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First Read Flash: Guten Tag

The NSA ended a program used to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but they're denying Obama knew of the phone tapping.

USA Today: "The National Security Agency Sunday denied German media reports that President Obama was told in 2010 of NSA spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and allowed it to continue."

Wall Street Journal: "The National Security Agency ended a program used to spy on" Merkel "and a number of other world leaders after an internal Obama administration review started this summer revealed to the White House the existence of the operation, U.S. officials said. Officials said the internal review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders, in the U.S. government’s first public acknowledgment that it tapped the phones of world leaders."

New York Times: "The economists and policy wonks behind the Affordable Care Act worry that the technical problems bedeviling the federal portal could become much more than an inconvenience. If" young applicatns "decide to put off or give up on buying coverage, rising prices and even a destabilized insurance market could result."

Washington Post's Dan Balz: "President Obama has faced a persistent challenge in office. The advocate of big, bold actions to address large and seemingly intractable problems, he has struggled to convince the public that government is equipped to carry out such transformational changes....Administration officials insist that the health-care law is sound, even if the Web site has proved a nightmare to navigate. But the questions raised by the botched rollout go beyond whether the Web site Obama touted so positively is merely plagued with technological glitches or is flawed in more fundamental ways. The whole episode points to the broader debate that the president has yet to win about the role of government."

Roll Call: "Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III has quickly become a favorite of Republicans with his quest to delay the individual mandate to buy health insurance under Obamacare. Though that effort doesn’t seem to have much traction, it’s one that could start giving vulnerable Democrats heartburn."

NBC's Kasie Hunt reports from the Hawkeye State: "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz became the hottest thing in tea party politics this year -- and the favored son of some activists -- almost overnight. But after two days of events across Iowa, it is clear that using the state as a springboard to the White House in 2016 won’t come nearly as easily as his national fame."

Des Moines Register: "Cruz offered his prescription for Republican unity" Friday night "in Iowa while speaking to a state party fractured by dissent. Cruz, himself a divisive figure in the GOP, said economic growth is the answer to the country’s problems and party unity."

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."

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." 

"Crist will make it official Nov. 4 in St. Petersburg, his hometown. The former Republican governor widely expected to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday he will declare his intentions that Monday morning in downtown Straub Park. That's near where he announced in 2010 that he was leaving the GOP to run for U.S. Senate as an independent."

KENTUCKY: A 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. 

NEW JERSEY: Newark Star Ledger: "Gov. Chris Christie received a big endorsement this week. Newark-native and basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal has thrown his support to Christie, calling the governor 'a great man.'"

NEW YORK: New York Times: Bill de Blasio, "a Democrat who is currently the public advocate, leads his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, by 45 points among likely voters, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. That lead, which has remained remarkably consistent in multiple polls over the last six weeks, suggests that Mr. de Blasio could win the most sweeping victory in a mayor’s race since 1985, when Edward I. Koch was re-elected to a third term with a crushing 68-point margin of victory over his opponents."

VIRGINIA: Richmond Times Dispatch: "Former President Bill Clinton threw his political weight — and a little star power — behind Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in Richmond on Sunday at a homestretch event focused on getting out the vote....“Terry McAuliffe is my friend,” he said. “If he were 50 points behind, I would be here.'"

Washington Post notes that the relationship between the Clinton & McAuliffes "carries political rewards and risks for both families. If McAuliffe wins the Nov. 5 election, the Clintons will have a trusted ally controlling one of the most important presidential swing states. But McAuliffe’s actions as governor would also reflect upon the Clintons, positively or negatively, far more than the actions of any other officeholder. McAuliffe’s history of using his deep political connections to benefit his private business portfolio would be put under a microscope again if Hillary Clinton runs for the White House."

AP: "Ken Cuccinelli's campaign for governor of Virginia has always been a test of whether a deeply conservative Republican could win in a swing-voting state.....Ken Cuccinelli's campaign for governor of Virginia has always been a test of whether a deeply conservative Republican could win in a swing-voting state."

Washington Post: "From the moment Cuccinelli put aside decades of precedent by not resigning to campaign full time for governor, his dual role as political candidate and Virginia’s top legal counsel has shadowed the race , sometimes in helpful ways , sometimes as a hindrance."

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."