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Off to the races: GOP not getting out of its own way

Alex Roarty: “Republicans eyeing Obama's troubles should be giddy about next year's prospects for winning control of the Senate and maintaining their big majority in the House. Except, instead of dreaming about majorities in both chambers of Congress, they're more focused on one little, nagging concern: House Republicans could screw it all up.” Republican party officials and strategists “fear the public will blame the GOP for Washington's dysfunction. And although developments 14 months before an election rarely matter, a government shutdown, which could lead to a severe disruption of services, and a debt-ceiling standoff, which could throw the country's entire economy into peril, have the magnitude to ripple until next November.”

House Republicans’ lifeline to Obama… Jonathan Allen: There’s a simple reason President Barack Obama is using his bully pulpit to focus the nation’s attention on the battle over the budget: In this fight, he’s watching Republicans take swings at each other. And that GOP fight is a lifeline for an administration that had been scrambling to gain control its message after battling congressional Democrats on the potential use of military force in Syria and the possible nomination of Larry Summers to run the Federal Reserve.”

Charlie Cook points out, “There were plenty of Reagan-backed measures that Speakers Tip O'Neill and Jim Wright opposed, but these House leaders did not stand in the way of their being taken up for consideration” even if a majority of their party’s members opposed them. On this current fight, Cook writes, “On some issues, digging in your heels doesn't cause a lot of harm, but on others, it is downright dangerous.” He notes that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times and that “No one would question Reagan's conservative credentials, but he knew the difference between rhetoric and reality, between what you would like to see and what can happen in a democracy, where compromise is an essential ingredient.”

Cook concludes: “Republicans eager for a fight need to realize that some things are not to be trifled with. A nation that does not pay its bills and fails to meet its obligations for spending is hardly following a conservative approach to fiscal policy.”

LOUISIANA: The Hill: "Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) donated his current Senate opponent's Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) first reelection bid. Cassidy gave $500 to Landrieu's campaign in 2002, according to Federal Election Commission reports....Cassidy argued the donations came before Landrieu moved to the left."

MARYLAND. In no surprise, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he won't run for governor after floating the idea earlier this year, the Washington Post reports. 

MASSACHUSETTS: “Boston mayoral candidates skirmished Thursday night over how city government should manage the prospect of a casino in East Boston, criticized Police Department leadership, and wrangled over public education in the final big-ticket forum before next Tuesday’s preliminary election,” the Boston Globe writes. “Divided over whether the entire city should cast a referendum vote on the casino deal or whether the ballot should be confined to East Boston, candidates also voiced skepticism about the mitigation package designed by state policymakers to address financial costs and social ills expected to arrive with a casino.”

VIRGINIAAP's Bob Lewis: "Ken Cuccinelli's campaign is airing a half-hour ad this weekend featuring the Republican gubernatorial candidate's speech to a small room full of adoring fans. Just don't look for it in prime time. It has been relegated to obscure broadcast times on Richmond, Roanoke and Norfolk stations either in early morning slots or playing Saturday and Sunday afternoons opposite college and pro football games. The total buy as of Thursday afternoon was less than $8,000."