TPM News

On MSNBC just now, liberal talk show host Ed Schultz said he was asked by top Democrats in his previous home state of North Dakota to run for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan -- including outreach from Dorgan himself.

"Well last night, when Sen. Dorgan was talking to me, he asked me how old I was, and I went 'uh oh,'" said Schultz.

"I did get a phone call this morning from Merle Boucher, who's the [state] House Democratic leader, and he asked me to consider to run for the United States Senate seat in the state of North Dakota," said Schultz. "I asked him very point blank, 'Is this an official ask?' He said 'Yes, it is.'"

For now at least, Schultz isn't jumping at the opportunity, pointing to all the work he's put into his media career.

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With the news Tuesday that the Obama Administration has decided to halt transfers of Gitmo detainees to Yemen, it's worth taking a closer look at what we do -- and do not -- know about the activity of former detainees in the group known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

That's the al Qaeda "affiliate" that claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas attack over Detroit, and that President Obama has fingered as training and equipping Umar Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man arrested in that incident.

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After three high-profile retirements sent the political world spinning, Democrats are saying the morning after they don't expect any more in the Senate or among the governors.

Worried Democrats who are seeing poll numbers slip nationally wanted to start 2010 with the best chance they could for keeping the House, 60 Senate seats and the majority of governorships.

Surveying the political landscape, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) were among the most vulnerable, and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's retirement could prevent a divisive Democratic primary for the senate.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement today on the retirement of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). In the statement, the NRSC attacks Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is expected to announce today that he will run for Dodd's seat as a Democrat.

"Senator Dodd's retirement is not surprising considering he's long been regarded as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in 2010, second only to his own Majority Leader, Harry Reid. As Dodd's protege, Richard Blumenthal, attempts to replace him in Washington, voters need not look much further than Blumenthal's complete disregard for Dodd's actions with Countrywide to see what kind of Senator he would be. As Attorney General, Blumenthal looked the other way on Senator Dodd's unethical indiscretions, but voters won't look the other way when they cast their ballots to restore checks and balances in Washington this November. The last thing the people of Connecticut need is another 20-year member of the old boys' club to represent them in the U.S. Senate."

After an afternoon meeting with House leaders and health care principals yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in vague terms about what reform must accomplish: Affordability, accountability, and accessibility. "A triple 'A' rating," as she described it.

But aides say she's particularly steamed that the White House wants her to largely adopt the Senate bill in its entirety. And she's particularly unhappy that the White House has thrown its weight behind the Senate bill's chief funding mechanism: an excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" insurance policies, which she and many in her caucus have long believed violates President Obama's pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. According to one aide, that--not the public option--was likely the reason she ribbed Obama at her press conference yesterday, quipping, "there were a number of things he was for on the campaign trail."

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Nick Ayers, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association, has apologized for joking about Gov. David Paterson's (D-NY) blindness.

Ayers had been making jokes on Twitter about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asking Democratic governors to step down.

Rahm: "Gov Paterson you should accept the ambassadorship to New Zealand. Its beautiful there. Have you not seen it?...oh, right, sorry."

Now, he tweets:

Paterson tweet too far. A poor attempt at poking fun of White House. Deleting now. Apologies.

Dems To Scrap Conference Committee For Health Care Bill, Amend The Senate Bill In The House House and Senate Democrats have agreed to bypass the conference committee process for the health care bill, in order to circumvent additional Republican delaying tactics. Instead, the House of Representatives will pass agreed-upon amendments to the Senate version, and then send the bill back to the Senate for a final vote.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:45 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10:15 a.m. ET. Obama will meet with senior advisers at 11:30 a.m. ET. Obama will deliver remarks at 1:35 p.m. ET, honoring educators for awards received for excellence in mathematics and science teaching and mentoring.

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Following on a meeting between House and Senate leaders and President Obama last night, a number of senior House Democrats will return to the White House to continue negotiating toward a final health care bill.

Joining House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be Henry Waxman (D-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Charlie Rangel (D-NY)--the chairmen of the three committees that drafted the House bill--and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), chair of the House Rules Committee.

These members, and other House leaders will also huddle this morning, as they continue to discuss what issues should be at stake when the House and Senate health care bills are merged, and how to prevail on those issues.

Check back in at TPMDC for continuing updates.