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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear today what the GOP has been suggesting for months: moderate Democratic senators fearful that voting for health care reform will cost them their seats (think Blanche Lincoln) can't get away with voting for cloture and against a bill on the floor.

At a press conference this afternoon, McDonnell compared the idea to another tortured line that cost a Democrat an election. "We all recall Senator Kerry's strained way in the 2004 campaign of explaining why he voted for it before he voted against it," McConnell said. "And I think it is perfectly clear that most Americans will treat the vote to get on the bill as a vote on the substance of the bill."

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The spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington tells TPMmuckraker that it is watching the espionage case of Stewart Nozette closely following a report that the high-level U.S. government scientist traveled to India with two computer thumb drives in January.

"Definitely we have interest in the news," said spokesman Nadeen Kiani. "The concerned desk officer is watching [developments]."

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I've been after the White House for several hours for a response to Sen. Joe Lieberman saying he'd back a filibuster on health care.

This just in, from spokeswoman Linda Douglass:

"We're pleased the process is moving forward. The Majority Leader has spoken with all of the members of his caucus and will continue to work with them to address their concerns as the bill is refined and he prepares to take it to the floor."


Coupled with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying constituents will hold lawmakers accountable, it is clear there's no hard line yet from the White House.

Lots of readers are writing in to ask about President Obama's support for Lieberman during his 2006 primary when he was booted from the Democratic party, and about when Obama urged Senate leadership to let the independent retain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. The White House hasn't mentioned it.

Meanwhile, if you call Lieberman's Senate office and try to leave him a message, "The mailbox belonging to Senator Lieberman's office is full. To disconnect press one."

An internal review by the Coast Guard has found that a training exercise conducted on the Potomac on Sept. 11 was "ill-advised," although no policies were violated.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the review, which said the commander of the Coast Guard unit that performed the exercise "considered the significance of 9/11 before approving response readiness training on that date and determined it was an opportunity to pay respect to those tragically lost."

The commander and others will receive "appropriate administrative counseling," according to the review.

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Chris Daggett, the independent candidate in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, has a funny new ad for the home stretch, featuring actors that have previously portrayed satirical versions of Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie.

"An $8 billion deficit?" says the fake Christie, an uncouth brute who threatens to throw people in prison if he doesn't get his way. "Whoever did this should be going to jail!"

"Just raise property taxes, problem solved," says the aloof Corzine.

Daggett then presents them his plan: "I call it, 'Don't spend money you don't have.'"

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has already suggested she won't vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's health care bill if it comes to the floor. Now she says she could prevent it from getting there in the first place.

The AP reports, Snowe will vote with the GOP to filibuster the bill "unless changes are made" to Reid's plan.

Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election, has picked up two more endorsements from sitting House Republicans, Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Dana Rohrabacher of California, who are joining in the right-wing revolt against the nomination of moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava.

Cole's endorsement is big news, because he is in fact a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- the party organization dedicated to electing Republicans to the House. He was NRCC chair during the disastrous 2008 cycle, and is now going against the party's candidate in a seat that the GOP could potentially lose as a result of the Republican split.

"Doug Hoffman is right on the critical issues facing America -- and he is the only Republican who can win this special election," said Cole, whose endorsement was initially reported by Bill Kristol. "For those reasons I have chosen to endorse Mr. Hoffman and my leadership PAC has contributed to his campaign. I look forward to working with Doug in Congress and welcoming him into the Republican Conference."

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House leaders on both sides of the aisle are advising their members to prepare to work straight through November on a health care bill, suggesting House Democrats think Senate action will come sooner rather than later.

"The Democrat Leadership intends to keep the House in session as long as necessary in order to facilitate passage of Health Insurance Reform legislation," an assistant to GOP leader John Boehner wrote in an email to the Republican caucus this afternoon.

Majority leader Steny Hoyer sent a similar message to his members today. "The House will meet beyond the targeted adjournment date as we continue to advance health insurance reform legislation and other matters," he wrote.

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On Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs wasn't sweating the news that Democrats and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) may not be coming through on the Senate health care bill.

Gibbs said he hadn't seen the reports about Lieberman saying he'd support a filibuster, but added, "I think Democrats and Republicans alike will be held accountable by their constituents who want to see health care reform enacted this year."

"I haven't seen the report from Senator Lieberman or why he's saying what he's saying," he said, citing polls showing support for health care. "And we know that if that doesn't happen, people say they'll be very disappointed by that, and we think people will make progress to ensure that this gets done."

Gibbs said President Obama hasn't been making specific calls yet but, "I'm sure we'll get involved in due time."

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