaned from the search data is either ridiculous - the popularity of "Paul Ryan shirtless" - or superfluous - how the number of searches of a candidate in a region corresponds to their popularity in said area - there are some useful tidbits to be pulled for the campaigns, particularly in terms of voter turn-out. Says Stephens-Davidowitz:

If search rates for voting information were higher in the first half of October 2008 than in the first half of October 2004, voting rates tended to be higher in 2008 than in 2004. It's true for midterm elections, too. If search rates for voting information were higher in the first half of October 2010 than in the first half of October 2006, voting rates tended to be higher in 2010 than in 2006.

This predictive power was significantly stronger than that of other variables we might use to predict area-level turnout, like changes in registration rates or movement in early voting.

Of course, there's plenty of garbage to sift through as well, as Stephens-Davidowitz notes, including searches about Romney and Mormon underwear as well as Obama and racist epithets. Still, once you look past the noise, there may just be some patterns worth teasing out, adding to the stacks of numbers already being crunched for November 6.

On the day that's the deadline for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to pull out of the race for reelection, two congressmen will instead speak on his behalf.

Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis are planning to address reporters at O'Hare Airport this evening to talk about their meeting with Jackson this morning in his Washington D.C. home.

"I know they're trying to reach out, through (the media), to his constituents," said spokeswoman Renee Ferguson. "This is Pastor Bobby Rush now. I'm sure there was prayer involved. Because this is a friend."

Ferguson said Rush and Davis were not concerned about standing up for Jackson at a time that he's being dogged by federal investigators for alleged improprieties related to his campaign fund.

"I think you stand by your colleague and your friend during difficult times," she said.

Ferguson said Rush and Davis will also address mental health issues at the media availability.

Voters have not heard from Jackson since he took a leave from office in mid-June. That is, with the exception of a robocall to constituents over the weekend.
Last week, reports emerged that the congressman was seen at a Washington D.C. bar drinking with other women. The Daily caught up with him on his front porch in his DuPont Circle row house where Jackson, smoking a cigar, said "I'm not well."

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed first reported last week that Jackson was headed back to Mayo Clinic this week for further treatment for bipolar disorder.

A shortened Taste of Chicago had it's final day on July 15, 2012. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

The shrunken and revamped Taste of Chicago still didn't come close to breaking even and may never return to profitability, a top mayoral aide said Monday.

Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Michelle Boone said the she's "still reconciling" the cost of city services before releasing a final financial report on the revamped 2012 Taste.

But, she disclosed that Chicago's premier lakefront festival costs $6 million to stage and isn't "close to breaking even." That's despite the fact that individual restaurants saw their highest profit margins in five years.

Taste of Chicago was once a cash cow that bankrolled the city's other music festivals. But, Boone said it may never return to profitability.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

It's that time of the Presidential election cycle in which the endorsements from newspapers start piling up for both candidates. Several endorsements - some from key swing states - have come down that are worth noticing for different reasons with some favoring the sitting president, Barack Obama. But Mitt Romney has also picked up endorsements from papers in key states, meaning, well, neither has an edge, exactly. But with the final debate between the two candidates going down tonight, these endorsements will start meaning more to swing voters in key states. Here, we'll look at what endorsements are key and how they may affect the race.

TEMPLE TERRACE, FL.--President Barack Obama will be the first president to ever vote early in person when he touches down in Chicago Thursday to cast his ballot. Michelle Obama already voted, sending in an absentee ballot to the Chicago Board of Elections. This is all part of an Obama campaign strategy to lock in their vote early.
Early voting starts in battleground Florida on Oct. 276.

From the campaign: " On Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa, President Obama will kick off a two day, around the clock campaign blitz across six battleground states. ....

"After leaving Iowa on Wednesday, October 24, the President will rally voters in Denver, Colorado at the Meadow at City Park, followed by a late night grassroots event in Las Vegas, Nevada. The President will travel overnight to Tampa, Florida for a grassroots rally, and a tarmac event in Richmond, Virginia on Thursday. As the President crisscrosses the nation, he will spend time on Air Force One calling undecided voters, rallying National Team Leaders and volunteers and continuously engaging with Americans across the country about the choice in this election.

"Following the event in Richmond, the President will then travel to Chicago to cast his ballot and make history by being the first sitting President to vote early in person. The President will end his two-day tour with an evening grassroots event in Cleveland, Ohio."

rahm tampa2.jpeg
Obama Temple Terrace, Fl. campaign office. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh's Friday remarks about abortion stance

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From this afternoon's news conference:

I want to make it very clear that I am in fact pro-life without exception. I believe there is nothing more sacred than human life.


"When it comes to having an abortion to save the life of a mother, I will say again that outside of the very rare circumstances -- such as ectopic pregnancies during which both the mother and baby will die if the baby is not aborted, and other rare health issues and circumstances -- the research is pretty clear that with the advances in modern medicine an invasive and traumatic procedure like an abortion is often thankfully not necessary to save the life of a mother.

In those very rare cases where a mother's life may be in danger passed the point of viability for the baby, today's doctors work to induce labor or perform a caesarean section in an attempt to save both lives.

These cases are extremely rare and unfortunately are used by the militant pro-choice movement to justify every single abortion.

This is an issue that I take very seriously. I have a wife and two adult daughters so this is not a political issue for me.

This is a personal issue. While I do not support abortion, I do of course, support medical procedures during their pregnancies that might result in the loss of an unborn child.
When such occurrences take place, that decision on whether to perform that procedure is a very difficult one and one that should be left up to the mother and her family. Once again, I am strongly pro-life for both the mother and the unborn child. This is a position that I'm proud to have and I will not back off it. I also think it's a position that most women also share.

And for Ms. Duckworth to say that I support letting a mother die as she did last night, is the most disgusting form of politics. That statement could not be further from the truth.
That is a desperate quote from a desperate candidate.

...Ms. Duckworth has an extreme, pro-abortion with no restrictions stance. She is not just pro-abortion zealot, who actually believes that tax payers, regardless of their position on abortion, should fund all abortions..."

WASHINGTON--Mayor Rahm Emanuel hits battleground Florida over the weekend, stumping in Tampa and St. Petersburg on Saturday and near Boca Raton on Sunday. Emanuel is a headliner on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, hosted by his pal, George Stephanopoulos, where he will duel Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

The third and final presidential debate is Monday night in Boca Raton. I'm told Emanuel will not be sticking around for the debate.

President Obama broke out a new speech on the trail in Virginia Friday. Seems he's concerned for Mitt Romney's health.

Tackling what he says are inconsistencies in the Romney campaign, the president labeled it "Romnesia," ticking off one-by-one areas he believes the former governor has changed positions on. Calling it a pre-existing condition, Obama says Romnesia will be covered by Obamacare.

It seems the jokes were not exhausted on "The Daily Show" or the Albert E. Smith dinner yesterday.

Rep. Joe Walsh and Tammy Duckworth squared off again to debate eachother Thursday night, this time on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" program. You can watch it in its entirety in this video.

More coverage off their latest encounter, the last debate before the election:

While the two candidates have waged one of the most heated congressional campaigns in the country, they were fairly tame in this faceoff, especially compared to their tilt last week, which included a particularly fesity crowd. Thursday's debate was in the relative calm of a studio.

The abortion conversation came up during the final match-up in the 8th congressional debate Thursday night, with Tammy Duckworth accusing Joe Walsh of preferring to let a woman die rather than allow abortions in some instances.

Walsh charged that wasn't fair.

In a news availability afterward, Walsh said that these days, abortion was never necessary to save the life of a woman.

"With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," where a woman's life was in danger because of an unborn child, Walsh said. "There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing."

Duckworth responded to Walsh's claims in a statement:

I am saddened by my opponents remarks. Not only do they show how uninformed he is, but his views put women's lives in real danger. Prohibiting a woman to have an abortion when her life is at risk shows a blatant disregard for the facts and a carelessness that is not acceptable from an elected official. It is essential that we condemn Congressman Walsh's remarks and continue to work towards empowering women to be able to make their own choices about their bodies.

President Obama was the guest on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart for the second time in his presidency - his sixth time overall - Thursday night.

He would hit the Alfred E. Smith dinner after taping where the jokes were flowing, but his visit with Stewart was mostly serious, sticking to talking points and even some discussion of the confusion around the Benghazi message with the State Department.

Stewart also got in a bit of ribbing on the debates with a short photo quiz featuring Michelle Obama.

Though the Bill Foster campaign is fuming over a recent campaign ad that charges he personally profited during his time in Congress -- the ad is still running -- with the exception of WGN.

The National Republican Congressional Committee says the ad raises a central question about the timing of the Democrat's personal financial decisions during a critical time in congress -- the 2008 housing market collapse. While some stations asked for more details about the ad before airing it, she said, they aired it after some minor changes.

"Foster got the parachute, you got the crash," the ad says.

"The major Chicago television stations are all running our ad that highlights how Congressman Foster inappropriately used his position on the House Financial Services Committee to personally benefit. We added language to our ad that reinforces the fact that Congressman Foster abused his power," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill.

Foster is in the midst of a heated race with longtime Congresswoman Judy Biggert in the 11th congressional distirct. Foster's campaign has steadfastly denied the charge in the ad that implies he took part in a form of insider trading, saying he attended no such closed-door meeting.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney poked gentle but sharp fun at themselves and each other for a charitable cause Thursday night, two days after more serious attacks on each other in their second debate.

President Obama's remarks can be found here.

ROMNEY: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.


ROMNEY: Thank you so much. Your eminence, Cardinal Dolan, Mr. President, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Schumer, Al and Ann Smith, thank you for your invitation. Thank you for your extraordinarily warm welcome. Ann and I appreciate your friendship very, very much. Thank you.


Now Al, you were right, a campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes. We -- blue jeans in the morning perhaps, suits for a lunch fundraiser, sport coat for dinner, but it's nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house.


I'm glad to be able to join in this memorable tradition. And of course I'm pleased that the president is here. We were chatting pleasantly this evening as if Tuesday night never happened.


And I credit that, of course to the cardinal. He is -- it's taken New York's highest spiritual authority to get us back on our best behavior.


I was actually hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along this evening, because he'll laugh at anything.


President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney poked gentle but sharp fun at themselves and each other for a charitable cause Thursday night, two days after more serious attacks on each other in their second debate.

Obama guested on "The Daily Show" earlier in the evening though, ironically, with much less humor in that visit.

Mitt Romney's transcript can be found here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, thank you. Thank you.

Everyone please take your seats otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them.


Thank you to Al and Nan, your eminence, Governor, Ms. Romney, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, Cassandra Schumer, all the distinguished guests who are here.

In less than three weeks, voters in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida will decide this incredibly important election, which begs the question, what are we doing here?


Of course, New Yorkers also have a big choice to make. You have to decide which one of us you want holding up traffic for the next four years.


Tonight I am here with a man whose father was a popular governor, who knows what it's like to run a major northeaster state and who could very well be president some day and I'm hoping it is Andrew Cuomo.


One of the most hotly contested Congressional races in the nation is right here in Illinois as 8th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Joe Walsh, a fiery conservative favorable with the Tea Pary, is taking on Democratic challenger and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth. The last time these two met, early last week, it was a fiery debate in front of a riled up crowd in Rolling Meadows. Things should be a bit more tame tonight with this debate happening in WTTW's studios, but it's sure to still be contentious.

The two have already tangled this week, though not directly, with reports of new money being sunk into anti-Duckworth ads by a pro-Walsh SuperPAC being met with defiance by Duckworth. And Walsh was once again secretly taped by opponents, this time advising business owners to mobilize their employees to vote Republican by telling them they could lose their job if Democrats win.

Below, find our live-blog with running commentary from me, our crack politics reporter Natasha Korecki, and other pundits.

Inspector General Joe Ferguson has a strained relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but the two men will apparently not be facing off against each other in the 2015 mayoral election.


[NOTE: Please scroll to page one in the above widget for the electoral map that corresponds with this article]

As Election Day approaches and only one more debate awaits, the focus is intensifying on the all-important group of "swing" states (Ohio, Florida, etc.) that will decide the election. Dividing the states along "red" and "blue" lines has been a way of tracking elections for several cycles now and it's fascinating to watch the trends over just 48 years of voting. It's easier to be an amateur Nate Silver and try our best to tease out trends given the basic info offered here and that's what I'll be doing over the next few weeks leading up to election day, beginning today with a brief look at the historical swing states of Ohio and Florida.

The Bill Foster campaign is fuming over a new ad that suggests the onetime congressman used insider information from a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders to cash-in before the 2008 housing crash.

"On the date they're alleging, Sept. 16th, 2008, he did not attend any such meeting," said spokeswoman Aviva Bowen. Foster is a Democrat trying to regain an old seat against longtime GOP incumbent Judy Biggert.

Bowen told the Chicago Sun-Times that the campaign learned tonight that WGN-TV has refused to run not only the original ad but has also refused to air the revised commercial, supplied by the NRCC.

WGN has ultimately refused to run the ad.

However, other stations are running the spot after the NRCC provided more information on it.

The Foster campaign turned the tables by saying that it was Biggert who had questionable investments through her husband's stock in TransCanada.

"Mr. Foster should mind his own business," Biggert previously said in response to the issue. "Unlike Mr. Foster, my record of support for American energy is clear and unambiguous. My husband purchased TransCanada stock in 2004. I should tell my husband he should not own a stock? I don't get that."

New York Times FiveThirtyEight stat nerd blogger Nate Silver sat down Wednesday for an interview with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."

Silver, who made his way through Chicago while studying at the University of Chicago before bursting onto the scene as a political prognosticator, was on to tout his new book, The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail - But Some Don't.

The portion of the episode that aired on TV:

In the second clip, Silver talks details on how campaigns delve into "data mining" to drill down to a deep level for who's in the voting pool and how best to target them. He also discusses his time and observations from the 2008 campaign when he was living in Chicago.

In the third installment, Stewart and Silver discuss the peculiar new wrinkle of presidential politics that is the focus on swing state minutiae. And, of course, poker:

Speaking of presidential politics, Barack Obama will be the guest on The Daily Show tonight, his sixth total appearance on the show and second as president.

tagg.gifAs if Tuesday's town hall style debate weren't feisty enough, it seems there was another near Romney-Obama physical altercation at Hofstra University.

Tagg Romney, Mitt Romney's eldest son, was asked on a North Carolina radio station Wednesday about his reaction to President Obama's claims that his father was less than truthful.

"I'm going to ask something I think a lot of people want to know, or at least I do. What is it like for you to hear the President of the United States call your dad a liar. How do you react to that?" host Bill Lumaye asks. Tagg's response:

"Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him," Tagg responded, laughing. "But you know you can't do that because, well, first because there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that's the nature of the process."

Here's the audio from the interview:

Obama never actually used the word "liar" in reference to Romney during the debate, though he did question the truthfulness of many of the governor's statements. You can watch the full debate here for the exact exchanges.

That was fast.

Spirit Airlines is already seizing on a Mitt Romney blooper a day after the GOP Presidential hopeful said in a debate that he found "whole binders full of women," to hire when he was governor.

Spirit Airlines released this ad today, saying: "women will love them!"


Meanwhile: @Romneys_Binder is exploding on Twitter, already notching nearing 15,000 followers.

Here's the text of Romney's quote in response to last night's question.

