TPM News

The Republican National Committee released a Spanish-language radio ad today criticizing President Obama and Vice President Biden for the stimulus and health care reform, just ahead of their visits to Miami to attend Democratic fundraisers.

In a press release announcing the ad, chairman Michael Steele said the White House is pushing a "reckless health care experiment."

"Despite the jam-packed fundraising schedule the president and vice president have during their Miami visit, they should find some time to explain to Florida's Hispanic-Americans the real consequences that the Democrats' plan will have on their community," Steele said. "Americans deserve answers to their questions," he said.

Those questions include:

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It looks like Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the three-way NY-23 special election, doesn't actually know much about the district's local issues, the Watertown Daily Times reports.

Hoffman is opposing Democratic nominee Bill Owens and moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava on issues like abortion, gay rights, the stimulus bill, and other national hot-button topics. But at a Daily Times editorial board meeting, he couldn't answer questions about local transportation projects and other economic issues.

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Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform is targeting Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) on health care with a national cable television ad that also will air in Nebraska.

Norquist, who has made a career of holding local, state and federal lawmakers accountable to signing a pledge with his group about not raising taxes, provides supporters a copy of the Nelson pledge in an ATR blog post today.

"He is bound by that Pledge for the duration of his career as a senator," ATR wrote, blasting the health care bill.

What's more, they are pressuring Nelson - already being hammered by the left on this issue - to filibuster the procedural motion to move forward on health care debate, suggesting a vote for what is known as cloture is a violation of the pledge.

"Now is the time where Senator Nelson must follow through on the promise he made to get elected," ATR wrote.

The ad after the jump.

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Michele Bachmann may be raising outlandish fears about the Census -- but Michael Steele's operation seems to be more than happy to associate its political efforts with the national survey.

The Republican National Committee is sending a mailer to GOP voters that aims to gather information and raise money. Nothing wrong with that. But the mailer appears clearly designed to mislead recipients into thinking that it's an official Census Bureau survey, which people are required by law to fill out.

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Rep. Kendrick Meek's senate campaign says today's visit to Florida by President Obama will likely include "face to face" meetings between Meek and Obama along with the political fundraising and presidential speeches Obama has announced for the day.

"[Meek] was asked to be on the tarmac to greet Obama when he lands in Miami so that's big," camp spokesperson Adam Sharon told TPMDC this morning. "I am sure there will be opportunities for face to face."

The DSCC confirmed it is helping set up the meetings.

Sharon said Meek has been in discussions with White House advisers about some personal time with Obama, and said he expects "much of the meetings will be fleshed out late today or be arranged on the spot tonight" at the DSCC fundraiser Obama is headlining in Miami beach tonight.

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Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack has announced that she will not run for Senate against five-term incumbent republican Chuck Grassley in 2010, the Des Moines Register reports.

recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll had shown Vilsack trailing Grassley by a margin of 51%-40% -- which was actually pretty good, considering that Grassley has never been re-elected with less than 66% of the vote.

Vilsack said in her statement: "Committing to a campaign for the US Senate next year requires more than the confidence that I have the right experience, the necessary support and the resources to be successful. It must come with an understanding that it is the best way for me serve our State and my fellow Iowans in the most effective way possible at this time."

In a speech to the Center for American Progress today, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer will make the economic case for health care reform.

"Some view health insurance reform as something we should do before or after tackling the deficit. My plea today is to view it as the most significant act we could take to tackle the deficit," Romer says in her prepared remarks.

She also says a public option "would serve as a competitive, alternative choice, constraining the ability of insurers to raise premiums, and thus containing the growth rate of costs."

More excerpts, released by the White House, after the jump.

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A former Fox News contributor, appearing on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, said she left the organization partly because Glenn Beck's "scary" and "over the top" language made her uncomfortable.

"The reason I left, in part, is because I think they have less debate than they used to," said Jane Hall, a professor at American University and a former journalist who covered the media.

"I'm also frankly uncomfortable with Beck, who I think should be called out as somebody whose language is way over the top and scary," she added.

Video after the jump.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will send a health care legislation to CBO today, and details of his proposal will be unveiled shortly thereafter, TPMDC has learned. A highly placed source suggests that Reid's preference remains to include a public option with an opt out clause, despite the fact that the White House is skeptical that this is the most politically viable strategy.

As TPMDC has reported, the move would make it much less likely that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will ultimately support the bill, and the White House conveyed skepticism to Reid last week that he was making the right call.

However, a senior White House official tells TNR's Jonathan Cohn that the White House will ultimately back whatever Reid decides to do. Sounds like we'll know for sure pretty soon.

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA), who is running for Senate in 2010 against Republican Sen. David Vitter, is now stepping up his attacks on Vitter -- declaring that "we can only guess" why Vitter voted against a Senate amendment to crack down on rape.

In a new campaign e-mail, Melancon slams Vitter for voting against the Franken Amendment, which would cut off money for military contractors that force employees into arbitration, rather than a court of law, if they are raped:

If a company wants to receive taxpayer dollars, they should not be able to force victims to give up their constitutional rights as a condition of employment.

David Vitter has refused to explain why he voted to allow taxpayer-funded companies to sweep rape charges under the rug. We can only guess what his reasons were.

Tell David Vitter that sexual assault victims deserve their day in court.

(Emphasis in the original.)

Check out the full e-mail, after the jump.

Late Update: NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh sends us this comment: "If Charlie Melancon is truly 'shocked' that David Vitter would vote against this amendment, one can only imagine his thoughts on President Obama and Obama's Department of Defense having the exact same position on this amendment as the Republicans - which they do. Considering Charlie Melancon's strong endorsement of Obama in last year's election, it's fair to ask how Melancon squares this cheap partisan attack today with the Obama Administration's own position on the Franken amendment? Is Charlie Melancon seriously suggesting that President Obama does not care about victims of sexual assault because that would be news indeed. We look forward to his response."

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