“Last night’s vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine had fewer TV viewers than any VP debate since 2000,” according to Nielsen data from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox that showed 36 million viewers tuned in. “For comparison, the 2012 VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan averaged over 51 million viewers. The 2008 debate between Biden and Sarah Palin set a high watermark for viewership with 70 million, while the 2004 debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards averaged just under 44 million viewers.” (Politico)
DEBATE PREP. A town-hall style debate could pose challenges for Donald Trump if he can’t resist being baited into harsh personal attacks. “Half the questions will come from an audience of undecided voters, selected to be there by the Gallup Organization … settling scores may be exactly the wrong approach in a town-hall debate, where the candidates will be responding to the specific concerns of individual Americans, and where voters will be studying the candidates for their ability to relate to those concerns.”
Still, “Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been careful about managing expectations for Sunday’s debate. ‘She does great in these formats and we expect she will do well here too, but it’s not a bad format for Trump,’ said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.” (Washington Post)
SHOW ME THE MONEY. “Super PACs seeking to influence the 2016 elections have collected more than $1 billion, a record haul driven by jumbo-sized contributions from rich donors on both sides of the aisle.”
“Just 10 mega-donor individuals and couples contributed nearly 20 percent of the $1.1 billion raised by super PACs by the end of August, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports.” The breakdown of those donors is split fairly evenly — four Democrats, five Republicans and one Independent. Also notable: the “total exceeds the $853 million that super PACs collected in the entire 2012 cycle.” (Washington Post)
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"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."
After initially promising it in August, "President Trump said Monday that he will declare a national emergency next week to address the opioid epidemic." When asked, he also "declined to express confidence in Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), his nominee for drug czar, in the wake of revelations that the lawmaker helped steer legislation making it harder to act against giant drug companies."
In the wake of Sunday's blockbuster 60 Minutes/Washington Post report on opioid regulation and enforcement, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has introduced legislation that "would repeal a 2016 law that hampered the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to regulate opioid distributors it suspects of misconduct." In a statement, McCaskill said: “Media reports indicate that this law has significantly affected the government’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors that are failing to meet their obligations and endangering our communities."