Romney said he went to his staff asking: "How come all the people for these jobs are--are all men?' They said: 'Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.' And I said: 'Well, gosh, can't we--can't we find some--some women that are also qualified?' And--and so we--we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women."

In response to a Chicago Sun-Times story that ran today, Tammy Duckworth's camp released a statement on Wednesday taking issue with a source who told the paper that a SuperPAC was preparing to launch another round of ads in an attempt to "bury" Duckworth in the fray.

The campaign also said it was preparing to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against Joe "Walsh for Congress, Now or Never, and Americans for Limited Government for illegal coordination."

Walsh has said he did not know who was funding the SuperPAC.
On Tuesday it was revealed that the biggest donor by far was Americans for Limited Government -- a group Walsh helped "launch" years ago, according to his own Web site.

The Now or Never SuperPAC has pumped $2 million in attack ads against Duckworth in the race, bolstered by $1.9 million donation in September from Americans for Limited Government.

A source said another $2.5 million was planned with just three weeks left in the race.

"New reports state that the secretly-funded Now or Never special interest Super PAC will be dropping $2.5 million to "bury" Tammy Duckworth - in addition to the $2 million they have already spent in misleading negative ads," a statement released by the campaign said.
According to the campaign, Duckworth responded to the report by saying, "I wasn't buried in Iraq and I won't be buried by Joe Walsh's Out-Of-State Right Wing Super PAC."

Duckworth is an Iraqi war veteran who lost both her legs in combat.

A TV ad approved by U.S. Rep. Bob Dold shows a snippet of Dold's opponent, Brad Schneider saying: "I would borrow money all day long."

But if you watch the video below, there was more to the statement: "I would borrow money all day long if the cost of borrowing is less than the expected return."

Schneider, a Democrat and Dold, a GOP incumbent, are in a tough battle over the 10th congressional district, one of three hotly contested races in Illinois.

A video released to the Chicago Sun-Times shows Tea Party congressman Joe Walsh telling a group that now is the time for business owners to "energize" their employees.

They should do it, he said, by telling them they likely won't have jobs if President Obama is reelected or if the Democrats take the majority in Congress.

"If you run, manage or own a company tell your employees! What was the CEO this week that said, if Obama is reelected, I may have to let all of you go next year? If Obama's reelected, if the Democrats take Congress, I may not be able to cover your health insurance next year," Walsh told a crowd. "If there's ever a year where people who run, manage, or own their companies are going to energize their employees, it better be this year. We're up against it."

Walsh is in one of the most hotly contested contests in the nation -- running against Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran who lost both her legs in combat. The two are competing in the newly redrawn 8th Congressional district. Walsh has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, saying that it is too burdensome on small businesses.

The video is taken by CREDO, a SuperPAC that has been a thorn in Walsh's side of late. CREDO, which runs, is known to have video at various Walsh appearances. Inevitably, Walsh utters something controversial. That includes when Walsh told a group that Sandra Fluke should "go get a job!" -- that utterance made it onto a campaign ad against the congressman.
The SuperPAC has spent $165,437 in the district.

The video's release comes as a source with knowledge of SuperPAC strategy told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that a conservative group that had dumped $2 million in anti-Duckworth ads, was preparing to pump another $2.5 million in attack ad against the Hoffman Estates Democrat.

Watch the entire, fiery second debate with all the altercations, avoided questions and punch-counterpunches.

For everyone in Chicago, this might as well be the last debate. The Bears play a Monday Night Football game during the final, foreign policy themed debate Oct. 22.

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who is running for reelection in the 8th Congresional District, helped "launch" a group that is now the biggest contributor to the SuperPAC trying to take down his opponent Tammy Duckworth.

Americans for Limited Government has pumped $1.9 million into the Now or Never SuperPAC, a recent disclosure shows. Walsh says in his Web site that he helped launch Americans for Limited Government.

A 2009 New York Times article profiled the group saying:
"Americans for Limited Government does not specialize in nuance. A recent e-mail message labeled Mr. Obama "the biggest liar of all," and a piece on Mr. Obama's enthusiasm for the national volunteer service agency AmeriCorps suggested a parallel with Hitler Youth."

From the Duckworth campaign:

Largest Donors to Walsh's Super PAC Attacking Tammy Duckworth Belong
to Right-Wing Fringe

Joe Walsh was the only Congressman from Illinois to oppose the Transportation Bill and has received nearly $2 million in backing from an extremist group he helped launch that also opposed the Transportation Bill

ROLLING MEADOWS - Now or Never, a shadowy Super PAC spending millions on false, misleading negative ads attacking Tammy Duckworth, was forced to file a partial financial disclosure with the FEC. Now or Never'sfiling exposed the right-wing group Americans for Limited Government (ALG) as the primary funders behindNow or Never and Joe Walsh. ALG keeps the names of their donors secret, but their priorities are clearly in line with the Tea Party and extreme right.

In fact, Congressman Walsh helped launch ALG and is in line with their far right-wing, offensive, and often illegal agenda. ALG has a long history of saying and proposing outrageous ideas - similar to those advocated by Joe Walsh.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, ALG was forced out of Illinois for running afoul of the state's charity laws. The Illinois Secretary of State revoked ALG's authority to do business in the state.

"If you ever scratched your head and wondered why Joe Walsh would vote against the interest of his own constituency time and again - now you know why," said Duckworth for Congress Campaign Manager Kaitlin Fahey. "Joe Walsh has been bought and paid for by some of the wealthiest and right-wing fringe characters in America."

Americans for Limited Government and Congressman Walsh on the Issues

Side by Side

· Now or Never, funded by Americans for Limited Government, suddenly pours millions of dollars into negative ads against Tammy Duckworth.

· ALG opposed the transportation bill

· ALG called Social Security and Medicare "ponzi Schemes"'s-'ponzi-scheme'-diagnosis-is-accurate/

· ALG's Chairman calls for the elimination of the Department of Education

· ALG's Spokesman called the President Obama "Uncle Obama"

· ALG's Chairman called President Obama a "Nouveau Fascist"

· ALG's President said President Obama was "the greatest threat ever to Freedom and Democratic Rule"

· ALC Chairman "Skirted" Campaign Finance Limits.

· ALG compared carbon regulations to bombing Pearl Harbor and claimed data behind climate change was "manipulated and exaggerated".

· Congressman Walsh helped launchAmericans for Limited Government

· Congressman Walsh voted against the transportation bill

· Congressman Walsh called Medicare and Social Security "ponzi schemes"

· Congressman Walsh has called for the elimination of the Department of Education

· Congressman Walsh called President Obama "Son"

· Congressman Walsh called President Obama a "tyrant"

· Congressman Walsh called President Obama a "liar"

· Congressman Walsh does not believe in campaign finance limits.

· Congressman Walsh questions the science behind climate change.

Mitt Romney speaks with the Reverend Billy Graham during a visit to the Graham cabin in Montreat, N.C., on Oct. 11. - Jim Watson/GettyImages

Billy Graham's meeting last week with Mitt Romney accomplished two things: Graham offered his support of Romney's candidacy and it was apparently decided that Mormonism is not a cult.

Graham and Romney met at the evangelists North Carolina cabin, where Graham pledged "all he could do" to help Romney's cause. That apparently included scrubbing the following definition of cults from a section on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website, according to a report in the Asheville Citizen-Times:

That website article listed as cults "Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others."

According to the report, the Romney campaign didn't comment on the action. A Graham referred questions to the association, which did not return messages asking for comment.

The Citizen-Times posted a screengrab of the page in question, listing the examples of cults:


Graham graduated from Wheaton College and pastored in Western Springs in the 1940s.


It's been just shy of two weeks since President Obama gave a half-hearted showing in the first presidential debate against GOP challenger Mitt Romney. A listless president didn't challenge a fiery Romney in a debate that was further bogged down by a lackluster Jim Lehrer as moderator. The result? A huge swing for Romney who, in the days leading up to the debate, saw his deficit behind Obama swell. With the two candidates almost even, Obama got a small boost from Vice President Joe Biden who was seen by many pundits as besting GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan in last week's VP debate, but barely so. With Obama still holding a slight edge over Romney, at least according to FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, the incumbent is still looking to take the momentum back from Romney.

Tonight's debate should be an interesting one as it's a town-hall style forum and both campaigns have already gotten squirrelly over how tonight's moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, will handle the questions and the candidates.

So to review: an incumbent aiming for an aggressive outing to change the rolling momentum of a fiesty challenger who's found his second wind answering questions from undecided voters with a wild card moderator. Should be a fun time so follow below as we live-blog the debate including insight from Sun-Times pundits and other bright minds. Also, sure to check out this pre-debate fact check.


For good or for ill, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney thrust an unsuspecting segment of the population into the spotlight two weeks ago when, during the first debate, he called out PBS and, specifically, Big Bird as targets for his projected cuts. (Of course, funding to public broadcasting in 2011 only amounted to .00012 percent of the total federal budget so there's that.) But that not only started a tussle on Twitter over protection of Big Bird (who, lest it be forgotten, was at one point a child runaway); it also prompted the Obama campaign to use the big, yellow lug in a new ad targeting Romney.

But soon after the ad hit the air, Sesame Workshop, the folks who own Big Bird and pals, ask that the ad be spiked because it's copyright infringement and Muppets are bipartisan which seems weird given that all of Sesame Street seems like a socialist commune straight out of a Hunter S. Thompson nightmare, but, hey, whatever. Don't politicize Elmo. Got it.

That request, though, isn't stopping a newly announced event for November 3 being called The Million Muppet March. It evens has a Facebook page so you know it's totally legit. Strictly speaking, no official muppets, like Kermit or Scooter or Gonzo, will be taking place because, again, they're muppets, you see. But the march will include thousands of non-affiliated muppets who will march for muppetkind.

Oh, and there are Republicans who are in favor of supporting public broadcasting so TAKE THAT, ROMNEY.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. deserves sympathy from voters and should not step down despite a criminal investigation into the possible misuse of campaign funds, Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday.

The governor stuck by the beleaguered Chicago Democrat, whom the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week is the subject of the probe.

Since then, the Wall Street Journal expanded on that by reporting that the investigation is focusing on home decorations that allegedly were purchased with Jackson campaign cash.

And on Monday, the political blog, Gawker, reported Jackson was been seen at a Washington D.C. bar last week, drinking with two women - despite being on leave from Congress since June to deal with what aides have described as bipolar disorder.

During a stop in Woodlawn Monday to promote state investment in broadband internet, Quinn was asked if Jackson should resign given the steady drumbeat of negative headlines.

"No," the governor answered. "He was elected by the people to serve his term. Obviously, he's had some heath challenges, and, you know, I think we need to be sympathetic to anyone who's dealing with those challenges."

There they go again. Or do they?

Will Mitt Romney miscount the number of unemployed, as he has before? Will President Barack Obama's dubious claim of a peace dividend, bopped down in the last debate, rise again? When Obama and his Republican challenger debate Tuesday night, the media's fact-checking corps will be watching for problematic claims that have popped up repeatedly in the campaign, as well as brand new ones.

You can play fact-check Whac-a-Mole on debate night, too. You might have your hands full: The format, driven by questions from the audience, could shake things even looser than usual.

To be sure, you're not likely to catch one of them saying it's daytime when it's night. Shades of mistruth are more common than whoppers. Often, the offense is one of omission: an accurate as-far-as-it-goes assertion that ignores something really important, like the other side of the ledger. And, at times, the debaters tweak a statement to make it closer to right. You just never know.

To assist in armchair fact-checking, here's a guide to 10 of the leading misleading statements of the campaign from The Associated Press' Calvin Woodward:

Preckwinkle for governor? -- A definitive "no"

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There was no wavering today by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle when asked in a sit-down with Chicago Sun-Times about rumors that she may be interested in a run for governor.

Was she open to the idea of running for governor?

"No," she said plainly. "I'm going to run for reelection for the job I have."

When a reporter commented that her answer seemed like a definitive "no," Preckwinkle said: "I guess so."

Preckwinkle, whose office had conducted some internal polling earlier this year, had been rumored to have an interest in the governor's race in 2014.


While Mitt Romney and President Obama set up to square off in their second debate tonight, the real focus continues to be on Ohio - the battleground of battlegrounds.

Lynn Sweet reports that early voting has been the latest focus of the campaigns. Her complete report is here.

Complete coverage of politics and the 2012 elections can be found here.

2-26 Jackson Coconate 1.jpg
Chicago political operative Frank Coconate, pictured in 2002, right. Sun-Times file photo

Chicago political scenesters Frank Coconate and Frank Avila Jr. rarely enjoy the local media spotlight, but they figure prominently in the Washington Post's lengthy article on beleaguered U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

According to the newly published article in the Post's "Style" section, Chicago is "a place with its own sense of hierarchies, a place where [Jackson] wanted so desperately to impress" by becoming something more significant than a congressman.

The Post turned to Coconate, a longtime campaign operative on the Northwest Side, to buttress that point, and the elite East Coast media outlet did not even bother to conceal his Chicago accent.

"Junior is a very insecure person," Coconate told the Post. "When you're in Chicago and you come in and say you're in Congress . . . Congress is nuthin'."

Coconate also told the newspaper Jackson "sometimes boasted that he was a reincarnated Greek chariot driver."

Avila, a lawyer whose father is a Water Reclamation District commissioner, claimed Jackson would "prance naked, demonstrating martial arts moves, while the others stayed wrapped in towels" at a Turkish bath he frequented here.

Jesse Jackson Jr. says he's 'not well'

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U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. told The Daily on Monday that he is "not well" and that he sees doctors twice a day.

The Daily found Jackson smoking a cigar on the stoop of his Washington, D.C., home on Monday, the same day the Sun-Times reported that the criminal investigation into Jackson's finances is in an advanced stage of development. and that Gawker reported Jackson was seen drinking away his nights with women who aren't his wife.

Jesse Jackson Sr. told The Daily that his son is "just trying to clear his head. He's been under medical supervision."

Ironworker John Rukavina, 74, put a Romney banner on top of the Willis Tower. Photo by Stephen Brown

John Rukavina, 74, a Local 1 ironworker -- who claims to have put up "every antenna and tower in Chicago since Marina Towers in 1974," had a message for Barack Obama. A message at 110 stories.

"But I didn't tell anyone I was going to put up the Romney poster. I did that on my own and it was hard going. The wind was blowing like crazy that day. But I wanted to make that gesture the last thing I did.

"Hey, I'd jump off a building to get Romney elected."

Rukavina planted the campaign sign, briefly, in late September. Michael Sneed has the full story.

Rukavina is featured in a documentary on these high-flying ironworkers. Despite what your politics may be, take a look at this trailer for the movie "Cowboys of the Sky," and you'll find an appreciation for the man, regardless of your feelings for the message:

Rukavina and his nephew, Bob East, were on the Tower to install an antenna for Chicago's ABC-7. The ironworker and his nephew carried out the stunt without anyone else knowing Rukavina tells Sneed.

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) acknowledged Monday that there is a perception of rising crime on Chicago's Near North Side, that "perception is reality" and that more bike patrols are needed to help reverse that negative image.

Jason Thompson, the son of former Wisconsin Gov. - and current senate candidate - Tommy Thompson, is backpedaling Monday morning after saying President Obama should be sent packing back to Chicago. Or Kenya, even.

The statement came at a Republican meeting according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago - or Kenya," Jason Thompson, an attorney at Michael Best and Friedrich, said during a fall brunch hosted by the Kenosha County Republican Party.

