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Off to the races: Shut it down! (But keep that open!)

RNC release: “Today the Republican National Committee (RNC) is launching robocalls to the constituents of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Mark Begich, Mary Landrieu, and Kay Hagan. Launched when these Democrats are likely to be in their districts today, these calls urge their constituents to demand these Democrat leaders stop playing politics and stand up for veterans who deserve their benefits. The calls follow a bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives to ensure our veterans receive their benefits.”

Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz showed up at the WW2 memorial to protest its closure. There were tea party flags, a confederate flag (!!!), the crowd chanting a Reagan oldie: “Tear down these walls,” and there was even a guy dressed like Captain America.

But here’s the reality: Whether it’s veterans’ benefits or the memorial closure, you can’t close a grocery store and then be “outraged” that the bread aisle isn’t open.

David Frum on the confederate flag: “If you want to express your love of US Army & its monuments … leave the Confederate flag at home.”

Cruz, by the way, also overwhelmingly won a straw poll of conservative voters at the Values Voter conference. He got 42% of the vote with Ben Carson and Rick Santorum next at 13%.

Roll Call: “In a Saturday night statement, Sen. Ted Cruz once again called on the House GOP to stand against Obamacare despite the government shutdown and looming default, contending they can still ‘win this debate.’ ‘House Republicans have heroically led this fight, and they should stand firm. Patience and courage and persistence is required, and will not come from the permanent beltway class,’ the Texas Republican said. ‘So-called grand bargains historically have been neither grand nor a bargain — typically resulting in more debt, more spending, and more government.’”

Stu Rothenberg wonders if Republicans are Cruz-in’ for a bruisin’ next fall. Maybe, he says, but “if this were October 2014, or even April 2014 … Everyone who watches House races closely would be talking about a Democratic wave that certainly could hand the House over to a Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the final two years of Barack Obama’s second term. Certainly I would.”

Steve Israel says the shutdown has boosted Democratic recruiting for House races.

Tune in… Politico: “An advocacy group tied to Texas Gov. Rick Perry is poised to launch a six-figure national ad campaign criticizing dysfunction in Washington and declaring that ‘conservative governors’ are leading the way with policy solutions. … Americans for Economic Freedom, a conservative 501(c)4 nonprofit, will run TV ads for 10 days on Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC, as well as radio ads on a host of nationally syndicated shows. The television commercials feature Perry talking about the work of Republican state executives outside D.C.”

COLORADO: Don’t look now, but there’s another recall effort going on in Colorado that could give Republicans control of the state Senate. Emboldened by the recall of Democratic lawmakers over guns, signatures are being collected to oust state Sen. Evie Hudak from a suburban district north of Denver. And Gov. John Hickenlooper’s advice to gun-control groups is stay out. "Colorado is a state that people like to be themselves and solve their own problems," he said.

Denver Post: "In her seven years at the state Capitol, Rep. Amy Stephens' résumé includes a stint as House majority leader and the champion of a host of legislation that most recently includes her working across the aisle with Democrats to better protect the state's elderly from abuse. And now, the Republican lawmaker from Monument has a new goal: become Colorado's next U.S. senator. Stephens will formally announce her candidacy Saturday to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in 2014 — a move that increases the GOP primary field to four candidates vying to unseat an incumbent who, for now, many political observers view as relatively safe."

FLORIDA: Tampa Bay Times: "Weeks after deciding not to mount another campaign for Florida governor, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is poised to run for the Pinellas County congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young."

NEW JERSEY: Chris Christie would rather “kill himself” than be in the U.S. Senate. Asked what he would do if he were in the U.S. Senate right now, “"If I was in the Senate right now, I’d kill myself,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He added, “"The president saw this train coming for a long time. All of a sudden today's the first day he has anyone over to the White House? Same thing with the Speaker, same thing with the majority. They saw this train coming for a long time and did nothing to stop it."

