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Ernest Hancock, the online radio host who interviewed the man with the assault rifle outside yesterday's Obama event in Arizona, today stated that the whole event was actually planned in advance. Watch the video below.

Hancock appeared on Rick Sanchez's CNN show this afternoon. After explaining a few details about the interview, including the tidbit that he's known 'Chris' (the man with the AR-15) for two years because of their mutual work for Ron Paul, the CNN host said "the more we look into this, the more it appears that it was really planned."

"Oh, it's more planned than you think," Hancock responded. He then let loose with a string of details, including how Hancock contacted the Phoenix police department days before the event and how he was partially motivated to do so because of the controversy surrounding William Kostric, the man armed with a gun outside of Obama's town hall in New Hampshire last week.



We worked with the Phoenix police department. They came down to our studio on Friday. We've gone through this with them for 15 years.

They have a squad - used to be called the confrontation prevention squad, now called community service. We told them that we're going to come down, I'm going to do the radio show live, we're going to be broadcasting it, and I'm going to have a firearm. I had a 9 millimeter on myself...

It was Thursday that I called and talked to Al Ramirez, the representative from the Phoenix police department, and we were discussing - we've been around this rhetoric that was building up around William Kostric, who did this in New Hampshire. We knew this from 15 years ago when Janet Napolitano was a U.S. Assistant Attorney and prosecuted the Viper Militia out of Arizona, and how that was generated into something it wasn't. We talked to Al and we were like, look, we know where this is going and we want to make sure, we come down, we're peaceful, and we demonstrate the right of the people to carry their firearms. And the police protected our right.

They wanted to help - they assigned him [a police officer] to me. He was never more than 4-5 feet away from me. We had law enforcement around us to protect our rights to protect this firearm.


In the 8-minute interview, Sanchez did not bring up the issue of the incident taking place at a presidential event. There was also no discussion on the other dozen people who were reportedly armed at Obama's VFW event in Phoenix.

Most of the interview was spent in a back-and-forth between the two men on the planning of the event, and whether what Hancock did was 'disingenuous' as a 'publicity stunt.' Hancock also appeared to make a small reference to astroturf/tea party activists when he said "you have these people coming in by the busload, there to create a scandal" but for his and Chris's part, "we're all friends, we were having a good time, and the event was more peaceful."

Here's the rest of the interview:

Sanchez: A lot of people are going to look at this and say it was a publicity stunt.

Hancock: Absolutely - you guys are so easy. What we wanted to do was make sure that people around the country knew that law enforcement in Phoenix, Arizona protects our rights. Oftentimes, the citizenry are better armed than law enforcement. They need us on their side. We know what we're up against.

Sanchez: You're the only ones there with weapons. What are you up against? Ladies with brooms?

Hancock: Oh no, no, no, we're up against a tyrannical government that will rob the next generation as long as they can get away with it. If you go to Freedomsphoenix.com, the top story is the interview I had with this young man. Quite simply, [Chris] understands that his generation is going to be plundered until there's nothing left to plunder. When you do that, at some point, there will be resistance.

Sanchez: Where is Chris, by the way?

Hancock: Hiding from you.

Sanchez: The only thing I'm questioning is whether you have to do it in such a disingenuous way - it was a fake interview with fake circumstances.

Hancock: We made it very clear that we knew each other on the video - I see him all the time.

Sanchez: Does [Chris] really believe this stuff? Because the way he was laughing in the video-

Hancock: If you're not having fun advocating for freedom, you're doing it wrong.

While visiting the White House today, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak praised Obama's June visit to Cairo in which he delivered a major address on U.S. relations with Muslim countries. The two leaders held a joint press availability with in the afternoon; the transcript is below.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me, on behalf of the American people and my administration, welcome President Mubarak for his first visit since I've taken office. I want to publicly thank him for the extraordinary hospitality that he showed us when I traveled to Egypt and delivered my speech at Cairo University. It was an extraordinary visit, not only because of the great welcome that I received from the President and the college students who were in attendance, but also having an opportunity to visit the pyramids was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.



The United States and Egypt have worked together closely for many years, and for many of those years President Mubarak has been a leader and a counselor and a friend to the United States. We obviously have a lot of great challenges that have to be dealt with and we are continuing to work together to find those areas where we can find common ground and to work in concert to bring peace and security to the region.



The Arab-Israeli situation is something that has been of ongoing interest and we had an extensive conversation about how we could help to jumpstart an effective process on all sides to move away from a status quo that is not working for the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, or, I think, the region as a whole.



We discussed our common concerns about the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, including the development of nuclear weapons by Iran, and how we could work together on those fronts. We discussed Iraq -- and I want to thank the government of Egypt for being an Arab country that has moved forward to try to strengthen Iraq as it emerges from a wartime footing and a transition to a more stable democracy.



