Tennessee: Corker praises Pope Francis’s address. US Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had warm words for Pope Francis’s historic appearance before a joint session of Congress yesterday. “His address was one of hope and unity,” Alexander said in a statement, “and I was particularly pleased to hear his message about the fight to eliminate modern slavery.” Alexander noted that his committee had unanimously passed The End of Slavery Initiative Act in February of this year ……. Texas: Cruz urging government shutdown. US Sen. and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R) is rallying the hard-right in Congress to shutdown the federal government rather than allow continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Cruz’s argues, reports The Hill, that President Obama and the Democrats will be blamed for any shutdown, not the foes of funding for Planned Parenthood ……. North Carolina: Trump, Clinton lead, but … The latest Elon University Poll shows Donald Trump in first place among Tar Heel State GOPers with 22%, followed by 21% for Ben Carson and 10% for Carly Fiorina. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is an easy winner, with 53% to Bernie Sanders’ 23%. In November matchups, Carson beats Clinton 52% to 41% and Jeb Bush beats her 46% to 43%, but she beats Trump 47% to 40% …….