TPM News

A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll gives further confirmation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is in serious trouble headed into his 2010 re-election campaign, with him trailing both potential Republican opponents.

Against former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian, who has previously run unsuccessful campaigns for the state Senate for Nevada Secretary of State, Reid trails by 45%-40%. Against state GOP chair Sue Lowden, Reid is behind 44%-41%. These results are within the ±4% margin of error, but are hardly encouraging.

A Mason-Dixon poll from a week and a half ago also showed Reid trailing Tarkanian and Lowden, by greater margins than this survey does.

Many liberals may be readying themselves for the worst. But MoveOn and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are filling the political space between now and President Obama's big Wednesday health care speech by pressuring him to support or demand a public option.

Both groups have blasted out petitions to their hundreds of thousands of members in the hope that a major public showing in support of the public option will convince Obama that there will be a political price to pay for abandoning it.

The MoveON petition reads: "President Obama, we're counting on you to fight for bold change on health care--including a strong public health insurance option. It's the key to breaking the stranglehold that private insurers have over our health care system."

While PCCC's is a bit bolder. "We worked so hard for real change. President Obama, please demand a strong public health insurance option in your speech to Congress. Letting the insurance companies win would not be change we can believe in."

You can read each group's letter to its members below the fold.

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A 65-year-old health care reform supporter was punched in the face Wednesday during a rally outside a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

According to the Miami Herald, Luis Perrero was demonstrating with about 40 other supporters when Raul Anasagasti drove up in a pickup truck. Anasagasti and the crowd began arguing, and Perrero allegedly uttered an offensive Spanish expletive. Anasagasti then allegedly punched Perrero in the face, knocking him to the ground.

Perrero lay motionless on the grass for several minutes while fellow protesters tried to help him. Some took the keys out of Anasagasti's truck so he couldn't drive away. A Miami Fire spokesman said Perrero's injuries were minor and he didn't want to go to the hospital.

Anasagasti was arrested and charged with battery on a person 65 or older.

According to the Herald:

"I'm amazed at the way this has become such a politicized issue,'' Perrero said as he sat on the ground holding his jaw. ``It shows that people who are against the public option will resort to anything -- including battery on a senior citizen -- to prevent healthcare reform.''

Anasagasti, who is 56, claimed to be acting in self defense. "He raised his arm at me,'' he said. "That's when I hit him. I have to defend myself.''

Luckily, no one lost any limbs.

This season of Dancing With The Stars hasn't premiered yet, but here at TPM we've been keenly following Tom DeLay's progress. Earlier this week we brought you some great photos of the former House majority leader rehearsing with his partner, dancer (and two-time DWTS champ) Cheryl Burke.

So we thought we'd get Burke's thoughts on working with The Hammer.

"Tom is a gentleman and clearly devoted to his family," she told TPM in an email. "He's also a very interesting conversationalist."

Indeed! Like when he converses about, say, President Obama's birth certificate or that town hall where protesters "brought quadriplegics in on gurneys and dumped them on the floor in front of my podium."

"I think that so far Tom has been pretty much on par with the other celebs I've taught in terms of their learning abilities," Burke said. "Ballroom dance isn't easy and so far Tom has been really patient with himself, which is important to getting things accomplished. I think that for a 62- year-old man who hasn't danced in 20 years he's doing a great job."

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Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has some tough words for a particular member of his state's delegation -- Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann -- the Minnesota Independent reports.

"I don't think God's talking to her anymore," Oberstar said on Tuesday, in response to Bachmann's call for conservative activists to slit their wrists and become blood brothers against President Obama on health care. "I think she's hearing other voices."

The bit about God talking to Bachmann is not a random joke, by the way -- that's how Bachmann said she became a candidate for Congress in 2006, after God called her to run, and she and her husband fasted and prayed for three days to make sure.

Vice President Biden gave a major speech today on the progress of the stimulus act, which he said pulled the economy back from "the verge of failure," but added the road ahead is still "very, very bumpy."

"Today, there's a growing consensus: The recovery act is, in fact, working," he said. "Instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we're talking about the end of the recession, eight months after taking office."

In his speech, given at the Brookings Institute to mark the 200th-day anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Biden set out to prove the stimulus staved off a second Great Depression and set the U.S. on the right road to a stronger economy.

He recounted the first days of the Obama administration, when economists were talking about a possible depression, a total credit freeze or a bank holiday. He talked about the bank bailout, stressing that the government has made a $4 billion profit on the investment so far, and the attempts to stabilize the housing market.

"Are we there yet? No. But we're moving," he said about housing.

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Things are heating up in the Virginia gubernoatiral race, with Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds running a new radio ad in Northern Virginia against Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 thesis, in which the then-34-year-old McDonnell laid out a hard-right political manifesto against working women and sexual privacy.

The ad has a man and a woman discussing how McDonnell has "plans to take us back to the dark ages."

"And he wasn't just a kid when he wrote it," the woman says. "McDonnell was 34 years old, married, and months away from serving in the legislature."

The man responds: "I know, and the really scary part, is the Post said McDonnell has aggressively pursued over 10 proposals from his thesis as a legislator."

Click here to listen to the ad. The full script is available after the jump.

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Late last night, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)--a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus--issued a press release saying he had "grave concerns" that the White House is telling pro-reform groups that they will "cease supporting" the public option.

Though I can not confirm Grijalva's specific claim entirely, after a number of off-the-record conversations with congressional and advocacy sources, it's clear that many progressives are preparing themselves to be disappointed next week.

Low-level White House officials have reached out to certain reform groups that have staked their ground on the need for a public option, I'm told, and warned them not to spend any more money advocating for the policy--that it's just not worth it. That suggestion hasn't been heeded--at least for now. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy for America raised over $100,000 to continue running this ad in Iowa after Congress returns from recess.

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