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Off to the races: No retreat, no surrender

NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Voters expecting to see reflection or remorse from Republicans after their fiscal walloping are still hearing a familiar party line on Obamacare: no retreat.” From the unemployment rate to the health care website’s problems, Republicans seem encouraged on its Obamacare strategy.

To that point, AP writes, “For nearly five years, Republicans have struggled to make a scandal stick to President Barack Obama’s White House. One by one, the controversies — with shorthand names such as Solyndra, Benghazi, and Fast and Furious — hit a fever pitch, then faded away. But some Republicans see the disastrous rollout of Obama’s health law as a problem with the kind of staying power they have sought.”

And from Iowa, NBC’s Kasie Hunt reports: “Moderation isn't going to win more seats for the GOP in Congress in 2014, Ted Cruz told Iowa Republicans on Friday. Instead, the junior senator from Texas told them, the answer is firing up the conservative base.” Said Cruz: "For everyone who talks about wanting to win elections in 2014, particularly in an off year, a non-presidential year -- nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing matters more than an energized and active vocal grassroots America. That's how you get elected."

Here are pictures of Ted Cruz pheasant hunting in Iowa.

And here was Cruz’s interview with the Des Moines Register in which he says he “despises” avocados. Asked if he has any “phobias,” Cruz said, “Um, I despise avocado. It’s the only food I dislike, and I dislike it passionately. Which is ironic, because I’m Cuban, and my dad grew up with avocado trees in his backyard. My whole family eats avocados like crazy, but I can’t stand them.”

He does like stuff with cheese on it though. And his favorite movie is “The Princess Bride.”

Politico: "The most urgent question Hillary Clinton would face if she were to run again for president is whether she could avoid the blunders — the bitter staff rivalries going public, the poisonous relationship with the press, the presumption of inevitability — that helped doom her campaign five years ago. There’s one powerful piece of evidence that she could — her own bid for New York senator in 2000."

AP: "A year after losing a presidential race many Republicans thought was winnable, the party arguably is in worse shape than before. The GOP is struggling to control tensions between its tea party and establishment wings and watching approval ratings sink to record lows."

USA Today looks at what it’s calling 14 for ’14, 14 races to watch in 2014.

Coral Davenport notes that green groups are outspending oil and gas companies on air for the first time.

FLORIDA: NBC'S Jessica Taylor reports, "While former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist hasn't officially announced he's trying to reclaim his old job, he appears to be getting very close" in a new web video released Friday." 

KENTUCKY:new web ad from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes hits Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over the shutdown-- showing a burning house being enveloped in flames, Grimes says McConnell can't take credit for saving negotiations while still burning down the house. 

LOUISIANA: Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana and chairman of the Republican Governors Association, sounds like he’s thinking about a 2016 presidential run. Asked on Fox News Sunday about a potential run, he said, "I don't know yet, and I think it's too early."

NEW YORK: The New York Times endorsed Bill de Blasio (D) for mayor.

NEW JERSEY: Former pro-basketball star Shaquille O’Neal endorsed Chris Christie in a new ad: “He’s a good man, excuse me, he’s a great man. Please join me in supporting Chris Christie, the governor.” Shaq was born in Newark, NJ.

By the way, on this one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, don’t miss the closing shot of the ad with Christie in silhouette looking on to the Seaside boardwalk. Christie’s numbers were bolstered after his handling of Sandy.

The Star Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie [Friday] released a medical summary, showing he is in generally good health aside from high blood pressure and asthma controlled by medication.” More: “Christie, 51, has a total cholesterol reading of 139 and a blood pressure of 110/70 with a heart rate of 68. He has had hypertension for the last two years and asthma for the last three decades.”

The Star Ledger reports that outside groups in the New Jersey governor’s race “have spent more than $24 million on behalf of, or in opposition to, candidates for governor and the state Legislature, easily a record.”

VIRGINIA: That’s more than what’s been spent OVERALL in the more competitive Virginia governor’s race -- $22 million. Of course, New York and Philadelphia are the Nos. 1 and 4 media markets in the country. Washington, DC, is the No. 8 market.

Here’s the latest Virginia ad spending: Pro-McAuliffe $12.9 million, pro-Cuccinelli $8.7 million. Here’s an updated look at the last four weeks:

10/7: McAuliffe $1 million-$687,000
10/14: McAuliffe $1.1 million-$415,000
10/21: McAuliffe $1 million-$232,000
10/28*: McAuliffe $989,000-$142,000
11/4*: McAuliffe $350,000-$13,000

Source: SMG Delta. *The last two weeks are what’s already been booked but those numbers will go up.

AP: “Conservative ideologues are reliable voters who could threaten Democrat Terry McAuliffe's political chances, former President Bill Clinton warned Sunday as he joined his longtime buddy's campaign for Virginia governor. With little more than a week before Nov. 5's Election Day, McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli each have sought to energize their strongest supporters. McAuliffe has opened a lead in polling and is heavily outspending Cuccinelli on television ads, but turnout is expected to be low and the result could be decided by a few thousand votes.”

WYOMING: Sunday on ABC's "This Week," "former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney slammed the man his daughter Liz Cheney is challenging for his Wyoming Senate seat - Republican Sen. Mike Enzi - calling out the three-term senator for his political fundraising and his characterization of their relationship....Despite being behind in the polls and gaining little support from Republicans in Washington, Cheney said his daughter had 'just started' in the race and would eventually prevail in the final vote next year."