In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sanford: I Was In Argentina Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) has now resurfaced at the Atlanta airport, telling The State that he was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking a break after a busy legislative session -- not hiking the Appalachian Trail, as his staff had claimed. Sanford said he'd considered hiking the Trail, "But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic." When asked why his staff had said he was hiking the Trail, he said, "I don't know," but then later added that "in fairness" to his staff, he'd previously told them he might go hiking there.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 2 p.m. ET today with Govs. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Christine Gregoire (D-WA) to discuss health care. At 8 p.m. ET, he will hold a town hall from the White House on health care, which will be broadcast on ABC.

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Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, email's over the following statement in response to inquiries about her support for broad health reform.

I support:

1) Reducing costs and expanding coverage

2) Prohibiting the denial of insurance because of pre-existing conditions

3) Moving toward either a non-profit model of medical insurance or to one where premium costs can be controlled, either through competition in a public or cooperative model or through a regulated authority.

4) Assuring the financial survival of Medicare, because it is slated to run out of money in 2017.

5) Preventing the transfer of Medicaid costs to states, which could result in billions of dollars of additional loss to the State of California.

6) Establishing means testing for programs like Medicare Part D, which pays for prescription drugs

Clearly, the individual mandate - and how it is funded - is the critical, and as yet unanswered, question.

Though Democrats don't bandy about the term too often, the mandate is a provision that will require uninsured people to buy health insurance--private or public--on the individual market. Because many can't afford their own plans, though, it will require a great deal of subsidy and could, in the short term, impose a significant cost. Without the mandate, health care won't be universal. But supporters of the public plan note that without a government run option to root out waste and inefficiency, the choices available to consumers will suffer, and private insurance companies will reap windfall profits on the consumer dime.

As I noted earlier, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appeared on CNN over the weekend and tried to pour some cold water on the idea that a systemic health care overhaul is in the country's future. In response, MoveOn is pouring some cold water on Feinstein.

The group is calling on its California members to pressure the senior Democrat to get on board with the President's agenda, and threatening to run an ad singling her out.

A slightly abbreviated version of the letter appears below the fold.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee has done a lot recently to help Norm Coleman's legal fight against Al Franken's super-narrow victory in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race, the Associated Press reports -- chipping in $938,000 in the last month alone.

The latest federal filings show that roughly $600,000 was spent directly by the NRSC on Coleman's legal bills, with $300,000 transferred to the state Republican Party for the same effort.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did not itemize spending that might have gone to the Minnesota race, but it did raise $282,000 that was specifically earmarked for it.

The Democratic National Committee is now getting in on the jokes about Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-SC) mysterious disappearance, with this new Web video, "Where's Sanford?":

Interestingly, among all the news footage that was collected to make this video, the official explanation that Sanford has gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail isn't even mentioned at all verbally -- it only makes a brief appearance in some of the on-screen news text.

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) apologized to his Republican colleagues at a caucus lunch today, the Politico reports, in the wake of his admission of an extramarital affair that took place in late 2007 and early 2008.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) said Ensign "apologized to everyone who had been hurt, indicated that he had certain deficiencies in his own character and outlook and was going to make substantial improvements."

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who is likely to take over Ensign's former leadership position as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee -- a post that Ensign has resigned -- said that "He basically told us that he was sorry, and he's going to continue to do his job as a senator from Nevada."

The Republican National Committee has this new ad going after President Obama on health care, ahead of tomorrow's TV special on ABC News, to run on select national cable channels tomorrow. The ad attacks Obama -- and without naming them, ABC -- for wanting a government takeover:

"Today a national TV network turns its airwaves over to President Obama's pitch for government-run health care," the announcer says. "Shouldn't this be a bipartisan discussion?"

"Tell President Obama to work with Republicans," the announcer concludes later, "and to stop rushing into another government takeover."

While we're all waiting for a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court about the state's ever-continuing disputed 2008 Senate race between Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic comedian Al Franken, the national GOP is reiterating its continued support for Coleman if he appeals a much-expected defeat -- and that avenues exist to stop Al Franken from being certified as the winner.

"We'll do everything we can to support Norm as long as he has appellate remedies to pursue," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in an interview with David Weigel.

Cornyn noted that if Franken wins the appeals, the Governor and state Secretary of State will be required to give him a certificate of election -- his golden ticket into the Senate. But, Cornyn said, Coleman could potentially appeal to the Supreme Court: "The justice that's responsible for that area -- I think it's Justice Alito -- could issue a stay in the issuance of the election certificate, and it could be referred to the entire court."

"I say all this as 'could,'" said Cornyn, "not as 'will or should.'"

Yesterday, I asked a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner whether Republicans would alter their climate change talking points, in light of a Congressional Budget Office report finding that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill will be much less expensive per household than the GOP had suggested.

Boehner never got back to me. But he did circulate new talking points, which elide the erroneous allegation that a cap-and-trade bill will cost the average household over $3,000, and attack the legislation with selective quotations instead.

You can read the whole missive below the fold.

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Over the weekend, Sen. Dianne Feinstein went on CNN's State of the Union and said the President may not have enough votes to accomplish comprehensive health care reform.

"To be candid with you, I don't know that he has the votes right now," Feinstein said. "I think there's a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus."

Since then, quite a bit has transpired, at least rhetorically, on the issue, and for now, things look a bit different. But nonetheless, reform advocates are taking exception to her comments.

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