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On a conference call today with reporters, Senate Minority Whip John Kyl (R-AZ) said almost no health care compromise is likely to win significant Republican support.

"There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill," Kyl said. "I have no doubt that they can make it revenue neutral to find enough ways to tax the American people, but that doesn't mean the Republicans will support it."

As for the co-op compromise? "It's a step towards government-run health care in this country."

The remarks are particularly significant coming a day after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the lead Republican health care negotiator in the Senate, said he'd vote against his own bill--and all the compromises he's forcing into it--if it doesn't win a great number of Republican votes.

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A new survey of Colorado from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who was appointed to the seat in January, has a lackluster approval rating and isn't polling too well against his potential GOP opponents -- but the Republicans aren't doing well, either.

Bennet trails former Congressman and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez by 42%-39%. Bennet leads Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck by 39%-35%, and leads Aurora City Councilor Ryan Frazier by 38%-33%. The margin of error is ±3.2%.

All candidates have net negative ratings. Bennet's approval rating is 31%, to 38% unfavorable. Breauprez's favorable-unfavorable is 30%-40%, Buck's is 17%-18%, and Frazier's is 17%-18%.

"Colorado voters continue to be pretty uninspired by their choices for the US Senate next year," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "You still have to peg Bennet as the favorite because of his superior fundraising but it doesn't look like a slam dunk by any means."

He left himself some wiggle room, but, in what appeared to be a challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) said he'd have a hard time voting for a health care bill without a public option.



Sestak is challenging Specter in the 2010 Democratic Pennsylvania primary.

Though Sestak said he could back something "similar" to a public option--a co-operative, for instance--he said that the co-ops that are on the table right now do not meet his criteria.

Specter now supports the creation of a public option, after having opposed it as a Republican and in his first days as a Democrat, but he hasn't drawn a line in the sand over the issue. Though progressive members of the Senate have been more reticent than their House counterparts about the importance of the public option, Sestak's statement does leave Specter an opening to stake out more liberal ground, and insist on one.

We'll have video for you shortly.

It hasn't been an easy week for Glenn Beck. Since calling President Barack Obama a racist, his Fox program has lost a number of major sponsors including GMAC, Roche, RadioShack, Men's Wearhouse, State Farm Sargento, Procter & Gamble, and Progressive Insurance. But he does retain a strong constituency of far right wing supporters.

The so-called 9/12 coalition is urging tea baggers and other protesters to sign a petition in support of the controversial TV host.

You can see the petition here here. Among other things, signatories warn Beck's former advertisers that they reserve the right "to stop purchasing your product or using your services as a form of economic protest."

A message distributed today to the 9/12 coalition's private email list, and obtained by TPM, says, "Let Fox News and those that Advertise on TV know that you support the Glenn Beck program.... This petition/letter will be sent directly to Fox News and shared with the advertisers on his program, past and present."

And it seems to be working. In the last half hour, over one hundred people have joined the campaign, which went live today. At publication time--and don't read any significance into this--666 people had signed on. The letters and form emails will be delivered to Fox News directly.

The new story on Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney and current Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, just keeps getting worse, the New York Times reports -- now involving his tax returns.

It was revealed that Christie had failed to reveal in his state and federal financial disclosure forms that he'd made a $46,000 loan to an assistant in the U.S. attorney's office, Michele Brown, who still works in the U.S. Attorney's office and is still paying off the loan to him in regular installments. The loan was secured by a second mortgage on Brown's home.

Now the Times has discovered that Christie failed to report income from the loan on his tax returns. Christie aides told the Times that Christie will file an amended tax return.

This story is sure to give Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine a lot of ammunition. Combined with the news about Christie's conversations years ago with Karl Rove about a potential bid for governor, these stories could seriously damage Christie's reputation as a squeaky clean corruption-busting prosecutor, which has been a cornerstone of his political career.

The White House has strengthened its denial that the administration's non-committal position on the public option has changed one way or another.

