TPM News

Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli President Shimon Peres held a press conference in Israel today. Biden urged Israeli leaders to "take risks for peace." Here's the full text of their remarks:

PRESIDENT PERES: Well, I want to express our profound appreciation for your visit, not just because you are the Vice President of the United States and the most senior person to visit our region at the time; because for us you are a stoic friend, a man with profound judgment. You were the youngest senator in the United States. And from that age, so to speak, you showed friendship, understanding, and judgment, which we appreciate to this day. We think you are coming on a mission of peace. You understand there are two sides to the mission. And I dont see, I think, any contradiction in between being friendly and understanding to the two sides. And since the mission is peace, we are following the same mission.

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The campaign of Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) has suspended its relationship with Base Connect, a Washington fundraising firm, citing TPMmuckraker's reporting on the company.

"We have frozen doing anything else with Base Connect," Bryan Wagner a top adviser to the campaign, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune yesterday. Wagner said the decision was prompted by our story from yesterday, which suggested that Cao is among the GOP candidates being taken advantage of by Base Connect. Wagner added that the decision would also apply to Base Connect's affiliated companies, at least one of which works out of the same office suite.

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Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election in 2009, has officially announced that he's running again this year against Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who defeated Hoffman last fall.

Hoffman announced in a press release Monday night that he would be seeking the nominations of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, "and unite them, as one team, to defeat the agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Bill Owens."

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Plenty of pressure is being brought to bear on Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to vote for comprehensive health care legislation. The high-profile progressive, and former presidential candidate, voted against the House health care bill in November because it lacked a sufficiently robust public option.

Now, faced with a Senate bill that contains no public option whatsoever, he says he plans to vote no again...even if that means he becomes the Ralph Nader of health care.

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Biden To Israel: 'Take Risks For Peace' While visiting Israel, Vice President Biden said that the newly-announced indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, to be mediated by the United States, would be "a vehicle by which we can begin to allay that layer of mistrust that has built up in the last several years." Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said, "The United States will always stand with those who take risks for peace," also saying to Netanyahu, "you're prepared to do that."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, will receive the economic daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and will meet with senior advisers at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will have lunch at 12:15 p.m. ET with business leaders, and will meet at 2 p.m. ET with Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece. At 3:10 p.m. ET, he will greet and thank members of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with a bipartisan group of Senators, to discuss energy policy. He will deliver remarks at 5:30 p.m. ET, at a reception honoring Greek Independence Day.

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America's Heath Insurance Plans, the lobbying arm of the nation's health insurance industry, is stepping back into the health care reform debate with more than $1 million in TV ads over the next few days, an AHIP official tells TPMDC. The ads, which will run on cable, will focus on "setting the record straight about rising health care costs" as the Obama administration goes after big insurers for raising insurance rates.

The exact content of the ads is not known, but AHIP and the White House have tangled before. Last year, an AHIP "audit" of a Senate health care reform plan led to a war of words between Obama administration officials and insurers, who started out 2009 supposedly on the same side of the debate.

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The top conservative activist on the powerful Texas Board of Education, who rejects evolution and has pushed for a revisionist right-wing U.S. history curriculum, is on the way out, after a moderate candidate defeated him in a tight primary last week.

For months now, TPMmuckraker has been covering Don McLeroy as a major player in the battle over the drafting of nationally influential history textbook standards by the Texas board.

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Pennsylvania Democrats have selected their candidate in the special election for the House seat formerly held by the late Rep. John Murtha (D), the state party announced in a press release, choosing former Murtha chief of staff Mark Critz.

The Republican candidate will be selected Thursday night. The district was carried in 2008 by John McCain -- the only district in the country to switch from the Democratic column in 2004 to the Republicans in 2008 for the presidential vote, after having been carried 51%-48% by John Kerry.

The special election will be held on May 18, the same date as the statewide primary elections -- a factor that could potentially boost the Dems to hold the seat, as there are more contested primary races on the Democratic side than for the Republicans.