TPM News

Republican candidate Scott Brown has a new TV ad in the Massachusetts special election for Senate, taking a positive tone by showing the candidate meeting voters in the working class neighborhood of South Boston.

"If you want someone who's gonna lower your taxes, and bring common sense back to Washington, then join with me," Brown says.

Democrats have been coming down hard to stop Brown's surge in the polls, mainly by running a stream of negative ads highlighting Brown's staunch Republican record in this Democratic state. The Brown campaign apparently thinks that a positive pitch is currently the way to go.

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement today on the new aviation security procedures put in place after the failed Christmas Day bombing. Here is the full text:

In view of the event of Christmas Day we must remain vigilant about the continued threat we face from al-Qa'ida. We are taking an additional set of aviation security precautions to protect the American people. Some of these measures include enhanced random screening, additional federal air marshals on certain routes and adding individuals of concern to our terrorist watch list system. As a result of these measures and others we have put in place since Christmas, travelers should allot extra time when flying--particularly into the United States from overseas. We are facing a determined enemy and we appreciate the patience of all Americans and visitors to our country, and the cooperation of our international partners as well as a committed airline industry. We will continue to update and adapt our defenses as needed to ensure air travel is both safe and efficient. As always, we continue to ask all Americans to report any suspicious behavior to the local law enforcement authorities.

Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said yesterday that he plans to hold hearings on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" later this month.

It's another step toward fulfilling President Obama's promise to end the policy of allowing only closeted gays to serve in the military. Levin also said Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen would be called to testify.

But today, the Pentagon apparently leaked a memo to the Associated Press in which Mullen's lawyers advise him to wait to repeal DADT.

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Sen. Ted Kennedy's legacy is going a long way for Democrats aiming to keep their 60-seat majority and pass health care in the coming days.

Democratic sources tell TPMDC the Vicki Kennedy email has now raised $883,000 for Martha Coakley's bid to replace the late Sen. Kennedy in Massachusetts.

As we have reported, Senate Democrats from across the country blasted out the email from Kennedy's widow yesterday asking for donations to help Coakley (D) win the special election next Tuesday.

Also today, Senate Democrats released a new tribute video in honor of Kennedy's legacy and career-long fight for health care.

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The Obama administration and organized labor have reached a tentative agreement on the so-called Cadillac tax on high end health insurance plans, signaling that Democrats may soon be able to resolve their differences over how to finance health care reform.

Unions had opposed the measure, which, as originally designed, would have imposed a 40 percent excise tax on insurance policies that cost more than $23,000 for families, and $8,500 for individuals, indexed just above inflation.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the threshold for families would be raised to $24,000, and would exempt certain benefits like vision and dental, according to a Democratic source.

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January 14, 2010: Devastation continued on the second day after a tremendous earthquake hit Haiti. International relief efforts have responded quickly. But Haitians are scrambling to retrieve survivors from the horrific destruction. These faces speak volumes to the tragedy.

Be advised: Some of these images are graphic and disturbing.

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January 13, 2010: A Haitian woman living in Miami, Florida, sobs during a special Mass at the Norte-Dame D'Haiti church.

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Americans will have three days to review the final health care deal struck today before members vote, Democratic leaders said today.

The House Democrats announced on their Twitter feed just now they will keep their promise to allow for a more open promise. It's one they have kept throughout the health care process, one reason the final votes have been held at odd hours.

The tweet:

Pelosi and Hoyer say final health reform bill will be online for 72 hours before House vote so Members and Americans can review #hcr

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The Rothenberg Political Report has changed its rating of the Massachusetts Senate race to "toss up."

Rothenberg had the special election listed as "narrow advantage for the incumbent party."

"This race has become about change, President Obama and Democratic control of all of the levers of power in Washington, D.C. Brown has 'won' the 'free media' over the past few days, and if he continues to do so, he will win the election," reads the report.

"Late Democratic efforts to demonize Republican Scott Brown, to make the race into a partisan battle and to use the Kennedy name to drive Democratic voters to the polls could still work. But the advertising clutter in the race works against them, and voters often tune out late messages, which can seem desperate."

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, in an interview this week with the Las Vegas Sun's Jon Ralston, claimed he wasn't chairman when the Ensign affair took place.

In the interview, Ralston describes Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) affair, asking what Steele would do if a Democrat had done the same thing.

"If you were chairman of the Republican party and a Democratic senator had an affair with a staffer, had his parents pay her off, fired both her and her husband who worked for him then tried to get the husband a job, you'd be outraged, wouldn't you?" Ralston said.

"I don't know. Who is the individual you're talking about?" Steele responded.

"The individual happens to be John Ensign," Ralston said, then called Steele "Mr. Double Standard" for not saying anything about Ensign.

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President Obama has posted a new video on his campaign's YouTube account, and sent an e-mail to his very sizable supporter list, urging his supporters to help Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts special Senate election. He also points them to a Web page where they can sign up to volunteer.

"In Washington, I'm fighting to curb the abuses of a health insurance industry that routinely denies care," Obama says in the video. "I'm fighting for financial reform to stop Wall Street from playing havoc with our economy. I'm fighting to create a new energy economy. And it's clear now that the outcome of these and other fights will probably rest on one vote in the United States Senate. That's why what happens Tuesday in Massachusetts is so important."

Obama also explains the stakes in this special election: "She represents the best progressive values of Massachusetts. She'll be your voice, and my ally. Which is why the opponents of change are pouring money into your state. They believe that by defeating Martha and replacing Ted Kennedy with her Republican opponent, they'll be in a position to tie up the Senate and prevent a vote on health insurance reform, financial reform, and other issues so important to working families in Massachusetts and the nation."

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