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Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking member of the banking committee and lead Republican in financial reform negotiations, predicted this morning that he and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) won't reach a bipartisan deal before today's procedural vote.

"I don't believe we'll have a deal today, George," he said on Good Morning America.

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In just a few hours, Senate Republicans will be put to the test. Both they and leading Democrats say they're a hair away from reaching a bipartisan framework on financial regulatory reform, yet Republicans have decided to block Democrats from bringing the issue to the Senate floor. In response--and because it makes for great politics--Democrats will try to break that filibuster at 5 pm tonight. Even if they fail, they reason, they succeed at painting Republicans with a pro-Wall Street brush.

So what various twists and turns might this story takes as that pivotal moment approaches? Here are a few to be on the look out for:

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Is the Missouri Senate race the secret bellwether of 2010? Some are saying that the still largely below the national radar race between Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) and likely Republican nominee Rep. Roy Blunt is the clearest place to see what this year's mid-term is about. Faced with the incumbent Blunt with his fingerprints on the TARP program, Carnahan supporters say the Democrat can run on the outside in a Republican year. But Republicans say that the Democratic agenda -- and Blunt's opposition to it -- will win the day in a year when voters want the Democrats gone.

In a race that pits one establishment politician vs. another in an open contest -- incumbent Sen. Kit Bond (R) is retiring -- the difference could come down to whether voters don't like the way Republicans used to do things more than they dislike the way Democrats are doing them now. That sets the stage for a campaign that some say could define the Obama midterm.

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Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat, has a new TV ad addressing a story that has a lot of potential to damage his campaign: The failure of his family's bank, which occurred this past Friday after having been expected for some time.

In the ad, Giannoulias makes clear that he left the bank four years ago, before the current problems (he was elected state treasurer in 2006). And he likens his the bank's woes to those of other family businesses across the country.

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The Republican National Committee is continuing to send out a misleading fundraising mailer labeled "Census Document," just weeks after Congress passed a law aimed at banning such mailers.

In response, the Democratic member of Congress behind the new law slammed the RNC for "trying to make a buck on the Census." But Michael Steele and co. are claiming the law doesn't cover their mailer.

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Sarah Palin has spent the last year banking $12 million from book sales, speaking fees, a reality show contract, and the lucrative deal that made the former Alaska governor an official Fox News contributor, according to a report in New York.

The lengthy story locates Palin's drive to cash in partly in the hefty legal bills she racked up during investigations into the Troopergate abuse of power scandal that dogged her during the 2008 campaign.

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Obama Web Video: Make Sure That My 2008 Supporters 'Stand Together Once Again' (VIDEO) President Obama has posted a new Web video on his campaign's YouTube account, imploring his supporters to remobilize in this year's midterm elections the base of voters who helped him win in 2008.

"It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again," said Obama. "It will be up to each of you to keep our nation moving forward, to keep working to fix Washington, to keep growing our economy, and to keep building a fairer, stronger and more just America."

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The Democratic National Committee plans to spend at least $50 million on an ambitious grassroots get out the vote program in 2010, according to today's Washington Post. The program, which aims to energize the new voters who turned out for the Democrats in 2008, will leverage the party's biggest star -- President Obama -- to target Republicans directly and repeatedly between now and November.

In a series of videos -- check out the first after the jump -- Obama will tell youth, minority and independent voters who turned out for him in big numbers that victory for the Republicans in 2010 means defeat for the "hope and change" campaign he ran two years ago.

"Our story begins with: Democrats are results people and the Republicans are political obstructionists," DNC chair Tim Kaine told the paper. "Do we want to continue the direction that sees us climbing out of the recession or do we want to go back to the same policies that put us in the ditch in the first place?"

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After repeatedly denying a Politico report Friday that Washington Times publisher Jonathan Slevin's contract was not renewed after just six months, Times spokesman Don Meyer said Sunday that Slevin is in fact on the way out.

Meyer's denials were reported by TPM on Friday. Politico, citing unnamed newsroom sources, stood by its story that Slevin was being dumped.

Slevin, in his farewell email, blasted the paper's board, charging that one top board member "on several occasions in past months communicated directly to me his disdain for The Washington Times."

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President Obama met Sunday in a private prayer session with the Rev. Billy Graham at his North Carolina home before heading to deliver the eulogy at a memorial for coal miners killed in the West Virginia mine accident last month.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters that Obama and Graham met for conversation and prayer, with son Franklin Graham also in attendance. The president "is extraordinarily gratified that he took the time to meet with him," Burton said.

The visit capped a brief weekend vacation for Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The president hit the golf links twice and the first couple played tennis, hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains and ate dinner with friends.

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