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Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell met in Richmond tonight for their first prime-time televised debate in the Virginia gubernatorial race -- and the big news tonight is that nothing appeared to happen that would upset the current status quo, with McDonnell ahead and Deeds working to catch up.

McDonnell remained unflappable -- none of Deeds' attacks or the questions from moderator Judy Woodruff threw him off from his steady pace. In the first question, he was asked whether the recent Democratic or Republican presidents and Virginia governors have done a better job for Virginia's economy -- a potential curveball, in light of how unpopular George W. Bush still is, as well as the state's most recent Republican governor, Jim Gilmore.

"You might suspect the likely answer from me would be the Republicans have done a better job," McDonnell said. He credited Republican ideas such as low taxes, right-to-work laws and other pro-business policies with helping the state: "I think those are the ideas that have helped. What this election really is about here in Virginia is job creation and economic development."

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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) appeared on CNN today to discuss a Navy hazing scandal, commenting as a retired three-star Admiral, and strongly called for a repeal of the ban on gays in the military.

Sestak is also running for Senate, challenging incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary.

"How could I, having gone to war, where public surveys let us know we did have gay members, come home and say they don't have equal rights?" said Sestak. "We are losing good men and women, and we're not adhering -- we're absolutely not adhering to the ideals of our nation, that everyone is treated and respected equally."

He also added: "And I hope that this year, prior to December, that our president, having taken care of the cratering of our economy, having dealing (sic) with health care, takes care of something having to do with our ideals, and that's repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Our Service would be better for it."

The second issue of the Michele Bachmann comic book series, produced by some of our friends at the Dump Bachmann blog, is now in print, and like the previous issue it presents a chilling portrait of a right-wing lunatic who has risen up to the highest levels of American government.

However, the presentation of the facts in the second issue deviated from the first issue in a key respect -- that this time around, not all speech balloons from Bachmann are necessarily direct quotes from the woman herself. Paraphrases or new punchlines come in -- and unfortunately, this is not a decision for the better.

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A man seen dressed as a ninja on the side of the road in Vernon, Conn., swinging nunchucks and yelling about wanting to beat up Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), was arrested Saturday and released to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

According to the Hartford Courant, 30-year-old Garland Eastman became calm and cooperative once police pulled out their tasers and bean bags. He was charged with breach of peace.

It's hard to criticize when voting records and bank accounts have long memories, especially when it comes to ACORN.

Republicans have successfully targeted ACORN this year, and have recently expanded the net to include Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for working with ACORN.

But a public documents search shows Republicans have received political donations from SEIU, as Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) had to acknowledge when calling for the census to sever ties with the massive union.

In addition to Kirk's $2,500 donation in 2003, SEIU has given a few thousand here and there to House Republicans, including Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).

Documents show the Republican Governors Association has taken more than $750,000 in donations from SEIU since 2004, including a $100,000 check on March 5, 2007.

Also taking SEIU cash? The GOP's host committee for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, to the tune of $50,000. And Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who scored $2,500 from the SEIU political action committee in October 2006 just before the GOP lost power in Congress.

These numbers are tiny compared with the fundraising and active campaigning SEIU has done for the Democrats, and it's no secret which party the unions prefer.

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Both Democrats seeking the nomination to run against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) have reported strong fundraising totals -- though they'll first have to spend it in competition for the Dem nod.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark has raised $308,015, her campaign announced, after having just gotten into the race with nine weeks left in the third quarter. She has just under $270,000 cash on hand. Clark has quickly emerged as the Democratic establishment's candidate, with the support of the state AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, and various elected officials and other organizations.

Maureen Reed, a former state university regent and the 2006 Independence Party nominee for Lt. Governor, raised over $130,000 in the third quarter, and has over $300,000 cash on hand. "Maureen now sits with over $300,000 cash on hand, all of which was raised without relying on endorsements from prominent individuals or special interests," campaign manager Jason Isaacson said in a press release. "This outpouring of support shows that our message of creating jobs, fixing healthcare, and reducing the national debt is resonating with people."


A rainbow flag waves in front of the Capitol during the Equality Across America march in Washington D.C. on October 11, 2009. Gay rights supporters rallied to demand that President Obama keep his promise to end discrimination against gays and let them serve openly in the military. Some estimates put the crowd at "tens of thousands," including Judy Shepard -- the mother of Matthew Shephard, who was killed more than a decade ago over his sexual orientation -- actress Cynthia Nixon, pop singer Lady Gaga, and Lt. Dan Choi -- who faces a discharge over announcing that he's gay.

Read more about the rally here.




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On a conference call a few minutes ago, a finance committee aide said the AHIP report critical of the committee's health care reform bill will actually serve to help the legislation's chances of final passage.

"Instead of creating doubts, the report is actually having the opposite effect and has drawn a lot of ire from those who support reforms," the aide said. "Frankly, it will create a lot of momentum in the Senate to pass reform."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) issued the following statement Monday regarding a health insurance industry-commissioned audit of the Senate Finance Committee health insurance reform bill. Here's the full text:

"The misleading and harmful claims made today by the profit-driven insurance companies are politicking for corporate gain at its worst.

At a time when millions are suffering every day in the hands of our broken health care system, the idea that anyone's concern should be whether the insurance companies make enough money is absurd.

Health insurance companies have been laughing all the way to the bank for generations while people suffer. The industry stands today as the greatest impediment to real health care reform.

Their recent statements only further highlight that our focus here in Congress must be on the inclusion of a public health insurance option in the marketplace to protect families and put more money back in their wallets by creating greater competition and driving down costs."

Fox News lashed back at the White House for calling the cable channel "a wing of the Republican Party," releasing a statement calling the remarks "self-serving."

"It's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming. It seems self-serving on their part," said Michael Clemente, a senior vice president at Fox News.

It was an interesting choice of phrase: Earlier today, a White House spokeswoman called a report released by the insurance industry "self-serving." The report claims health care reform would increase premiums.

On Sunday, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn went after Fox News, saying, "Let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is," and describing Fox as President Obama's "opposition."

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