"Here's the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"We continue to support the public option. That will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this."

Over the weekend, President Obama referred to the public option as a "sliver" of health care reform, and Sebelius said the public option wasn't essential reform's success. Though the White House's core position hasn't changed, the intensity with which it supports the public option has varied over the last several weeks, and this weekend's remarks were the first indication that the administration doesn't even regard the public option as particularly crucial.

But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insists that Sebelius' statements were not a trial balloon. "If it was a signal, it was a dog whistle we started blowing three months ago, and it just got picked up," Gibbs said. "It's crazy. It's not a signal."

Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney and current Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, is now getting a new headache over a story that was broken last night by New Jersey Public Television -- that in 2007, Christie made a $46,000 personal loan to an assistant of his in the U.S. Attorney's office, which is still being paid off in regular installments:



Christie said he did not view this as an improper financial relationship: "I just believe that if you have friends who are in need, that you help them, whether they work with you or whether they're friends of yours from outside the work realm. We were happy to be able to help, and they've been great about repaying the loan."

Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign has pounced on the report, saying that a candidate for governor should not have an ongoing financial relationship with someone who is still working in the U.S. Attorney's office. "This raises more significant questions and legal issues for the Christie campaign," said Corzine spokesman Sean Darcy. "Are they still in contact? Have they been discussing this campaign? What impact has their ongoing financial relationship had on the gubernatorial campaign?"

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Appearing on Fox News this morning, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) once again called the death panel controversy (which he stoked) a Democratic party diversion...and then noted that the House proposal to reimburse doctors for providing end-of-life care "raises questions."



"What they try to do is divert attention," Grassley said, referring to what he called the House's "miserably poor health care bill."

But then he switched gears, to defend his support for end of life counseling six years ago. "[W]e were talking just in the very narrow area of hospice care...nothing to do with saving money," Grassley said. "And when you get in to what their goals are in the House bill, it's saving money...and we never had anything like that in 2003."

Host Megyn Kelly interjected, "and your concern is the plan to save money and cut costs, coupled with these end of life consultations, raises questions, I guess.'

"And coupled with government takeover of health care," affirmed Grassley.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is now sticking up for the town hall demonstrators, firing back at Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for calling the disruptions a "fascist tactic."

The Huffington Post reported that Nadler said at the Netroots Nation conference:

"It is fascist. It is a fascist tactic," Rep. Jerry Nadler, (D-N.Y.) said of the conservative town hall protesters. "That's exactly what they did in Weimar, Germany. Let me put it this way. It is a fascist tactic not to disagree with you, or to say you are an idiot or whatever, but to try to shut you up. That's what I mean. That's a fascist tactic."


In response, NRCC communications director Ken Spain has put out this statement:

"Apparently, when Democrats aren't busy forming a circular firing squad, they are still shooting themselves in the foot. Democrats are so frustrated by the widespread opposition to their healthcare takeover that they have resorted to calling town hall attendees names like 'fascist,' 'un-American,' and relegating their views to racism reminiscent of the Jim Crow South. What was once promised to be an 'August offensive' to sell their failed healthcare agenda, has turned into an unmitigated disaster for Democrats who have now taken to attacking each other, including the Obama White House."

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Yesterday, I noted that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--the powerful ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and chief Republican negotiator in the bipartisan Gang of Six--said he'd vote against his own health care compromise if it didn't win more than a handful of GOP votes.

That seems to have gotten the attention of some progressives, one of whom took to the cable channels this morning to suggest that the White House ditch Grassley.

"I don't know what's the point of negotiating with Chuck Grassley, frankly, if he says himself he can't deliver any Republicans," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) on MSNBC this morning.

Grassley's been putting on quite a public show of late, falsely affirming the concerns of some health care reform skeptics that House Democrats will create death panels, and then blaming the controversy on liberals.

For his part, Weiner has become a leading public spokesman for robust health care reform, criticizing the administration for its willingness to compromise, and insisting that health care reform will die in the House without a public option.

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