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First Read Flash: Signs of hope?

There were slim signs of progress on Wednesday with Republicans warming to the idea of raising the debt limit and backing off Obamacare as a bargaining chip as GOP leaders head to the White House on Thursday.
/ Source: The Daily Rundown

There were slim signs of progress on Wednesday with Republicans warming to the idea of raising the debt limit and backing off Obamacare as a bargaining chip as GOP leaders head to the White House on Thursday.

Wall Street Journal: “The partisan logjam that has paralyzed the capital showed signs of easing Wednesday, as conservative Republicans warmed to the idea of a short-term increase in the country’s borrowing limit and House GOP leaders prepared for their first meeting with President Barack Obama since the government shutdown began.”

Washington Post: “Key GOP figures on Wednesday sent their clearest signals that they are abandoning their bid to immediately stop the federal health-care law — the issue that forced the government to shut down — and are scrambling for a fallback strategy….The law has largely disappeared from their calculus as they look for a way out of the impasse over the shutdown and for a way to avoid a possible default on U.S. debt. Instead, they are regrouping for a longer battle over the health-care law.”

Washington Examiner: “Republicans do not intend to give any ground on policy. They still refuse to support a debt ceiling increase unless they get concessions from Democrats on spending and entitlement reform. But there appears to be a willingness to consider two short-term bills that would allow the government to reopen and the debt ceiling to rise for six to eight weeks as long as Obama agrees to use that time to negotiate a long-term deal.”

Politico: “After taking a back-seat role in this fall’s fiscal battles, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republican senators are quietly seeing whether they can break the political impasse between House Republicans and Senate Democrats. Behind the scenes, the Kentucky Republican is gauging support within the Senate GOP Conference to temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals.”

Roll Call looks at “who in the polarized chamber might be able to craft a plausible agreement.”

Washington Post: “Treasury Secretary Jack Lew plans to warn lawmakers Thursday that he will be unable to guarantee payments to any group — whether Social Security recipients or U.S. bondholders — unless Congress approves an increase in the federal debt limit.”

New York Times: “ As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain.”

Norm Ornstein writes in National Journal: “Enough venting. The bottom line here is that we need some kind of agreement that will reopen the government and stop a downward spiral that uses default as a genuine and frightening political weapon. Realistically, qua Negotiation 101, it must provide the president, the speaker, and the Senate majority leader with the ability to declare victory or at least to avoid the perception of utter defeat. The two houses, two parties, and the president will still have to deal with one another on a myriad of issues for the next 40 months.”

Los Angeles Times: “Janet Yellen’s appointment as head of the Federal Reserve has attracted a lot of attention for her gender – she’ll be the first woman to head the world’s most influential central bank in its 100-year history. But as a lesson in presidential power and the importance of second terms, consider another fact: Yellen will be the first Democrat to hold the job in a generation.”

Salt Lake City Tribune: “More than half of Utah voters now disapprove of the performance of Utah Sen. Mike Lee, with support for the junior senator dropping significantly in recent months, a new poll shows. The survey also finds that 57 percent of Utahns want Lee, whose crusade against funding Obamacare helped bring about a budget impasse and the shutdown of the federal government, to be more conciliatory and compromise on a budget, even if it means funding President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.”

David Drucker reports: “Sen. Ted Cruz during a closed-door lunch on Wednesday argued to his Republican colleagues that the campaign he led to defund Obamacare has bolstered the GOP’s political position in dealing with the government shutdown. Republicans who attended the weekly lunch hosted by Senate conservatives confirmed that Cruz presented a poll that the Texan paid for. Cruz’ pollster, Chris Perkins, was there for a portion of the discussion to help walk members through the poll and discuss the party’s messaging strategy. Perkins is a partner with Wilson Perkins Allen, a GOP polling firm with dozens of Republican clients. The survey’s findings mirrored other national polls: More voters blame the Republicans for the government shutdown than blame President Obama or the Democrats. But Cruz argued, based on the poll, that Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending.”

National Journal’s mocking headline: “Ted Cruz Unskews the Polls.”

FLORIDA: Tampa Bay Times: “ U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Florida’s longest-serving and most influential member of Congress, whose skill at obtaining federal money has been a boon to the state but also a source of controversy, said Wednesday he will retire when his term ends in 2014.”

NBC’s Jessica Taylor notes that the now-open seat is a “top pick-up opportunity” for Democrats “for a seat that’s vexed them for years. Young, 82, had previously waved off speculation each cycle he was retiring, but” said Wednesday “he wouldn’t seek an 23rd term, citing not just health problems but a growing frustration with gridlock in Congress.”

KENTUCKY: Louisville Courier Journal: “As the federal government moves into its 10th day of a shutdown, with an imminent debt failure looming, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking flak from both the right and the left.”

NEW JERSEY: Newark Star-Ledger: “Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan apparently did not hug and make up after last week’s tense U.S. Senate debate. Wednesday night, both emerged from their campaign corners and came out swinging for round two: a debate with even more heated arguments over crime, abortion, the economy and gay marriage that stirred controversy, raised grisly visuals and sometimes threatened to get out of hand.”

 NBC’S Andrew Rafferty: “The Republican attempted to hit Booker on the issue of crime throughout the night, arguing he has failed to keep his city safe. At one point, while discussing environmental regulations, Lonegan suggested that Newark residents were unable to swim in a local river not because of pollution, but ‘because of all the bodies floating around from shooting victims in your city.’”

AP: “A poll shows Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is getting strong support from women and independent voters in his re-election bid. Thursday’s Quinnipiac University survey shows Christie with a 23-point lead over Democrat Barbara Buono among likely women voters.”

VIRGINIA: Politico: “A chaotic episode erupted in the Virginia gubernatorial race late Wednesday, as The Associated Press published and then retracted a story that said court documents alleged Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe had lied to a federal official.”

A new Quinnipaic Poll released this morning showing McAuliffe’s lead now up to eight points, 47%-39% over Cuccinelli, who still trails with women by 19 points with nearly half saying he’s “too conservative.”

Washington Post notes the poll “also has bad news for Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who now looks unlikely to participate in the final debate of the contest on Oct. 24, at Virginia Tech….Under an agreement negotiated by Cuccinelli, McAuliffe and the Virginia Tech debate’s sponsor — WDBJ (Channel 7) in Roanoke — Sarvis needed to be polling at 10 percent or above as of Thursday in order to be given a spot on stage.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli took to the Internet today to blast Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s plans to invest in education, transportation, health care and energy, saying the Democrat’s proposals would amount to either ‘higher taxes or broken promises.’ Cuccinelli said McAuliffe’s proposals would cost $14 billion to fund over four years, costing the average Virginia family an additional $1,700 in taxes a year.”

“The Gabrielle Giffords-backed group Americans for Responsible Solutions will invest heavily in the final weeks of Virginia’s off-year elections and is poised to launch a campaign program targeting the statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general,” Politico reports.