“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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"Officials at the department have been told to trim parts of the annual report on global human rights that talk about family planning and the amount of access women have to contraceptives and abortion." The directive came from a top aide to Rex Tillerson. "A spokesperson from the State Department said that changes were made for 'clarity'" and that the department is not "downgrading coverage of LGBT or women's issues."
The FBI has reported that it failed to respond to a warning from "a person close to" Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people at Parkland High School on Thursday. "It was the second time the FBI apparently failed to follow up on Cruz." On the first occasion, it failed to properly investigate Cruz after it was reported to them that he left the following comment on a Youtube video: "Im going to be a school shooter."
Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign following revelations that the FBI had failed to adequately investigate multiple warnings about Parkland High School gunman Nikolas Cruz. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,'" said Scott. '...We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.'" According to an FBI statement, the FBI failed to inform local offices of information regarding "Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."