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First Read: Politicizing the Oregon Shootings

Image: Barack Obama

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, about the shooting at the community college in Oregon. The shooting happened at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., about 180 miles south of Portland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik / AP

Obama: 'Our Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough' 12:46

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Obama politicizes the Oregon shootings -- and admits it

Maybe the most extraordinary thing about President Obama’s remarks after yesterday’s tragic shootings in Oregon was that he immediately politicized them. And he freely admitted it. “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this,” Obama said. “[T]his is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic... We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?” He added, “This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.” More than anything else, Obama used his remarks last night to FORCE the American public to once again have a conversation about guns in America -- a conversation we might not be having as vigorously had the president refrained from speaking.

Fiorina Critical of Obama's Reaction to Oregon Mass Shooting 0:44

Will Obama (and others) follow through?

So here’s the question we have: Will Obama follow through? Yes, he pursued gun control after the tragic Newton shootings. And, yes, he continues to speak out forcefully after other shootings. But the action and rhetoric always seemed to fade away. Is it different this time? Something worth adding: Remember, Obama didn’t pursue gun control until after his re-election -- when he’d never have to run for office again. When Democrats held the majority in the House and even a supermajority (for a while) in the Senate, gun control was never a priority.

The debate carries over to the 2016 campaign trail

The conversation that Obama forced carried over to the 2016 campaign trail. In an interview with NBC’s Boston affiliate, Hillary Clinton said, “This latest shooting in Oregon just raises the urgency of the issue of gun control for me. We have got to face up to the fact -- people are not safe. They’re not safe on college campuses, they’re not safe in church basements, they’re not safe in movie theaters. Enough is enough is enough.” Bernie Sanders added in a statement, “As a nation, we must do everything we can to put an end to this awful epidemic of senseless slaughter. We need a comprehensive approach. We need sensible gun-control legislation.” (A problem for Sanders is headlines like this one: “How the National Rifle Association helped get Bernie Sanders elected.”) On the other hand, Mike Huckabee issued a statement blasting President Obama. “With few facts, Obama is quick to admittedly politicize this tragedy to advance his liberal, anti-gun agenda. For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory.” But expect this conversation -- or debate -- to continue over the weekend.

A not-so-strong jobs report: 142,000 jobs in September, unemployment rate remains at 5.1%

“US hiring slows as employers add just 142K jobs in September; unemployment rate stays 5.1 pct,” the AP says. By the way, the next debt-ceiling deadline has been set by the Treasury Department: Nov. 5 -- just right after John Boehner steps down from being House speaker at the end of this month.

McCarthy walks it back

Likely speaker-to-be Kevin McCarthy went on Fox News yesterday to clean up his earlier comments suggesting the House Benghazi committee was all about hurting Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. “This committee was set up for one sole purpose, to find the truth on behalf of the families of four dead Americans. Now I did not intend to imply in any way that that work was political. Of course it is not, look at the way they have carried themselves out,” McCarthy said, per NBC’s Alex Moe. “The point I was trying to make and I want to be very clear about this, I wasn’t saying the committee was political, that committee is solely to get the truth out.” More: “What happened with the truth, we found out about a server. This committee's sole purpose is to find truth why four Americans were killed that night.” The problem here: The NRCC, the Republican Party’s House campaign arm, was running this fundraising solicitation: “You’re now a Benghazi Watchdog. Let’s go after Obama and Hillary Clinton. Help us fight them now.” That solicitation was later deleted.

There goes McCarthy’s honeymoon

McCarthy is still in line to be the next House speaker, but what his earlier Benghazi comments did is pretty much end any honeymoon he’d have. Democrats and the Clinton campaign, of course, are doing cartwheels. But those who are maddest at McCarthy are the true believers -- the House Republicans who’ve always believed this investigation was more than politics.

Make no mistake: Jeb vs. Marco is coming

Don’t miss this story by Politico’s Marc Caputo. “The Florida family feud between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio took a surprising turn on Thursday night when a tracker for a super PAC supporting the former governor tried to slip into an Iowa event for Rubio, whose staff quickly spotted and removed him. The incident involving the Right to Rise super PAC stripped away another veneer of civility between the two friends-turned-campaign rivals, who have been slowly escalating their criticisms of one another.” Jeb’s path to the GOP nomination right now -- or at least path to having a one-on-one race with Donald Trump (or Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina) -- looks increasingly like it goes through Marco Rubio. This could very well be the defining storyline on the GOP side the next two months.

Rand Paul’s 3rdQ haul: Just $2.5 million

“Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will report around $2.5 million in donations to his presidential campaign, a dip from his first quarter, though his campaign is emphasizing that more money started to roll in recently,” the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel writes. To put that number into perspective, Rand’s father – Ron – raised $8.2 million in the 3rd quarter of 2011. The more Rand Paul fades in this presidential race, he has to start thinking about his Senate re-election campaign next year. And if Democrat Jack Conway wins next month’s gubernatorial race, Democrats will certainly feel emboldened.

The 3rd quarter money race (so far)

By the way, here are the 3rd quarters so far:

  • Clinton: $28M-plus ($75M-plus for campaign)
  • Sanders: $26M-plus ($41M-plus for campaign)
  • Carson: $20M-plus ($30M-plus for campaign)
  • Bush: B/w $12M and $20M (raised $11.4 million last quarter)
  • Paul: $2.5M ($9.4M for campaign)

Keep these words of wisdom from our brother/sister publication, The Lid, in mind: “Here's what a big fundraising quarter at this stage of the political cycle DOESN'T mean: 1) That those donors will be loyal to you if you falter in the future, and 2) that you'll win your party's nomination. In fact, we went back through the last three presidential cycles' worth of Q3 reports and noticed that each one's big winner (Rick Perry in 2011, Hillary Clinton in 2007, Mitt Romney in 2007 and Howard Dean in 2003) didn't win their party's nomination.”

Trump on “Meet” this Sunday

Finally, NBC’s Chuck Todd will interview Donald Trump for this Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” Also be sure to put this on your calendar: NBC’s Savannah Guthrie will interview Hillary Clinton as part of a “Today” town hall in New Hampshire.

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