And we continued to talk about how we can work together on economic development issues, education issues, health issues, that can promote the interests of both the American people as well as the Egyptian people. Just to take one example, we have agreed to work together with the Organization of Islamic States to eradicate polio, something that we've been able to successfully deal with here in the United States but still has impact on populations throughout the Muslim communities around the world.



And so these are the kinds of partnerships that we want to continue to build. There are some areas where we still have disagreements, and where we do have disagreements we have a frank and honest exchange.



So I just want to say once again that I am grateful to President Mubarak for his visit, for his willingness to work with us on these critical issues, and to help advance the interest of peace and prosperity around the world.



Thank you very much. Welcome.



PRESIDENT MUBARAK: (As translated.) First of all, this is the third time that I meet with President Obama. The first time was in Cairo, when he came to give his address. It was a very strong address and it removed all doubts about the United States and the Muslim world. The importance of the Cairo visit was very appreciated by the Muslim and Islamic world because the Islamic world had thought that the U.S. was against Islam, but his great, fantastic address there has removed all those doubts.



That was the first time. Now, the second time where we met was in Italy during the G15 summit. We didn't have much time to go in depth into discussions, but we did have some quick discussion.



The third time I meet with President Obama is here today at the White House. We have discussed an array of issues from our bilateral relations to the issues of the Middle East, the region, to the Palestinian issue, to the issue of Iran, Somalia, and the Africa Horn. Also, several other issues -- even we discussed the issue of reform inside Egypt. And I told to President Obama very frankly and very friendly that I have entered into the elections based on a platform that included reforms, and therefore we have started to implement some of it and we still have two more years to implement it.



Our relations between us and the United States are very good relations and strategic relations. And despite some of the hoops that we had with previous administrations, this did not change the nature of our bilateral relations.



We have perhaps focused greatly on the Palestinian issue because it's the pivotal issue. And the Palestinian issue has impact on the world, on the region, whether for the West or also for the United States.



We have also discussed the issue of Iran and the issue of nuclear Iran, and we talked about these issues very frankly.



And in conclusion of my remarks, I would like to thank President Obama for his welcome to me here at the White House and I also salute him as I did -- and this is since five years -- I also salute President Obama for all his efforts with regard to the Palestinian issue. Since his first day at the White House he started working on it. And I assured him that we will cooperate with him and we will be very strong in these efforts, whether with regard to the Palestinian issue or the other regional issues.



And I thank him again.



PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, we've got one question each.



Q Both Presidents, if I may. Reports from Jerusalem today that the Israeli government has not given permission for any new settlements to be built, although ones that were in process are still in process -- and I'm wondering if you have talked about that issue and if that's the sort of thing that goes at least partway to meeting what you're asking the Israelis to do. And also what's in the West Bank and in Jerusalem.



PRESIDENT OBAMA: There has been movement in the right direction and I came in from the start saying that all parties concerned had to take some concrete steps to restart serious negotiations to resolve what has been a longstanding conflict that is not good for the Israeli people and is not good for its neighbors. And I think that the Israeli government has taken discussions with us very seriously. George Mitchell has been back and forth repeatedly; he will be heading back out there next week. And my hope is that we are going to see not just movement from the Israelis, but also from the Palestinians around issues of incitement and security, from Arab states that show their willingness to engage Israel.



If all sides are willing to move off of the rut that we're in currently, then I think there is a extraordinary opportunity to make real progress. But we're not there yet. I'm encouraged by some of the things I'm seeing on the ground. We've been seeing reports in the West Bank in particular that checkpoints have been removed in some situations. The security forces of the Palestinian Authority have greatly improved and have been able to deal with the security situation on the West Bank in a way that has inspired not just confidence among the Israeli people, but also among the Palestinian people.



There's been some increased economic activity on the West Bank. All of this is creating a climate in which it's possible for us to see some positive steps and hopefully negotiate towards a final resolution of these longstanding issues. But everybody is going to have to take steps; everybody is going to have to take some risks. It's going to require a lot of hard work, and the United States is committed to being a partner in this process.



And Egypt will be as important as any other party in helping to move the process forward because Egypt is uniquely positioned in some ways having very strong relationships with Israel, with the Palestinians, and with other Arab states, and President Mubarak has as much experience in the region as anybody.



PRESIDENT MUBARAK: I would like to add on what President Obama has just said, and I say that we are trying and working on this goal to bring the two parties to sit together and to get something from the Israeli party and to get something from the Palestinian party. If we perhaps can get them to sit together, we will help.