Jason Thompson's comment about Obama prompted laughs from the crowd, with one woman jokingly adding, "We are taking donations for that Kenya trip."

On Monday, Tommy Thompson's camp addressed the kurfuffle:

"The Governor has addressed this with his son, just like any father would do," the campaign said in a statement. "Jason Thompson said something he should not have, and he apologizes."

Report: Jesse Jackson Jr. spotted drinking in D.C. bar

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Bier Baron3.jpgJodi Enda | Special to the Sun-Times

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been spotted out at a Washington D.C. bar two nights last week, according to Gawker.

Jackson disappeared earlier this summer before it was revealed that he was staying at the Mayo Clinic while seeking treatment for bipolar disorder.

According to Gawker sources, Jackson was drinking at Bier Baron Tavern on Tuesday and Wednesday nights last week. Both nights he was reportedly with different women.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that a federal probe into the congressman centers on whether Jackson improperly used campaign money to decorate his home.

The Chicago Sun-Times on Friday first reported that Jackson was under federal investigation, a probe that began before he took a leave from Congress in June.

An interior shot of the Jackson's D.C. home that was listed for sale last month.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s campaign finances are the subject of a federal probe after the congressman allegedly improperly used campaign money to decorate his home, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that a federal probe into the congressman centers on whether Jackson improperly used campaign money to decorate his home.

The Chicago Sun-Times on Friday first reported that Jackson was under federal investigation, a probe that began before he took a leave from Congress in June to seek medical help. Ultimately, the Jacksons said he suffered from bipolar depression.

The Sun-Times reported that the investigation was being handled out of Washington D.C. and was an entirely new area of scrutiny and did not involve the sale of the U.S. Senate seat -- a case involving Rod Blagojevich where Jackson's name repeatedly came up. Spokespeople representing Jackson were not talking on Sunday.

The Jacksons put their Washington, D.C., home on the market last month at a price of $2.5 million. The listing was public and included the property's address as well as multiple photos of the inside of the home. A campaign spokesman said at the time that home was put on the market to pay for mounting medical bills.

Though Jackson represents a congressional district in Chicago and his wife, Sandi, is a Chicago alderman -- both primarily live in D.C. and send their children to a private school there. They also have a residence in Chicago.

A day after the D.C. listing was made public, the couple subsequently took it back off the market, citing a security issue.

The revelation that Jackson is under federal scrutiny comes as questions have increasingly swirled around the congressman's absence from his official duties in Washington and the campaign trail.

Citing exhaustion, Jackson stopped working, according to his staff, on June 10. His staff did not make that known until two weeks later, however.

He went to a clinic in Arizona then to the Mayo Clinic, which released a statement saying he was treated for bipolar depression. Jackson is up for reelection Nov. 6 but has not campaigned since he won the spring primary.


So far, there has been no word from Jesse Jackson Jr's camp following the Chicago Sun-Times' report on Friday that an account of Jackson's that's monitored by Congress is under investigation.

The Sun-Times reported that federal investigators have launched a probe into "suspicious activity" in the South Shore congressman's finances.

Focusing on a completely new area of scrutiny for the son of the famed civil rights leader, the investigation is not related to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, a scandal that has ensnared Jackson in the past, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the feds were looking at campaign money Jackson had spent to decorate his home.

Michael Isikoff, NBC News national investigative correspondent, reported Friday that lawyers for Jackson met with federal prosecutors last week to discuss the status of the probe.

Meanwhile, political observers predict that despite Jackson's absence, his illness, his looming ethical inquiry and a federal probe -- he will still be reelected.

Outside political groups are spending millions of dollars for and against President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney or other Democratic or Republican candidates and causes. Here's a listing of major Illinois donors to outside spending groups, according to an analysis by as of Oct. 1. This includes SuperPacs and Independent Expenditure groups.

I included Joe Ricketts because his family owns the Chicago Cubs. The family is divided politically; the senior Ricketts is boosting Romney; his daughter, Laura, is a major Obama backer. Muneer Satter is also the Illinois Finance Director for the Romney campaign and departed from Goldman Sachs earlier this year.

The number is where the individual stands in the OpenSecrets ranking of top mega-donors. The L or C stands for where the donor gives, liberal or conservative groups.

Top Individuals Funding Outside Spending Groups

7 Eychaner, Fred
Chicago, IL Newsweb Corp
$3,250,000 L

21 Griffin, Kenneth C. & Anne Dias
Chicago, IL Citadel Invest Group/Aragon Global Mgt
$2,080,000 C

26 Ricketts, John Joe
Omaha, NE Hugo Enterprises
$1,485,000 C

34 Uihlein, Richard
Lake Forest, IL Uline Inc
$1,185,000 C

36 Hayden, Jerry L. & Marilyn J.
Barrington, IL Retired
$1,035,000 C

77 Satter, Muneer
Winnetka, IL Goldman Sachs
$525,000 C

82 Duchossois, Janet J.
Oak Brook, IL Duchossois Group
$500,000 C

This might not be seen a lot in Illinois. Certainly not in Chicago. But as the ad wars between President Obama and Mitt Romney's camps intensify, Obama at least is breaking out the big guns: Morgan Freeman.

The actor narrates the latest Obama spot with a theme of "recovery" and "moving forward." Here's the script:

Few have faced so many. Four years later... Our enemies have been brought to justice. Our heroes are coming home. Assembly lines are humming again. There are still challenges to meet. Children to educate. A middle class to rebuild. But the last thing we should turn back now.

Of course, Freeman has some experience with "hope." Perhaps "forward" helps avoid the typecasting.

Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding:

I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

President Obama is set to make his sixth appearance - his second as President - on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show' on October 18 the network announced Friday afternoon.

That's just two days after the next presidential debate. There should be plenty to talk about.

Here's his last appearance in 2010:

Federal authorities launched an investigation in U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. -- a probe that began before the congressman took a leave from office in June.

Focusing on a completely new area of scrutiny for the son of the famed civil rights leader, the investigation is not related to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, a scandal that has ensnared Jackson in the past, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rather, the probe -- based in the Washington, D.C., FBI field office --is focusing on "suspicious activity" involving the congressman's finances related to his House seat and the possibility of inappropriate expenditures, the sources said.

The probe was active in the weeks prior to Jackson taking a leave from his U.S. House seat on June 10, a leave his office ultimately attributed to his need for treatment for bipolar disorder, the sources said.

It was unclear whether the investigation involved the congressman's official House spending account or his campaign finance account. But one source said it was an account monitored by Congress.

All members of the U.S. House receive an allowance to operate offices in Washington and in their districts. The allowances for rank-and-file members ranged from $1.4 million to $2 million in 2010, according to the House website.

Jackson's congressional spokesman Frank Watkins said he was unaware of any investigation, had no comment and had no immediate way to get a hold of the congressman.

One of Jackson's attorney's, Paul Langer, repeatedly said "no comment," when asked whether Jackson was under investigation related to his finances.

When asked if he was still representing Jackson or if the congressman had retained another attorney, Langer said:

"I can't even comment on that."

News of the probe -- first disclosed by the Sun-Times -- comes as questions increasingly swirl around Jackson's absence from not only his official duties in Washington, but the campaign trail as the Nov. 6 election nears.

Citing exhaustion, Jackson, 47, stopped working, according to his staff, on June 10. His staff did not make that known until two weeks later.

He went to a clinic in Arizona then to the Mayo Clinic, which released a statement saying he was being treated for a bipolar disorder. Jackson is up for re-election Nov. 6 but has not campaigned since he won the Democratic primary in March.

The Jacksons put their Washington, D.C., home on the market last month at a price of $2.5 million. A campaign spokesman said at the time that the home was put on the market to pay for mounting medical bills. They subsequently took it off the market, saying it was a security issue.

Jackson came under scrutiny after one of his campaign donors approached Blagojevich with a pay-to-play offer regarding the appointment to President Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. Jackson has denied any wrongdoing, but that revelation sparked an investigation by a House ethics committee.

Jackson was first elected to Congress in 1995 and boasted of almost never missing a vote until he vanished from public view in June.

That's when his office announced that he was taking off work to undergo medical treatment for "exhaustion." Under pressure to reveal more details of his condition from even fellow politicians, Jackson's office gradually dribbled out more extensive explanations over the course of the summer.

He finally surfaced nearly a month later when Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The clinic revealed Jackson was being treated for Bipolar II depression, "a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drive and is most likely caused by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors."

Jackson returned to his home in Washington, D.C., early last month, but he still has not returned to work. His wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), recently said he may not return until after the November election, when he is up for another two-year term in the U.S. House.

"I can't speak to when that's going to happen or how that's going to happen," she said. "I can only say that I will continue to rely on [doctors'] expertise. I would only ask for patience."

The couple has been loathe to speak to the media.

During a fund-raising event last month, Sandi Jackson called reporters waiting to speak to her outside "jackals." She went to great lengths to avoid the media that night, waiting inside the darkened, otherwise empty restaurant until the last camera departed before she would exit.

The congressman once was among the more extroverted Chicago politicians, but he has been far more reclusive since his name was first linked to the scandal surrounding Blagojevich almost four years ago.

Jackson friend and campaign contributor Raghuveer Nayak told authorities he approached the then-governor with a lucrative fund-raising offer that could have led to Blagojevich's appointment of Jackson to Obama's old Senate seat.

Jackson has denied that version of events, and he was never charged with wrongdoing.

Campaign numbers released to the Chicago Sun-Times show that U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert has raised more than $620,000 in the third quarter.

The numbers also show the campaign has spent $389,000 and has more than $1.7 million in cash on hand.

The senior congresswoman is in a tight race against Democrat Bill Foster -- one of three hotly contested congressional races that has garnered investment from national parties and that has engaged in ad wars. A new remap cut Biggert out of her own district, having her run in a new, Democrat-leaning territory -- which has her fighting to hang on to her long-held seat.

"Judy is honored and humbled by the outpouring of support for her candidacy from Americans from all walks of life. In the last quarter, Judy has raised more than $620,000, a personal best and a testament to the strength of her campaign as we enter the final weeks," said campaign spokesman Gill Stevens.

Attack ads against Biggert bristled the congresswoman to the point that she canceled a Tuesday debate sponsored by AARP, saying the group's logo and quotes were featured in unfair ads against her.

The Foster campaign reported to the Sun-Times that it hauled in slightly more in the same quarter at $640,000 in what it called "its most successful fundraising quarter this election cycle."

Official disclosures are due to be released Oct. 15th.

Congressman Joe Walsh told the Chicago Sun-Times today that the campaign's internal polling numbers show his race against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in a dead heat, though the campaign has not released those numbers.

Meanwhile, Walsh said financial numbers due out later this month are likely to show he's raised $300,000 in the last quarter, meaning Duckworth has outraised him about 5 to 1.

Outside spending is another story, however, with a SuperPAC having pumped more than $1.7 million into Walsh's campaign in the form of a series of attack ads against Duckworth.

The internal polling disclosure comes in a week of wildly varying polls -- from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee showing Duckworth up by 10 points to a We Ask America poll showing Walsh up slightly with 47 percent of the vote vs. Duckworth at about 46 percent.
"Why is this election so close? She's had this district drawn for her," Walsh said, referencing the fact that the incumbent's district had been sliced up and redrawn to benefit Democrats.

When asked why he believed the race was so close when other polls -- aside from We Ask America -- had shown Duckworth with a large lead, he pointed to the campaign's own polling.
"Our internal numbers say this is a dead heat, it's really close," he said.

The race has become one of the most closely watched in the nation.
This week, Duckworth released numbers showing that she raised $1.5 million in the last quarter.

"It will be amongst the highest for challengers for congress in the country," said Anton Becker for the Duckworth campaign. "$1.5 million is an enormous amount.
It just shows how grass roots our campaign is."

The campaign reported this week that nearly 95 percent of the individual contributions Duckworth received were for $100 or less and the average individual contribution was $53.17.

Numbers are due later this month, but Walsh on Friday said he believed his campaign had raised around $300,000 in that same time period.

However, there has been an enormous infusion of cash into Walsh's campaign by an outside SuperPAC called Now or Never.

In case you missed the full, fiery debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan - or the Sun-Times live blog - here's the show.

Who do you think won this, the only vice presidential debate?


It's time for another debate in the 2012 Presidential race and tonight's event is the lone meeting of the VP candidates, standing Vice President Joe Biden and the GOP challenger Paul Ryan. Our live-blog will include running analysis from our writers (including Steve Huntley, Carol Marin, Neil Steinberg, and Roger Ebert), bloggers, and other insight as we follow tonight's face-off. Feel free to contribute comments below.


Tonight's Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and GOP challenger Paul Ryan is fast approaching - kicking off in less than two hours - but that won't stop us from getting prepared for all of the bluster we're sure to hear from both candidates tonight. So what better way to follow than to have a little fun? Above is WNYC's debate bingo card to keep you interested in what the candidates are saying. If you're not quite as worried about making it to the end of the debate, there are also a variety of drinking games.

But our own Richard Roeper has his own drinking game he's sharing with us and with you.

You often hear about supposed 'drinking games' tied to the viewing experience of popular TV shows, e.g., when you're watching Homeland, you have to take a shot every time Carrie exclaims, "Abu Nazir!" (Be careful, you might kill yourself.)

Not that we'd ever advocate drinking beyond moderation while watching the vice-presidential debate, but if you WERE going to engage in such a ritual, how about taking a drink when either candidate:

  • Tells a folksy anecdote about a real-life person, e.g., "Our plan is designed to help people such as Mimi Anyvoter, a 47-year-old schoolteacher from Cincinnati who has a son stationed overseas. Mimi recently approached me at a campaign rally..."

  • Mentions a swing state. (It could very well be a 'two-fer,' in which the individual featured in the Regular Person Anecdote just happens to be from a swing state.)

  • Crowbars in a reference to Big Bird or some other character or personality from a Public Television program.

  • Tells a self-deprecating or moving story about himself and/or his family, designed to illustrate how Americans can overcome challenges and preserve if only given the chance.

  • Recites a pre-written joke with a slightly dated pop culture reference.

  • Concludes the proceedings with some variation on, "Thank you and God bless America."

Follow Richard Roper on Twitter.


Vice President Joe Biden and contender Paul Ryan have been hard at work prepping for their debate in Danville, Ky., tonight. Congressman Ryan has been even harder at work.

The Republican's workout habits are well documented. Richard Stengel, managing editor for Time, justified releasing the images of a buff VP hopeful just hours before the two vice presidential combatants squared off in their only debate on "news is happening" grounds.

Some in the Ryan camp and many in the conservative press are crying foul that the Gregg Segal photos, shot in 2011 when Ryan was a runner up in the Person of the Year issue, shouldn't have been released this soon before the debate. Reactions to the images range from calling him a "Jersey Shore" wannabe to ridiculous and unflattering.

Meanwhile, the Tumblr Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan, barely had to even try for snark.

You can see some more of the images Segal shot here.

So it was the ads.

The campaign for U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert said the congresswoman was dropping out of a Tuesday AARP debate after the group was quoted and its logo used in a series of attack ads against her.

