TPM News

Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH), who's trying to replace the retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R) in the Senate next year, is squaring off against the business groups pushing back on Democratic efforts to finish up health care reform in the next few weeks.

Through the Chamber of Commerce, business groups are attacking the Democratic reform package in a nationwide ad campaign the Chamber says will costs between $4-$10 million dollars. In addition to the national spots, the Chamber is also targeting its ads at key members of Congress in key states where business leaders think they can influence Democratic lawmakers about to face voters at the ballot box.

Hodes is one of those members, and he's fighting back. "They can use all the fear tactics, false information and corporate money they want," he told TPM in a statement this morning. "I won't stop fighting for the middle-class families and small businesses in this state that need real reform now."

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of Pennsylvania has good news for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), with the former Republican leading his challengers in both the Democratic primary and the general election.

In the Democratic primary, Specter leads Rep. Joe Sestak by 51%-32%. In the general election, Specter leads his long-time nemesis, Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey, by 47%-41%. With Sestak as the Democratic nominee, Toomey has a lead of 42%-39%, within the ±4% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average puts Toomey ahead of Specter by a narrow margin of 43.3%-42.0%.

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Former New York state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled from the Senate over a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting his girlfriend, has slim chances of re-taking his seat in a special election, according to a new poll.

In the poll by Siena College, Monserrate, a former Democrat running on his own "Yes We Can" party line, is trailing to Democrat Jose Peralta by 45 points.

Peralta, an assemblyman, has the support of 60% of voters, according to the poll, followed by Monserrate's 15%. The Republican in the race, Robert Beltrani, has 9%. 15% are undecided.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner said on MSNBC this morning that if health care reform passes, Republicans would make its repeal a campaign issue.

Boehner isn't the first Republican to make such a pledge in recent days. Though earlier this week, Sen. John Cornyn, (D-TX) acknowledged that his promise to run on repealing health care reform was unlikely to pan out.

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For some of the Bush administration's most energetic spinners, it looks like it's finally safe to get back into the water.

OK, in truth, some of them never really got out. But we can't help noticing that in the last few weeks, several prominent spokespeople for the last administration have been back in the media spotlight, triggering memories of those halcyon early years of the century.

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TPM's Brian Beutler reports from Capitol Hill that House Democrats are moving forward on health care with or without prolife Rep. Bart Stupak and the dozen lawmakers he might get to attempt to block the bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters this morning that Democrats "have not discussed a third way" and that when he spoke with Stupak (D-MI) about the abortion provisions he wants in the measure, "I made it clear that I wasn't negotiating."

"We don't want to go without their votes, but we do want to forge ahead, and as you know Mr. Stupak has made it very very clear that he's very strongly in favor of achieving health care in this Congress. And I think that a lot of his colleagues feel the same way," Hoyer said.

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The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor whose sermons caused controversy for President Obama during the 2008 campaign, spoke to the Washington Post this week about the president, who has since distanced himself from Wright.

Wright expressed dismay with the press for their portrayal of Obama, his former congregant.

"It is unrealistic to think that one person can change the mess that this country has gotten into, but to pick on him is like picking on one of my kids," Wright said. "I have been knowing him for 20 years."

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Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) said today that he expects to see language on the health care reform bill today, and expects a vote "in the next 10 days."

Earlier today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that President Obama would delay his Asia trip by at least three days to work on health care.

Senate Republicans expect a Rules committee markup of the reconciliation measure on Monday.

Additional reporting by Brian Beutler.

Interviewed by Rachel Maddow last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that what her staff was told last year about then-Rep. Eric Massa did not "even come close to any kind of an allegation."

She said the conversation, reportedly between Massa's chief of staff and a Pelosi staffer, "repeated something that had been in the newspaper the day before."

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The new survey of Colorado from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in a close race. This is itself an improvement from most other polls, which have shown him running behind his Republican opponents.

When tested against three Republican candidates, Bennet is tied 43%-43% against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, leads Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck by 46%-40%, and leads state Sen. Tom Wiens by 45%-37%. The TPM Poll Average has Norton ahead of Bennet by 46%.1-41.0%.

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