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The midterms: 'Slightly over 40'

“Slightly over 40” may sound like the title of a fall sitcom, but it was National Republican Campaign Committee chief Pete Sessions’ (R-TX) description on “Meet the Press” of how many seat Republicans would take back in the fall. They need 39 to take back the House.

MSNBC.com’s Carrie Dann live-blogged "Meet the Press," which featured the first-ever joint appearance of the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican campaign committees. She noted that although NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn said, "if the election were held today, it’d be a pretty good election," he wouldn’t say how many Senate seats he thought Republicans would pick up.

The AP writes up this weekend’s midterm predictions, leading with Vice President Joe Biden’s "cheery prediction" that was "in stark contrast to last weekend's talk show comment by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs that enough House seats are ‘in play’ that Republicans could gain control of the House." He also predicted that as voters begin to understand the details of big administration initiatives like health care reform and "begin considering the alternative policies that GOP candidates are offering, they'll start to come around. Republicans, he said, ‘are about repeal and repeat -- repeal what we're doing and go back’ to policies of the past decade that have been tried and found wanting."

ARIZONA: The New York Times calls this weekend’s debate between Republican Senate candidates Sen. John McCain and J.D. Hayworth and Tea Party candidate Jim Deakin "testy" but that "its substance demonstrated little light between" candidates. "Mr. McCain was first out of the box, immediately criticizing Mr. Hayworth, a former congressman, for his 2007 infomercial in which he hawked seminars teaching people how they could get federal grant money for free. Mr. Hayworth quickly countered that while he has made mistakes, ‘the unfortunate thing is you made mistake after mistake that hurt America,’ citing the senator’s votes in Congress on the bank bailouts and his former stance on immigration," the Times writes.

Politico notes a central part of Hayworth’s debate playbook: tying McCain to President Obama, aiming "many of his punches at a man who is not on the ballot. When Hayworth attacked him for supporting the 2008 bank bailout, McCain blasted the Obama administration for ‘committing generational theft.’ When he was accused of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants, McCain repeatedly blamed Obama for failing to secure the border. On Afghanistan, the Arizona senator called Obama an ‘uncertain trumpet.’"

CALIFORNIA: "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, already narrowing Democrat Jerry Brown’s lead among Latino voters, is launching a new Spanish-language television ad Monday that homes in on the issue of education," Politico writes.

COLORADO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis repeatedly denied that he was dropping out of the race because of plagiarism charges, saying he "absolutely" is staying in the race, the Grand Junction Sentinel reports. "’This is politics,’ he said of the events of recent days. ‘It’s not for the faint-hearted. I expect more of it. Look, this is for the governor of Colorado,’" the Sentinel writes.

GEORGIA: Looking at the "Palin effect" in midterm elections, the Sunday New York Times looked at the Georgia Republican Senate race: "Last week [Karen] Handel became at least the 50th candidate to win the Palin seal of approval. Through a breezy 194 words posted on Ms. Palin’s Facebook page -- calling Ms. Handel a ‘pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude’ -- a four-way Republican primary came alive, the latest in a number of races across the country that have been influenced by Ms. Palin."

ILLINOIS: President Obama will campaign for Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on Aug. 5th, the Chicago Tribune reports. "The fundraiser announcement, which was confirmed by the White House, comes on the heels of the one-term state treasurer announcing that he is trailing Republican opponent Mark Kirk in fundraising by a significant margin."

NEVADA: "Republican Brian Sandoval has maintained a double-digit lead over Democrat Rory Reid in the race for governor, although the gap between them has narrowed slightly, according to a poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV, Channel 8. Sandoval holds a 47 percent to 36 percent lead over Reid in the poll of 625 likely voters," the Review-Journal writes. http://bit.ly/9cNt7H

OHIO: Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich is up with his first television ad, "blasting incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s record and accusing Strickland ‘and his friends’ of trying to ‘tear me down,’ the Dayton Daily News reports.

PENNSYLVANIA: AP’s Sidoti goes to Pennsylvania: “Independents have been turning away from President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, frustrated with the economic downturn and administration initiatives, even in Pennsylvania where Obama won by double-digits two years ago.”

SOUTH CAROLINA: In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina's surprising U.S. Senate candidate, Alvin Greene, received applause Sunday with his exhortations to improve education and fight unemployment,” the AP says. Greene started his speech at the monthly meeting of the local NAACP branch in his home town of Manning by slowly listing national job loss statistics and South Carolina's dismal rankings in standardized tests.”

The New York Daily News adds: “‘We have more unemployed now in South Carolina than any other time in our history,’ Greene said, speaking slowly for about seven minutes while reading off a prepared text. ‘And we have the highest drop out rate on the country.’”