From her campaign:

The Judy Biggert for Congress campaign today released the following statement from manager Mike Lukach regarding the debate hosted by the AARP:

"We regret that we were compelled to withdraw from next week's AARP debate as the organization has proven itself unable to act as a neutral arbiter. AARP was cited, and its logo used, by no less than three liberal organizations in mail and on television to attack Judy Biggert and impugn her record on issues vital to seniors. When contacted on this matter, AARP officials made it clear that they were unwilling to stop this use of their logo and imprimatur. As a result, we severely doubted the ability of the organization to act as a impartial and objective host in this forum."

"Congressman Foster's feigned indignation about the campaign's decision not to participate is also deeply hypocritical. Just last week, Congressman Foster refused to participate in a candidate forum hosted by one of the 11th Congressional District's largest retirement communities, where he might have faced tough questions on his vote to cut $816 billion from Medicare, or his support for cutting Social Security benefits. Instead, Congressman Foster chose to hobnob with donors in New Jersey, demonstrating once again his misplaced priorities."

The AARP was quoted and its logo used in attack ads and mail paid for by the following organizations:

· Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (television)

· House Majority PAC (television)

· Illinois Democratic Party (direct mail)

The AARP was quoted and its logo used in attack ads and mail paid for by the following organizations:

· Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (television)

· House Majority PAC (television)

· Illinois Democratic Party (direct mail)

Turns out, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh would have won the bet.

Tammy Duckworth didn't take up the congressman on a wager he laid out at a Tuesday night debate involving Chicago Prime Steakhouse in Schaumburg -- but had she, it sounds like she would have lost.

Walsh insisted that the owner was concerned about how Obamacare affected his business. Duckworth said she also talked to the restaurant and accused Walsh of talking too much and not listening.

On Wednesday, the managing partner of Chicago Prime Steakhouse made it abundantly clear in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that he didn't have anything against either candidate.
"They're both welcome in my restaurant," he said. "There's no question, both of them have a sincere interest in understanding what is happening to me. They both were very, very adamant about it. They wanted to understand."

But after getting besieged with media calls today, Andy-John G. Kalkounos, said he thought he should release a statement to respond to the "high volume of reporters" from Washington newspapers to the Huffington Post.
"If I haven't taken 30 calls here, they just keep writing notes down," with phone calls.

The popular eatery in Schaumburg has won numerous awards and is routinely rated highly on Yelp and Open Table.

(It also was once the spot where Clint Eastwood's wife posed as a waitress and filmed an episode of "Candid Camera.")

Kalkounos said that speaking as a businessman, he had concerns about how Obamacare would affect his business. The issue came up at the Tuesday night debate in Rolling Meadows where Walsh and Duckworth gave different takes on what happened with the conversation they had with the owner.
Walsh challenged Duckworth to sit down with Chicago Prime next week to settle the matter and if he was wrong, he would donate $2,500 to her campaign.

"Based purely as a business owner, the (Affordable Health Care Act) would impose a significant
added expense without contributing any added revenue," Kalkounos said. "As it relates to AHCA, you ask me if my business is better off before it or after, the answer is obviously before. Both candidates agree with this and I am hopeful that this specific issue gets resolved immediately."

As it turns out, Walsh made a stop after the Tuesday night debate -- he headed to Chicago Prime.

Here's his statement:
"So that we do not have to respond individually to the high volume of reporters who have
contacted us in the last 24 hours, we thought we would just respond with the following

First, we would like to thank both Tammy Duckworth and Joe Walsh for attending and
mentioning our round table discussions held at our restaurant, Chicago Prime Steakhouse
in Schaumburg, Il, last evening during their spirited debate. My father George Kalkounos
and I appreciate your friendship, and both of you along with all of your supporters are
always welcome to our restaurant.

Allow me to preface my comments by sharing that I do not have a political axe to grind.
I am not speaking as a partisan, I am simply speaking a businessman, and concerned
citizen who has a business to protect, a wonderful family to provide for and a hard-
working staff to answer to.

The idea of health benefits for employees is a significant consideration that we take
seriously. Based purely as a business owner, the AHCA would impose a significant
added expense without contributing any added revenue.
Plainly speaking the Affordable Health Care Act, as I understand it to be written, is NOT affordable to this small
. The math is simple, these new rules are creating costs for businesses like our
own who already struggle in this economy and we have to treat it as any other expense
and attempt to curtail it as much as possible. I can say that I am assuaged by the fact that
both Ms. Duckworth and Mr. Walsh agree that our restaurant will suffer under the new
changes implemented by the AHCA and they both want to do something about it. It is
of great concern that government is imposing a penalty on businesses that may not be
able to afford health care. It burdens entrepreneurs like us that take the risk of leveraging
assets and sacrifice time away from their families to create, open and operate a successful
business in today's climate. The AHCA as written goes against supporting our business
growth. As it relates to AHCA, you ask me if my business is better off before it or after,
the answer is obviously before. Both candidates agree with this and I am hopeful that this
specific issue gets resolved immediately.

Judy Biggert pulls out of Tuesday debate

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U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert is no longer taking part in a Tuesday debate that was sponsored by AARP and would have been broadcast on WLS.

Biggert, a Republican from Hinsdale, informed the group today -- one day after a House Majority PAC launched a TV ad attack against the congresswoman. The ad includes a pull quote dated April 6, 2011 that was attributed to AARP. The commercial has Biggert's name at the top of the screen and the pull quote says: "Increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare's promise of secure health coverage."

When contacted, AARP confirmed Biggert pulled out but said the congresswoman would have to explain why.

"We were informed by the Biggert campaign that they were withdrawing," said Heather Heppner Associate State Director for Communications for AARP of Illinois. "Certainly, we're disappointed that we cannot continue with the debate."

Biggert and her Democratic opponent Bill Foster are in a tight race for the 11th congressional district, which was redrawn to favor Democrats.

"Congresswoman Biggert has broken her commitment to seniors yet again, and now refuses explain why she voted to slash their hard-earned benefits, " Foster, said in a statement. "The Ryan/Biggert budget would end the guaranteed benefit for Medicare, force seniors to pay more for their prescriptions starting immediately and leave future seniors with thousands of dollars in additional costs. "

Clearly viewing Illinois as fertile ground to win over congressional seats, the House Majority PAC, which aims to put Democrats back into the lead in Washington, on Tuesday disclosed it had pumped $2.4 million into the three key Chicago-area races - including U.S. House races in the 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts. One ad, called "loud" uses Joe Walsh as a centerpiece to attack three Republican races.

Biggert's campaign says she withdrew because AARP was not acting "as a neutral arbiter."

"We regret that we were compelled to withdraw from next week's AARP debate as the organization has proven itself unable to act as a neutral arbiter. AARP was cited, and its logo used, by no less than three liberal organizations in mail and on television to attack Judy Biggert and impugn her record on issues vital to seniors. When contacted on this matter, AARP officials made it clear that they were unwilling to stop this use of their logo and imprimatur. As a result, we severely doubted the ability of the organization to act as a impartial and objective host in this forum."

Here's the ad specifically targeting Biggert.

And then there's this DCCC ad, which also cites AARP as it slams Biggert, saying she gave herself pay raises while seniors paid more for Medicare.

This morning, Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his 2013 budget to the City Council, reasserting his promise of avoiding any tax hikes but maintaining his threat to hike property taxes if the city's pension issue isn't resolved. The mayor promised to close a $298 million shortfall in the budget, but alderman are skeptical it can be done without new taxes. Now, Mayor Emanuel is making the rounds to defend and explains his budget and he's stopping by our office to sit down and chat with City Hall reporter Fran Spielman about his budget. We'll be live-blogging the chat below and Spielman will post her recap later.

Get a head start on the live blog by checking out the mayor's prepared remarks, updates from this morning's speech by Sun-Times reporter Lauren Fitzpatrick, and even video of the speech, posted above.

Follow the live-blog after the jump.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is getting flak from the powerful gun lobby for her proposal to slap a "violence tax" on guns and bullets, but she's got a friend in Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Live blogging Emanuel's budget announcement

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Watch it live:

Watch live streaming video from chicagomayorsoffice at

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lauren Fitzpatrick is reporting live from Rahm Emanuel's unveiling of the new city budget:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared a winner in the first presidential debate hours before it started and stuck to the script even after Republican Mitt Romney got the better of President Barack Obama.

SPRINGFIELD-Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said Wednesday Republican Mitt Romney needs to continue tacking toward the middle in order to win next month's election.
"I think he wants to be president of 100 percent of the people of the United States. I think he has to address the concerns of all moderate people. He has that sensitivity," Hastert told MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd."
On Tuesday, Romney told the Des Moines Register that abortion would not be on his political agenda as president in a move President Obama's campaign said was aimed at confusing women voters. Romney's campaign later asserted he hadn't shifted on abortion and that he is "proudly pro-life."
In the same interview with the newspaper, Romney also seemed to backtrack on his previous opposition to an Obama mandate that employers and insurers offer women contraception coverage.
"If he's going to win, he has to win the middle," Hastert told Todd. " And he has to talk about how he can bring this country together and get things done."
Todd also asked Hastert whether he though Romney was using GOP running mate Paul Ryan enough on the campaign trail to enunciate his message. Ryan is "smart. He understands the budget. He understands tax issues," Hastert said.
"I think we need to see more of Paul Ryan," the former House speaker said. "But the candidate is the candidate, and the vice president is the vice president."

Walsh: "Tammy, Neither you, nor I are demonizing anybody"

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As the 8th congressional debate continues in Rolling Meadows, Tammy Duckworth repeatedly painted U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh as too extreme and responsible for Washington's gridlock. Walsh wouldn't accept the characterization.

"Tammy, Neither you, nor I are demonizing anybody," Walsh said in response to Duckworth repeatedly saying that she would work with others in Washington not "demonize them."

Duckworth: "I'm not going to grandstand with you, Joe."

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If you wanted a debate. You got one.

Tammy Duckworth and Joe Walsh are verbally duking it out on stage before hundreds of people, who are yelling out to candidates, whistling, booing.

At one point, moderator Paul Green told everyone to calm down or else they'd have to "pass out the togas."

Duckworth and Joe Walsh each said they had talked about their sit-down discussions with the owners of Chicago Prime Steak House in Schaumburg about health care. Walsh used it as an example of people who needed Obamacare repealed. Duckworth said she heard a very different story from them, then suggested he was spending too much time talking instead of listening.

That got Walsh going.

"I have a wager for Ms. Duckworth. Why don't you and I sit down together with the owners' of Chicago's Prime Steakhouse," Walsh said. If it turned out that Walsh's version of the story was true: "I will contribute $2,500 to your campaign."

Duckworth had a firm answer: "I'm not going to grandstand with you, Joe."

Arguably the most contentious congressional contest in Illinois was on full display Tuesday night in Rolling Meadows where hundreds of people packed in to hear Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh's debate over the 8th congressional seat they both think they deserve.
And battle they did.
Both Duckworth, a Democrat and Walsh, a one-term Tea Party Republican, wasted no time launching salvos at one another, each attempting to put the other on the defensive all the while.
"I never said she wasn't a hero," Walsh said, responding to a question about whether he was "too extreme."
That caused a major groan to wash over the Meadows Club auditorium.
"Yes you did!" someone shouted.
Walsh was also asked about his comment about Duckworth picking out an outfit to wear at the political convention when she should have been back in the district talking to people.
Walsh then held up a print out photo saying it was Duckworth shopping for a dress.
He couldn't even finish his remark because the crowd drowned him out in disapproval.
"What a dork!" said one man who was wearing a "No Walsh," sticker.
"I wear one color, it's called camoflauge," was Duckworth's retort.
Upon entering, both Walsh and Duckworth won standing ovations. Walsh won large applause on several points, including when he said he would end the department of education.
Walsh complained that all politicians wanted to do was get reelected.
Duckworth came back at him with that.
"The only person here who's trying to get reelected is Mr. Walsh," she said to laughs and applause.

The Duckworth-Walsh Debate from Rolling Meadows

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki will be following tonight's debate in Illinois' 8th Congressional District, pitting Joe Walsh against Tammy Duckworth. Follow her reports from the debate, as well as others, here, at, at, and on Twitter.

Storified by Chicago Sun-Times · Tue, Oct 09 2012 15:37:30

Duckworth, Walsh to debate in Rolling Meadows TuesdayA major makeover project, which will cost $203 million, is coming to the CTA's Wilson Red Line station. A major makeover project, which w...
Video: Dems use "loud" Joe Walsh clips to slam three IL GOP congressional candidates. Sun-Times Politics: korecki
Dem PAC pumps $2.4 million to attack Illinois Republicans in three key races - Sun-Times Politics: korecki

Previous debates and history

This will not be the first debate between Rep. Walsh and Tammy Duckworth. This video is from earlier this year:
Rep Joe Walsh Debates Tammy Duckworth 5 11 12csteventucker

Law enforcement goes for Schneider in 10th

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The battle over endorsements continues in the 10th congressional district as Democratic candidate Brad Schneider won a nod from the Fraternal Order of Police today. Schneider is trying to unseat GOP incumbent Bob Dold, a Republican who recently won two local newspaper endorsements.

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest police association in Illinois.

"Brad's dedication to our police officers and law enforcement and his willingness to work with all parties to provide first responders with the tools they need is exactly why we're pleased to endorse his campaign," said Illinois FOP President Ted Street in a release.

In tight 11th race, Bill Foster continues cash haul

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The Bill Foster campaign reported today that it raised more than $640,000 last quarter, in what it called "its most successful fundraising quarter this election cycle." Foster is a Democrat and also a onetime congressman who is working to unseat longtime Republican congresswoman Judy Biggert in the 11th congressional district.

"Bill Foster has out-raised his opponent every quarter he has been in the race," said campaign spokesman Patrick Brown.

Biggert's district was sliced up severely after a congressional remap, giving an edge to her Democratic opponent. Last week, a poll by We Ask America had Foster leading by 3 points. Biggert continues to hold her own, however, and just yesterday was endorsed by the NEA-IEA.

By Natasha Korecki
Political Reporter/@natashakorecki

A pro-Democratic group is using video cuts of the "loud," politically incorrect Tea Partier Joe Walsh to turn up the volume against Republicans in three key Chicago-area races.
Walsh's bluster is the centerpiece of a new spot, which is part of a $2.4 million ad buy attacking the congressman, and two other Republicans who are targeted by Democrats.
"Don't blame banks! I am tired of hearing that crap!" Walsh is seen imploring on a video of him talking to district residents.
In another clip he's shown saying: "I want America to pay for my contraceptives. You're kidding me. Go get a job!"
Clearly viewing Illinois as fertile ground to win over congressional seats, the House Majority PAC, which aims to put Democrats back into the lead in Washington, on Tuesday disclosed it had pumped $2.4 million into the three key Chicago-area races - including U.S. House races in the 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts.
One video, entitled "Loud" links Walsh to U.S. Reps. Bob Dold and Judy Biggert, both of whom are incumbents. While Walsh is a Tea Partier through and through, both Dold and Biggert are far more moderate. Still, the ad, which, according to the House Majority PAC, "will run in heavy rotation for two weeks," on both cable and broadcast, works to link the three as equally "out of step" but only plays video snippets of Walsh talking. Incidentally, the cut of Walsh saying "Go Get a Job," cut off the second part of his quote. The full quote from that day was "Go Get a Job, Sandra Fluke. Fluke is the woman who testified before Congress about affordable birth control, only to be berated by conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh as a "slut."

