TPM News

Obama Going Quiet In Health Care Public Debate President Obama has decided to lower his public profile in the health care debate, the New York Times reports, moving away from public rallies and towards negotiation in Washington. "I think his time is better spent on this particular issue in conversation with members and in talking to his own advisers and instructing them on how to proceed," said senior adviser David Axelrod. "That's the phase that we're in."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 12:40 p.m. ET with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). At 1:50 p.m. ET, Obama will announce a package of initiatives to increase credit to small businesses. At 3 p.m. ET, he will attend a Cabinet-level earthquake tabletop exercise. He will depart from the White House at 3:25 p.m. ET, arriving at 4:35 p.m. ET in Newark, New Jersey. At 6:05 p.m. ET, he will deliver remarks at a rally for Gov. Jon Corzine, at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He will depart from New Jersey at 7:25 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 8:35 p.m. ET.

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Gov. David Paterson's (D) terrible, horrible, no good, very bad job approval numbers have moved bit, according to a new poll. Now they're just awful. A new Quinnipiac University poll out today shows the embattled New York governor's disapproval rating creeping down to 57%, a 3 point drop from August. His bottom-of-the-barrel 30% approval rating remained steady, however.

Other results from the Q poll show echo numbers we reported yesterday. Paterson is crushed 54-32 in a potential gubernatorial matchup with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R). But there's another bit of not-so-terrible news for Paterson, too: He ties a potential matchup with former Rep. Rick Lazio (R) 38-38.

President Obama spoke to a DNC fundraiser dinner Tuesday night. Here is the full transcript of his remarks, as released by the White House:

Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Please, everybody have a seat. Back to your salads -- (laughter) -- or whatever they're serving.

It is good to be back in New York. (Applause.) Always great to be in New York. I -- for those Yankee fans out there, you're still up 2 to 1. (Applause.) You should be all right. I love this town, and I -- want to know how much I appreciate everything that so many of the people in this room have done, not just for me, but for the country as a whole. There are a lot of folks here who were on the frontlines of our campaign, and people who devoted their time and their energy and their reputations to backing some guy nobody had ever heard of. (Laughter.) And I will never forget that. And not a day goes by that I don't think about the obligations that I have as a consequence of this extraordinary honor that's been bestowed on me -- the obligation I've got to every American and everybody who put their hopes into a cause that wasn't just about winning an election, but was about changing the country.

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A new poll shows the drama is increasing in the Florida senate race. Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the conservative Republican who's been gaining traction among the state's GOP base, has moved within 15 points of Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican primary. Crist leads the race 50-35 in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, half of his margin over Rubio from the last Q poll.

But though Rubio may be connecting with Republicans, the poll shows independents and moderate Democrats are not sold. In a potential matchup against the likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Kendrick Meek, Rubio trails 36-33. Crist continues to dominate against Meek, leading that potential race 51-31.

President Obama tonight pleaded with Democrats to remain unified in the final health care stretch, detailing for his loyal supporters in New York the good things in "the bill you least like."

"There are going to be some disagreements and details to work out ... but I want to say to you Democrats, let's make sure that we keep our eye on the prize," Obama said during a Webcast for the thousands of Organizing for America volunteers who were gathered for call parties across the country.

"Sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies, Democrats are an opinionated bunch ... y'all are thinking for yourselves," he said. "I like that in you, but it's time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close and we've got to be unified."

Obama said "the bill you least like in Congress right now, of the five that are out there," would give 29 million uninsured Americans health care, would ban preexisting conditions and would create an exchange that would encourage competition among ensurers.

His comments were live in front of an audience in a New York ballroom, and streamed out to the parties (where volunteers were proud they made more than 234,000 calls to Congress today). The refrain about "the bill you least like" sounded a bit like presidential foreshadowing since senators are meeting privately to merge the more conservative Senate Finance Committee bill with the more liberal Health, Education, Labor and Pensions version.

(Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is standing firm.)

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New CBO numbers may have sealed the deal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preparing to move ahead with a "robust" public option--one that reimburses hospitals and providers at Medicare rates, plus five percent--in the House's health care bill. She is briefing her caucus about the plan's savings tonight, and, pending the approval of a sufficient majority of members, will adopt the measure as part of the complete reform package.

The analysis finds the reconstituted House proposal to be deficit neutral, and require less than $900 billion (reportedly around $870 billion) in new spending, over ten years.

The bill remains nominally more expensive than the Senate Finance Committee proposal, but would cover 96 percent of all Americans, providing greater bang for each federal dollar spent. And, aides note, the bill that comes to the floor of the Senate will be a hybrid of the Finance and more expensive HELP Committee bills, so the price is expected to rise.

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How much does former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder's refusal to endorse Creigh Deeds hurt the Democratic nominee for governor?

It's bad news, according to some state Democrats. But African American grassroots leaders who helped Obama win the state last year say Wilder's backing would be nice, but isn't really that important.

"I think Deeds will win without it," said Stephanie Meyers, national co-chair of Black Women For Obama For Change, an offshoot group of the grassroots organization that helped Obama become the first Democrat to win Virginia since 1964 last year. The group just reactivated its Virginia activists for Deeds and is currently running a national phone bank on his behalf.

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A new SurveyUSA poll posted tonight shows the Virginia governor race has broken wide open as the days tick down to the Nov. 3 election. Republican nominee Bob McDonnell now leads Democrat Creigh Deeds by 19 points, 59-40. A similar SurveyUSA poll last week showed the race at 54-43 in favor of McDonnell.

According to the release, "McDonnell leads among both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, educated and less-educated, and in all regions of the state."

Another day, and still a dearth of details. Senators and White House officials were almost comically tight-lipped throughout the afternoon on the progress of health care reform negotiations, even though it's clear by now that the people in the room hashing out the Senate's bill are getting down to the nitty gritty.

During a weekly caucus meeting, Democrats were briefed on the details of last night's health care powwow, yet, afterward, none were forthcoming with details.

"What I'm especially pleased about is that we're not rushing," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). "I'm sure there's some who are impatient."

"It wasn't a townhall meeting at all. It was more like a prayer meeting," said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who declined to divulge any specifics.

"We got into it a little bit, not a lot," added Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). "[Leadership is] extremely open and working with everybody."

In a moment of coyness gone awry, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters, "we're leaning towards talking about the public option." Last night his spokesman Jim Manley said, without going into detail, that Senate and White House negotiators discussed "the public option, affordability, and other key issues," during their evening scrum.

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Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, appeared on MSNBC today and promised, "We're going to have a public option" in the Senate health care reform bill.

Harkin, who sent Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to negotiate merging the HELP and Finance bills with Sens. Max Baucus and Harry Reid, also said, "The President has to come out."

"I hope the White House will be a little more forceful on this issue," he said.

He said the merged bill will come out late this week or early next week.


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