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On a conference call just now with Democratic supporters, DSCC chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sought to paint an optimistic but cautious outlook for 2010 -- and also dealt with some skepticism from the base over health care.

Menendez said how the president's party has almost always lost seats in the mid-term elections, but that Dems have a good set of candidates and will have real accomplishments to run on in key races in 2010.

He then took questions that had been submitted by e-mail, and got a tough one: Why should the e-mailer continue to help Democrats, if they can't get health care done?

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Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said today that, because of angry town hallers and the like, President Obama should show "humility" when he speaks to Congress Wednesday night.

"What you're seeing is folks on my side anxious to see what the president has to say tomorrow night," Chambliss said. "I think he's gonna have to express some humility based on what we've seen around the country this August and that's not his inclination."

The implication here is that Chambliss's side -- the one that opposes much of the Democrats' reform plan, especially a public option -- is winning, and that the president had better be humble.

Video after the jump.

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During a press conference outside the White House after meeting with President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid left no doubt that the overriding goal for health care reform remains passing a bill through the regular legislative process rather than using procedural tools to enact measures that can't be filibustered.

"We have a lot of work to do, understand that, but we're still approaching this in the form of bipartisanship," Reid said. "We want a bipartisan bill. We do not want [to use] reconciliation unless we have no alternative."



As we've reported, Democratic leaders have been gaming out the possibility of using the budget reconciliation process to enact reform measures that would be exempt from a 60 vote requirement. But for the time being, the goal remains to push forward with negotiations with moderate Republicans--notably Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)--to advance a bill that can overcome a filibuster and, maybe, win a couple of Republican votes.

After a meeting with President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she believes a public option will be essential to passing a bill in the House of Representatives...for the time being anyhow.

"I believe that the public option will be essential to our passing a bill in the House of Representatives," Pelosi said. "[President Obama] said, if you have a better idea, put it on the table. So if somebody has a better idea of how to do that, put it on the table. For the moment, however, as far as our house members are concerned, the overwhelming majority of them support a public option."

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Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), whose resignation following lewd instant messages with teenage House pages was one of the final things to bring down the House Republicans in 2006, is making a comeback -- as a local talk radio commentator in West Palm Beach, with his own show called "Inside the Mind of Mark Foley."

Seaview AM 960, an adult standards station (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, etc.) in West Palm Beach, has announced that Foley will host a new public affairs show, beginning on September 22.

"Well Mark Foley's a local, his district was here locally in West Palm Beach," Seaview operations manager Joe Raineri told me, "So Mark Foley, he's a regular about town and he was no stranger certainly to us at the radio station, and he's quite well received here in West Palm Beach. So we thought with what's going on in the world today it would be great to hear from a former Washington insider."

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dodged a question today about whether the president would issue any veto threats at tomorrow's address to Congress.

When asked by Fox's Major Garrett, Gibbs thought for a moment, then said, "I'm trying to remember."

"I think the president will outline what he believes would constitute reform," he said.

Obama will use his second address to Congress to lay out specifics of what he wants to see in health care reform legislation, according to the White House. Many on both sides of the debate are waiting to see how hard the president will push for a public option.

Video after the jump.

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Another Democrat is jumping into the special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. An agent of Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) has taken out nomination papers for the race, paving the way for the Congressman to launch a bid.

Two other Democrats, state Attorney General Martha Coakley and Rep. Stephen Lynch, are already in the race. Rep. Ed Markey is also eyeing the race.

Meanwhile, former Rep. Marty Meehan just announced that he will not run for the seat. Meehan would have been a formidable candidate, due to the large campaign war chest that he still has.

This race should be inviting to any big-name Democrat for a few reasons. First, Senate seats don't open in Massachusetts very often. Second, with former Rep. Joe Kennedy now having announced that he's not running, there's no obvious heir-apparent to the Kennedy name. And third, the special election gives current officeholders the opportunity to run without risking their current positions.

A Spanish-speaking bishop from Stamford, Connecticut was shouted down at a town hall in Norfolk last week for Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT). Emilio Alvarez introduced himself in English and proceeded to say he would like to ask his question in his native tongue, as he knows the congressman can speak Spanish - Himes was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Almost immediately, town hall attendees start shouting "no!" at Alvarez, and continue to shout and heckle him the entire time he attempts to ask his question (and Himes attempts to listen).

Here's the video:

At one point, the crowd starts chanting "English! English!" - at which point Himes raises his hand in a gesture for the crowd to quiet down, which works for a few seconds. Alvarez finishes his question and sits down as some in the crowd applaud him and others boo loudly.

Himes then translates the question for the audience, and as he refers to the man they've just shouted down as a bishop and clergyman, an audience member yells, "Well he ought to speak English!" Himes ignores this and discusses how losing employment shouldn't mean losing health insurance, which the audience applauds.

(h/t Think Progress)

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said today that he won't vote for a health care bill that doesn't include a public option.

"I will oppose any health care reform bill that lacks such a plan," Conyers said in a statement released by his office. "I will also oppose any legislation that seeks to replace a robust public health insurance option with health care cooperatives or which ties the availability of the public option to a trigger mechanism."

Read the full statement after the jump.

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In a telling sign that the battle over health care reform may be decided by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the nation's largest reform campaign Health Care for America Now--in conjunction with Communications Workers of America and the Main Street Alliance--has launched a week-long television, radio, and print ad buy urging Snowe to stand up to insurance companies, and asking supporters to sign this petition.

One TV ad is aimed exclusively at Snowe:



While the other targets both Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):

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