In it, but not of it. TPM DC

President Obama's been pretty consistent in his support of a public option, once going so far as to say any health care bill he signs must include one. But how broad is his definition of public option?

Here's what he told Time's Karen Tumulty. "I think in theory you can imagine a cooperative meeting that definition."

Obviously sort of the legal structure of it is less important than practically how can it operate. There are concerns that in the past, attempts at setting up co-ops have not been successful because they just haven't been able to get off the ground; sort of the start-up energy involved may not exist if you're doing a state-by-state co-op effort as opposed to a broad national plan.

That's roughly the Schumer position--if a co-operative can operate like a national government-run insurance program, then he'd likely support it. That's clarifying, in light of developments in the Senate Finance Committee. But it might just take the little-remaining wind out of the sails of some reformers.

The Democratic National Committee has launched a new natioanl cable TV ad centered around the stimulus bill, attacking the top two Republicans in each chamber -- Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Whip Jon Kyl, and House GOP Leader John Boehner and Whip Eric Cantor -- for having fought against it, in a sign that Dems will actively pin continued economic problems on the Republican rule of the last eight years:

"They supported the Bush policies that sank our economy into recession," the announcer says. "They broke it -- now they refuse to fix it. Tell Republican leaders to stop playing politics with our economy."

The DNC is also launching a series of radio ads against these four, plus Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) in their local media markets. Check out the full scripts after the jump.

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Yes, that headline is accurate. In a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Specter defends his record on the Employee Free Choice Act as "consistent."

"My views on this subject have been consistent," Specter writes, "and suggestions to the contrary by those intending to run against me are incorrect."

The last half of this sentence is a jab at Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who's made an issue of Specter's unreliability. But the first half could raise the hackles of labor supporters, who might have noticed that Specter once cosponsored EFCA, then, under attack from the right, said he would support a filibuster of it, then switched parties and told a crowd of organizers that they'd be "satisfied" with his vote on the issue, though he still opposes card check.

As the good folks of PA2010 point out, Specter may have consistent, secretly held views. But his political positions have varied pretty wildly.

WaPo: Dems Boning Up On Health Care Bill The Washington Post reports that House Democrats have gone through a five-hour meeting on the health care bill, in which they were briefed on the ins and outs of the 1,000-page bill section by section. "No one's going to say we haven't read the bill," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). After a cram session like this, they better ace their finals...

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold an 11:55 a.m. ET town hall meeting on health care reform in Raleigh, North Carolina. He will depart Raleigh at 2:45 p.m. ET, arriving in Bristol, Tennessee, at 3:40 p.m. ET. At 4:15 p.m. ET, he will hold another town hall on health care reform in Bristol, Virginia, with Kroger Supermarket employees. He will depart from Bristol at 6 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 7:25 p.m. ET.

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Politico reports that "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swatted away a [ummm, Politico] report -- put out by a Republican staffer -- that there would be no floor vote before recess."

As I noted when I flagged the original, unconfirmed report, the news wasn't officialized by leadership--which is still suggesting that a recess delay is possible. But absent signs of significant progres...well, it's Wednesday, and the House is set to adjourn Friday.

This hasn't been officialized by House leadership, but Republicans are circulating a report that House Democrats won't hold a health care vote before adjourning Friday. Via Politico:

From: Cavicke, David Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 4:51 PM To: REDACTED Subject: Schedule

Democratic Leadership has told Mr. Boehner's staff that there will be no vote on Health on the Floor before recess and we will leave Friday.

We still have no confirmation of plans to resume or end the Committee Markup.

David L. Cavicke Republican Chief of Staff Committee on Energy and Commerce

No word on who told Boehner this or in what language or context. But it appears all but certain that this is how things will play out.

Let this be an object lesson in how campaigns ads are crafted, and how images are shaped.

The campaign of Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has put up this new Web ad, using prior video of Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood in a heated exchange with Rep. Scott Scott Garrett (R-NJ), discussing the cooperation between the federal government and the state government in New Jersey:

It's all about the music. In the original video, a very frustrated LaHood is lecturing a right-wing Congressman on the benefits that the stimulus bill has brought to New Jersey. However, the upbeat, catchy music of a campaign ad makes it seem like the rousing speeches you hear at campaign rallies. The only thing missing is a crowd to cheer and applaud.

So with former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) having announced that he's waiting until Spring 2010 to decide whether he'll run for Governor of Minnesota, it's worth asking the question: Does Norm still have a political future.

I spoke with Prof. Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota, and he said that Coleman's political stock has certainly fallen by a significant margin as a result of his loss to Democratic challenger Al Franken in the heavily-litigated 2008 Senate race. But there could still be a chance to come back -- and under Minnesota's peculiar system of nominating candidates, Norm might just be taking the best road available.

Minnesota political parties traditionally don't hold real primaries, but instead go through a system of precinct caucuses, county conventions and a state convention. If a candidate can get a super-majority of delegates at the state convention, the party then officially endorses that candidate and the opponents are expected by custom to drop out. The September primary is still officially held, but would be a mere formality.

"It's hard to get the majority unless you're a clear frontrunner," said Jacbos. "I think it's a fairly shrewd move, with everything going on in his personal life, particularly his debt and his exhaustion."

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At a press conference today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declined to get into details about the Senate Finance Committee's health care negotiations, but he declared that his number one priority is moving toward--and supporting--something that can get 60 votes.

"What I think should be in the bill is something that I will vote for according to my conscience when we get this bill to the floor," Reid said. "That's my number one responsibility and there are times I have to set aside my personal preferences for the good of the Senate and I think the country."

Only a few weeks ago, Reid was pressuring Baucus to include a public option, so his personal preferences aren't a complete secret--and it's telling that he's saying he's now saying he may have to put those preferences aside.

But while he may not be confident about the possibility of a public option coming out of his chamber, he is confident that the committee will finish up work on its compromise bill by August 7, when the Senate adjourns for recess.

As an aside about the frustrating nature of the politics of the fight, I'm not sure how much reformers and voters who support reform care about what's best for the Senate per se. But that sort of sentiment is rampant in the upper chamber and underlies to some extent just about ever controversial legislative fight on the Hill.

It's safe to say that reformers are unhappy, though hardly shocked, about the news coming out of the Senate Finance Committee. But it's hard to know exactly how bad things are. One data point that may ultimately clarify things, though, is the way Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reacts to the developments, if and when that happens.

But that's just the thing. For the last few weeks, Schumer has been notably silent.

Months ago, Schumer was tapped to be the point man for the public plan in the Finance Committee. And for a long time, he was very visible in that role--swatting down weak alternatives to the public option, and predicting that the final legislation would contain a government plan. But at some point the momentum changed.

Schumer said he'd likely oppose--and urge other Democrats to oppose--any co-operative proposal that didn't fulfill most, if not all, of the aims a public option is supposed to fulfill. Now, though, it seems all but certain that the Finance Committee will propose a co-op op plan of some sort, and Schumer's reaction to it would be a telling--though perhaps not definitive--measure of the amount of support it might receive among a great number of Democrats in the Senate.

But first, of course, he has to weigh in. To this point, all inquiries to his office have gone unanswered. Obviously, the terms of the bill have not been finalized, and it's not completely surprising that he hasn't weighed in yet. But inquiring minds would like to know what he thinks of where things stand right now.