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The newest ad from Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election, stars none other than former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), a presidential candidate from the 2007/2008 Republican primaries.

"Big government, high taxes, deficits, broken promises -- America is in trouble," Thompson says. "So when your grandchildren ask you why you didn't do something, be able to tell them that you voted for Doug Hoffman."

Thompson had previously endorsed Hoffman, joining a long list of conservative Republicans rebelling against the party for picking a socially-liberal and union-friendly candidate, Republican state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava. But actually starring in a TV ad is taking the right-wing uprising to a whole new level.

So how did we go from a White House at loggerheads with the Senate leadership last Thursday night over a public option, to a deal today that's exactly what the leadership wanted?

This evening I spoke with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was in that infamous Thursday night meeting with President Obama and other Senate leaders--and who has been one of the most persistent advocates of a public option on Capitol Hill. As Schumer explains it, the disagreement between the White House and Senate wasn't substantive so much as it was tactical: The White House had its doubts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could really get 60 votes for a public option with an opt out for states.

"The President listened very carefully," Schumer said in an interview moments ago. "He wanted to make sure that the strategy upon which we were embarking had the ability to carry through."

Schumer has been at the center of the fight over the public option from the earliest days of the health care debate--always there to pull it back from the brink when it at times seemed on the verge of collapse. This situation was no different. After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe's preferred compromise--a triggered public option--might be an easier path to 60 votes. In the end, though, Schumer and the rest of leadership seem to have prevailed upon President Obama that they've picked the right strategy.

"I think substantively the White House probably preferred a stronger public option than a trigger," Schumer said. "We talked about this for a while in leadership and the White House wanted to hear our thoughts--and when they heard them they thought that this was the right strategy to get our caucus together."

Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President stands behind Reid as he builds support for the public plan.

"A lot of people around here have faith in Harry Reid's abilty to count votes," Schumer told me.

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Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) briefed reporters this afternoon on the House GOP's plans for health care this week. The party will focus on reform's effects on senior citizens, specifically through changes to Medicare. Democratic proposals include several changes to the way Medicare is funded that have long had support from the AARP, far and away the most powerful lobbying group for seniors. But Pence and Reichert suggested that support was the result of corruption inside the AARP and not based on the interests of its membership.

"What you've got here is a backroom deal," Pence said of reform measures expected to be introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this afternoon. "Democrats are protecting the salaries of the heads of groups like AARP while cutting medicare."

For its part, AARP dismisses the allegations, pointing out that it has seen this movie before.

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Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) appeared on CNN today, and thoroughly denied that his campaign was attacking Republican nominee Chris Christie's weight -- but also said that he would phrase a particular ad differently.

The ad in question said that Christie "threw his weight around" to get out of trouble in a traffic accident when he was U.S. Attorney. Corzine said that the ad was about this abuse of office, as well as other instances of Christie's ethical missteps -- such as when he didn't report on his ethics forms a loan he'd made to a subordinate.

Wolf Blitzer asked Corzine whether he would still use the "weight" phrase. Corzine's answer: "As opposed to having that discussion divert away from the abuse of the power in that office, I think that's probably a good idea."

In recent days Democrat Creigh Deeds has seen polls tilt heavily in favor of Bob McDonnell, his Republican opponent in the Virgina governor's race. But according to fundraising reports out today, his donors haven't abandoned him even as the chances of a win appear to have become more and more remote.

In the first three weeks of October, Deed raised $3.1 million according to a release from the campaign this afternoon. The campaign has slightly less than $1 million on hand to pay for GOTV and last-ditch advertising in the final eight days of the race.

The numbers put Deeds in range of McDonnell on funding, but the Republican still dominates him in both poll numbers and fundraising. McDonnell raised $4 million in the first 21 days of October, according to the campaign, and enters the final sprint to finish line with $1.8 million on hand, just about double what Deeds has in his warchest.


Oct. 24, 2009: Demonstrators spell out "350" on the steps of the Sydney Opera House as part of the International Day of Climate Action. Organized by 350.org, the event had people around the world assembling to support global action to reduce carbon emissions.

350.org




Maracaibo, Venezuela. Demonstrators formed the number 350 because scientists have identified 350 parts per million as the safest maximum level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

350.org/Courtesy of Alonso José Lizaraz Sánchez




A week before the demonstrations, 350.org helps organize the first-ever underwater cabinet meeting in Maldives. Here, a minister signs a declaration calling for coordinated global action on climate change.

350.org




Students in Punjab, India. The events were organized ahead of an international climate change summit in Copenhagen this December.

350.org




Demonstrators gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada.

350.org/Peter Dudley




Xalapa, Mexico.

350.org




Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

350.org/John McDermott




Demonstrators form a sun in Ciudad de Mexico.

350.org/Sara Ravelo/ Spectral Q




Students gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

350.org/Emily Taylor




The Green Long March movement, China's largest youth conservation movement, partners with 350.org for the event.

350.org




Demonstrators in Alymay, Kazakhstan climb the Kok-Tobe Mountain.

350.org




Times Square in New York City.

350.org/Shadia Fayne Wood




Galatasaray Square in Istanbul, Turkey.

350.org/Sena Ozfiliz (Sightliner Photography)




Kayakers use their boats to spell out "350" in Portland, Oregon.

Newscom/ZumaWire




A meadow 40 kilometers north of Copenhagen.

350.org/Henrik Jørgensen




Outside Cairo, Egypt.

350.org




Activists walk down the Royal Mile toward Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland.

350.org/Peter J Clarke




Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Newscom/Palash Khan/EPN

Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election, appeared on Glenn Beck's TV show today, and said a victory in the special election will send a strong message to the GOP about future candidate selections.

"I'm fighting for the heart and soul of the Republican Party," said Hoffman. "And I think if I win this campaign, that people will take notice, and the next time they select a candidate, they will look at the principles."

Hoffman is running against Democrat Bill Owens and moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, whose selection as the GOP's candidate has triggered a revolt by right-wing activists and politicians across the country. Scozzafava is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and even pro-Employee Free Choice Act. So if Hoffman wins, or even just spoils the race in favor of the Democrats, the GOP will know that moderate candidates need not apply for other races -- thus foiling efforts by some in the party to expand their ranks and ideological reach.

GOP nominee Bob McDonnell has taken his biggest lead in the Washington Post's poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race eight days before voters go to the polls.

McDonnell's lead over Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds is now 55-44, according to the Post. The last Post poll showed McDonnell winning 53-44.

We told you last week that John Stossel of Fox News is participating in rallies against health-care reform organized by a conservative activist group.

But now it looks like Stossel's decision to get involved with the effort ties him in not just with the conservative anti-reform movement, but with the Republican Party itself. That's because former Arkansas GOP congressman Asa Hutchinson has recorded robocalls promoting the upcoming rallies in his state.

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AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, released a statement today about Sen. Harry Reid's announcement that the Senate health care bill will include an opt-out public option. Here's the full text, from AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee:

"I want to commend Senator Reid and other members of the Senate leadership who have worked so hard to produce this bill, which takes us closer to the goal of health care reform. While the bill is by no means perfect, it is a significant improvement over the proposal crafted in the Senate Finance Committee. Now we will work to improve the bill on the Senate floor and to pass a strong bill in the House. AFSCME continues to support health care reform that includes a robust public option and an effective employer mandate, while eliminating taxes on middle class health plans. The American people are ready for Congress to finish this bill and make quality, affordable health care a reality for all Americans."

TPMLivewire