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The new Quinnipiac poll in the Ohio Senate race gives Republican candidate Rob Portman a narrow lead in the race for this state's open Senate seat, which is currently held by retiring two-term Republican Sen. George Voinovich.

Portman leads Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher by 40%-37%, and leads Dem Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by 40%-35%. This is essentially unchanged from this past November, when Portman led Fisher by 39%-36% and Brunner by 38%-34%. In the Democratic primary, Fisher leads Brunner by 29%-20%.

Yesterday's Quinnipiac numbers on the gubernatorial race showed Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland retaking the lead over Republican former Rep. John Kasich, leading Kasich by 44%-39% after the race was tied 40%-40% in November. At the same time, only 44% of Ohioans approved of President Obama's performance, with 52% disapproving -- and it could be that this disapproval of Democrats at the federal level is still keeping the Dem candidates down in the Senate race.

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama and Vice President Biden walk along the Colonnade.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 2, 2010: President Obama signs a note on the back of aide Reggie Love after a town hall meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama walks with staff towards the Oval Office after speech.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama speaks to a bipartisan group of governors.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama is greeted by a group of Democratic senators.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 4, 2010: President Obama signs pictures and other items before a speech.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 4, 2010: President Obama greets attendees after making remarks.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Feb. 5, 2010: President Obama greets area students during their visit to the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 5, 2010: President Obama poses with Little League World Championship team from Chula Visa, CA.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 5, 2010: President Obama greets a student visiting the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 6, 2010: President Obama holds a child after speaking at a DNC meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 9, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a student before an event announcing the launch of her childhood obesity campaign.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

Feb. 10, 2010: President Obama and House Republican Leader John Boehner discuss the economy and jobs in a bipartisan meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 10, 2010: Bo, the Obama family pet, plays in the snow during a blizzard.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 11, 2010: President Obama listens to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during a policy meeting in the Roosevelt Room.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 12, 2010: President Obama laughs during a meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 12, 2010: President Obama in the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 17, 2010: President Obama Vice President Biden meet with military officials.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 18, 2010: President Obama meets with Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 18, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama greets a worker at the Fresh Grocer Store in Philadelphia.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Feb. 18, 2010: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laughs at the Fresh Grocer Store in Philadelphia.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Feb. 21, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama introduces the entertainment for the Governors Ball.

Newscom/SipaPress.

Feb. 21, 2010: President Obama offers a toast at the 2010 Governor's Ball.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Feb. 21, 2010: President Obama at the 2010 Governor's Ball.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Feb. 21, 2010: First Lady MIchelle Obama raises her glass as President Obama delivers a toast at the 2010 Governor's Ball.

Newscom/SipaPress

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says there's no sense in trying at this point. The public option should be put aside for the moment, so that health care reform can pass unperturbed--particularly because the measure on offer has already been watered down to a great degree.

"I fought for a meaningful public option, both in the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate floor," Rockefeller says in a new statement. "My version didn't pass out of committee and other versions were watered down. Unfortunately, there simply has not been enough support to date to pass a strong public option, despite these efforts."

I will continue to support viable options for enacting a robust public plan. Right now, however, there is no value for the American people in diminishing a meaningful public option so substantially that it exists in name only -- and that is why we must focus our attention on the many great private health insurance reform ideas on the table today.


Rockefeller took a similar position on the issue of drug reimportation--a policy he supports and which may have had enough votes to pass in the Senate, but which was met with resistance by leading Democrats seeking to preserve industry's support for health care reform. You can read the entire statement below the fold.

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With health care reform seemingly on the ascent, and insurance companies as ripe a target as ever, the Foundation for Patient's Rights--on offshoot of the Service Employees International Union--has launched a new ad in support of health care reform.



The ad, inspired by the revelation that California insurer Anthem Blue Cross plans to boost premiums by as much as 39 percent this year, will run in DC through Sunday, with a significant portion of the buy appearing on Fox News. The $250,000 spot will appear on cable TV, and on network television during the Sunday shows.

A new Franklin and Marshall poll of Pennsylvania has a lot of bad news for Sen. Arlen Specter, with the incumbent Democrat and former Republican viewed unfavorably by his state's voters and trailing his longtime nemesis, Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey, among the likely general election voters.

Among all registered voters, Specter is viewed favorably by only 32%, with an unfavorable rating of 45%. Only 25% said he deserves re-election, with 63% saying it is time for a change. Among those who say he doesn't deserve re-election, the most commonly listed reasons are his long time in office, and his party-switch.

The only good news for Specter is in the Democratic primary, in which he leads Rep. Joe Sestak by 33%-16%. But in the general election, the horse-race numbers show just how much the current enthusiasm gap has become destructive for the Democrats. Among all registered voters, Specter leads Toomey by 33%-29%, and Toomey leads Sestak by just 25%-22%, with very high undecideds in both cases. Among the more important category of likely voters, Toomey leads Specter by 44%-34%, and Toomey leads Sestak by 38%-20%.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons was caught by a local news team repeatedly fibbing about whether he traveled to Washington with a Reno woman who the reporters then saw getting off the same plane, and later getting into the governor's state SUV.

Kathy Karrasch, the woman with whom Gibbons traveled to Washington for the National Governors Association conference, has been publicly linked to the governor since he had to reimburse the state for over 800 text messages he sent to her over a five-week period in 2007.

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Yesterday, Toyota USA's president testified to Congress, saying the company failed to focus enough on how people were using their vehicles. Jon Stewart's response? "So it's our fault? Well I don't understand why people insist on trying to drive the world's largest novelty paperweights!"

Stewart added, "We're not f@*kin' em!"

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Senate To Vote On Modest Jobs Bill, Passage Likely The Senate is set to vote today on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) $35 billion jobs bill. Final passage is expected after the bill cleared a Republican filibuster on Monday. The House of Representatives had previously passed a more ambitious $174 billion bill, though it is possible that it could simply be discarded and the Senate's bill adopted by the House.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET. Obama will meet at 11 a.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama will address the Business Roundtable at 1 p.m. ET. He will participate in a 3:15 p.m. ET credentialing ceremony for foreign ambassadors. Obama and Biden will meet at 4:15 p.m. ET with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

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Congressional Democrats say Thursday's health care summit is likely to clear the final hurdles to passing health care reform - and say that President Obama returning to the issue with a clear focus and a specific health care proposal makes it easier for them to get it done.

Health care reform was in hibernation after the special election in Massachusetts ended the 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, with some even declaring it dead and buried. But over the last few weeks there have been a series of developments that gave new life to health care reform. Democrats say the summit is the final step to securing House and Senate support for a compromise bill that could pass by the spring.

TPMDC has been surfacing where the momentum came from, with Congressional and Washington sources telling us that the White House at first seemed wary about spending political capital on something that was plummeting in the polls and which had wounded the party's chances at success in November.

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