TPM News

Conservative groups have been targeting key House Democrats in an ad campaign to stop the health care bill. So how much of it is working -- and how much of it is just annoying the offices involved?

A key example in the last week has been from a group called the League of American Voters, headed up by Dick Morris. The group has run a set of ads against swing-seat Democrats who voted for the bill. Targeted members have been Mike Arcuri (NY), Chris Carney (PA), Kathy Dahlkemper (PA), Baron Hill (IN), Steve Kagen (WI), Paul Kanjorski (PA), Dan Maffei (NY), Alan Mollohan (WV), Tom Perriello (VA), Nick Rahall (WV), and Mark Schauer (MI). The ad was later changed after Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) complained that the ad claimed he had already voted for an excise tax on health care benefits, which was in the Senate bill and not the House version that he did in fact support.

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The Republican National Committee released an ad today prominently featuring its sometimes controversial chairman Michael Steele.

The ad, which according to CNN will run on Fox News in certain Republican-leaning areas, suggests that Democrats may destroy freedom.

"Today, our freedom is threatened," Steele says over footage of the Statue of Liberty. "President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are experimenting with America. Massive government expansion. Government takeovers. Redistribution of wealth."

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Sen. John Cornyn sounded downright regretful today when explaining why he's sticking to his early endorsement of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, despite a surge from conservative darling former state House Speaker Marco Rubio as the two slug it out in the Republican primary.

Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters today in a briefing that he won't campaign against Rubio, despite having endorsed Crist early in the process "before this became a real contest." But was there a tinge of regret for choosing Crist, who has tanked in the polls and could lose to the conservative upstart this summer after a long primary.

"I'm not going to do anything to change that. I think I'm honor-bound to leave it as it is. It doesn't mean that we're going to be spending any money in the primary, doesn't mean we're going to be saying anything bad about Marco Rubio," Cornyn said. He complimented Rubio's strength and said he didn't mind the Republican was raising money in the key presidential primary state of South Carolina.

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The Democratic National Committee has released a TV ad attacking the Republican National Committee for a fund-raising presentation that depicted President Obama as the Joker and revealed a plan to exploit the fear of socialism.

Democratic sources tell TPM that the ad will run in cities ahead of visits by RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Those cities include Cincinnati, Tulsa, Okla., Greensboro, N.C. and West Palm Beach.

Steele has tried to distance himself from the presentation, saying he found out about it through news reports and calling it "unfortunate."

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The family-values California Republican legislator who was reported to have been at a gay club on the night last week that he was arrested for drunk driving has acknowledged he is gay.

"I'm gay," State Senator Roy Ashburn told a radio host from his central California district in an interview this morning. "Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long."

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In the same radio monologue in which he admitted telling a male staffer, "what I really ought to be doing is fracking you," Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) defiantly recounted a misconduct allegation from his past that arose after he walked in on a Navy roommate masturbating.

The incident occurred during Desert Storm when Massa, who served for 24 years in the Navy, was based on a ship in the Persian Gulf. He was assigned to watch duty, Massa said on the radio show Sunday. One day, Massa came back early to the small room he shared with another crew member.

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Sarah Palin spoke to an audience in Alberta, Canada, over the weekend. Interestingly enough, she claimed that while growing up, her own family would seek out health care in Canada -- a country with a single-payer health care system.

Palin has attacked President Obama and the Democrats for their health care proposals, warning that they would result in a government-run system and create "death panels" that would condemn the unfit to die from a lack of health care.

The Canadian Press reports:

The vocal opponent of health care reform in the U.S. steered largely clear of the topic except to reveal a tidbit about her life growing up not far from Whitehorse.

"We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada," she said. "And I think now, isn't that ironic."

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A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is dismissing charges by Rep. Eric Massa that Hoyer lied about how an allegation of harassment was brought to the House ethics panel.

On his radio show yesterday, Massa claimed that "Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me at all, not ever, not once. Not a word. This is a lie. It's a blatant false statement."

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Senate Republicans will do everything they can to block health care legislation until it finally passes, and promise to repeal it on the campaign trail this fall, the GOP's Senate campaign chief told reporters today.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said in a press briefing at the Ronald Reagan Republican Center today that his party will offer repeated points of order on the Senate floor challenging the legitimacy of budget reconciliation items in a package of fixes to the Senate-passed health care bill. He said his candidates in competitive races from California to Florida "should and will run on" repealing the legislation.

Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Democrats may want to pass the measure and move on, but the GOP will keep pressing at it to "make sure that health care is the No. 1 issue that the election is won or lost by" in the fall.

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