And also, I have contacts with the Israeli party. I have received calls and contacts with the Prime Minister of Israel, with the head of the state, and also with the Minister of Defense. We are speaking in a good manner and we are moving into the right direction. But the two parties need to sit together, and this then will give hope that there is a possibility of finding a solution to the Palestinian issue, because it has been ongoing since 60 years. And with this issue ongoing, we lose a lot, and also this will increase violence. So we support the efforts of the United States to move towards finding a solution.



If this is the issue of Jerusalem that you are asking about, I tell you this is a complicated issue. Then -- back then, a time ago, when we -- at former President Clinton's era, we almost neared finding an equation to find a solution for this issue. But afterwards, eight years afterwards, there was nothing and this issue moved very slowly. However, if we can find some solution to this, this would be helpful.



Q President Mubarak, you just mentioned about the 60 years conflict. You have been in that conflict as a warrior and as a peacemaker together for a long time. What's different this time? It has been ups and downs, disappointments and achievements. What's different this time? And are we going into another peace process, or are we going again heading for a final status kind of negotiations that finish that business?



And for President Obama, if you care to comment -- President Mubarak said we cannot afford failure this time. What stands between us now and success?



PRESIDENT MUBARAK: As I said before, this is a complicated issue. I have worked a long time ago when I was in the army, and afterwards during my access of presidency. This issue has been ongoing 60 years. And we cannot afford wasting more time, because violence will increase, and violence has increased. The level of violence is now much more than it was 10 years ago. Therefore, we need to find -- to move to the final status solution and level.



And I have contacted the Israelis, and they said perhaps you can talk about a temporary solution or perhaps the final status. But I told them, no, forget about the temporary solution and forget about temporary borders. That's why I came today to talk to President Obama and to see that if we move forward on this issue, it will give more hope and more confidence to the people about this issue.



The negotiations of the final status will not be easy and it will be fraught of complications. This issue contains the issue of Jerusalem, the issue of refugees, the issue of the borders. But I believe that, in cooperation with the United States and through our relations with Israel, I believe that we can reach a solution, because the Arab people want peace and want a better life, and the Israeli people also want peace and stability in their lives.



PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think President Mubarak said it well: It's going to be difficult. I do believe that what may have changed -- and this is what we have to test -- is a growing realization on the part of the Palestinians that Israel is not going anywhere and is a fact, a reality that has to be dealt with; and a recognition on the part of the Israelis that their long-term security interests require finding an accommodation with the Palestinians and ultimately with their Arab neighbors. So the interests on both sides are towards peace.



Now, one of the things that you discover in studying history and being a part of politics is just because something makes sense doesn't mean it happens. And we are going to have to work very hard. And ultimately there is going to have to be some courageous leadership not only from the Palestinians and the Israelis but also from the other Arab states to support this effort. And the United States is going to devote time and energy and resources to try to make this happen.



And what I can say as different from the United States' perspective is that even in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, we started dealing with this issue on day one. We didn't wait until year six or year seven, after I had been reelected before we started taking this on. We started dealing with this issue immediately, precisely because it's a difficult issue that requires a lot of groundwork to be laid and sometimes proceeds in fits and starts. But with the partnership of countries like Egypt, we think we can make progress.



Okay, thank you, everybody.



Go ahead, please.



PRESIDENT MUBARAK: I believe that President Obama is talking about support from the Arab states to this issue. I would say here that if negotiations start, this will lead to the Arab state to support the peace process and to move it forward, because I can tell you that the Arab people are fed up with the length that this issue has taken, and the issue of the displaced people. So I believe if the two parties sit down, this will lead to have Arab state support moving the peace process forward.



PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

At the daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs again denied that the administration has changed its position on a public option.

Over the weekend, President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made comments many perceived as backing off the public option. President Obama had said the public option as a "sliver" of health care reform, and Sebelius said the public option wasn't essential.

But Gibbs fought off that perception, saying the administration's stance has not changed at all over the last several months. He said they would prefer having a public option, but it's not a deal breaker. He even brought a stack of papers with past quotes from Sebelius and Obama, including transcripts from this weekend's events.

He handed the stack to CNN's Ed Henry, who was the most persistent questioner today.

Since the meme took hold, Sebelius and Gibbs have repeatedly shot it down, with Sebelius saying, "Nothing has changed."

On a conference call today with reporters, Senate Minority Whip John Kyl (R-AZ) said almost no health care compromise is likely to win significant Republican support.

"There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill," Kyl said. "I have no doubt that they can make it revenue neutral to find enough ways to tax the American people, but that doesn't mean the Republicans will support it."

As for the co-op compromise? "It's a step towards government-run health care in this country."

The remarks are particularly significant coming a day after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the lead Republican health care negotiator in the Senate, said he'd vote against his own bill--and all the compromises he's forcing into it--if it doesn't win a great number of Republican votes.

