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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele issued the following statement regarding former President Jimmy Carter's comments on race-based opposition to President Obama around 10 a.m. Wednesday. Here's the full text: "President Carter is flat out wrong. This isn't about race. It is about policy.

This is a pathetic distraction by Democrats to shift attention away from the president's wildly unpopular government-run health care plan that the American people simply oppose. Injecting race into the debate over critical issues facing American families doesn't create jobs, reform our health care system or reduce the growing deficit. It only divides Americans rather than uniting us to find solutions to challenges facing our nation.

Characterizing Americans' disapproval of President Obama's policies as being based on race is an outrage and a troubling sign about the lengths Democrats will go to disparage all who disagree with them. Playing the race card shows that Democrats are willing to deal from the bottom of the deck. Our political system has no place for this type of rhetoric.

As the leader of the Democratic Party President Obama should flatly reject efforts by those in his Party, including Jimmy Carter and Tim Kaine, to inject race into our civil discourse in ways that divide, not unite, Americans."

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, "Although we don't agree with everything in this bill, Finance Committee's mark represents critical momentum in this process."

In particular, leadership approves of the bill's efficiency and cost-cutting measures including changes to Medicare, and promotion of preventative care.

The goal for leadership at this point is to get a bill out of committee, ideally with Olympia Snowe's vote, but, alternatively, with Democrats only. What remains unclear is the extent (if any) to which the bill would become more liberal if zero Republicans ultimately vote for it. Already, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has said he can not support the bill as it is, and, if no Republicans vote for it, Rockefeller's the only vote Max Baucus can afford to lose on the left and still pass a bill.

Daniel Bogden, who was fired by the Bush Administration in 2006 during its purge of US Attorneys, officially got his old job back yesterday as the Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent to be US Attorney for Nevada.

President Obama nominated Bogden for the job earlier this year. Nevada Senators Harry Reid (D) And John Ensign (R) each hailed Bogden in statements.

Reid's statement after the jump:

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Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus has unveiled a draft of his health care reform bill, which, as expected, calls for co-ops but no public option. So far, after months of bipartisan negotiations, no Republicans have agreed to support the framework--but that could change during hearings next week as the bill gets amended. More to come as we sift through it.

At an anti-immigration event last night, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) defended his colleague Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), saying, "The President threw the first punch."

"A lot of us said, well, this health care bill is gonna fund illegals, and the President said, 'Prominent politicians are lying to you.' He said that on the floor of the House of Representatives," King said. "I don't think there's ever been a President comes to the House of Representatives as a guest of the members of the House and makes a declaration like he did. I mean, the President threw the first punch."

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A good catch from The New Argument. The Democratic party's organizing arm, OFA, seems to have changed the language on it's website, which used to be as firm as possible on the public option. The site used to say that health care reform "must... [g]uarantee choice - Every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor - including the choice of a public insurance option."

Now, it's backed away from that insistence. The new language on the site urges members of Congress to support President Obama's health care reform principles, which include a public option--but doesn't characterize it as a make or break issue.

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Carter: Wilson's Outburst and Tea Parties "Based On Racism" Former President Jimmy Carter has accused Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), as well as Tea Party activists opposed to President Obama, of being motivated by racism. "I think it's based on racism," Carter said. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet one on one with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at 10:45 a.m. ET, with an expanded meeting at 11 a.m. ET. At 1 p.m. ET, Obama and the First Lady will host an event with the White House Office on Olympics, Paralympics and Youth Sport, to promote Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Obama will meet with Gen. Colin Powell at 2 p.m. ET, and with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates at 4:30 p.m. ET. Finally, Obama will deliver remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 32nd Annual Awards Gala, at 8:10 p.m. ET.

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President Carter spoke yesterday on the tone of the health care debate, saying much of the animosity is based in racism.

"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American," he told NBC News.

"I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way," he said. "That racism inclination still exists and I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

The former president added that he believes Obama will be able to "triumph over the racist attitude."

Video after the jump.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) pets Maggie, a dairy cow from Fulton, Md., during a press conference on the national dairy crisis on Capitol Hill Sept. 15, 2009.

Newscom/UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) similarly petting Maggie. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for $350 million to help struggling dairy farmers, joined by Klobuchar, Leahy, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tom Udall (D-NM), plus members of the National Farmers Union.

Newscom/UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Maggie, ruminating, with the Capitol in the background.

Newscom/UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Leahy registering his approval of Maggie and support for dairy farmer Charles Iager.

Newscom/UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Iager, Klobuchar and Leahy with Maggie.

Newscom/UPI/Kevin Dietsch

In what is likely an effort to bolster the health care bill he helped design, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)--chair of the Budget Committee, and member of the "gang of six"--has seen to it that health care proposals in the House and Senate be analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office over a 20 year window, instead of the usual 10.

CBO chief Doug Elmendorf worked closely with the Finance Committee during the drafting of the proposal, and seems likely to project greater long-term cost savings from it than from the others. And if that happens, his findings are sure to be used as a political weapon by both Republicans and spending-conscious Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Medicine--an organization that's part of the National Academies--is about to release a new study which confirms the view that the CBO's projections are stingy and that current reform proposals will likely yield hundreds of billions of dollars in savings that the CBO didn't account for.