The HousePAC is banking on Walsh being so unpopular in Illinois, he will help sink two other Republican incumbents.
However, Walsh himself is a beneficiary of a huge media buy from a SuperPAC that poured more than $1.7 million into his race against Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Roll Call reported that a poll taken in mid-August by the Tarrance Group showed Walsh and Duckworth in a statistical tie. Democrats have reported far wider margins, including releasing numbers Monday that Duckworth was 10 points ahead.
Two other spots are also in the mix. One targets Biggert directly and another targets Dold.
Both candidates in the 11th district expressed frustration at the negative ads already in circulation.
"Going negative moves numbers," an upset U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert said in a Monday interview.
The campaign for her Democratic opponent, Bill Foster, held a similar view. The campaign recently rebutted a TV spot that accused him of layoffs and sending jobs overseas that included pointing out that he helped build a Midwest company that provides manufacturing jobs.
The new ad targeting Biggert features someone painting white out over her head in various photos, saying she has tried hiding that she is Republican.
A portion of the $2.4 million will be used to target Dold in ads to begin running next week.

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and Tammy Duckworth will go head-to-head tonight as the weeks close in on one of the most contentious races in the state -- if not the nation.

Walsh, a Tea Party Republican, and Duckworth, a Democrat, will debate beginning at 7 p.m. at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows. Paul Green of Roosevelt University will moderate.

Of the six most contested congressional races in Illinois, the 8th is the most likely to draw interest because of Walsh's unpredictability and as voters are still trying to feel out Duckworth. The flame-throwing Walsh has implored Sandra Fluke to "go get a job" and has called into question the hero status of his double amputee opponent, who was maimed on a mission in Iraq. However, Walsh has toned it down lately, taking on a more reasoned approach in recent interviews and appearances.

Democrats had written off Walsh in the 8th congressional race but it could be tighter than they believe. Walsh was recently the beneficiary of a huge media buy from a SuperPAC that poured more than $1.4 million into anti-Duckworth ads.

Roll Call has reported that a poll taken in mid-August by the Tarrance Group showed Walsh and Duckworth in a statistical tie. A We Ask America poll had Walsh at a five-point lead. Democrats have reported far wider margins, including releasing numbers Monday that Duckworth was 10 points ahead and an earlier poll that said she held a 14-point lead.

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took a break from cramming for his Thursday debate with Vice President Joe Biden to haul $2.5 million from a Sunday fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont.

First, some Mitt Romney/Illinois fund-raising updates -- then I'll give you a fill on how Ryan and Biden are preparing for their showdown.

On the campaign cash front, the checks have been totaled from the fund-raiser Romney headlined last month in Lake Forest, and the take was $4.4 million.

That's the "largest single Republican fund-raiser in Illinois history," State Treasurer and Romney Illinois chairman Dan Rutherford told me Sunday.

Since the primary, Illinois donors have raised, on President Barack Obama's home turf, more than $20 million, Illinois finance co-chair Ty Fahner told me just before the Ryan event started. That's money to the joint Romney/Republican National Committee joint fund-raising drive, SuperPacs not included.

"You know, Illinois has done a lot of good for this country," Ryan said at the Rosemont reception, where tickets ranged from $2,500 to $75,800-per-person.

"Illinois has also sent some other people to serve our country. This isn't a personal thing with President Obama, nothing like that. It's just that his ideas don't work. He came in with all these grand promises, all this hope and this change, and didn't fulfill any of those promises," he said.

Intense debate prep

Ryan made the Illinois stop amid intense practice for the Thursday vice presidential debate -- there will be only one -- at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

After Romney bested Obama at their Denver debate last Wednesday, the Ryan team is braced for Biden "to come after us aggressively," a Romney/Ryan campaign official told me.

Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, faces enormous challenges. A seven-term House member, Ryan has only been on the mega-national stage since Romney tapped him for the ticket Aug. 11.

Biden -- who ran twice for president -- has been in 18 presidential and vice presidential debates over the past two decades. He's been in office for 40 years -- as a senator or vice president.

Ryan has been memorizing statistics, phrases and language he might use -- and watching a slew of Biden debate and speech tapes.

He's been working on debate prep for almost a month, hunkering down the past several weeks, holding three mock debates as of Sunday.

While Romney and Obama were debating last Wednesday, Ryan was watching from his debate training camp at the Wintergreen Resort in battleground Virginia. Later this week, Ryan finishes up at another round of debate prep holed up near Tampa -- in battleground Florida.

Ryan's delivery also has to factor in a generational gap. He has to look the role.

Ryan, a youthful looking 42, will spar with Biden, who turns 70 on Nov. 20. Ryan was 2 years old when Biden was first elected to the Senate. That's a reason Ryan's sparring partner is Ted Olson, 72, a former solicitor general who -- as does Biden -- has a down-to-earth manner.

Ryan's team is lowering expectations.

"A lot of people give Joe Biden grief for some verbal gaffes, but if you go back and look at his debates, he's always been a solid debater," the Romney/Ryan official said.

Ryan also is working on speaking in plain English -- he is prone to using a budgeteer's jargon.

Biden has his own challenges.

"Biden has to kind of clean up the mess from last week, and there is a lot of pressure on him," Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady told me. If Ryan "just gets up there and holds his own, that would be a victory for him."

Fahner said Biden's "charm and his bombast won't work here . . . he is going to have to answer to this, just like Obama was supposed to but failed to."

Biden's debate partner is Rep. Chris Van Hollen, 53, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee -- Ryan's counterpart.

Biden's debate camp is in Wilmington, Del., this week. Biden has had two mock debates with Maryland's Van Hollen -- and is studying tapes of Ryan interviews and speeches.

Ron Gidwitz, a Romney Illinois finance co-chair told me Romney's debate triumph has energized the Romney troops.

Said Gidwitz, "They went from a little bit down in the mouth overnight to excited, energized [and] recommitted."

Audio, video banned

Ryan did not mention Romney's 47 percent video in his remarks at the Rosemont reception, which a pool reporter was allowed to cover. (No pooler was at the brunch for jumbo donors.)

Romney's seemingly disparaging comments about 47 percent of voters was caught at a secretly recorded video at a Romney fund-raiser. Outside the Ryan event was a sign: "No video or audio recordings allowed . . . thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation."

Labor woes are at the heart of almost all of the big issues that Rahm Emanuel has sought to tackle since he became mayor last year.

And helping the mayor with virtually of the biggest issues -- the teachers' strike, contract talks with police and firefighters, labor reforms at McCormick Place, and more -- is longtime city labor lawyer James Franczek.

In today's Sun-Times Watchdogs column, we delved into Franczek's story, pulling his firm's billing records from no less than five local government agencies.

Franczek prefers to stay out of news coverage. But his importance in the halls of local power is reflected in the millions of dollars that the city and other local government agencies have paid his firm.

Biggert snags education nod in 11th

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The National Education Association/Illinois Education Association announced it is backing U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert in a tough battle over the 11th congressional district.

The nod comes as Biggert is trying to hold onto her long-held seat in the district. She is battling ex-incumbent Bill Foster.

Kathi Griffin, vice president of the Illinois Education Association, said the group bases its endorsement on a candidate's record. Griffin said Biggert's work with education was laudable.

When asked, the group though didn't have anything negative to say about Biggert's opponent.

The NEA-IEA typically backs Democrats, but does endorse some Republicans. For instance, Republican Bob Dold in the 10th also won the endorsement.
Biggert, a moderate, supports teachers' unions.

"Education unions are the teachers," Biggert said today. "They are the ones who are training our kids to compete in this world."

A Foster spokesman said he, too, has had the support of teachers throughout the district, including the support of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The Sun-Times is taking a closer look at top congressional races in the Chicago area before the Nov. 6 election. Here's our overview of the 10th congressional race.

By Natasha Korecki
Political Reporter/@natashakorecki

It isn't too tough to get U.S. Rep. Bob Dold going.

Just ask the 10th Congressional District Republican representing the North Shore whether he's affiliated with the Tea Party, as his opponent, Brad Schneider, a Democrat, has repeatedly said in mailings throughout the district.

Dold walks intently across the length of his Highland Park campaign office, stretching out a printed voting analysis of Congress members published by the Washington Post. He points to his name, which, in a long list of names, is toward the bottom of the rankings. The percentage of times he voted with Republicans on key votes: 82 percent. That's compared with other members who notched in the 90s and even 100 percent.

What it proves, the Kenilworth congressman says, is that he's more than willing to break with the party when necessary.

Schneider is "just misinformed or he's just trying to mislead the voters. Either is unacceptable," Dold said. "I would say that you can take it from me or you can take it from independent analysis: I'm one of the most independent members of not just the freshman class but of the party." Schneider's campaign counters that Dold has voted with the Tea Party on some key votes. Schneider is just as easily riled. His sensitive topic? His work background.

The Dold camp questions why Schneider campaigns as a savior to small business when recent disclosures from his Cadence Consulting company shows he has made no income.

"My opponent has said he's a business person. What's his business? Zero revenue. Zero employees. Zero clients," Dold said.

Schneider bristles at the question, saying he may have not shown revenues in the last couple of years, but that's not unusual. He says his opponent doesn't understand what it is to be an entrepreneur.

"My focus was looking to find opportunities for investment and spending time to cultivate the deals to look at. ... A great deal of my time was spent on that. While looking for businesses to invest in ... they're not generating revenues," he said. "I was able to go off on my own to make a decision to put my energies to look for a business to buy. I didn't need to have income for that time."

Dold and Schneider are in one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the state. A national watchdog group recently ranked the 10th Congressional District as one of the top 10 most expensive in the country. According to disclosures, Dold has raised $2.8 million and Schneider has raised $1.6 million.

Voters have seen a barrage of TV ads and mailings.

They will face off in an Oct. 14 debate at Lake Forest High School.

Sensitivities are high as they duke it out over the next several weeks. On the one hand, the 10th district has more than 30 years of Republican representation. On the other, Dold is now facing a new, more Democrat-leaning district in his first attempt at re-election.

After a congressional remap controlled by Democrats, Dold's new district contains about 60 percent of the old areas. However, that is a relatively high percentage compared with other remapped districts.

"The 10th District has had thoughtful, independent leadership for at least the last 32 years," he said, adding that he has won 18 nonpartisan endorsements from local leaders in the new portion of the district.

The district has long demonstrated that it will back strong, pro-Israel candidates -- something with which both Dold and Schneider say they identify.

The contentiousness is likely to ratchet up as the race inches closer to the Nov. 6 election.

Dold last week challenged Schneider to release his tax returns as the Republican made his available to the media. Schneider declined, saying the public could get all they needed from his congressional disclosures. Those disclosures, however, do not show the tax rate Schneider paid, nor do they detail his wife's earnings. Schneider's wife works for Mesirow Financial. Schneider said he has an MBA and a 25-year background in business.

Dold, who owned a longtime family-run pest-control businesses, disclosed combined income topping $210,000 in 2010 and $246,000 in 2011. That included Dold's income from his business and his wife's income as an IRS attorney. Dold remains president of Rose Pest Solutions. The family paid an effective tax rate ranging from 19 percent to 24 percent on adjusted gross income that ranged from $208,000 in 2010 to $246,000 in 2011. Schneider's campaign said his tax preparer is still completing 2011's documents but say his tax rate is at around 20 percent -- though the candidate would not release supporting papers on that.

Both candidates say they support the extension of Route 53 to help relieve congestion and build infrastructure in Lake County -- as long as it is done in an environmentally sensitive way.

Schneider points to his endorsements -- including from the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign and NARAL Pro-Choice America. He says snagging some nods previously given to former seat holder Mark Kirk shows there's a shift happening in the district. The Illinois Federation of Teachers has also endorsed Schneider.

About his endorsements from the Illinois Education Association and the National Education Association, Dold says: "You think we'd get that if I were a Tea Party candidate?"

While it has launched a TV ad and campaign material casting Dold as a Tea Party sympathizer, Schneider's camp says it isn't calling Dold a Tea Partier but one who votes with the Tea Party on key votes. That includes voting to repeal President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul. However, Dold, among the few Republicans who uses the term Affordable Care Act rather than "Obamacare," said he would like to see more compromise in the health plan.

For instance he supports not banning people from getting coverage if they have pre-existing conditions and he thinks it "makes sense" to keep children on their parents' health insurance plans until they're 26.

A voting analysis by Congressional Quarterly showed that in 2011, Dold voted in support of President Obama more than any other Republican in the House.

Asked how he would show independence from his party, Schneider said he would take hard votes, if necessary.

"We need to make sure as we implement Obamacare, that we take into account small businesses," Schneider said.

Copyright © 2012 -- Sun-Times Media, LLC

The barrage of TV ads in the highly contentious, nationally followed 8th Congressional District just took another turn with new ads from Tammy Duckworth as well as a pro-Joe Walsh ad from the National Republican Campaign Committee.
Duckworth's ad attacks U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, calling him "too extreme" and "uncompromising" as a Tea Party member. The ad comes after a Republican SuperPac spent more than $1 million in two ads buys hammering Duckworth.

"I'm very disappointed Ms. Duckworth has decided to go negative more than a month before the election. It just shows that her campaign is desperate and she will say and do anything to get elected," Walsh said in a statement.

"Her accusation that I will raise taxes on the middle class is a complete lie," he added.

The Republican ad is not exactly soft. It lambasts Duckworth a tax cheat and shows slow-motion images of Rod Blagojevich, who appointed her to a state post.

Here's the ads

Wall Street.jpg
Trader Michael Liloia works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street after the government reported that the U.S. unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time in almost four years. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The economy is still in lousy shape.

You didn't need to see the September jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to know that.

You can probably see it in your own life or by just looking around a little.

But the numbers are the numbers.

The unemployment rate dropped in September from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent. The economy added an estimated 114,000 jobs.

It's good news. Not great news, but good. Be happy for the people who found work. Be encouraged that it could continue, no matter who gets elected in November.

The Oct. 9 edition of PBS' Frontline will present dual biographies of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as part of the leadup to the presidential election. This week the program has been releasing bits of memorabilia to its site showing off some of the content that will be showcased in The Choice 2012.

On Thursday, this letter written by President Obama in 1985 after he first moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer is highlighted.

Sarah Childress writes about the letter, sent to his college friend, Phil Boerner, which talks about Obama's new city and the sense of black community he found here:

"I think the history that Chicago has with its black neighborhoods and its civil rights history was probably an attraction for him at that point," Boerner recalled. "...[H]e wanted to be in a large city with a strong black neighborhood and a strong black history that he could merge himself into, and be a part of."

From Chicago, Obama kept in touch with Boerner by mail. In this letter, Obama is still very much the writer, scribbling eloquent descriptions of his new hometown on yellow legal paper, and enclosing a short story -- now lost to time -- that he asked Boerner to critique.

Obama notes in the letter that racial divisions are more intense in Chicago, "separate and unequal," he writes, describing a gap he would later work hard to bridge.

Here's the trailer for The Choice 2012:

Watch "The Choice 2012" Trailer on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Al Gore blames altitude for Obama's debate performance

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Former Vice President (and inventor of the internet) Al Gore has an interesting theory behind President Obama's lackluster performance at last night's debate -- it was the altitude!

While talking with "Current TV", Gore explained, "Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today - just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust - I don't know."

Longtime GOP Congresswoman Judy Biggert launched a new ad on Thursday attacking 11th congressional opponent Bill Foster and his business history.

