By daniel@politico.com (Daniel Lippman)

REMEMBER WHEN WE SAID THE SENATE MIGHT BE UP FOR GRABS? … ALEX ISENSTADT, “Inside the GOP’s rescue mission for Ted Cruz: The national party wasn’t expecting to have to defend a well-known senator in a conservative bastion”: “With a string of polls showing GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s lead slipping, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick showed up in Washington on July 25 to deliver an urgent plea to White House officials: Send President Donald Trump. Patrick, who chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in the state, made the case that a Trump visit was needed to boost turnout for Cruz and the rest of the Texas Republican ticket.

“The lieutenant governor soon got his wish: Trump announced on Twitter late last month that he was planning a blowout October rally for Cruz, his former GOP rival. The previously unreported meeting comes as senior Republicans grow increasingly concerned about the senator’s prospects in the reliably red state, with some expressing fear that an underperformance could threaten GOP candidates running further down the ballot.

“Cruz’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has raised barrels of cash, closed the polling gap and emerged as a cause célèbre of liberals nationwide.” POLITICO

— @KasieDC: “JUST NOW: Former Communications Director for Ted Cruz, @rickwtyler, says it is ‘possible’ Cruz could lose his Senate seat. ‘This should be a 10 to 15 point race and it’s not.’” Video

ANOTHER REPUBLICAN IN TROUBLE — “Democrats corner Scott Walker,” by Natasha Korecki in Green Bay, Wisconsin: “There’s every reason to believe this is the beginning of the end for Scott Walker. His presidential bid crashed and burned. He’s running for a third term as governor in what figures to be a hostile midterm for the Republican Party. Polling shows that the independent voters who were so critical to Walker’s wins in the 2012 recall and 2014 reelection are breaking away from him.

“After years of futility, Democrats here are convinced they finally have him cornered. ‘He’s stuck with a bad environment. He’s stuck with a long incumbency, and he’s stuck with a short general election,’ said Tom Russell, a Wisconsin-based consultant with the Democratic Governors Association.” POLITICO

THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN in 21 DAYS … ELECTION DAY is in 57 DAYS. Congress is out until Wednesday because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

— AP’S JULIE PACE: “High stakes as 2-month sprint to Election Day begins”

AVAILABLE REAL ESTATE IN GLOVER PARK … WSJ’S MICHAEL GORDON: “Trump Administration to Close Palestine Liberation Organization Office in Washington: National security adviser John Bolton also plans to threaten sanctions against International Criminal Court, in a Monday speech”: “The Trump administration is expected to announce Monday that it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, administration officials said Sunday night, widening a U.S. campaign of pressure amid stalled Middle East peace efforts. …

“‘The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,’ [Bolton] planned to add. PLO mission officials couldn’t be reached for comment late Sunday.” WSJ

SIREN — “GOP candidate for Fla. governor spoke at racially charged events,” by WaPo’s Beth Reinhard and Emma Brown: “Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.

“DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization.

“At the group’s annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues. ‘I just want to say what an honor it’s been to be here to speak,’ DeSantis said in a 27-minute speech at the 2015 event in Charleston, a video shows.

“‘David has done such great work and I’ve been an admirer. I’ve been to these conferences in the past but I’ve been a big admirer of an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.’” WaPo

2020 WATCH — “Avenatti would base his 2020 campaign in St. Louis,” by Natasha Korecki: “He hasn’t decided yet if he’s running for president, but Michael Avenatti has already made a strategic 2020 decision. The attorney will base his national presidential campaign headquarters in St. Louis should he launch a White House bid, he told POLITICO on Sunday. … He believes he’ll be the first presidential candidate to headquarter in St. Louis since Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential run (Gephardt’s 2004 campaign was based in D.C.).” POLITICO

NYT’S PETER BAKER: “Trump Claims Credit for the Economy. Not So Fast, Says Obama”: “The economy is doing quite well, thank you very much, and the president would naturally like to take credit. Both of them.

“Barely a day passes without President Trump boasting about the growing economy, claiming with a mix of hyperbole and fact that it is ‘booming like never before.’ But former President Barack Obama finds all the Trumpian chest-thumping more than a little grating, given that the ‘booming’ started on his watch.

“The economic contest between the 44th and 45th presidents went public in recent days when Mr. Obama expressed his irritation and Mr. Trump fired back. At stake are more than ordinary political bragging rights. Central to Mr. Obama’s historical legacy is the economy’s recovery after its plummet to the brink of a new Great Depression. And central to Mr. Trump’s current political standing is its further expansion.” NYT

FOR YOUR RADAR — “North Korea is still making nukes, and the Trump admin is taking a harder line,” by NBC’s Courtney Kube and Carol Lee with …read more

Read more here: POLITICO Playbook: Republicans in trouble in Trump states

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