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President Obama has sent out a new e-mail to his Organizing For America campaign e-mail list for New York's 23rd Congressional District, telling recipients that he endorses Democratic candidate Bill Owens in the upcoming special election and urges them to help out:

As I work to change the tone of our nation's politics and end the petty partisanship that has dominated Washington for too long, I'll need the help of leaders like Bill.

That's why I'm proud to announce my support for Bill Owens, candidate for Congress in New York's 23rd Congressional District.

But my support will only take Bill so far. As we learned last year, true change doesn't come from folks in Washington, but from the dedication and energy of people like you.


A win here would be a pick-up for the Democrats, taking the seat formerly held by GOP Congressman John McHugh, who was appointed by Obama to be Secretary of the Army. The Republicans have been seriously damaged by a split between supporters of moderate GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava versus Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

The full e-mail is available after the jump.

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Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at today's press briefing to comment on former Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion last night that the Obama White House was "dithering" on Afghanistan and should "do what it takes to win."

"It's a curious comment," Gibbs said. "I think it's pretty safe to say that the vice president was, for seven years, not focused on Afghanistan. Even more curious given that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's for more than eight months."

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Chris Christie has a new TV ad featuring Tom Kean, a former governor and former chairman of the 9/11 Commission -- easily the most popular Republican in Democratic-leaning New Jersey.

"I hope you're as sick and tired of all these negative commercials as I am," Kean says. "Let me tell you the truth. I've known Chris Christie since he was a leader in Livingston High School. He's a good and a decent man. Chris Christie is the only candidate with a plan to cut taxes and wasteful spending and to bring jobs back to New Jersey. I trust Chris Christie and will vote for him. Chris Christie and New Jersey would be perfect together."

Kean was a very popular governor back in the 1980's, winning re-election in 1985 with a whopping 71% of the vote, the biggest landslide in New Jersey gubernatorial history. The question is whether he can still move votes for another candidate, 20 years after he left office -- for example, his son Tom Kean Jr. lost the 2006 Senate race.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at a press briefing a moment ago that President Obama's decision on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan will be made "in the next few weeks."

"The president will make a decision in the new few weeks, in the coming weeks, as I've said," Gibbs said.

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In a huddle with reporters moments ago, I asked Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for her thoughts on a public option compromise that would allow states to opt out of a national government insurance program, and her answer could slow down the proposal's considerable momentum.

"I don't support that," Snowe said.

Asked further whether she would participate in a filibuster on a bill with a public option, she went almost all the way.

"I've said, I'm against a public option...yes...it would be difficult" to support allowing the bill to proceed to a vote.

Snowe and other centrists say they'll withhold their support on a motion to proceed to the bill on the Senate floor (which will require 60 votes in and of itself) until the legislation is fully pieced together and the CBO has weighed in. She and other centrists want to ensure that the bill meets their specifications before it goes to the floor, so that they won't bear the burden of rounding up the 60 votes needed to change the legislation during debate.

Saw this coming -- the RGA has turned yet another Creigh Deeds awkward moment from a post-debate gaggle into yet another negative TV ad slamming the Democratic nominee in the Virginia gubernatorial contest.

Last month, Deeds stumbled over reporters' questions about taxes immediately following widely reported debate in Fairfax County, the heart of the D.C. suburbs. The RGA turned the moment into at least three ads, hammering Deeds for what the party said was his attempt to "have it both ways" on raising taxes.

After a televised debate Monday night, the RGA says in it's new ad, Deeds stepped in it again over his support (or lack thereof) for a public option in the health care reform debate.

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Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) formally endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, further deepening the split on the right in this campaign for a GOP-held swing seat.

Hoffman is running against Democrat Bill Owens and the regular Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, who has been assailed on the right for her liberal positions on issues like abortion, gay marriage and the Employee Free Choice Act. A recent Siena poll; showed Owens narrowly ahead of Scozzafava in a three-way race, and benefitting enormously from the split in Republican ranks.

Said Armey: "Though Doug may not be running on the Republican line, Doug is the real Republican in this race and that's why I'm endorsing him today." Those are some strong words for a former House GOP leader, to be disowning his party's official candidate.

Check out the full Hoffman campaign press release, after the jump.

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SEIU is stepping up its campaign efforts in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, tapping into the state's Democratic leanings by tying Dem Gov. Jon Corzine to the much more popular President Obama -- and Republican candidate Chris Christie to the very unpopular former President George W. Bush.

Here's a new mailer, telling recipients that "One man will work with the president. The other will fight him." Christie's service as a U.S. Attorney, which has been the centerpiece of his political appeal, is also tied to "Bush-era corruption": "George W. Bush made Chris Christie his top New Jersey lawyer after Christie and his lobbyist friend raised about $350,000 for Bush and the National Republican Party."





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Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) has long been a passionate golfer. Last year, Golf Digest ranked the lawmaker 32nd, with a handicap of 5.6, on its list of the top 200 golfers in Washington.

Like many members of Congress, Buyer has a history of mixing business and pleasure on the golf course. Now, it looks like the financial dealings of a questionable foundation created by Buyer were even more golf-driven than previously known.

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