"Bill Foster laid off workers and sent jobs to China, no wonder we fired him," the ad says.

The ad describes Foster as a millionaire then says Foster's firm laid off workers "right before Christmas."

The ad is about Foster's Electronic Theater Controls company, a firm that Foster and his brother founded in the 1970s.

From Foster's bio: "ETC provides hundreds of good jobs - with good pay and benefits - here in the Midwest. When he decided to run for a public office in 2007, Bill sold his interest in his company to avoid any conflicts of interest."

The ad is the latest salvo in a tight race in the 11th congressional district -- one of six in Illinois that have been deemed "high priority" by both national parties.

DENVER--President Barack Obama will mark election night in Chicago--with the location not firmed up--but don't expect a repeat of the enormous 2008 celebration in Grant Park, I'm told.

Among the locations being looked at: U.S. Cellular Field, where the Chicago White Sox play. The ball park is near a rapid transit line and close enough to downtown hotels for donor events and housing.

Game schedules could rule out the United Center.

Suburban venues are also under consideration.

On the list but low is the Midway Plaisance, at the University of Chicago. Obama headlined a rally there right before the 2010 mid-term elections.

Pelosi Fundraiser.jpg

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will work to boost congressional democrats at a Chicago fund-raiser on Saturday at Harry Caray's.

Tickets run from $500 to $10,000.

"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has six of their highest priority races right here in Illinois and all six candidates will be features as part of our lunch on the 6th," the invite says.

In the Chicago area, that includes contests in the Illinois 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts.


Mitt Romney may have had President Obama on the defensive in the first of three presidential debates, but his remark about cutting off PBS despite loving Big Bird, caught him grief all night on social media.

Romney referenced the debate's moderator, Jim Lehrer, who hosts PBS "News Hour," as he talked about ways to drive down the deficit.
"I'm sorry Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS ... I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too," Romney said.

Within minutes of his remarks, Big Bird was trending on Twitter. And on Facebook a "Big Bird for President" page was set up within minutes.

Some Tweet highlights:

"I love coal. I will fire Big Bird. Children can learn by counting lumps of coal."

"Mitt Romney definitely looked poised and confident. Especially when he looked America in the eyes & threatened to kill Big Bird."

Big Bird should moderate the next debate. "Tell me three things you would do as president, all beginning with the letter c."

"I worked with Big Bird. I served with Big Bird. You, sir, are no Big Bird."

My son loves Big Bird so he is offended by Romney's Kill Big Bird platform, and now he's starting to worry about Cookie, Elmo and Grover.


The Democratic spinmeisters say President Obama was having a conversation with the American people tonight.

I think it might have worked better if he'd just joined the debate with Mitt Romney.

People are always saying Obama has to avoid being professorial, then he went more professorial than I can ever remember.

The President looks a lot older than he did fours years ago. I would have rather seen him come across as much wiser as well.

I don't see this debate moving votes, but Republicans are going to feel better about Romney. He articulated their view of the world better than Obama did for Democrats.

Romney gains, Obama treads water; no knock-out yet

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This debate was a jam fest of so much data that neither candidate achieved a clear, distinct distillation of facts and the weight of those facts.

Overall, Romney gained. Obama stayed in place.

Where was the jugular here? Where was one of them cutting to the heart of the other's argument?

The format did not help.

But too much practice at this debate got in the way of clarity. If undecideds were truly listening, they are still, I'm guessing, really undecided.

And should be.

LIVE from the Emanuel debate watching party

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Sun-Times reporter Mitch Dudek is following Mayor Rahm Emanuel tonight -- watching the debate in Alderman Michelle Harris' family room -- and is sending us these prescient mayoral observations:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel eating lots of strawberries at Alderman Michelle Harris' family room debate watching party at her South Side home before candidates start sparring.


Rahm laughs when Obama says Romney's "big, bold idea is 'Nevermind.'"

Rahm chirps, "What did I say...math!"...showing his clairvoyant sense Obama would reference arithmetic.

Rahm slaps high-five with woman after Obama references "common sense" policies.

Let's make it a mini live feed. Here's the mayor's latest:

"There's an opening," said Rahm, who saw a chance for Obama to lob back the Romney jab that Obama "needs a new accountant."

Rahm's a big softie:

Rahm explains the debate to a grade-school age girl with beads in her hair. He invited her to join him on a cushy chair.

Stop the presses. The mayor adjusted his socks.

Rahm fiddles with his finger nails, and pulls up his socks multiple times.

Rahm grins widely when Obama tells Jim Lehrer: "I had five seconds before you interrupted me."

Halfway point: candidates running long

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We're near the halfway point of the debate, which is already running long, ala the Academy Awards. Maybe they should have had an orchestra in the pit to "play off" the candidates when their speeches ran long.

We'll see how it goes in the next 45 minutes or so, but barring a major swing in momentum, I'm predicting the majority of pundits and the majority of instant polls will determine Romney the winner. He seems more poised, more fired up and more focused than the president, who is surprisingly flat so far.

Debate moderator Jim Lehrer biggest loser so far

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Both candidates are steamrolling Lehrer. Romney just jumped in and said since the president got the first word, he should get the last word. We're now up to 20 minutes and counting on a segment that was supposed to be 15 minutes.

Reminds me a little of NFL players taking advantage of replacement refs--though Lehrer is certainly no rookie, having moderated a dozen presidential or vice-presidential debates in his time. But he's going to have to take tighter control of the night, even if it means cutting someone off or telling him, "No, we're moving on NOW."

Condescending smiles are the new headshake

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For years, the go-to move for candidates when it wasn't their turn to speak was the "there you go again" head shake. While Candidate A was making claims about Candidate B, we'd see Candidate B shaking his head, making notes and getting ready to say, "That is simply not the case."

Al Gore tried to take it to the next level with the Dramatic Sigh, which backfired horribly.

Tonight, it appears as if the tight-lipped, slightly condescending smile is the fallback reaction move for Romney and Obama. Whether they're looking down or looking at the opponent, each man is smiling and waiting patiently, as if listening to a child's dinner table explanation.

DENVER, COL.--Obama's debate guest list--released by the Obama team--which does not include everyone....

Grassroots Supporters and Elected Officials:

Jane Nyman, grassroots supporter

OFA Campaign Co-Chair John Register and wife, Alice Register

DNC Chair Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Olivia Martinez, grassroots supporter

Angela Gomez, grassroots supporter

Anita Smith, grassroots supporter

Mayor Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver

Cleo Breeze, grassroots supporter

The Honorable Federico Peña , OFA campaign co-chair, former Secretary of Transportation and former Secretary of Energy and daughter Neila Peña

Lalu Abebe, grassroots supporter

Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi

Lt. Governor Joe Garcia (D-CO)

The Honorable Ken Salazar and wife Hope Salazar

Marty Nesbitt

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and wife Judith Udall

Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and wife Susan Daggatt

Valerie Jarrett

Governor Dick Hickenlooper (D-CO)

Lehrer says audience is sworn to silence. Yeah, right

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Jim Lehrer: "The audience here has promised to remain silent." In the history of these debates, has that promise ever been kept through the entire evening? You know there's going to be a moment when someone gets a big laugh or an applause line, and Lehrer has to remind everyone to stay quiet.

And then it'll happen again. It's not like they're going to clear the room if the crowd occasionally applauds or breaks into laughter.

Minutes before the debate and the president is ...

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By Mark Brown

Is the President of the United States a multi-tasker or what? Just got this fundraising email from Obama with the debate only minutes away. He can't wait to see what I do tonight?

Here's the email:

In just a little while, I'll go on stage to meet Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate here in Denver.

I couldn't be prouder to represent you out there.

Mark, it's because of you that affordable health care is within reach for millions more Americans. It's because of you that we've seen 30 straight months of job growth and middle-class families have seen their taxes cut.

Together, we've done a lot -- but there is so much more to do to keep this country moving forward. That only happens if we win this election.

Before tonight's debate, will you chip in $5 or more to help finish this campaign strong?

Can't wait to see what you do tonight.


Mitchell: Debate or boxing match?

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I feel like I'm about to watch a boxing match. With all the hoopla, we might as well give President Obama and Mitt Romney gloves and let them have at it.


I'm trying to imagine what Barack Obama messing up would look like -- I must be a true Independent, because, in some strange way, I'd be curious to see that -- by being too snippish? Too remote? A Michael Dukakis booted rape question-like blunder? Asked a question that calls for emotion and he doesn't show it? I just can't see it happening -- Obama's just too cool, too professional and smart. Whereas it dwarfs the imagination the various ways Mitt Romney can mess up. Still, I'm sure he'll surprise us. Well, almost sure. That's the beauty of real life -- it always dwarfs what we imagine for it ahead of time.

November 6th may be a ways off, but JetBlue Airlines is already offering to fly those upset with the outcome of the presidential race out of the country, POLITICO reports.

"If your candidate doesn't win, don't worry. Election protection could be your ticket out of the country," the company writes on a new website.

The website allows voters to pick a candidate and if their candidate loses, they will be entered into a contest to win a flight to a tropical locale.


No commercials? What a rip! That's the best part of the Super Bowl! When are we supposed to get more snacks? What happens if something dramatic happens while we're out of the room? How will we ever .... oh, right. Okay, so the whole constant access, constant communications thing takes a bit of the moment out of watching the debates live. Still, we get to see it first.

The Obama - Romney Denver debate

Chicago Sun-Times columnists and reporters will be livetweeting the Denver presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Follow along here, at, or via Twitter.

Storified by Chicago Sun-Times · Thu, Oct 04 2012 10:46:25

Live tweets, blogging, thoughts and reactions from tonight's debate:

