TPM News

The new Rasmussen poll of the Florida Republican Senate primary confirms that the race is getting closer between the frontrunner, the moderate Gov. Charlie Crist, and the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

The numbers: Crist 49%, Rubio 35%, with a ±4.5% margin of error. Back in August, Crist had been ahead by 53%-31%.

This is nearly identical to this morning's Quinnipiac poll, which has Crist ahead by 50%-35%.

Silence is golden. That's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's mantra as he heads the delicate process of crafting a single Senate health care bill from two separate packages. But so far, the House's swift and decisive action on the public option seems to have had little impact on the hiss position.

Reid is adamant that the insurance industry should lose a decades-old anti-trust exemption that allows companies to divvy up markets and agree not to compete against one another. But he and other senators are still mum about whether they'll systematically end the non-competitive nature of health insurance markets by including a public option in the Senate's health care bill.

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In a speech this morning on the Senate floor, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) offered the White House "a friendly suggestion."

"Don't create an enemies list."

Alexander, according to his prepared remarks, described President Nixon's famous list of political opponents and dissenters, which included journalists.

"Now the only reason I mention this is because I have an uneasy feeling, only ten months into this new administration, that we're beginning to see symptoms of this same kind of animus developing in the Obama administration," he said.

Video after the jump.

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Dede Scozzafava, the moderate Republican running in the three-way NY-23 special election, is now challenging her opponents to hold more debates -- and focusing on the one who has been the biggest thorn in her side, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

Scozzafava held a press conference this morning, right outside of one of Hoffman's campaign offices. "I've agreed to debate," Scozzafava said. "I've agreed to every forum that's been offered and I think it's time that the opposition and both of my opponents agree as well."

Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan responded in a statement saying that they have tried to debate -- and also lambasting Scozzafava's campaign for calling the police against Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack, and calling on her to drop out of the race for the good of the GOP.

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On Oct. 6, the Senate passed an amendment that would guarantee rape victims employed by defense contractors a chance to take their case to court. The 30 Republicans who voted against it have been vilified. (See, for example, But the Department of Defense -- and, by extension, the White House -- also opposed the amendment. Why?

Some background: The amendment, introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), would prohibit the Pentagon from using contractors whose employment contracts force employees to arbitrate disputes rather than take them to court. The amendment applies to certain employee allegations, including rape, sexual assault and discrimination.

The Department of Defense sent a letter to the Senate urging lawmakers to vote no on the amendment, according to the Huffington Post.

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Virginia Republicans are highlighting Creigh Deeds' (D) remarks about a public option from last night's gubernatorial debate as another example of what the party claims is Deeds' desire to have it both ways on national issues.

At the traditional post-debate press gaggle last night Deeds was peppered with questions about the public option, which he said he would "consider opting out of" if such an option was available to states in a final health care reform bill. Asked by a reporter if he was opposed to the public option, Deeds exclaimed, "No! I never said that!"

The state GOP posted video of the moment this morning.

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TPMDC has learned President Obama will campaign with gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds (D-VA) at Old Dominion University in Norfolk next Tuesday.

The campaign announced Friday that Obama would be hitting the trail with a to-be-determined location. Michelle Obama did an event at ODU last fall to court military families.

Turnout is critical in Virginia with Deeds so far behind in the polls and less than two weeks to go before the election.

The presidential rally in Norfolk is a double whammy that allows the team to reach both young college voters and black voters, demographic groups that helped Obama win big in Virginia last fall.

It also helps Deeds in optics since some wondered if Obama would just cross the Potomac for a short hop.

The Christie campaign has a new Web video out today, apparently responding to President Obama's rally later today for Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine -- which features audio of a stirring Obama speech about change with video of people waving Christie signs.

If you didn't know any better, you might think from this video that Obama was endorsing Christie. That sure would be handy in this Democratic state, if it were true.

Late Update: DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse gives us this comment:

This really shows just how desperate Chris Christie is to change the conversation from his abuse of the taxpayers and ethical lapses as U.S. Attorney which have dogged him for months and which have taken him from a double digit lead to tied or behind in the polls. Chris Christie is a George Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney Republican who politicized the U.S. Attorney's Office, had a questionable financial relationship with a subordinate, spent taxpayer money lavishly on travel and hotels and who represents more of the same failed policies, politics and ideas that the country got from Republicans in Washington over the last eight years. The only change Chris Christie would bring to Trenton would be to turn New Jersey back towards the failed Bush approach to governing which the nation and New Jersey so thoroughly rejected last year. Chris Christie's effort to tie himself to the President's message of change - with his own ties to Bush and Rove - is desperate, ridiculous and disgraceful.

Also, Corzine press secretary Lis Smith gives us this comment:

Chris Christie can change his tactics, but New Jersey voters know that he hasn't changed his mind. Whether it's his plan to give free rein to insurance companies to drop coverage for essential procedures like mammograms and autism treatments, opposition to a woman's right to choose, or refusal to support embryonic stem cell research, Christie is extremely wrong when it matters most.

After the campaign of Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in the three-way NY-23 special election, called the police against Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack, they accused him of screaming questions in her face -- an allegation that has now been disproven.

McCormack gave his audio recording to the Associated Press, and their judgement as a neutral third party is that he didn't yell:

In the audio recording of the reporter's questioning played for The Associated Press by McCormack, the reporter didn't raise his voice, but repeated his unanswered questions several times, including one about abortion.

"I never screamed, I never yelled, I never shouted," he said. "My voice was only loud enough so she could hear my questions."