TPM News

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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Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), a leading right-wing voice in Congress, has endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, instead of moderate Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava.

By our count, this makes DeMint the fourth sitting member of Congress to endorse Hoffman, and the first Senator to do so, following Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), and Rep John Linder (R-GA).

DeMint said: "Too often, we're told that Republicans have to be like Democrats to be competitive in states like New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. But the truth is voters don't want to be forced to pick between two liberals; they want a real choice. If voters want to give Washington more control over our lives, they can always vote for Democrats."

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim member of Congress, broke his silence on the Muslim "intern spy" flap last night, rising on the House floor to call out four GOP colleagues for their campaign against the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Ellison read the statement of the Congressional Tri-Caucus arguing the "charges smack of an America of sixty years ago where lists of 'un-American' agitators were identified."

Watch the video after the jump (h/t Minneapolis Star-Tribune):

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Republicans are calling on President Obama to take a stand on Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) controversial remarks about a female lobbyist. During his visit to Florida yesterday, Obama praised Grayson, calling the freshman representative "outstanding" in a speech praising other members of the state's Democratic congressional delegation.

"President Obama should immediately rescind his accolades and condemn Grayson's shameful comments, and Congressman Grayson should issue an apology," said RNC co-chair Jan Larimer.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed a development, first reported by TPMDC, that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will filibuster a health care bill if it includes a public option.

"Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid's problems," Reid told reporters at his weekly press conference.

During a Q&A session with reporters, Reid offered a fairly spirited defense of Lieberman, signaling perhaps that he doesn't believe Lieberman will ultimately be an obstacle--or at least that he doesn't want to tip his hat: "I don't have anyone that I've worked harder with, have more respect for, in the Senate than Joe Lieberman. As you know, he's my friend. There are a lot of senators--Democrat and Republicans--who don't like [parts of this bill]... Sen. Lieberman will let us get on the bill, and he'll be involved in the amendment process."

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Chris Christie now appears to be denying that he was at fault in a 2002 car accident -- which runs counter to his own story in the police report at the time -- in response to Jon Corzine accusing him of abusing his office as U.S. Attorney to get out of trouble.

Christie appeared today on Fox & Friends, and was asked about Corzine's defense of a controversial ad that says Christie "threw his weight around" as U.S. Attorney, in order to get out of trouble when he hit a motorcyclist while driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Christie not only dismissed Corzine's insistence the ad's true subject is Christie's alleged abuse of his office -- and not Christie's weight -- but denied the story about the accident itself.

"I was not driving the wrong way down a one way street and the Governor knows it," Christie said. "I didn't hit someone, they hit me."

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RNC Chair Michael Steele looked pretty confident when asked talking about Virgina in an interview on Fox News this morning. He's got good reason to smile: a week before voters go to the polls to choose a new governor, GOP nominee Bob McDonnell is dominating the polls with double-digit leads.

Steele seemed so sure of a GOP win in Virginia he was already taking credit for his part in it. The RNC has spent more than $8 million on McDonnell this year. The DNC has only offered Deeds a $6 million investment.

"You've got the DNC running ads on YouTube and on Facebook," Steele said. "But we put real resources on the ground."

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Sarah Palin reported on financial disclosure forms released today that she received $1.25 million as a "retainer for book" from HarperCollins for her much-anticipated memoir "Going Rogue," the Anchorage Daily News reports.

As we've reported, Palin's memor, which will be released Nov. 17, topped bestseller lists almost as soon as it was available for pre-order. After resigning as governor of Alaska in July, Palin worked with ghostwriter Lynn Vincent on the book in San Diego this summer. And she'll discuss "Going Rogue" with Oprah Winfrey in an interview next month.

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The temperature taking of Senate moderates continues. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) doesn't think of the public option as a high-priority issue. But I asked him whether, in conversations with his fellow moderates, he's gotten the sense that a health care bill with an opt-out public option might get snagged up before it comes to the floor.

He was pretty blunt. "Yeah, I think that's possible." His own chief concern, he says, is the deficit. "But for me, if there are things in here that would substantially explode the deficit in the out years, I would feel so strongly about that, that it would be difficult for me to vote go to the bill without that having been corrected, because once you've done that you've given up, really, your ability to have a significant impact on the outcome."

Yesterday's events have given health care new momentum, but advocates are a long way from popping champagne.

There remain unanswered questions about how the proposed Senate bill and public option opt-out will be structured, along with questions about its final cost and how the government will pay for it.

A Democratic aide told TPMDC today the House is aiming to have its bill on the floor in early November with a vote by Nov. 11, Veterans' Day.

The Senate has several stages ahead - a CBO score for the merged bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced yesterday and then an agreement for what amendments will be allowed. It will be on the floor for debate in the next two weeks.

Once each bill passes its chamber, private negotiations will produce a conference report that will get another House and Senate vote.

Translation: there may be snow on the ground in D.C. before anything finally heads to President Obama's desk.

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