IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

GOP Candidates Turn to Terror Talk on the Trail

When the national conversation turns away from health care and the economy to national security, the GOP’s TV ads and campaign messages will follow.

If it feels like 2002-2004 all over again due to ISIS and the U.S. military campaign against it, well, that’s also reflected on the campaign trail and in the TV ads, especially on the Republican side. Just check out the advertisement that New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown released yesterday, which began with images of ISIS and somehow used immigration to make the terrorism point. “Radical Islamic terrorists are threatening to cause the collapse of our country,” Brown says to the camera. “I want to secure the border, keep out the people who would do us harm, and restore America’s leadership in the world.” (Geography reminder: The Turkey/Syria/Iraq borders are the problem with ISIS, not the U.S.-Mexico or U.S.-Canadian borders. But this is obviously an attempt to merge the two concerns into one large fear-factor issue.) Then there are the TV ads the National Republican Congressional Committee is airing in New York (“[Dan] Maffei cut funding for troops fighting terrorists”), in Iowa (“Staci Appel is dangerously wrong for Iowa”), and in Minnesota (“America is under a new threat of terrorism, yet [Rick] Nolan voted to cut funds for the fight against al Qaeda”). And retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann even issued an online petition on Tuesday entitled: “Join ISIS -- Lose Your United States Passport.”

Keeping it a nationalized election

There are two reasons why these anti-terror messages from Republicans are beginning to pop up on the campaign trail. The first: It’s embedded in the party’s DNA. Since the beginning of the Cold War, the GOP’s first instinct has always been to assert how it’s tougher and stronger on communism/terrorism than the Democratic Party is. And if you look at polling, the public responds almost as strongly in a positive direction to the GOP on these issues. (That polling and 60-year GOP history, ultimately, will be major problems for Rand Paul if he runs for president, but that’s a subject for another day.) The second reason: Republicans want to keep the midterms a nationalized election. And so when the national conversation turns away from health care and the economy to national security, the GOP’s TV ads and campaign messages will follow. Why do they want it nationalized? Take one look at the right track/wrong track poll numbers coupled with the president’s job rating. The more local this campaign is, the less likely the GOP wins the Senate or adds to their House majority.

Previewing Obama’s U.N. speech

Meanwhile, President Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly at 10:00 am ET. A White House official previews the speech, especially as it pertains to ISIS: “The president will call on the world to join him in this effort to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist organization. However he will speak more comprehensively about the need to tackle the forces that give rise to ISIL -- extremist ideology, sectarian conflicts and the need for more affirmative alternatives to terror. More broadly he will give a clear sense of the priorities for American leadership -- whether it’s supporting Ukraine, testing whether a nuclear deal is possible with Iran, or combating climate change and disease.” The speech comes after more U.S. and coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Per NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski, U.S. military officials say that U.S. and coalition aircraft launched six airstrikes early today -- two in Syria near the Iraqi border and four in Iraq. According to the officials, U.S. aircraft struck one of the targets in Syria, the other strike carried out by one of the Arab coalition forces. Also on Obama’s agenda at U.N. today: He meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at 10:50 am ET; he chats with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at 12:55 pm; and he chairs a Security Council summit on foreign terrorist fighters at 3:00 pm.

Quinnipiac poll shows it’s still close in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll has Florida Gov. Rick Scott barely ahead of challenger Charlie Crist among likely voters, 44%-42%. But note how Crist has a slightly worse fav/unfav rating (41%-49%) than Scott does (42%-48%). It’s all evidence of the good campaign Scott is running -- in addition to all of his money he’s used to define Crist. Scott’s been under water on his personal ratings almost since he took the oath of office. So his job wasn’t as much about improving his own numbers, it was about dragging Crist down to his level -- and the Scott campaign has successfully done that. For Crist, now, he has to go all ground game and hope he can win this with a fired-up base. Florida could be one of the few swing states this year that sees multiple visits from the president. It’s no longer about persuadables anymore for Crist; it’s about the base.

Why Hillary and Obama need each other

Hillary Clinton speaks this morning at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York (on a panel entitled “Equality for Girls and Women: 2034 instead of 2134?”) – and it comes a day after President Obama addressed the confab. Despite all the attention on how Clinton might be distancing herself from Obama, Politico’s Maggie Haberman smartly notes how “more often than not their interests do align. Hillary Clinton needs to keep Obama’s supporters behind her if she runs for president in 2016... Some Obama advisers, meanwhile, see Clinton as a lifeline — the best chance the lame-duck Democrat has to preserve his legacy, particularly Obamacare, after the open-seat election in 2016.”

Jim Webb: “I’m seriously looking at the possibility of running for president”

Meanwhile, former Democratic Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) reminded reporters yesterday that he’s considering a 2016 run. “I’m seriously looking at the possibility of running for president. But we want to see if there’s a support base for the people who would support the programs we’re interested in pursuing.” He added he would run as a Democrat -- not an independent. “We’re taking a hard look, and we’ll get back with you in a few months.”

Jeb’s big challenges

As Jeb Bush continues his long series of party fundraisers and political appearances, NBC’s Perry Bacon Jr. reports on the challenges the former Florida governor could face if he decides to take the 2016 plunge. And those challenges aren’t just about his famous last name. Despite a boomlet during the worst of Chris Christie’s Bridge-gate woes, Bacon writes, “the informal talk never galvanized into the kind of political movement that has made Clinton a heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination even before the presidential race has formally started. Bush, if he opts to run, would have a much more difficult path to the GOP nomination than his brother George W. Bush, who entered the 2000 campaign with much of the party establishment behind him.”

First Read’s Race of the Day: IL-10

Schneider vs. Dold: Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) was barely ousted from his suburban Chicago seat in 2012 by just more than 3,000 votes. Now, he’s making a comeback bid against the man who beat him – Democrat Brad Schneider – and he’s doing it in a year when Chicagoan Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot. Dold, a former pest company head, tried to distance himself from national Republicans in the last election, and he’ll have to do the same again if he’s going to oust his old rival. One thing helping Republicans statewide in Illinois: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s dismal approval ratings could drag down fellow Democrats downballot as he quests for re-election.

Countdown to Election Day: 41 days

Click here to sign up for First Read emails. Text FIRST to 622639, to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone. Check us out on Facebook and also on Twitter. Follow us @chucktodd, @mmurraypolitics, @carrienbcnews