Back in the saddle! Here's our roundup of debate fact-checks so far. What else should we check? Use #PolitiFactThis
They should bring in Carol Marin to moderate the next #debate. She would have stopped the filibustering.Mark Brown
To steal from National League's #2 wild card, it will be a #happyflight for Romney. Less so on Air Force One. #debateMark Brown
When CNN says perception is POTUS "appeared listless" and MSNBC says Team Obama may have to change strategy, well.Richard Roeper
Chris Matthews on MSNBC just tearing into POTUS. "Where was Obama? What was Romney doing tonight? He was WINNING!"Richard Roeper
9:38 | NEIL STEINBERG: They're running the highlights reel. Once was plenty. See you all Oct. 11 .... drive safely. 
# debate -- So box score, Romney bests Obama on points, lives to fight another day.Neil Steinberg
No mention of 47 percent or Bain during #debate, Blitzer notes. Hadn't thought of it. He's right. #denverdebateMark Brown
#debate -- CBS calls it "a very lively evening." You've got to be kidding....Neil Steinberg
Except for the most committed, Obama fans are going to wonder why he didn't bring his A game. #debateMark Brown
Bad form for Romney to don that "2012 Champions" hat and T-shirt onstage.Richard Roeper
9:33 | Steve Huntley: I know this debate was about domestic policy, but moderator Jim Lehrer missed an opportunity in not bringing up the top foreign policy issue of the day -- Libya and all the questions surrounding the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
#debate -- Free at last, until Oct. 11. Both run into the arms of their loved ones. And so to bed.Neil Steinberg
#debate Expectations for this debate were that Obama had far less to lose but Romney had to gain. And did gain---a little.Carol Marin
#debate -- Now Romney, he's concerned about America. Shadows under his eyes. Like a Disney anamatronic. Promising pie in the sky a jobs...Neil Steinberg
9:30 | Steve Huntley: Obama complains about Romney not offering specifics but packs his closing statement with vague generalities and platitudes.
#debate -- he keeps looking up with an "is this over" expression. Now, "fight every single day." A little flash. But not enough.Neil Steinberg
When POTUS finishes this speech, Romney should just say, "I'm good."Richard Roeper
Regardless of who you support, it's tough to make the argument Obama won this debate. This was a good night for Romney.Richard Roeper
#debate "Terrific debate" said Obama.Carol Marin
#debate -- Obama is thanking people in his two minutes. Now a history lesson. He likes the American people. He met a woman who has a job.Neil Steinberg
9:27 | NEIL STEINBERG: Obama ends as he began, looking tired and little hesitant. His trademark eloquence just not there, completely. Not that he did poorly. But he left Romney standing. 
#Debate #DenverDebate Obama's best takedown: How will Romney be able to work with Democrats if on Day One he wants to repeal ObamacareLynn Sweet
9:25 | Steve Huntley: In answering what to do about the gridlock in Washington, Romney cites his record of working with an 85 percent Democratic legislature and cited that as evidence he could get Washington working again.
#debate Three minutes can feel like three hours in a debate like this.Carol Marin
#debate Four minutes left. Obama--is there a response to Romney's last filibuster?Carol Marin
9:24 | Mary Mitchell: Romney's : "You are entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts."---Zinger. But does that make Romney more likeable to the undecideds?
And we have an instant @SilentJimLehrer Twitter account, with 3,500 Followers and counting...Richard Roeper
The 'spot' on Romney's flag pin is the Secret Service star logo, given to him by his security. That's pretty cool.Richard Roeper
#debate Okay, time to talk about this debate format. Not working. Not working.Carol Marin
9:19 | Mary Mitchell: Gov. Romney is a great matter what the question,  Romney was able to turn the response into an opportunity to attack Obama's position on every issue.
@MittRomney says America must: "Maintain our commitment to religious toleranance and freedom in this country." #Denverdebatenatasha korecki
9:18 | Steve Huntley: Romney again turns the liberals' "trickle down" phrase against Obama by talking about how "trickle down government" has failed to bring prosperity to the country.
@MittRomney: "We know the path we're taking is not working, it's time for a new path." #Denverdebatenatasha korecki
There he goes again. "Trickle down government." Have to admit its kinda catchy. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
@MittRomney: "I don't believe in cutting the military, I believe in maintaining the strength of our military." #Denverdebatesnatasha korecki
Obama: "The genius in America is the free enterprise system." #Denverdebatenatasha korecki
#CNN time clock has Obama 3 mins ahead on time before even starting this answer. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
#debate Do I feel more secure if a private insurance company decides I don't really need a new knee? Who do I appeal to?Carol Marin
Mitt likes Arne Duncan. Has said nice things about him before.Lynn Sweet
I can't believe Don Draper has pulled off another identity switch. He's utterly convincing as the GOP candidate. #DebateRichard Roeper
#Debate Mitt soundbite "It is time for a new path"Lynn Sweet
#Debate Mitt ...ya may not agree with him, but much crisper on what the role of government is.. Point is for style, not substance.Lynn Sweet
#Debate Obama on Better Together. Thats from Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement..Obama an alum...way back in the dayLynn Sweet
#debate Will Bill Clinton please step in and explain this in distinctly clear terms?Carol Marin
Romney: "private market and individual responsibility always work best." Hasn't worked great in health care. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
#debate "I like the way we did it in Massachusetts." Romneycare but not Obamacare because of who voted for it?Carol Marin
Romney:Republican genius -- fail to cooperate and then blame Obama for not having Republican involvement.Neil Steinberg
9:02 | Steve Huntley: Romney scores again by noting that Romneycare passed with bipartisan support in Massachusetts while Obamacare squeaked through on a strictly partisan vote.
#debate The candidates have to stop moderating the moderator.Carol Marin
Are people who AREN'T be paid to watch this still tuning in? Or is it just pundits?Neil Steinberg
8:58 | Steve Huntley: Romney scores again by tagging Obama for spending 2 years passing Obamacare instead of working to fix the economy.
Romney delivers his set piece against ObamaCare to good effect, then seals it with a well-earned smirk at the end.Neil Steinberg
8:57 | Steve Huntley: Romney succinctly sums up the cause of the Great Recession as too many unqualified people getting loans to buy homes they couldn't afford.
Can"t blame Romney for talking over Lehrer. He's consistently had less time than Obama. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
"Does anybody think the big problem we had was too much regulation of Wall Street"? Nice one, Mr. President.Neil Steinberg
8:53 | Mary Mitchell:  Romney's quite a fast talker or at least that's how he's coming off in the debate.
Glanced at the Twitter feed -- if the whole world is tweeting, who's reading it?Neil Steinberg
8:52 | Mary Mitchell: Obama has the habit of letting his opponent cut him off. He did that during his debates with Hillary Clinton. He's letting  Romney cross talk him too much.
Romney walking thin line. Assertive is good. Talking too much over the moderator can backfire.Richard Roeper
8:51 | NEIL STEINBERG -- Mitt Romney is a fan of regulation, because regulation tells you which Caribbean islands to stash his money on. 
Obama scores with terrified seniors and we soon-to-be terrified seniors. Mention Romney's emergency room plan.Neil Steinberg
8:50 | RICHARD ROEPER: We're near the halfway point of the debate, which is already running long, ala the Academy Awards. Maybe they should have had an orchestra in the pit to "play off" the candidates when their speeches ran long.
#debate STOP them. And get this organized.Carol Marin
8:49 | Steve Huntley: Romney scores a strong point in noting that the idea to inject competition into Medicare originated in the Clinton administration.
#debate Romney now firing the insurance companies?Carol Marin
Obama should explain why he has become fond of the term Obamacare. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
Romney seems more focused and on point so far. POTUS saying "uh" too much, doesn't seem energized.Richard Roeper
#DEbate #PresidentialDebate Mitt mis-leading about supposed $716 billion in Medicare cuts...that's future cuts to providers, not patients.Lynn Sweet
#debate Enough with the grandmother. We know the story and appreciate it already. Did so four years ago.Carol Marin
8:43 | Mary Mitchell: Romney has already landed a few key punches, such as "I don't know what you are talking about."
Bain had nothing to do with shipping jobs overseas? #debateRoger Ebert
Main takeaway so far: these guys have done a good job of memorizing their talking points. Not much else. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
#Debate #PresidentialDebate Obama on entitlements...will he bring up 47 per centers??Lynn Sweet
@MittRomney says he's never heard of a tax break for taking companies overseas: "I may have to get a new accountant." #Denverdebatesnatasha korecki
Stop these guys and make them shape up, now! #debateCarol Marin
8:39 | Steve Huntley: "50 years of what oil and gas receive" -- Romney delivers in a telling way how much more taxpayer money goes to green energy than oil and gas.
#Debate #PresidentialDebate Mitt finally mentions Solyndra--took him 38 minutes...but no folo up --so farLynn Sweet
8:39 | CAROL MARIN: Romney: "I like green energy as well" doesn't ring out as loving green energy.
#debate 39 minutes in, people. Can you summarize so far?Carol Marin
@BarackObama hitting @MittRomney on corporate tax breaks: "The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in ... corporate welfare." #Denverdebatenatasha korecki
#Debate...Obama better tax equity argument. Soundbite-- "Does anyone think Exon Mobil needs more money?"Lynn Sweet
8:35 | NEIL STEINBERG: Mitt doesn't want to go down the path to Spain. I don't know, I hear Spain is nice. Tapas. Lots of sun. Bullfights....
Romney's promise to cut help for PBS won't go over well with millions watching debate on PBS. #debateRoger Ebert
8:34 | Steve Huntley: Romney scores big by noting that the economy is growing more slowly now than when Obama extended all the Bush tax cuts because it would hurt a weak economy, but that now Obama wants to raise taxes on job creators.
I'm more of a Cookie Monster guy myself. #debateMark Brown
8:32 | Mary Mitchell:  Romney: I like big bird. I like you too (to Jim Lehrer ) really, really? 
Obama specific on deficit. Romney recites generalizations. No specifics. #debateRoger Ebert
@MittRomney says he "loves" Sesame Street and Jim Lehrer but: "I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS." #debatenatasha korecki
#debate If Romney is going to undercut Big Bird, what the heck does this mean for Elmo. DO NOT HURT Elmo!Carol Marin
If people want a debate with no real control by the moderator, they're getting it. #debate #denverdebateMark Brown
Did Romney say he was going to kill Big Bird?Carol Marin
#Debate Mitt on his cuts...well done in personal touch with Obamacare, PBS...though he likes Big BirdLynn Sweet
8:29 | NEIL STEINBERG: Obama is on the defensive -- that's bad, for him. 
"I'm sorry, Jim, I'll stop subsidy to PBS"?#debateCarol Marin
LIVE from the Emanuel debate watching party - Sun-Times PoliticsSun-Times reporter Mitch Dudek is following Mayor Rahm Emanuel tonight -- watching the debate in Alderman Michelle Harris' family room --...
Oh no, now Romney is doing math!Carol Marin
Obama needs to use the "Bush" word. #debateRoger Ebert
Arguing about who gets the first and last word...bad idea. #debateCarol Marin
"Bill Clinton"....second reference by name, second reference by math & arithmetic.#debateCarol Marin
#Debate Obama couldn't help himself...telling Jim Lehrer he might want to move on to another topic. Deduct 1 point.Lynn Sweet
"Math", "Arithmetic"....can you guys do some calculus? #debateCarol Marin
Romney's tight little pitying smile. #debateRoger Ebert
8:22 | Steve Huntley: Romney makes a strong point in that Obama's plan would raise taxes on employers who hire a quarter of all workers.
#Debate Moderator Jim Lehrer perhaps too laid back toniteLynn Sweet
8:21 | Mary Mitchell:  It's math. It's so.
Density of data...for both these guys...does not necessarily yield clarity.#debateCarol Marin
8:21 | Steve Huntley: "Donald Trump doesn't like to think of himself as small anything" -- weak Obama joke falls flat. Did hear a single laugh.
#Debate Obama soundbite "His big bold idea is never mind"Lynn Sweet
Romney: I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans. Rich people scratching their heads: he won"t?#debateMark Brown
8:18 | Steve Huntley: Obama cites a discredit study alleging Romney's tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class.
#Debate...Will Romney be pressured to name some tax breaks he will end?Lynn Sweet
8:18 | Mary Mitchell: Gov. Romney's:  I've got five boys I am used to people saying something that is not true but think I'll believe it because they keep saying it---that may not be a direct quote, but you get the point--zinger.
8:17 | Steve Huntley: Good Romney line about Obama's misrepresentation of his tax plan: "I've got five boys, so I'm used to people saying something and hoping I'll believe it."
8:17 | CAROL MARIN: Romney trying to cram too many facts into one answer. Obama responds...a bit more slowly...Romney jumps in...And Lehrer tries...but does not interrupt. He needs to start showing some muscle early on these guys.
#Debate...Obama--who has been told to be concise--is rambling on tax caught in trap of quarreling over $5 trillion tax cutLynn Sweet
8:16 | Mary Mitchell: President Obama had better start lobbing some zingers of his own.
Just off-camera, Emmett Smith waiting in the wings with Just For Men for both candidates. Could be a game-changer! #DebateRichard Roeper
8:15 | NEIL STEINBERG: No wonder we focus on zingers -- 20 seconds of wonky tax talk and we start to glaze over. "Why this is hell, nor am I out of it." Christopher Marlowe. 
8:14 | MARY MITCHELL:  Romney is lobbing some zingers---"not due to his policy in spite of his policy" response on the energy question was a good one.
#debate On Ties: Obama blue state blue; Romney red state red. Just wanted to point out...Lynn Sweet
8:12 | CAROL MARIN: Obama:  "I want to hire...I want to pass"....first person commander-in-chief.... Romney: Lehrer asks if he has a question for President...Sure, he says.  But offers statement. Jim Lehrer has a tough job here.
Switchero. Romney says *Obama* in favor of trickle-down. #debateRoger Ebert
The proverbial lady with a baby. #debateRoger Ebert
#debate -- Did Mitt forget to cut his hair? He doesn't look afraid -- just sort of low-level hysterical.Neil Steinberg
8:08 | Steve Huntley: Romney cuts to the heart of the choice in this campaign: big government vs. limited government.
#Debate Obama's phrase "economic patriotism" has been in play for a few weeksLynn Sweet
8:08 | Steve Huntley: Romney offers crisp summation of his campaign promises.
8:08 | Steve Huntley: Romney gets off to a good start with telling ancedotes of people suffering in the poor economy.
Mitt scores. More comfortable. Classy followup to Obama's greetingNeil Steinberg
8:07 | Steve Huntley: The term "economic patriotism" sounds increasingly shallow.
Obama has fear in his eyes.Neil Steinberg
8:06 | Steve Huntley: Obama kicks off debate with familiar campaign rhetoric mis-characterizing Romney's tax position.
He could have waited to work the anniversary line into the debate. Trivialized an important question.Mark Brown
Anniversary greetings? Really? Hmmmm....Neil Steinberg
Blue and red ties -- geez, it's like a uniform.Neil Steinberg

The pre-debate reporting and tweeting:

7:59 | MARY MITCHELL:  Why is Valerie Jarrett wearing that fuddy duddy shawl? And why a coin toss to introduce the wives of candidate. Michelle Obama is the first lady!!!! She should have been introduced first.
7:54 | NEIL STEINBERG: So if we consider each six-minute segment of the 90 minute debate a "round," then which round of the 15 round match will be the deciding one? I almost said Obama delivers a KO in the 9th, but that sounds too partisan, and I still sort of hope he has some kind of gibbering Captain Queeg-like breakdown, cause really, who expects that? 
#debate -- Ten minute til -- the popcorn is popping in the kitchen. Too soon? Too late now, we've passed the point of no return, popcornwiseNeil Steinberg
Oh wow, @ebertchicago is live Tweeting this. Get ready for some SCORCHING critiques of the camera angles. #debatePatton Oswalt
#Debate moderator Jim Lehrer admonishing audience to...he is saying it shut up and not cheer and clapLynn Sweet
7:50 | NEIL STEINBERG -- So you think Jon Stewart moderates the debate four years from now? I'd pay to see that.  Assuming of course we still have a democracy then.....
#Debate...Ann Romney in white, Michelle Obama in blueLynn Sweet
#Debate Ann Romney, Michelle Obama HUG in debate hall....Lynn Sweet
#debate -- The pre-debate spin seems to be all about emotion, one-liners, body language. Thank God there aren't any problems facing the USA.Neil Steinberg
Finally, a celeb! Dennis Miller, supporting actor in the1995 techie thriller "The Net," which holds up SO well! #DebateRichard Roeper
#Debate Michelle Obama sitting next to Valerie Jarrett in the debate hall...Today is Obamas' 20th anniversaryLynn Sweet
Mitts pre debate dinner: BBQ sandwhich, spaghetti from Cheesecake Factory #DebateLynn Sweet
#debate -Which network to watch?. As a longtime Uncle Walt fan, CBS is default -- or Fox for its buffoonery, jaw-dropping-bias? CBS wins.Neil Steinberg
#debate -- Another issue -- can we swear in our tweets? We haven't been briefed on that. One hand: not the paper. The other: representing itNeil Steinberg
#debate -- Forget the drama of the debates -- with all these journalists tweeting on the fly, who is going to commit a career-ending gaffe?Neil Steinberg
6:50 | Mitt Romney had debate prep refueling at Chipotle on Tuesday. Jim Acosta reports on CNN that he hit the Cheesecake Factory Wednesday evening for hit pre-debate last meal. But did he go for the Old Fashioned Burger? Or the Over-The-Top Meatloaf Sandwich?
Your Sun-Times favs live blog on the debate. At And catch theirs and others' Tweets at Fornek
This is the worst red carpet ever. I don't recognize half of these people. #DebateRichard Roeper
#Debate Debate hall beginning to fill up..Campaigns were given tickets to distribute....Easy stroke for big donors...Lynn Sweet
Sweet blog Aaron Sorkin #debate: If he were directing Obama, Romney Sweet
#debate --- Immediacy is the enemy of accuracy. Newton M. Minow -- one "n" -- if he thought TV was a vast Wasteland, what does he call this?Neil Steinberg
No truth to rumors Obama is going to slap Presidential Seal on his lectern, say, "How you like me now?" drop mic and walk off.Richard Roeper
Sun-Times pundits live-tweet and blog. Brown, Mitchell, Marin, Huntley, Roeper, Steinberg and me. Bookmark: Ebert
#debate More in the Spin Room: Sen. Marco Rubio, Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper, former Sen. Simpson...OFA's Katie Hogan is in the house....Lynn Sweet
Aaron Sorkin #debate: If he were directing Obama, Romney - Lynn Sweet(video by Lynn Sweet) DENVER, COL.--Aaron Sorkin--writer and creator of the West Wing and The Newsroom,--now playing on HBO--was asked We...
Yes, we will be live-tweeting tonight's debate! There's also our Argument Ender app. Details:
Tonight's fact-checking team (1 of 2) @AdairPolitiFact @amy_hollyfield @angieholan @asharock @loujacobson @bbowerstimesPolitiFact
Tonight's fact-checking team (2 of 2) @mollymoorhead @jonzgreenberg @katielsanders @amysherman2 @jbwogan @kelly_dyerPolitiFact
What I wrote after the 2008 Obama-McCain debate. #debateRoger Ebert
Giuliani for Mitt, Wasserman Schultz for Obama making the rounds of the media center before the debate...Lynn Sweet
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel declares debate winner--before it happens - Sun-Times Politics: korecki
If CNN is going to insist on calling this "Debate Night in America," echoing the feel of "Football Night in America," we may need a tailgate:
2012 Presidential Debate Drinking GameThe Mitt Romney/Barack Obama debates are finally here - which means it's time for the 2012 Presidential Debate Drinking Games! So stock u...
The Ultimate Debate Drinking Game for Women. #debateRoger Ebert
Sweet blog Obama arrives at debate: Check out his motorcade Sweet
How Obama can win a debate without saying a word: Just have the candidates walk in on a runway. #DebateRoger Ebert
Obama and Romney as Debaters James Fallows in The Atlantic. #DebateRoger Ebert
#debate. Festive atmosphere at debate site, University of Denver Sweet
#debate pre-debate: politics as theater w Aaron Sorkin, Simpson, Todd & Shorenstein Center Jones Sweet
#debate Tweeting on debate tonight. My money is on President Obama. Unflappable vs. Stiff as a board.Mary Mitchell
#debate #Coheartland Colorado Gov Hickenlooper: attack ads have limits. Pepsi never attacks CokeLynn Sweet
Obama, Romney hunker down for debate prep - Chicago Sun-TimesBy JULIE PACE Associated Press Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leaves his campaign headquarte...
"First Debate Usually Helps Challenger in Polls," sez Nate Silver, the NYTimes' number cruncher. #DebateRoger Ebert
#debate @debate Obama will get the first question at the debate, according to Presidential Debate Commission co-chair FahrenkopfLynn Sweet
Reuters: "The public expectation is that Obama is going to clean his clock." #DebateRoger Ebert
Sweet blog Obama's Stephanie Cutter Pre Debate memo and video Sweet
Sweet blog Republican National Committee Pre-Debate Video Sweet
Romney has chance to reverse '47%' momentum - Chicago Sun-TimesBY LYNN SWEET Twitter: @lynnsweet A worker labels chairs in the Magness Arena at the Daniel L. Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness, si...
Tonight's Obama/Romney debate...what are we looking for? Marin
In THIS corner, in the blue trunks weighing in at 175 pounds: Mitt RRRomney!Debate? What debate? - Chicago Sun-Times: Steinberg
I feel like it's Superbowl Saturday. #DebateRoger Ebert
#Debate @Debate Just arrived Denver. Great weather.. Obama, in Nevada--breaking from debate prep-- visited Hoover Dam on Tuesday.Lynn Sweet
Sweet blog Romney does improv before debate: Funny or Die new video Sweet
Sweet blog Obama debating Rep. Rush on WTTW in 2000: RNC revives clips Sweet
Sweet blog Debate zingers: What's at risk for Obama, Romney Sweet
Sun-Times columnists live-tweet about debate. Marin, Mitchell, Roeper, Steinberg, Brown, Huntley and me. Bookmark: Ebert

Contributing to this live report:

Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) Richard Roeper (richardroeper) Lynn Sweet (@lynnsweet) Natasha Korecki (@natashakorecki) Mark Brown (@markbrowncst) Carol Marin (@carolmarin) Neil Steinberg (@neilsteinberg) Thomas Frisbie (@thomasfrisbie)

You can always find more political coverage and Chicago Sun-Times political reporting at the following locations:The Sun-Times politics blog Election central at Lynn Sweet's blog The Sun-Times on Twitter (@suntimes)


This photo of a wide-eyed Chipotle worker posing with Mitt Romney has gone viral (for obvious reasons).

