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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a statement today on the administration's decision to change plans for a missile defense shield in Europe. Here's the full text:

"I am disappointed with the Administration's decision to cancel plans to develop missile defenses in Eastern Europe. This decision calls into question the security and diplomatic commitments the United States has made to Poland and the Czech Republic, and has the potential to undermine perceived American leadership in Eastern Europe. Given the strong and enduring relationships we have forged with the region's nations since the end of the Cold War, we should not, I believe, take steps backward in strengthening these ties. Yet I fear the Administration's decision will do just that, and at a time when Eastern European nations are increasingly wary of renewed Russian adventurism.

"Given the serious and growing threats posed by Iran's missile and nuclear programs, now is the time when we should look to strengthen our defenses, and those of our allies. Missile defense in Europe has been a key component of this approach. I believe the decision to abandon it unilaterally is seriously misguided."

The new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut suggests that Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd could be beginning to climb out of the hole he's been in -- but he's still most definitely in it.

Former Rep. Rob Simmons, the GOP establishment favorite, leads Dodd by 44%-39%, down from a 48%-39% lead in July. The margin of error is ±3.2%

Dodd's approval rating is at 43%, with a disapproval of 49%, but this too is an improvement over his 42%-52% rating in July. In addition, 40% of registered voters say he is honest and trustworthy, compared to 51% who say he is not, up from a 35%-55% deficit in July.

From the pollster's analysis: "Sen. Christopher Dodd's approval keeps edging up, and he is bringing down his high negatives. For the first time in six months, his disapproval is under 50 percent, just barely."

This piece from Politico offers some useful insight into the extent to which Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is under just as much political pressure to oppose health care reform as she is to support it.

Conservative members of her caucus aren't being particularly shy about where they stand. "It would be terrible if one Republican chose to basically sell out the whole Conference," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), "particularly in return for some naive idea that we can get some compromise here and that it's going to hold up in [a House-Senate] conference."

"If Republicans are unanimous or maybe unanimous but one -- that puts a real spotlight on anybody who does differ from all of their colleagues," said Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ)

And that's just what they're saying publicly.

Economist Peter Schiff will run for Chris Dodd's Senate seat, he announced today on MSNBC.

Schiff, an economist who runs a brokerage firm, has earned fame over the past year for his book, called Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse, and his predictions that the economy would collapse. He's running as a Republican and already faces four challengers in the primary: former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, State Sen. Sam Caligiuri, Former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley and former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, who's seen as the front-runner.

"I can't sit idly by and watch a train wreck in slow motion," Schiff said this morning.

"The main reason I think we should get rid of Chris Dodd is, he represents everything that is wrong with Congress. He is potentially the poster boy for the economic crisis, [and for] the much bigger crisis we're gonna go through over the next few years if someone doesn't go to Washington and put a stop to these destructive policies," he said.

The state Democratic party has already released a statement attacking Schiff for his lack of experience.

"The fact that I haven't had experience ruining the country, that I haven't brought the banking system to its knees," he said, "that's my greatest attribute."

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AP: BaucusCare Is Industry's Favorite So Far The Associated Press reports that the Baucus health care plan appears to be the health insurance industry's favorite proposal so far, with mandates for people to purchase coverage, and no significant competition from the government -- and stocks have gone up since it was announced. However, a spokesman Americans Health Insurance Plans said they still have concerns: "We have some significant concerns, particularly the new taxes that are going to make health insurance less affordable."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold a rally on health insurance reform at 11:40 a.m. ET in College Park, Maryland. At 2:05 p.m. ET, he will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Sgt. First Class Jared C. Monti, whose parents will accept the medal. At 5:15 p.m. ET, Obama will host a viewing of portions of a documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host an event promoting Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 16, 2009. Here, Obama fences playfully with Tim Morehouse, who won a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing.

Newscom/UPI/Aude Guerrucci




Obama plays with a toy light saber, going right for the gut.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Then, Obama turns his formidable foam fencing skills on his wife.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Obama en garde with a toy light saber.

Newscom/Chicago Tribune/Michael Tercha




The Obamas admire Morehouse's silver medal.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Obama with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Newscom/Chicago Tribune/Michael Tercha




The First Lady will travel to Copenhagen next month to make a final pitch for Chicago's bid at hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg






Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Olympian Ryan Reser gets thrown by a young girl in a judo exhibition.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Reser and Paralympian Myles Porter give a judo demonstration. Before the White House event, the athletes visited D.C. schools to talk about sports, exercise and health.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg






Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg






Olympic medalist Dominique Dawes hugs Michelle Obama. Other athletes who attended: Jackie Joyner Kersee, Arlene Limas, Henry Cejudo, Ryan Reiser, Michael Conley, Bob Pickens, Bob Ctvrtlik, Anita Defranz, Jair Lynch, Linda Mastendrea, Hope Lewellen, April Holmes and Jerrod Fields.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

On the left, the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill has been ripped apart by (deep breath): Health Care for America Now, AFL-CIO, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Sen. Roland Burris, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Anthony Weiner, and, I'm sure, others.

It earned an icy reception from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a lukewarm (though overall positive) response from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, it's still getting no love on the right. Even from moderate Republicans. Blue Dogs like it, though!

Late update: Despite calling the Baucus plan the "best effort to date," even the Chamber of Commerce has "grave concerns" and says "the bill still needs tremendous improvement." You can read the full statement below the fold.

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Following on Sen. Kent Conrad's request, the Congressional Budget Office has analyzed the Finance Committee's draft bill--not just for a 10 year window, but for a 20 year window--and concluded that it would be a big money saver. From 2010 through 2019, the legislation, if enacted as is, would reduce the federal deficit by $49 billion. And, in a rough projection, CBO found that the bill would continue to provide savings relative to current law, for the 10 years thereafter. Though there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty, from 2020 through 2029 the legislation would save on the order of .5 percent of GDP

As I noted yesterday, Conrad requested an extended outlook, likely with the intent of giving this bill a political boost. Conrad and the "Gang of Six" worked closely with CBO chief Doug Elmendorf while crafting the bill, and almost certainly knew that it would score favorably, particularly in comparison to the Senate HELP bill and House legislation, which do less to control the rate of health care inflation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) suggested yesterday that a climate bill might have to wait until next year, thwarting the administration's goal of having legislation before an international climate conference this December. But it's not a setback, says White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

"We have no doubt that that will take some time," Gibbs said at today's press briefing. "I think we can continue to make progress."

The administration was hoping to have legislation before the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year. But comments from Reid and others suggest that might not happen.

"So, you know, we are going to have a busy, busy time the rest of this year," Reid said. "And, of course, nothing terminates at the end of this year. We still have next year to complete things if we have to."

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