In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A new survey by Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) -- the social conservative champion whose career became mired in the 2007 D.C. Madam prostitution scandal -- could potentially be vulnerable in 2010, but is currently leading a likely Democratic opponent.

The numbers: Only 44% of respondents approve of his job performance, to 36% disapproval. Furthermore, only 38% say he deserves another term, against 47% who it's time to give someone else a chance.

At the same time, Vitter get 44% support against potential Democratic candidate Charlie Melancon, a socially conservative Democratic Congressman, who gets 32%. Melancon lacks name recognition, though, with only 26% favorable, 32% unfavorable, and 42% not sure.

From the pollster's analysis: "David Vitter's polling in the mid-40s is a very similar position to where Mary Landrieu was a couple years ago at this time," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "Republicans were never able to translate that into a serious challenge, so it will be interesting to see if Democrats are better able to capitalize on Vitter's vulnerability."

Late Update: This post mistakenly listed a wrong number for Charlie Melancon's showing against Vitter. It has been corrected.

Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), a Blue Dog, went on Fox News today to say he wants President Obama to slow down on health care legislation, saying Congress "might miss a target deadline going into the August recess. We might take it into the fall."

"I think you're gonna see some compromise come out," Boren said. "We've gotta slow things down."



That falls in line what a Blue Dog aide told a Reuters reporter today -- that they'd ask Obama to slow down on his push for reform. The president is meeting this afternoon with Democrats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, seven of which are Blue Dogs.

Boren has been outspoken on health care reform. "If health care reform is going to happen, it's going to have to happen in a bipartisan way," he told the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce. "It's really up to the president."

A bipartisan bill, as Greg Sargent points out, could only exist if the White House dropped its most important goals. So, in essence, Boren is demanding Obama roll over in submission to the Republicans.

During an conference call yesterday evening with progressive bloggers, President Obama told activists to keep up the pressure. "It is important just to keep the pressure on members of Congress because what happens is there is a default position of inertia here in Washington," Obama said. "And pushing against that, making sure that people feel that the desperation that ordinary families are feeling all across the country... People have to feel that in a visceral way. And you guys can help deliver that better than just about anybody."

Though Obama didn't mention particular members, and didn't specify party, bloggers themselves have been aiming their fire at congressional centrists. Which is to say, this stands in stark contrasts to earlier reports, sourced to conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill, that Obama disapproved of progressives and progressive groups targeting Democrats.

A new Rasmussen poll has some fairly decent news for Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who has of course just emerged from a recount and a six-month long legal battle to take his new political office, with his favorable ratings improving from past lows.

The poll finds Franken's favorable rating at 49%, with 49% disapproval. While that would be considered lukewarm for most politicians, consider the fact that Franken and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) went though a particularly brutal campaign that saw each of them get only 42% of the vote, and both had low favorables and high unfavorables as recently as May.

Interestingly, Coleman is also at 49%-49%, as he reportedly contemplates a run for governor. It's probably a safe bet that the two sets of people who like Franken or like Coleman don't overlap very much.

The poll also finds that 60% of Minnesotans think he can still be an effective Senator, despite the late start.

Roll Call reports that 91-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) has returned to work after a weeks-long illness. Byrd was hospitalized for about six weeks, leaving him unable to vote on any legislation. During his absence, and with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) also suffering severe health problems, the Democrats' 60 vote majority was effectively reduced to 58. Now it's back up to 59. Sixty are required to overcome a filibuster--and will almost certainly be required to pass health care legislation in the Senate.

The newest chapter in the New Jersey gubernatorial race has begun, with Republican nominee Chris Christie now facing the task of winning over swing voters in this Democratic state, while simultaneously holding on to his right-wing base.

Christie announced yesterday that he was picking Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno, the first female sheriff of her county, as his running mate in the first-ever New Jersey gubernatorial race that features the newly-created office of Lieutenant Governor. (Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine has not yet announced his own pick.)

Here's the wrinkle, though: Guadagno is pro-choice, while Christie is pro-life. This actually makes sense in a lot of ways, as New Jersey is a socially liberal state where pro-life candidates don't perform well. The last Republican to win statewide, Gov. Christie Whitman in the 1990s, is herself a pro-choicer.

But the state GOP has swung very much to the right over the last few years -- the same period in which it saw a steep decline and lost a bunch of key offices. Now former gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan, who challenged Christie from the right in the Republican primary, is calling Guadagno's position a "big disappointment."

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If the Blue Dog Democrats have their way, President Obama's meeting with the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be a game-changer.

An aide to one of the Blue Dogs, seven of which are on the committee, told Reuters the group may ask for a slowdown on the health care push. Obama wants health care legislation before the August recess.

"The landscape will change after that meeting," the aide said.

The meeting is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. ET, but may be pushed back as Obama still hasn't appeared in the Rose Garden for his 12:15 p.m. remarks on health care.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court on July 28, a week from today. The vote was originally scheduled for today, but Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) granted a delay request made by Republicans.

Leahy reportedly said he was disappointed in the stall, but still expects her to be on the bench for the Supreme Court's fall session. Sen. Jeff Sessions, the committee's ranking Republican, said he expects Sotomayor to be confirmed by early August.

In other news, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has announced she will vote for Sotomayor's confirmation. She is the fourth Republican to do so, after Olympia Snowe, Richard Lugar and Mel Martinez.

The Democratic National Committee is now seeking to mobilize support against Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) pronouncement that the Republicans can "break" President Obama on health care, and has sent out an e-mail last night with a petition and a donation button:

Their plan is simple: oppose health care reform as a political ploy to weaken the President and defeat his entire agenda of change. But if we follow the Republican "Party of No" and do nothing, we'll not only ensure more of the same, but saddle our children and grandchildren with a growing burden of exploding costs and declining care that they may never overcome.

We can't let this kind of slash and burn politics succeed. We can fight back by collecting as many signatures as possible backing the President's principles for health care reform. A huge response will show Washington and the media that when Republicans try to "break" the President, Americans are ready to stand up for what's right.


The e-mail is technically not a fundraising letter, as there is no explicit appeal for money -- only the standard donation button that is in all the DNC's e-mails -- though obviously they wouldn't be opposed to any contributions that might come in. Check out the full e-mail after the jump.

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President Obama has a few events today as part of his continued health care push. Here's what we'll be keeping an eye on:

At 12:15 p.m. ET, Obama will be making a short speech in the Rose Garden on health care reform. Watch live here.

At 12:45 p.m. ET, he'll hold a closed-door meeting with Democrats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, several of whom are Blue Dogs, a key bloc Obama needs to approve his health care legislation.

Plus, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's briefing will be held at 1:45 p.m. ET, and we'll be keeping our ears on that as well.

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