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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) hasn't been what some might call a "model Democrat" this Congress. Behind every vote she casts and word she utters in public is a simple--and for her terrifying--political reality. Up for reelection in an extremely unfriendly electoral climate, and deeply unpopular among her constituents, Lincoln has been guarding her right flank for a year, putting her at odds with the bulk of her colleagues on issue after issue, and requiring considerable arm-twisting (and concessions) from leadership to win her support for major initiatives, including health care reform back in December.

But in just the past few weeks, Lincoln's MO has changed. When health care reform was the issue driving national politics, and Democrats were in "must do" mode, Lincoln laid low. Almost comically so--dodging reporters via privileged exits, and through the Capitol's labyrinthine hallways. Now, with Washington preparing for what could be a watershed mid-term election in November, Lincoln has found her voice...and it's an increasingly conservative one!

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Several top Republicans are launching what they call a "think-and-do tank" that will focus on conservative economics and business issues and will openly advocate for political candidates, the New York Times is reporting.

At the forefront of the new American Action Network are former senator Norm Coleman and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was a policy adviser for John McCain and a frequent face of the McCain presidential campaign on television.

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Biden: I've Never Seen The Filibuster Be 'Standard Operating Procedure' Before Vice President Biden is continuing his criticism of the increased use of the filibuster. "It's a useful tool, it is legitimate. But from my perspective, having served here, elected to the Senate seven times, I've never seen a time when it's become standard operating procedure. You want to get anything done, you have to have a supermajority," Biden told reporters, also adding: "Any President in the future, having to move through anything he or she wants, requiring a supermajority, it's not a good way to do business."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the economic daily briefing at 9 a.m. ET, and the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET. He will attend and deliver remarks at a memorial service at CIA Headquarters, at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will meet with a group of small business owners at 12:10 p.m. ET in Lanham, Maryland, and deliver remarks on job creation and small business initiatives. He will meet at the White House with the 2009 Little League World Champions, at 2:20 p.m. ET. He will meet at 2:45 p.m. ET with senior advisers.

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Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

"While holds are frequent," CongressDaily's Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), "Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal." The magazine reported aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were the source of the news about Shelby's blanket hold.

The Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid's account of the hold, and reported that a Shelby spokesperson "did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking confirmation of the senator's action or his reason for doing so."

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Scott Lee Cohen, a businessman who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Illinois in Tuesday's primary, is insisting that he will not drop out of the race. Cohen has come under fire for allegations of domestic violence, involving a 2005 arrest for allegedly holding a knife to a then-girlfriend's throat.

"I have no intention of stepping down or stepping aside," Cohen said in a statement. "When the facts come to light, after my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend speak, the people of Illinois can decide, and I will listen to them directly. I am asking my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and to talk with the media.

"There are questions, and I will provide all answers honestly and openly. I only ask for time to do the interviews. 2005 was a difficult time in my life. I was going through a divorce, and I started running with a fast group. I was in a tumultuous relationship with the woman I was dating. We had a fight, but I never touched her. She called the police, however, she never came to court, and the charges were dismissed. I realized this relationship was not healthy, I ended it, and we parted amicably."

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In a Q&A at Harvard Wednesday night, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele took a question about "rhetoric dishonesty" in the GOP's framing of health care reform.

"I'm thinking in particular of this charge that the bill represented a form of socialism or government takeover of the entire health care industry. So I'm wondering if you're willing to -- " the student asked.

"That's not socialism?" Steele asked.

"That wasn't what was being proposed," said the questioner.

"Really? OK," Steele said. A few moments later, he said:

"While I appreciate what you're saying about folks on my side or Republicans who sorta characterize this as socialism, any time the government looks to take over the means of production -- health care -- you gotta raise the question of where's the government going to go."

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