TPM News

After a cooling off period when health care reform legislation seemed nearly dead, television ad spending is now spiking. Interest groups attempting to swap public opinion and votes in Washington on both sides of the debate are funneling cash into health care ads that experts predict won't let up until after the midterm elections.

"We're going to see a fairly intense couple of weeks as health care reaches the endgame, but advertising related to this issue will only continue," Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis group which tracks ad spending, told me in an interview this morning.

America's Health Insurance Plans and Health Care for America Now sparred yesterday on the air over high costs of insurance and the massive rate hikes we've been tracking at TPMDC.

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Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition and ex-business associate of Jack Abramoff, will reportedly not be running for Congress.

Roll Call reports that Reed is expected to announce today that he will not be running for the House seat currently held by Republican Rep. John Linder (R-GA), who is retiring. Reed previously ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006, losing the Republican primary by 56%-44%.

Reid will make his official announcement later today online.

Biden: Palestinians Deserve 'Viable' State Speaking at a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Vice President Biden said that Palestinians deserve a "viable" state with contiguous territory. Biden also reiterated his condemnation Israel's plan to expand settlements, and urged both sides to refrain from actions that could "inflame" tensions.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive his daily briefing at 9:45 a.m. ET and his economic briefing at 10:15 a.m. ET, and will meet with senior advisers at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will meet at 11:20 a.m. ET with President René Préval of Haiti, and the two will make statements to the press at 11:55 a.m. ET. Obama will depart the White House at 2:05 p.m. ET, and Andrews Air Force Base at 2:20 p.m. ET, arriving at 4:25 p.m. ET in St. Louis, Missouri. He will deliver remarks on health insurance reform at 4:50 p.m. ET. He will deliver remarks at a fundraising reception for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) at 8 p.m. ET, and also deliver remarks at a grassroots fundraising reception for McCaskill at 8:25 p.m. ET. He will depart St. Louis at 9:35 p.m. ET, arriving back at Andrews Air Force Base at 11:20 p.m. ET, and at the White House at 11:35 p.m. ET.

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Just a couple hours after this interview with Glenn Beck, former Congressman Eric Massa appeared on Larry King and flatly denied reports that he had groped male staffers.

Asked by King if he ever groped staffers, Massa replied: "No, it is not true, period. I don't know how else to answer your question."

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The White House issued a rare statement smacking back at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' criticism of President Obama disagreeing with the high court's Citizens United decision on campaign finance rules.

It all started during the State of the Union, when Obama said the high court made the wrong decision in the Citizens United case (and Justice Samuel Alito mouthed 'Not true'). Yesterday Roberts told a group of University of Alabama law students he found the whole incident "very troubling" and said the annual speech to Congress had "degenerated to a political pep rally."

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), who earlier this week said he is optimistic there will be a compromise on abortion language in the health care bill, told the Weekly Standard yesterday that there is no such deal -- not even close.

"Everyone's going around saying there's a compromise -- there's no such thing," Stupak said. He said that "the majority party can get [a deal] done," but "no one has said here's how you do it, here's the legislative scheme."

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Congressional Democrats are under increasing pressure to finish up health care reform, but they've had enough of the White House dictating deadlines to them. And at a bicameral leadership meeting this afternoon--attended by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and other administration officials--they made that very clear.

"I was at a meeting with Rahm Emanuel and he was certainly informed that we don't feel that we want any deadline assigned to us," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman told a few reporters outside of a Democratic caucus meeting this evening. "We want to pass the bill, we want to make sure it's the way it should be, and soon as possible, but we don't feel that we have to have any particular deadline."

I asked Waxman how Emanuel reacted to the pushback?

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The National Republican Senatorial Campaign won't be spending money in the Florida Senate primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and former House speaker Marco Rubio, but they sure are helping Crist raise massive amounts of cash.

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn told reporters yesterday he endorsed Crist early in the process before Rubio jumped in, sounding wistful. He said while he won't walk back his Crist support because he is "honor-bound," he wouldn't be speaking ill of Rubio or dropping NRSC money into the Sunshine State.

According to a list of fundraisers sent out by the NRSC and obtained by TPMDC, there are 8 big-dollar Crist fundraisers being held over the next two weeks. There are seven in Florida, two in one day on Saturday. Crist also will join Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA) for a fundraiser in Atlanta on Monday.

A coalition of Tea Party groups will gather in a Chinese restaurant on Capitol Hill tonight to announce plans for one final Washington showdown over health-care reform.

The event, dubbed "Take the Town Halls to Washington," is designed to bring Tea Party activists to Capitol Hill during the month of March, in order to target 50 House Democrats who have not yet announced their vote on health-care reform, according to a press release. It's being put together by Mark Skoda, a prime organizer of last month's controversial National Tea Party Convention, where Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker, and by Michael Patrick Leahy, a Tea Party leader and GOP consultant.

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