TPM News

Former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the insurgent conservative candidate in the Republican primary for Senate, has had a decent third fundraising quarter -- though he is still decidedly an underdog.

Rubio's campaign has announced raising nearly $1 million, a marked improvement from their mere $340,000 last quarter.

The frontrunner in the race, moderate Gov. Charlie Crist, has not yet announced his haul. The Tampa Bay Tribune says that his supporters are speculating about a figure of $2 million -- but also notes that the Crist camp seriously lowballed their estimates last quarter, when he raised over $4 million.

Finally, some good news for California sex braggart "Hot Mike" Duvall...

Attorney General Jerry Brown says he won't investigate Duvall's claim, captured on a hot mike, to be having an affair with a woman identified as a lobbyist for an energy company. Until he resigned in the wake of the scandal, Duvall, a Republican, had been vice chair of the state legislative committee that oversees energy issues.

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We've known for a long time now that, as soon as the Senate Finance Committee reports out a health care bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with Finance chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate HELP Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), and White House officials will sit down to produce a single piece of legislation to bring to the floor.

And we've known for a long time now that the White House's role in the negotiations will be key. Already, Senate aides are letting it be known that the White House will have to lead on all the issues around which Democrats have been unable to find consensus--issues like the public option.

So which White House players are likely to be in the room? Roll Call reports:

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Former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seems to be gradually walking back comments he made to Time that he'd support the Baucus health care reform bill if he were still in the Senate.

On MSNBC this morning, Frist -- who's a doctor with a new book out -- said the "Obama bill" is "not quite there" and doesn't do enough to "reorient our system around value, around outcomes, around performance."

"There's a little bit in there, but not nearly enough," Frist said.

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Spooked by a man who turned out to be a convicted felon and who appears to have repeatedly lied on his way to acquiring a lease for an empty jail in Hardin, MT, town leaders yesterday put the deal with American Private Police Force on hold.

Last week, the state attorney general launched a probe of the deal that was pushed through by a man calling himself "Captain" Michael Hilton.

The AP reports on the Hardin board meeting yesterday that put a stop to the whole project:

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Gates: "We're Not Leaving Afghanistan" In an interview with CNN, held jointly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates bluntly declared that "we're not leaving Afghanistan." He explained: "There should be no uncertainly in terms of our determination to remain in Afghanistan and to continue to build a relationship of partnership ... with the Pakistanis."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with the National Counterterrorism Center leadership at 11:10 a.m. ET, and will deliver remarks to NCTC staff members at 11:40 a.m. ET. Obama and Vice President will meet with the Congressional leadership and the chairs and ranking members of the relevant committees to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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A new Fairleigh Dickinson poll has Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) with a one-point edge over his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie -- the first poll that has had Corzine ahead during the entire general election season.

The numbers: Corzine 44%, Christie 43%, and independent Chris Daggett 4% (Daggett was not listed as a choice, but was a voluntary answer -- more on that later). This is within the ±4% margin of error, but again this is the first poll that has had Corzine ahead in a long time. A month ago, Christie led by 47%-42% over Corzine.

Interestingly, Corzine's approval rating remains in the negative zone: Approve 38%, Disapprove 50%. However, he appears to be getting enough respondents to pick him right now, if only reluctantly, due to disenchantment with Christie -- a common pattern in New Jersey elections, where Republicans often run strong right up until declining in October and November.

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As the Senate inches closer to a vote on health care, the Democratic National Committee is launching a national ad campaign starring a Washington, D.C.-area doctor and nurse who echo President Obama's talking points on why his plan is needed.

"Our health care system is broken ... our patients need real reform," Prince George's County, MD registered nurse Elizabeth Prah says in the ad, an early copy of which was obtained by TPMDC.

Dr. Jeremy Spinks of Arlington, Virginia says patients need "stability and security," in their health care plans, going along with a focus on those who have insurance.

"Tell Congress to pass health insurance reform now," says Spinks, an E.R. doctor, while Prah adds, "We simply can't afford to wait."

The ad will run on national cable for two weeks starting Wednesday, the DNC said.

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A fundraiser for Bob McDonnell, which was supposed to include California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, has been cancelled.

The McDonnell campaign said the event had to be rescheduled, due to the host's wife giving birth. Due to scheduling conflicts, Whitman cannot be at the rescheduled event.

The DNC, however, is accusing Whitman of backing out as a result of the shame of it becoming public -- in other words, that Whitman would end up being associated with McDonnell's hard-right grad school thesis, which denounced working women and government policies that help them.

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