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A new survey of Colorado from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who was appointed to the seat in January, has a lackluster approval rating and isn't polling too well against his potential GOP opponents -- but the Republicans aren't doing well, either.

Bennet trails former Congressman and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez by 42%-39%. Bennet leads Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck by 39%-35%, and leads Aurora City Councilor Ryan Frazier by 38%-33%. The margin of error is ±3.2%.

All candidates have net negative ratings. Bennet's approval rating is 31%, to 38% unfavorable. Breauprez's favorable-unfavorable is 30%-40%, Buck's is 17%-18%, and Frazier's is 17%-18%.

"Colorado voters continue to be pretty uninspired by their choices for the US Senate next year," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "You still have to peg Bennet as the favorite because of his superior fundraising but it doesn't look like a slam dunk by any means."

He left himself some wiggle room, but, in what appeared to be a challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) said he'd have a hard time voting for a health care bill without a public option.



Sestak is challenging Specter in the 2010 Democratic Pennsylvania primary.

Though Sestak said he could back something "similar" to a public option--a co-operative, for instance--he said that the co-ops that are on the table right now do not meet his criteria.

Specter now supports the creation of a public option, after having opposed it as a Republican and in his first days as a Democrat, but he hasn't drawn a line in the sand over the issue. Though progressive members of the Senate have been more reticent than their House counterparts about the importance of the public option, Sestak's statement does leave Specter an opening to stake out more liberal ground, and insist on one.

We'll have video for you shortly.

It hasn't been an easy week for Glenn Beck. Since calling President Barack Obama a racist, his Fox program has lost a number of major sponsors including GMAC, Roche, RadioShack, Men's Wearhouse, State Farm Sargento, Procter & Gamble, and Progressive Insurance. But he does retain a strong constituency of far right wing supporters.

The so-called 9/12 coalition is urging tea baggers and other protesters to sign a petition in support of the controversial TV host.

You can see the petition here here. Among other things, signatories warn Beck's former advertisers that they reserve the right "to stop purchasing your product or using your services as a form of economic protest."

A message distributed today to the 9/12 coalition's private email list, and obtained by TPM, says, "Let Fox News and those that Advertise on TV know that you support the Glenn Beck program.... This petition/letter will be sent directly to Fox News and shared with the advertisers on his program, past and present."

And it seems to be working. In the last half hour, over one hundred people have joined the campaign, which went live today. At publication time--and don't read any significance into this--666 people had signed on. The letters and form emails will be delivered to Fox News directly.

The new story on Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney and current Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, just keeps getting worse, the New York Times reports -- now involving his tax returns.

It was revealed that Christie had failed to reveal in his state and federal financial disclosure forms that he'd made a $46,000 loan to an assistant in the U.S. attorney's office, Michele Brown, who still works in the U.S. Attorney's office and is still paying off the loan to him in regular installments. The loan was secured by a second mortgage on Brown's home.

Now the Times has discovered that Christie failed to report income from the loan on his tax returns. Christie aides told the Times that Christie will file an amended tax return.

This story is sure to give Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine a lot of ammunition. Combined with the news about Christie's conversations years ago with Karl Rove about a potential bid for governor, these stories could seriously damage Christie's reputation as a squeaky clean corruption-busting prosecutor, which has been a cornerstone of his political career.

The White House has strengthened its denial that the administration's non-committal position on the public option has changed one way or another.

"Here's the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"We continue to support the public option. That will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this."

Over the weekend, President Obama referred to the public option as a "sliver" of health care reform, and Sebelius said the public option wasn't essential reform's success. Though the White House's core position hasn't changed, the intensity with which it supports the public option has varied over the last several weeks, and this weekend's remarks were the first indication that the administration doesn't even regard the public option as particularly crucial.

But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insists that Sebelius' statements were not a trial balloon. "If it was a signal, it was a dog whistle we started blowing three months ago, and it just got picked up," Gibbs said. "It's crazy. It's not a signal."

Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney and current Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, is now getting a new headache over a story that was broken last night by New Jersey Public Television -- that in 2007, Christie made a $46,000 personal loan to an assistant of his in the U.S. Attorney's office, which is still being paid off in regular installments:



Christie said he did not view this as an improper financial relationship: "I just believe that if you have friends who are in need, that you help them, whether they work with you or whether they're friends of yours from outside the work realm. We were happy to be able to help, and they've been great about repaying the loan."

Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign has pounced on the report, saying that a candidate for governor should not have an ongoing financial relationship with someone who is still working in the U.S. Attorney's office. "This raises more significant questions and legal issues for the Christie campaign," said Corzine spokesman Sean Darcy. "Are they still in contact? Have they been discussing this campaign? What impact has their ongoing financial relationship had on the gubernatorial campaign?"

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