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9:55 AM ET, October 19, 2012


 Top Items: 
Comedic relief: Obama, Romney bring on the jokes at annual dinner  —  New York (CNN) - President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were within arm's length for the second time this week, as they shared the stage at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner Thursday and delivered feisty quips at each other's expense.
NBC Politics:
Campaigns take a break for a night of laughs  —  President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a break from their often rancorous campaigns to poke fun at each other and themselves at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York, Thursday night.
Discussion: The Other McCain and First Read
Peter Hamby / CNN:   Republicans point to early vote gains in Ohio
Peter Hamby / CNN:
Romney campaign begins shifting out of North Carolina
Discussion: Hot Air and National Review
Nate Silver / FiveThirtyEight:
Gallup vs. the World  —  Our regularly scheduled forecast update for Wednesday slipped through the cracks.  The FiveThirtyEight forecast was not much changed based on Wednesday's polls, however, with Barack Obama's chances of winning the Electoral College increasing incrementally to 65.7 percent from 64.8 percent.
First Read:
Polls: Obama holds his lead in Iowa, Wisconsin  —  With fewer than three weeks until Election Day, new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls show President Barack Obama maintaining his lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the battleground states of Iowa and Wisconsin.
Gregory J. Krieg / ABCNEWS:
Romney Runs Up Lead in Gallup Poll
Discussion: Scared Monkeys
McClatchy Washington Bureau:
U.S. description of Benghazi attacks, at first cautious, changed after 3 days  —  Glass, debris and overturned furniture are strewn inside a room in the gutted U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012 |  WASHINGTON — In the first 48 hours after the deadly Sept. 11 attacks …
Discussion: The PJ Tatler and National Review
Wall Street Journal:
Early Uncertainty on Libya Account  —  WASHINGTON—The night before Susan Rice went public with the administration's assessment that the Sept. 11 U.S. consulate attack in Libya grew out of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim video, intelligence analysts were receiving new information …
Daily Mail:
'If four Americans get killed, it's not OPTIMAL': Obama's extraordinary response to Comedy Central question about shifting story after Benghazi attack  —  President Barack Obama, during an interview to be shown on Comedy Central, has responded to a question about his administration's confused communication …
Daniel Strauss / The Hill:
Obama on Benghazi attack: 'When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal'
Andy Sullivan / Reuters:
Obama talks Libya and Biden's swimsuit on “Daily Show”
Joel Gehrke / Washington Examiner:
Obama: 'When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal'
Decision Virginia:
Arrest made in Harrisonburg voter registration case  —  The Rockingham County Sheriff's office has arrested a Pennsylvania man and charged him with attempting to throw away filled out voter registration forms.  —  Colin Small, 31 year old male from Phoenixville, PA has been charged …
Orlando Sentinel:
Our pick for president: Romney  —  (Rainier Ehrhardt, Getty Images / October 11, 2012)  —  Two days after his lackluster first debate performance, President Barack Obama's re-election hopes got a timely boost.  The government's monthly jobless report for September showed …
Chicago / WGN Radio:
Walsh, Duckworth clash on Medicare, abortion  —  Republican Rep. Joe Walsh and Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth used the final face-to-face meeting of their campaign Thursday night to stress differences over the future of Medicare, a program she said should be a “guarantee” but one he said “would end as we know it” unless reformed.
Paul Krugman / New York Times:
Snow Job on Jobs  —  Mitt Romney talks a lot about jobs.  But does he have a plan to create any?  —  You can defend President Obama's jobs record — recovery from a severe financial crisis is always difficult, and especially so when the opposition party does its best to block every policy initiative you propose.
Discussion: Prairie Weather
Borys Krawczeniuk / The Times-Tribune:
Casey finds himself in tight race; Pa. in play for president  —  What once seemed inconceivable to Democrats now has shifted into the realm of the possible.  —  U.S. Sen. Bob Casey could lose his re-election bid and a Democratic presidential candidate, President Barack Obama, could lose Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988.
Juan Carlos Chavez /
Fidel Castro suffered a stroke, Venezuelan doctor says  —  A Naples doctor said former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is near ‘a neurovegetative state’ after suffering a stroke.  —  JCCHAVEZ@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM  —  Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and his state …
Igor Volsky / ThinkProgress:
GOP Senate Candidate Admits To Owning Stock In Companies That Do Business With Iran  —  Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson (R) acknowledged during a debate on Thursday that he recently sold stock in a company that did business with Iran, only after news reports highlighted his interests in the companies.
