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In a tense, closed door caucus meeting this morning, during which House Democrats were made to go on the record on the question of whether they'd vote for a health care bill with a robust public option, some of the caucus' most nervous members got a bit of perspective from its longest serving members.

"It was really fairly simple speech," said Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). "All I did was to remind the members that the Republicans are out there to beat us by seeing to it that we accomplish nothing during this Congress especially on health care. It's exactly the same tactic, the same strategy they used in 1993. And I reminded them that that tactic took control of the House from us, because, one of the principal reasons was, we were not able to pass a health insurance bill."

Dingell tells me, "I reminded them that Democrats were divided on the issue. And I told them that if they want to come back and control the Congress they should get behind this bill."

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The Chamber of Commerce is trying to raise money off of that hoax press conference organized this week by a group of activist pranksters.

In an email to supporters, obtained by TPMmuckraker, Chamber exec Bill Miller writes that his organization is "under attack" and claims "MoveOn.org and other extremist groups are harassing our members."

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Members of the progressive lobby are calling on White House Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel put some of his legendary pressure on Congress to pass the public option.

The NAACP, the Campaign For America's Future and MoveOn.org dispatched a letter to Emanuel's office today asking backup in the fight for a public option. From the letter, as reported by The Hill:

"We respectfully ask that the Office of the President take a stronger stand on a robust public option in order to enact true health care reform this year."

Multiple sources tell TPMDC that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up 60 members in support of a public option with an opt out clause, and are continuing to push skeptical members. But they also say that the White House is pushing back against the idea, in a bid to retain the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

"They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger," said one source close to negotiations between the Senate and the White House. "they're certainly not calming moderates' concerns on opt out."

This new development, which casts the White House as an opponent of all but the most watered down form of public option, is likely to yield backlash from progressives, especially those in the House who have been pushing for a more maximal version of reform.

It also suggests, for perhaps the first time, that the White House's supposed hands off approach, to ostensibly allow the two chambers in Congress to craft their own bills, has been discarded.

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A new CNN poll has some really bad news for the Republican Party, with their favorability number reaching its lowest in a decade.

Only 36% of people view the GOP favorably, with an outright majority of 54% viewing them unfavorably. By comparison, the Democratic Party is at 53% favorable to 41% unfavorable -- hardly a good omen for the Republicans if they want to make significant gains in 2010.

The last time the GOP was this bad in CNN's polling was in December 1998, in the heat of the impeachment battles, when they were at 31%-57%.

From the pollster's analysis: "The Republican party may still be battling the legacy left to them by George W. Bush. They have also spent a lot of time in 2009 working against Democratic proposals. That hasn't left them a lot of time so far this year to present a positive, post-Bush message. Of course, there is still plenty of time for them to do so before the 2010 midterms."

In an interview with MSNBC broadcast this afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she may one day address the "put her in her place" remarks made by a Republican group.

"It's so old, it's so tired, it's so ridiculous," Pelosi said. "Poor babies."

Earlier this month, the National Republican Congressional Committee said of Pelosi that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, should "put her in her place." The remark caused outrage among some women, including those in Congress. The group has not backed away from the statement.

But Pelosi isn't impressed.

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Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will double-down this weekend on the rejection of a public option she told Brian about yesterday.

In an interview set to air on Bloomberg, Snowe tells the network's Al Hunt that she's opposed to any public option's inclusion in a health care bill because it gives the government too much control of the health care industry:

"A public option at the forefront really does put the government in a disproportionate position with respect to the industry," she says in the interview.

The NY-23 special election has led to a very interesting development: A whole lot of prominent Republicans are openly calling for the defeat of the moderate Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, opting instead to back the Conservative Party's Doug Hoffman, while just a few are sticking by the actual GOP candidate.

This race has put two former House GOP leaders on different sides, the NRA against the Club For Growth, and the House GOP leadership against its own back-benches.

The message being sent here is loud and clear: Republicans are not allowed to nominate moderate candidates. If they do, it won't just be the grassroots activists and conservative bloggers who will complain -- the big names will do it, too, and will set out to defeat that candidate, even if means the Democrats wins. As a prominent pro-life activist told me about the prospect of a Democratic victory, "It's a shame that the Republican Party didn't do a better job of selecting a candidate."

Let's look at the list of Republicans who are supporting Hoffman, and the ones supporting Scozzafava. Let's start with Scozzafava's backers -- it's a much shorter list.

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The office of a top Bush-appointed federal prosecutor who played a role in the U.S. attorney firings scandal received improper recordings of telephone calls between defense lawyers and their clients, and appears not to have turned them over to authorities, as required by law.

On Wednesday evening, Lisa Freeland, a Pittsburgh-based federal public defender, sent a lengthy email to fellow defense lawyers, reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, exposing the episode. "I am incensed," Freeland wrote.

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In an interview recorded yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "any public option is a good one" and contended that a public option is "what [House members] believe in."

MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Pelosi if it was worth it to try to get a robust public option in the House, when the Senate version would likely be something weaker, like an opt-out or trigger option. It's akin to making House members walk the political plank, Mitchell said.

"You don't want members to take any unnecessary political risk," Pelosi responded. "But this is what they believe in."

Video after the jump.

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