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Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Thursday, Oct. 1, and this is what we're watching:
- An NEA council voted to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton ahead of a final vote
- Does Clinton deserve their backing ?
- The powerful Hurricane Joaquin is wiping out campaign events
- Clinton's campaign raised about $28 million in the last quarter, with Bernie Sanders close behind
- Check out the candidates' biggest backers with this handy graphic from the Times
Presidential candidates respond to Oregon shooting
In the hours after 10 people were gunned down and seven others were wounded at an Oregon community college, presidential candidates offered prayers and sympathy for the victims.
Here's what they had to say:
This post has been updated to reflect that officials reduced the number of people killed to 10 and those injured to seven.
Rand Paul's campaign announced Thursday that it had raised $2.5 million in the last three months, a significant drop compared with the $7 million he raised in the second quarter.
Paul's campaign emphasized that more money had rolled in recently -- about $750,000 of the $2.5 million was raised in the two weeks following the second Republican presidential debate. Paul, who has received major donations from wealthy people who also give heavily to libertarian causes, also had about $2 million on hand.
By comparison, GOP contender Ben Carson's campaign said it raised about $20 million in the third quarter.
Despite the dip, the senator from Kentucky said his campaign was in good shape, stressing that the campaign was "raising more money than we spent." Paul, one of the first candidates to declare he was running for president, has raised roughly $16 million since the start of his campaign.
"We remain committed to this race as much now as ever," Paul said in a statement, swatting away speculation that he will drop out of the presidential race.
With an average of 2.3% support in national polls , Paul is at risk of dropping to the undercard debate in Boulder, Colo., this month. In order to appear in CNBC's 8 p.m. debate , candidates will need an average of at least 2.5% support in a small group of national polls released between Sept. 17 and Oct. 21. The polls that will be considered will be those by NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg.
Communications Director Sergio Gor said Paul's campaign had seen a "tremendous uptick" in support.
"Every single place, the crowds have been getting larger and larger," Gor said. "We are in this for the long haul."
What it's like to go back to being governor
Hillary Clinton is poised to win the backing of the nation's largest teachers union
Despite grumbling from many teachers -- and even some powerful labor leaders -- that none of the presidential candidates have yet earned their support, Hillary Rodham Clinton is poised to capture the endorsement of the nation's largest teachers union.
The council of 74 educators that oversees the National Education Assn.'s political committee voted Thursday to endorse Clinton. The full board of the association is expected to give its blessing by Saturday, which would make the endorsement official.
Winning the endorsement has become an unexpectedly hard-fought battle for Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. Influential members of the National Education Assn., including chapter presidents in New Jersey and Massachusetts, had lobbied to withhold support from Clinton until the union received assurances that she would take federal education policy in a different direction than President Obama. Educators are dismayed by administration school accountability and choice initiatives that they say are misguided and unfairly punish teachers.
When the National Education Assn.'s sister union, the American Federation of Teachers, endorsed Clinton early in the summer, there was an angry and loud backlash from members.
But National Education Assn. leaders said Thursday that withholding an endorsement until later would only weaken their position in shaping education policy.
"The earlier you get in, the more relevant you are," said Betsy Kippers, president of the union's Wisconsin affiliate. "We need to have that national voice out there right now. We need to make sure this nation values public education."
Other state chapter presidents said much the same, arguing that there was too much to lose from waiting.
"In order to be real players and give our members the tools they need, we need to be able to [endorse] as early as possible, instead of waiting until the last minute and waiting to see what happens," said Noel Candelaria, president of the Texas affiliate.
Union leaders who voted to endorse were also blunt about another factor driving their decision: electability. Despite enthusiasm among a vocal contingent of the rank and file for insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders, whose campaign has enlisted the support of some 30,000 members of the National Education Assn., those who voted were skeptical he could win the White House.
"When I looked at winnability factors and where the membership was in Colorado and across the West, it was apparent that Secretary Clinton was the right candidate," said Kerrie Dallman, president of the National Education Assn.'s Colorado affiliate.
It is unclear how representatives on the council from the California Teachers Assn., the largest and most powerful chapter of the National Education Assn., voted on the endorsement. Officials at the California Teachers Assn. did not immediately return phone calls and the National Education Assn. did not make the vote tally publicly available.
Republicans doing damage control after McCarthy's Benghazi comments
Top Republicans are coming out against GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy's suggestion that the special committee investigating the Benghazi attacks was a success because it damaged Hillary Rodham Clinton's reputation.
Retiring House Speaker John A. Boehner did a bit of damage control on Thursday over the comments from McCarthy, of Bakersfield, who's expected to replace Boehner as the most powerful lawmaker in Congress.
The investigation "has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be," Boehner said in a statement. "The American people deserve the truth about what happened in Benghazi. That's always been our focus, and that's going to remain our focus."
McCarthy's comments this week risk weakening the committee's standing as well as undercutting one of the Republican Party's chief arguments against Clinton -- that her leadership during the attacks, at best, fell short and, at worst, endangered Americans.
She is due to testify this month before the panel, an encounter already being viewed politically: as a test of her presidential candidacy in how well she avails herself and as a chance to shake off the cloud over her campaign from the ongoing investigation into her email use while secretary of State.
McCarthy, the no. 2 Republican in the House and the favorite to become the top leader in Congress this month, was hit with a wave of criticism after an interview with Fox News on Tuesday in which he seemed to concede a key Democratic talking point: that the GOP investigation into the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya is all about politics.
"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?" said McCarthy, of Bakersfield. "But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen."
Republicans have long argued that the committee was established to try to get the truth behind the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, not to muddy up Clinton, the secretary of State at the time.
The statements by Boehner and others were a bid to keep the focus on the committee's investigative work.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, called on McCarthy to apologize.
"To suggest that there was any sort of political motivation is absolutely -- it's not fair," he said on MSNBC. "It's not fair to those four families who lost those loved ones. That's not why we're doing this."
McCarthy should withdraw his comment and "express how wrong it was," he said.
"It was never the intention, it's not what we're doing and I think the statement is totally wrong," Chaffetz said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who's seeking the GOP nomination for president, echoed fellow Republicans' claims, insisting the committee exists "because there should be an analysis of what actually happened." He didn't "quite understand" why McCarthy made that statement, he told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski.
"This isn't to try to damage Hillary Clinton," he said.
With the campaigns tallying up their latest fundraising hauls after the year's third quarter closed last night, now is a good time to review the data that make this election truly unique.
For three decades, federal laws restrained how much money rich people could pour into presidential campaigns. No more, thanks to a series of recent court decisions.
Click over to our new interactive graphic to dig into the long list of moneyed donors who have written six-figure checks to outside groups that can now take unlimited donations.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is a dear friend of a fiery teachers union leader, she speaks out against the bombardment of standardized testing that dismays educators, and she never misses a chance to say how enamored she is with those who teach.
Many teachers are less enamored with her, however.
One of the most hotly debated issues among rank-and-file educators this week is whether Clinton deserves their support. Many are saying no -- or at least, not yet -- and calling upon their state leaders to resist a move by the president of the union representing 3 million teachers to endorse Clinton.
They are deeply bitter about President Obama's education policies and fear Clinton would stay on that same path, which is championed by some of her ultrawealthy friends and supporters, particularly Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad.
The pressure has been intense enough to prompt some notable defections at the National Education Assn., the largest labor union in the U.S., whose president is lobbying state chapters to line up behind Clinton when the organization considers an endorsement at a leadership gathering that starts Thursday.