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First Read's Morning Clips

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day

OBAMA AGENDA: Foreign fighters

The Washington Post: "More than 1,000 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has so far been unchanged by airstrikes against the Islamic State and efforts by other countries to stem the flow of departures, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials."

Why do Republicans keep using the phrase "I'm not a scientist"? The New York Times: "For now, “I’m not a scientist” is what one party adviser calls “a temporary Band-Aid” — a way to avoid being called a climate change denier but also to sidestep a dilemma. The reality of campaigning is that a politician who acknowledges that burning coal and oil contributes to global warming must offer a solution, which most policy experts say should be taxing or regulating carbon pollution and increasing government spending on alternative energy. But those ideas are anathema to influential conservative donors like the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and the advocacy group they support, Americans for Prosperity."

The New York Times ed board doesn't have rosy expectations for a productive divided Congress. "A Republican majority wouldn’t really be able to reverse Mr. Obama’s most significant accomplishments, but in the act of trying, it could do a great deal of damage ... . It’s hard to imagine a Congress less productive than this one, but obstructionism could actually get worse if a new majority took hold."

Three Republican members of the Gang of Eight are urging Obama to hold off on executive action on deportations. "Acting by executive order on an issue of this magnitude would be the most divisive action you could take — completely undermining any good-faith effort to meaningfully address this important issue, which would be a disservice to the needs of the American people," Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida write.

And here’s the Boston Globe, remembering Tom Menino, “The Urban Maestro.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Watching the white working-class voters

The Wall Street Journal delves into why Democrats are losing ground with white working-class voters, finding that frustration with safety-net programs are a big part of the shift.

The executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee appears to be where most analysts are: Democrats can hold the Senate majority, but it isn’t the most likely outcome. "Our job for the next six days is to win this election,” the DSCC’s Guy Cecil told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. “I believe that if the DSCC and our candidates and our allies stay focused on that, we have a shot. Despite the map, despite turnout, despite the midterms, we are in a position — doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed; doesn’t even mean it’s the most likely — to hold the majority."

From a new AP-Gfk poll: "Only 32 percent of likely voters called gay marriage an important issue, compared with 91 percent ranking the economy important, 78 percent with similar concerns about health care and 74 percent naming Ebola important. The issue that some Democrats have emphasized most of all — abortion rights — also has been a relatively low priority, with only 43 percent of likely voters in a September poll ranking it important."

The RNC Comms team is having a little bit of Halloween fun this morning. (The Crist fan is a nice touch.)

Paul Ryan to the Washington Post: "I’m not a be-er — I’m a doer. I’m not dying to be this or that. I’m more of a cause guy. So I come at this thing from that perspective. I don’t have this insatiable political ambition. But I know how to flip the switch. If you flip the switch, you flip the switch. I know how to do it and what I need to do if I choose to flip it. Right now, the switch has tape over it until 2015."

ALASKA: The Alaska Dispatch News reports on the last debate between Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan.

ARKANSAS: "Arkansas Democrats are calling out Gov. Chris Christie for campaigning today with a federal lawmaker who voted against disaster aid for New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is slated to headline a breakfast today for Arkansas GOP hopeful Asa Hutchinson. The event is also scheduled to include Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s fighting to oust the state’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor."

COLORADO: The Denver Post reports on the Spanish-language debate between Mike Coffman and Andrew Romanoff.

FLORIDA: Charlie Crist heads Rick Scott 43 percent to 40 percent in the final Quinnipiac poll.

GEORGIA: The Atlanta Journal Constitution gets its hands on a robocall with a Halloween theme and this charge: "Michelle Nunn wants to spread death and disease by opposing a travel ban from west Africa that would keep the deadly Ebola virus out of the United States.”

IOWA: Chris Christie and Terry Branstad, running up the score. "I don't want just a win for Terry and Kim on Nov. 4," Christie said, referring to Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, "I want a big, fat blowout win on Nov. 4."

KENTUCKY: In the final Bluegrass poll, McConnell leads Grimes by five points.

The New York Times spends some time on the road with Mitch McConnell, who says he's not one for reminiscing.

Bill Clinton campaigned for Alison Lundergan Grimes Thursday, on the 40th anniversary of the Rumble in the Jungle. Many boxing metaphors ensued.

LOUISIANA: One of us(!) asked Mary Landrieu yesterday why Barack Obama faces so much opposition in Louisiana. Her response began with a lengthy critique of Obama's energy policy, especially on Gulf drilling. Then came this: "“I'll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It's been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader." That prompted an angry response from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called the comment "a major insult" to the people of the state.

MASSACHUSETTS: A Boston Globe poll yesterday put Charlie Baker seven points over Martha Coakley.

And/But: "Some of the details of Charlie Baker’s emotional 2009 encounter with a soulful fisherman may have been lost at sea. Baker on Thursday acknowledged that he may have misstated some of the particulars of the story he told tearfully during a debate this week. That, in turn, has complicated efforts to locate the man whose hardships, in Baker’s retelling, produced one of the most remarkable moments in this year’s race for governor."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Sullivan County flap, via the Union Leader: "When each was asked by WMUR's James Pindell what challenges Sullivan County is facing, Brown said the challenges faced by all counties "north of Concord" are identical, including the Affordable Care Act and energy prices. "Senator Brown, Sullivan County is west of Concord, it isn't north of Concord," Pindell said. "I believe I answered the question, that the challenges are the same," Brown said. In an analysis of the debate during WMUR's 11 p.m. news broadcast, Pindell apologized for the exchange. "I said that Sullivan County was west of Concord, not north of Concord. The truth is, it's both," Pindell said. "So on this point, Scott Brown was right, I was wrong, and I apologize to Scott Brown, and to both campaigns.""

A new WMUR Granite State poll puts Jeanne Shaheen up 50 percent to 42 percent over Scott Brown.

NEW YORK: The New York Times looks at how Republican Rep. Chris Gibson is winning over Democrats in upstate New York.

NORTH CAROLINA: Mitt Romney stumped for Thom Tillis Wednesday, calling him ""a man who as secretary of state has demonstrated what he can do to make things happen for the people of this great state." That's a position Thom Tillis has never held.

SOUTH DAKOTA: In his final ad, Rick Weiland: "I'm not running to carry water for my party, I'm running to carry your hopes to D.C.: better jobs, affordable education, middle-class tax cuts — the things they talk about doing, but never do."


*** Friday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: NBC’s Luke Russert anchors from DC and interviews NBC’s Stephanie Gosk, Ron Allen, Maggie Fox, Pete Williams, Sarah Dallof and Hallie Jackson, msnbc’s Kasie Hunt, Ari Melber and Steve Kornacki, Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)

*** Friday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Alex Witt interviews the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky and GOP strategist Alice Stewart; “Compassion & Choices” Barbara Coombs Lee on Brittany Maynard’s decision not to end her life on the planned date this weekend; and in our Born in the U$A series, Gigi Butler, founder of “Gigi’s Cupcakes.”

*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, NBC’s Stephanie Gosk, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann, Sarah Dallof and Craig Melvin, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt and the Atlantic’s Molly Ball.