TPM News

Things are getting under way at the Conservative Political Action Conference this morning, and one theme already has emerged. CPAC day one kicks off with a keynote speech from Marco Rubio, a darling of the right who is challenging Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

Rubio has been collecting endorsements from national conservatives who say Crist is too moderate to win a contested race for the open seat.

CPAC today will showcase not just Rubio but grassroots activists attempting to harness new energy among conservatives before the fall elections. Also prominent on the stage is Sen. Jim DeMint, one of the most conservative senators serving, who for the last few months has been choosing sides in contested primaries like the one in Florida.

"He's one of us and he's tough," American Conservative Union's David Keene said of DeMint (R-SC) this morning when introducing the senator, who will detail Rubio's biography before his keynote.

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With a vote coming up Monday to begin debate on a jobs bill, Democrats are hoping they can get a few Republican votes for cloture. But the Republicans are looking to block the bill, even though they support its content, claiming instead that they've been mistreated by Democrats.

A Democratic leadership aide tells TPMDC that they might have the votes for cloture -- but it "all depends on Republicans."

"We are hoping that Republican senators like Scott Brown will oppose the will of their leadership, and buck the demands of Republican lobbyists who are busy scheming to defeat Senator Reid's legislation as we speak," the aide said.

But an aide for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Democrats for not allowing amendments on the bill.

It's a "bizarre first vote to have after all the bipartisan talk," the aide said.

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A fundraising email sent yesterday by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) appeared under the name "Nancy Pelosi," and was addressed to "Dear Naive Republican."

No, the Speaker hasn't switched parties. Rather, the email, obtained by TPMmuckraker, seems to have been a crude stab at satire by the NRCC, designed to highlight what the committee sees as the failure of the stimulus plan.

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CPAC 2010 Event Kicks Off Today The annual Conservative Political ACtion Conference begins today, with conservative activists and politicians gathered in Washington for the three-day event. Speakers include Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Liz Cheney, Ann Coulter, and many more.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET, and meet at 9:45 a.m. ET with the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Obama will deliver remarks at 10:10 a.m. ET, signing the executive order establishing the fiscal commission. He will meet at 11:15 a.m. ET with the Dalai Lama. He will depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 1:15 p.m. ET, en route to Aurora, Colorado. He will arrive in Aurora at 4:50 p.m. ET, deliver remarks at a 5:30 p.m. ET grassroots fundraiser for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and deliver remarks at a 6:40 p.m. ET fundraising reception for Bennet. He will depart from Aurora at 7:35 p.m. ET, arriving at 9:15 p.m. ET in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik is set to be sentenced today for lying during his vetting to be secretary of homeland security, and for tax fraud related to renovations on his apartment paid for by a company seeking a city license.

It's one of those moments where you find out who your true friends are. But while supporters have written letters to the judge to advocate for a light sentence, one prominent figure is staying silent: Rudy Giuliani, once Kerik's most powerful patron.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today will release a new report showing more dramatic health insurance premium increases are proposed in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.

Keying off the Obama administration's recent probe into a planned 39 percent rate hike from Anthem Blue Cross in California, Sebelius will detail large increases in six other states and say that given record insurer profits, health care reform has never been more urgent.

At 11:30 a.m. today, Sebelius will release the report, obtained by TPMDC and titled "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System."

It finds that Anthem's rate increase (now delayed until May) is "not unique" and that experts say premiums will keep rising.

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Jason Mattera, a spokesman for Young America's Foundation, got in some zingers at CPAC today. He said the conference is just like Woodstock, except "unlike the left's gathering, our women are beautiful, we speak in complete sentences, and our notion of freedom doesn't consist of snorting cocaine. Which is certainly one thing that separates us from Barack Obama." Rimshot!

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Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is proud of how he helped stop health care reform from passing.

"If I hadn't been a part of the debate, you would already have universal health care," Enzi said Monday, according to a report in the Casper Star-Tribune.

Enzi was part of the infamous "Gang of Six" senators tasked with putting together a health care compromise that both Democrats and Republicans could vote for. However, no Republicans wound up supporting the final bill, which squeaked by in the Senate with a vote of 60 to 40.

Earlier today, Enzi became the first Republican to accept an invitation to the White House's health care summit.

A Tea Party meeting in Asotin County, WA this weekend featured all the normal facets of the movement we've come to expect -- there were the firebrand speeches and the call to "save our nation." But according to one report, the meeting also had a darker side.

KLEW-TV reports:

"How many of you have watched the movie Lonesome Dove?," asked one speaker from the podium. "What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd? What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd. He got hung. And that's what I want to do with Patty Murray."

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Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) told CNN today that he does not plan to become a lobbyist after his term ends this year.

There has been speculation that Bayh, who announced this week that he will not seek re-election, would embark on a lucrative lobbying career.

"I do not. No," he said when asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he plans to become a lobbyist. Bayh added he has an "open mind" about his next job, and expects to still be engaged in public service.

Byah also took another chance to rail against the partisanship he says made him want to leave the Senate.

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