The manager of the Denver restaurant posed for a group photo with Romney when the Republican presidential candidate stopped by for lunch Tuesday afternoon.

"It's a facial expression I do when I'm excited," Marty Arps told The Daily.

We want to know -- what face would you make?

Emanuel declares debate winner--before it happens

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday declared a winner in the first presidential debate--hours before the all-important face-off between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.


Succumbing to a louder chorus asking for answers about U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s political intentions, 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson today spoke at City Hall, asking for patience.

"No last-minute switcheroos. He would never do that, and I would never want that for him," she said. "I strongly believe in the democratic process. When I ran for alderman five years ago, I ran because I believe it's important to give individuals a voice. They need to have a say in who their elected representatives are. I know that Jesse believes that firmly as well."

Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman detailed Sandi Jackson's remarks today.

"I can't speak to when that's going to happen or how that's going to happen," she said. "I can only say that I will continue to rely on (doctors') expertise. I would only ask for patience."

At the news that he may not return until after the election, Jackson's independent opponent in the 2nd Congressional District race, Marcus Lewis, once again lambasted the congressman, saying he's been out of pocket for far too long in a district that's economically struggling.

"Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is listed as MIA, AWOL & is a congressman on the run, in hiding refusing any modicum of communication from the media or with his constituents," Lewis said. "Jackson Jr. has abdicated his right to be looked upon as a U.S.. Representative for the 2nd District of Illinois by his silence and refusal to return to his elected position of congressman is deemed a deserter from his sworn duties and is hereby unfit for the office of congressman having abandoned his post."

Cheetos Election Portrait.jpg

Cheetos Election Portrait S.jpg
Photos by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Cheetos/AP Images

Politics in America can be and often is ridiculous. Now you can officially vote for ridiculous. Cheets has hit the campaign trail. From the press release:

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are immortalized in 3 feet by 4 feet portraits made entirely of more than 2,000 Cheetos cheese snacks apiece by Colorado Springs, Colo. artist, Jason Baalman. Today, the Cheetos brand unveiled a new electoral polling model with the unveiling of 3 feet by 4 feet one-of-a-kind Cheetos portraits of the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees - President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney. Debuting on Facebook today at 11 a.m. CT, fans are encouraged to vote for their candidate's portrait - made entirely of more than 2,000 individual Cheetos cheese snacks - for a chance to win the actual portrait.

Head to their Facebook page to cast your vote. It will be interesting to see if this election gets better turnout than the actual presidential contest.

Debate parties just wouldn't be parties without games. So WNYC has this fun little bingo game. Of course there's the inevitable drinking games, but you have to vote your own conscience on that.

And on UStream:

Streaming video by Ustream

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he knows why NBC chose Chicago for the new prime-time series, "Chicago Fire."

At the same time that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched an ad against longtime U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, the Biggert campaign got its own boost.

The NEA Fund for Children and Public Education spent $546,489 on ad spots after a SuperPAC last week announced it was pit Biggert because she was a Republican who supports gay marriage.

Meanwhile, the DCCC's ad that supports opponent Bill Foster accuses Biggert of "looking out for the wealthy."

Finally, Foster has released his own ad, touting his work as a scientist at Fermilab.

SuperPAC: Tammy Duckworth ad will run on all stations

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A pro-Joe Walsh ad made up by a SuperPAC that the Tammy Duckworth campaign had hoped to keep from airing has landed a spot "on all stations," according to a spokesman.

"The ad will run, at all stations, despite the challenge by Duckworth," said Tyler Harber, spokesman for Now or Never, a SuperPAC.

The SuperPAC spent $405,150 on the ad buy, according to campaign disclosures.

Harber said he is preparing to release more details. To date, the conservative SuperPAC has spent more than $1.2 million on pro-Walsh/anti-Duckworth commercials. Federal Election Commission disclosures show that the group has spent $2 million so far in the 2012 campaign cycle.

On Monday, the Duckworth campaign released a statement saying that a "source" had said that the ABC-owned WLS TV would not run the latest pro-Walsh TV ad. However, WLS President and General Manager John Idler said later Monday that was not true -- it was under review.

A campaign spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (10th) said this week that a poll conducted by McLaughlin and Associates shows the Republican incumbent up by 7 points.

That's in contrast to an August survey taken by Democrats that showed Dold and his Democrat opponent Brad Schneider in a dead heat.

When voters were asked who they would vote for today, 44 percent said Dold and 37 percent said Schneider, according to the Dold campaign. The poll was conducted Sept. 11-12.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released new TV attack ads
in the 10th District that slam Dold on Medicare and women issues.

Haley Morris of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised questions about the numbers, saying that the newly remapped 10th district was leaning toward Schneider:
"Already independent groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the Sierra Club are lining up behind Brad Schneider. Now, as Illinois voters learn they have an alternative to Congressman Dold and his Tea Party Majority with Democratic candidate and businessman Brad Schneider, they are abandoning Dold in droves."

Both the national committee and the Schneider campaign say that groups that have endorsed former 10th district Congressman and now-U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) are now giving endorsements to Schneider. Many of those groups, however, endorsed the Democratic candidate when Kirk was challenged.

"Unfortunately, many of these organizations are Democratic leaning and they are more interested in electing a Demcoratic Congress than they are in supporting thoughtful, independent-minded members, who agree with them on many issues," said Dold spokesman John McGovern.

A powerful alderman said Tuesday she plans to join retired Soft Sheen Products founder Ed Gardner on the picket lines to protest a shortage of blacks on city construction jobs.

Screen shot 2012-10-01 at 10.31.32 PM.png

Click here for the video: NONPAC_BetterOff05.mp4

Besides having Rod Blagojevich's mug appearing behind hers in a new attack ad, Tammy Duckworth's campaign has other beefs with a new TV spot that accuses her of misusing $4 million in her days with the department of veterans affairs in Illinois. Duckworth's people say that's inaccurate and that the $4 million the ad refers to was a "pass through" grant.

The new ad by a pro-Joe WalshSuperPAC says it is referencing an audit of the state department under Duckworth. That audit, released in 2008, does say that the department "did not exercise adequate control over its travel expenditures," as well as raise questions about how employees took days off, punched in or took leaves. In those report "findings," the department responds saying it would put changes in place or that it was already changing things.

The contentiousness is reaching a high note as we inch closer to the Nov. 6 election in what is one of the most watched congressional races in the country. Nationally, Democrats think Walsh's 8th Congressional seat is the most ripe for taking in a state where the map was drastically redrawn to favor the Democrats. Just last week however, two SuperPACS revealed more than $1 million in ad buys for Walsh and the Republican National Committee said it would devote another $450,000-plus.

Both Duckworth's campaign and the SuperPAC, Now or Never, were ready with their take on the commercial.

Here is Duckworth's fact check on it:
Here is Narrator: "As a Blago appointee, an audit found Duckworth was guilty of misusing or misreporting $4 million of taxpayer money." GFX: Tammy Duckworth: Blagojevich Appointee, Guilty of Misreporting Taxpayer Money. Office of the Auditor General
FACT: IDVA Did Not "Misuse" $4 Million in Taxpayer Money. According to the Illinois Auditor General's FY 2006-FY 2008 audit of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, the auditors found that "The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs did not report certain
financial information to the Office of the Comptroller through the financial reporting process. During FY 2008 the Department received a pass through grant with the Capital Development Board of $4,383,464 for expenditures incurred for the construction improvements to the Department's LaSalle Veterans' Home in accordance with the State Homes Construction Program. However, the Department failed to report this amount from the federal government in its FY 08 Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) package for the General Revenue (001) Fund." At no point does the audit state or in any way suggest the funds were misused, but rather that the grant was "inadvertently omitted" from a report prepared by staff member who had not previously competed the reporting process. [Illinois Auditor General, DVA FY 08 Full Report, accessed 9/30/12]

Here's the SuperPAC's take

Claim: Tammy Duckworth was an appointee of Governor Blagojevich, and an audit found that Tammy Duckworth was guilty of misusing or misreporting $4 million of taxpayer funds.

Fact: Tammy Duckworth was appointed by former Governor Rod Blagojevich, and was the Executive Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs during the period of time in which an audit was conducted by the Illinois Office of the Auditor General. The audit of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs uncovered that more than $4 million in taxpayer funds had been misused or improperly reported.

1. Tammy Duckworth was appointed to be the Executive Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich:

2. Tammy Duckworth was the Executive Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs from 12/15/06 - 2/6/09, and she was the Executive Director during the period in which the Illinois Office of the Auditor General conducted an audit: Pages 1 and 77.

3. The Illinois Office of the Auditor General found more than $4 million in misused or misreported funds in an audit of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs while Tammy Duckworth was the Executive Director of the Department: Pages 11 - 43.

4. The Illinois Office of the Auditor General states on Page 7 of their audit that "The management of State of Illinois, Department of Veterans' Affairs - Central Office is responsible for compliance with these requirements." Page 7.

5. Therefore, Tammy Duckworth was the Executive Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, appointed by Gov. Blagojevich, during the period of time in which Illinois Office of the Auditor General found more than $4 million in misused or misreported funds. Further, the Illinois Office of the Auditor General expressed in their audit that it is the responsibility of the Management of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Central Office to comply with the regulations which were found deficient in the audit. As the Executive Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, Tammy Duckworth was the manager for the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, and therefore she was responsible for the deficiencies found in the audit.

WLS-TV GM: Anti-Duckworth ad "still under review."

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The President and General Manager of ABC-owned WLS-TV in Chicago says he doesn't know why the campaign of 8th Dist. Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth sent out out a news release today saying the station refused to air an anti-Duckworth ad.

"The ad is still under review, as is our standard practice," President and GM John Idler said in a phone interview Monday evening. "We check every ad through our standards and practice."

The TV commercial supporting Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh is funded by a the SuperPAC Now or Never.

In a release earlier today, Duckworth's campaign stated:
"Chicago area television station WLS has refused to air a false television ad produced by the far right-wing SuperPAC Now or Never."

A Duckworth spokeswoman earlier today said a WLS "source" informed the campaign that the ad would not run. "A source reached out to us to let us know about WLS's decision," said spokeswoman Kaitlin Fahey.

That was news to WLS, according to Idler.
"We didn't speak to anybody at the Duckworth campaign," Idler said.

Idler said if the commercial meets its standards: "You'll see it on the air."

Larry Wert, NBC-Universal's General Manager said that the ad was cleared and would be on-air later Monday.

A spokesman for the SuperPAC said Monday that every TV station handles ad vetting differently. It isn't uncommon, he said, for a station to ask that the claims in the ad are backed up.
Actually having an ad pulled permanently or banned completely is unusual, however.

"You have to come up with an ad that is really coloring outside the lines for it to stay down," said spokesman Tyler Harper. "You only challenge things like this if you think it's going to hurt."

The Now or Never Political Action Committee said on Monday it is battling to keep on the air its ad attacking 8th Congressional District candidate Tammy Duckworth.

Duckworth's campaign, meanwhile, said it is lobbying news channels to pull the commercial.

"The Now or Never Political Action Committee (NON-PAC) will fight to keep the ads on the air," a release from the PAC said today. The release came after the Duckworth campaign put out a release saying that WLS-TV, Channel 7 would not run the ad, though WLS has not confirmed this.

The Super-PAC has already spent more than $800,000 in an ad buy for Joe Walsh in his bid for reelection and is spending another considerable chunk in this run.

Larry Wert, NBC-Universal General Manager told the Sun-Times that it is airing that same commercial that is under dispute.
"We cleared the spot, it will air tonight," Wert said. Wert added the commercial is reviewed as part of an internal process that involves the legal department.

WLS has not yet publicly said whether it has indeed decided not to run the commercial.
Messages left with the business side of the station have not yet been returned.

A spokesman from Now or Never said that WLS hasn't received a confirmation that the station is considering pulling it. "They are required to give us notice," said spokesman Tyler Harber.

A Duckworth spokeswoman initially said a "source" from WLS said it would be pulled.

When pressed, she said this:

"WLS made the decision not to run the ad without having been contacted by our campaign. We are reaching out to stations now to let them know that the ad is inaccurate and should not be aired.
This is the same ad that other stations are running," said Kaitlin Fahey.

A campaign spokeswoman for Tammy Duckworth said someone at WLS-TV told the campaign for the 8th congressional district that the station would not air a pro-Joe Walsh ad that's funded by a SuperPAC.

WLS has not yet responded to confirm it is not running the commercial. However, a news release from the campaign painted the commercial as inaccurate.

"A source reached out to us to let us know about WLS's decision," Kaitlin Fahey, a Duckworth campaign spokeswoman, said in an email.

Duckworth campaign: WLS refuses to air Walsh ad

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The infusion of SuperPAC money to boost Congressman Joe Walsh's reelection efforts may have hit a bit of a bump.

This afternoon the campaign of Tammy Duckworth released a statement saying that WLS TV has refused to run a commercial attacking Duckworth, casting it as inaccurate.

More to come...

Here's the release

"Chicago area television station WLS has refused to air a false television ad produced by the far right-wing SuperPAC Now or Never. The shadowy Super PAC funded with secretive donors from outside of Illinois placed over $1 million in television ads in the Chicago market in support of Congressman Joe Walsh. WLS reviewed the ad which makes false claims about Tammy Duckworth's record and determined the content not to be accurate.

Duckworth Campaign Manager Kaitlin Fahey said, "It's not only concerning that we know nothing about this secretive SuperPAC and where it gets its funding, it's become clear that they will stop at nothing to help Joe Walsh stay in Congress, up to and including lying about Tammy Duckworth."