Susan Ferrechio / Washington Examiner:
Poll shows Romney leading in blue Pennsylvania … A new poll shows Republican Mitt Romney leading in Pennsylvania, a state that Republicans had all but written off just weeks ago but which is now listed as a toss up by the Real Clear Politics website.  —  Susquehanna Polling and Research provided …
Ayelet Waldman / Marie Claire:
Is This Really Goodbye?  —  Much has been said of Hillary Clinton (and little spared) during her two decades in the public eye.  Now, as she prepares to step down as secretary of state, the most accomplished and, arguably, misunderstood woman in recent history insists she's done with public life for good.
Discussion: Election 2012 and The Hill
David D. Kirkpatrick / New York Times:
Suspect in Libya Attack, in Plain Sight, Scoffs at U.S.  —  BENGHAZI, Libya — Just days after President Obama vowed to hunt down and bring to justice those responsible for the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic compound here, Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of those considered a ringleader …
Manu Raju / Politico:
Akin, McCaskill get testy in final debate  —  For all the controversy surrounding the Missouri Senate seat, the final debate in this crucial race came down to one basic question: Is Rep. Todd Akin a political extremist, or is Sen. Claire McCaskill attached to President Barack Obama's hip?
Discussion: ABCNEWS and New York Magazine
Aviva Shen / ThinkProgress:
Arizona GOP Senate Candidate Openly Hostile To Free School Lunch Program He Relied On As A Child  —  Flake's elder brother, Scott, explained to Esquire how they benefited from entitlement programs meant to provide nutrition for children from low-income families:
Daniel Halper / Weekly Standard:
Clinton: I Thought Obama ‘Was Going to Cry’  —  At a campaign event for Barack Obama's reelection campaign, Bill Clinton said that Mitt Romney's argument “is true, we're not fixed”:  —  “Governor Romney's argument is, we're not fixed, so fire him and put me in,” said Clinton.  “It is true we're not fixed.
Discussion: Doug Ross
Alea Jo / Z 107.9:
President Barack Obama Speaks On His Friendship w/ Jay Z & Ohio As A Key State [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]  —  President Barack Obama is only days away from the most important day for his Presidential campaign.  He sat with Colby Colb of Cleveland Z107.9.  He speaks to Ohio voters …
Discussion: Politico and ABCNEWS
Mary Katharine Ham / Hot Air:
Video: Let's ask young Obama supporters what they think about Benghazi  —  I can't resist this delicious piece of video from an Obama rally at a Ohio university from our friends at Revealing Politics.  The way Kelly Maher tells it, this endeavor started innocently as a project to determine whether rank …
Erik Wasson / The Hill:
Study shows 33 percent spending increase in federal poverty programs  —  A new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service finds that federal spending on anti-poverty programs has increased 33 percent since 2008, when President Obama was elected.
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 More Items: 
Washington Post:
Maryland leans toward historic embrace of same-sex marriage in vote next month
Discussion: Associated Press, DCist and Shakesville
Hillary Rodham Clinton / US Department of State:
Energy Diplomacy in the 21st Century
Discussion: Daily Kos and Taylor Marsh
Michael Finnegan / Los Angeles Times:
Bruce Springsteen, Bill Clinton join forces for Obama in Ohio
Discussion: Towleroad News #gay, CNN and
Sarah Parnass / ABCNEWS:
Biden Says GOP Has ‘Bullets ... Aimed at You,’ Confuses Afghanistan and Iran
Henry Fountain / New York Times:
Iron-Dumping Experiment in Pacific Alarms Marine Experts
Noah Rothman / Mediaite:
Romney Spokesperson Mocks MSNBC For Paying Men More Than Women, Andrea Mitchell Agrees
 Earlier Items: 
Jake Tapper / ABCNEWS:
EXCLUSIVE: Inspector General's Report Contradicts Secret Service on Prostitution Scandal
Discussion: CNN and The Daily Caller
David Edwards / The Raw Story:
Ann Romney: Mormon missions and U.S. military are ‘different ways of serving’
Discussion: Mediaite, thump whip and Balloon Juice
Chris Tomlinson / Associated Press:
Judge rules for cheerleaders in Bible banner suit
Discussion: The Raw Story and The PJ Tatler
Robchristensen / Raleigh News & Observer:
Romney campaign begins moving staff out of NC, confident of victory
Mark Levin / Facebook:
Abby Phillip / ABCNEWS:
NY Senate Candidates Answer ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Debate Question
Discussion: Politicker and Politico