More: Of his advice to McConnell: “ ‘What I said to any of them that I met with: Get the government reopened, stop monkeying around, and get back to work. I said, I'm out there in the field, people have no patience for this stuff. None.’ He said that he doesn't think that the issue will hurt the Republican party in the long term, even though ‘certainly right now the Republican party is taking the brunt of the blame.’” And, he added this talking point: "With what we see going on in Washington DC, right now they could use a dose of some New Jersey common sense," he said to cheers. "Notice I said New Jersey common sense, not Republican common sense or Democrat common sense."

Just asking, but is the Hari Kari advice also part of what he gave to Mitch McConnell when he met with him last week in the Senate.

Flashback to 2011… Christie to New Jersey Democrats: “If you want to close down the government because of that, that’s fine. But I want to tell you something – I’m not moving any cot into this office and sleeping here. You close down the government, I’m getting in those black SUVs with the troopers, I’m going to the governor’s residence, I’m going to go upstairs, I’m going to open a beer, I’m going to order a pizza, I’m going to watch the Mets. And when you decide to re-open the government, give me a call and I’ll come back.”

Newark Star-Ledger: "With two days to go before voters elect New Jersey’s next U.S. senator, a new poll shows Republican Steve Lonegan continues to gain ground on Democrat Cory Booker — but not much. Booker leads Lonegan by 10 percentage points, according to the latest Monmouth University poll. About 52 percent of likely voters support Booker, the mayor of Newark, while about 42 percent support Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota in Bergen County."

NBC’s Jessica Taylor: “Newark Mayor Cory Booker was supposed to stroll to an easy victory in next week’s New Jersey’s Senate election but the popular Democrat has seen his campaign stumble along the way, leading to a closer-than-expected final stretch.”

Bergen Record: "The rest of America is watching New Jersey this week, said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin before an enthusiastic crowd of about a thousand, flag-waving supporters at the New Egypt Speedway on Saturday evening" to campaign for Lonegan. "'So New Jersey, just know that the eyes of America are on you right now, truly,' Palin told the crowd. She said that Wednesday’s election was an opportunity to stop the United States from being fundamentally transformed under a socialist agenda. 'You have the momentum with Steve’s campaign. The rest of the country knows it, the media even knows it, and that’s why they’re getting all wee, wee’d up against Steve!'"

OREGON: Portland Oregonian: "State Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, has scheduled appearances next Tuesday in Oregon City and Bend to disclose his plans regarding a run for the U.S. Senate held by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley."

VIRGINIA: The Washington Post: "With just three weeks remaining before the election, Republican leaders in Virginia fear that their nominee, Ken Cuccinelli II, is on his way to losing the governor’s race and that the party will squander command of a state that is key to their quest to dominate next year’s midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. Distressed over a flurry of recent polls showing Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a solid lead, Virginia Republicans are talking about rebuilding their organization, which is suffering from deep internal rifts similar to those roiling the national party."

The Washington Post endorsed Terry McAuliffe for governor. The Post: “Pining for different candidates is a waste of time, and staying home on Election Day is irresponsible. Whatever the candidates’ failings, they offer a stark and consequential choice that boils down to this: Will Virginia stick to its long tradition of moderate, pragmatic governance, or will it veer off into an ideological adventure at the behest of one of Richmond’s most polarizing and provocative public figures of the last decade? We share Virginians’ misgivings about the candidates, but for us the decision is clear: Terry McAuliffe, his flaws notwithstanding, represents continuity in a state that has been well served by comity, compromise and political coexistence between the parties. Mr. Cuccinelli, the most partisan, truculent and doctrinaire attorney general in memory, represents an assault on those same customs.”

McAuliffe also, however, got a big check written to him by a company that has upset unions and “played a controversial role during the bloody regime of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, whose war crimes conviction by the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone was upheld last month. As a major source of revenue for Liberia when Taylor was in power, the company came under close scrutiny by both the United Nations and U.S. officials, who were concerned about how the revenue it turned over to the government was being used, according to interviews and public documents.”

Meanwhile, Ron Paul endorsed Ken Cucinelli. And the Duggars are going to campaign for him, too.