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Welcome to Trail Guide, your daily host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Friday, Oct. 9, and this is what we're watching:
- Another Cabinet official to back Hillary Rodham Clinton .
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders brings his campaign to the Avalon .
- Speaker Paul Ryan ? He might rather be President Paul Ryan
- Donald Trump revises his position on why and when he'd quit the GOP race
- President Obama wonders why Republicans vying for the White House are " so down on America "
- As Joe Biden's status remains unclear, outside factors are increasingly intruding on his deliberations
- Ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic debate, compare Clinton to Sanders and others
Second Obama Cabinet official to endorse Hillary Clinton
BuzzFeed reports that Julian Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the former mayor of San Antonio, will endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton at an event in the city he led next week.
Castro would join Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in becoming the second member of President Obama's Cabinet to endorse the former secretary of State.
And as Cabinet members go, Vilsack and Castro bring with them symbolic political value. Vilsack is the former three-term governor of Iowa, the first nominating state, where a strong showing is essential for Clinton.
And Castro is a rising star in the party, who delivered the keynote address at the Democrats' 2012 national convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Of course, any endorsement of Clinton by a member of the Obama administration is significant as Vice President Joe Biden continues to deliberate over his political future .
Castro appeared on the same stage as both Clinton and Obama on Thursday night at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual Award Gala.
Castro's brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), will separately headline a kick-off event for Latinos for Hillary in Nevada next week.
Bernie Sanders will stop in L.A. after first debate
In an interview for NBC's "Meet the Press" set to air this weekend, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes a subtle contrast that could be a preview of his debate strategy.
If the 2012 presidential election had turned out differently, Paul Ryan would be one heartbeat away from the presidency. So why wouldn't he jump at the chance now to be second in line to the Oval Office?
Many House Republicans are pushing, almost begging, the Wisconsin Republican to throw his hat in the ring to be speaker of the House after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's bombshell decision to abandon his bid to replace John A. Boehner of Ohio, who himself surprised Republicans when he announced his intention to step down at the end of the month.
But as Lisa Mascaro reports , Ryan isn't sure it's the right move.
Behind the usual protestations against spending time away from his family and three small children, Ryan's reluctance is rooted in a more realistic calculation of the political damage the speaker's job could do to his promising career.
Now in his ninth term in office, Ryan is often mentioned as presidential material, even though he passed on the 2016 campaign to remain at his perch as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He is thought of as one of the GOP's brightest thinkers and the economic guru who crafted the "Ryan Budget" that would turn Medicare into a voucher system to deeply cut costs.
Among those who've called to encourage Ryan to give it more thought: his former running mate, Mitt Romney.
Donald Trump 'never getting out' of GOP race
Donald Trump, believe it or not, called into another cable news show Friday morning. And at the end of his more-than-10-minute segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," the real estate mogul vented a bit about the reporting concerning his recent comments about his commitment to the Republican presidential race.
In a recent "Meet The Press" interview, Trump was asked about the circumstances that might lead him to quit the race.
"I'm not a masochist," he said at the time. "If I was dropping in the polls where I saw I wasn't going to win, why would I continue?"
Friday morning, Trump made clear that he was simply answering a hypothetical question, calling it "ridiculous" that some reported those comments as a signal he might quit a race that he continues to lead in public polls.
"So, you know what I say right now, I give more of a political answer. I'm never getting out," he told the show.
Obama ponders GOP's 'new reality'
He doesn't do it as often as he might like, but President Obama delivered a fresh rebuke of the Republican candidates looking to succeed him Thursday night, and even turned to a staple of his previous presidential campaigns as he catalogued the myriad reasons he feels the GOP candidates would take the country backward.
"Don't boo! Vote!" Obama told the audience at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Award Gala.
Obama wondered aloud why, as he put it, the Republicans "running for my office" were "so down on America."
"I mean, they have invented this new reality where everything was terrific back in 2008, when the unemployment and uninsured rates were rising and DREAMers lived in fear of deportation and we were engaged in two wars, and Bin Laden was still at large," Obama said. "That was the golden era, apparently. The good old days. And then I came along and messed it all up!"
In fact, Obama said, Republicans would be "turning back the clock" on progress on a number of fronts -- but especially immigration. In a broader critique of the direction the party as a whole is taking, he found common ground with his predecessor to make a contrast with today's GOP.
He quoted former President George W. Bush making a plea for immigration reform: "We cannot build a unified country, he said, by inciting people to anger, or playing to anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain," Obama recalled.
"Think how much better our economy would be if the rest of his party got the message."
Obama closed by recalling another previous campaign theme of his, as he listed the work that still needed to be done by a future president.
"Change is never easy," he said. "It takes longer than one year. It takes longer than one term. It takes longer than the tenure of one president. But what we together have shown and proven is that when we stick together and put our shoulders to the wheel of history, not only is change possible -- change is inevitable. America can change."
Check out this Los Angeles Times graphic and compare Hillary Rodham Clinton with Bernie Sanders and others ahead of Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.