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President Obama traveled to lower Manhattan today a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers to argue that the administration's response to the financial crisis has been successful and to pitch his plan to change the regulatory system.

"Although I will never be satisfied while people are out of work and our financial system is weakened, we can be confident that the storms of the past two years are beginning to break," said Obama, speaking in Federal Hall on Wall St. "The growing stability resulting from these interventions means we are beginning to return to normalcy. But what I want to emphasize is this: normalcy cannot lead to complacency," he added. (Read his prepared remarks here.)

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It turns out Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) has had a prominent defender among his colleagues, sticking up for his "You lie!" outburst during President Obama's speech to Congress: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). In an interview late last week with NewsMax, Bachmann said Wilson "spoke the truth."

"Joe Wilson spoke truth on the floor of the House last evening," Bachmann declared, "when he said -- when he was stating that, his disagreement with the President."

Bachmann also dug in on death panels: "But there's been a confusion about death panels. "Death panels" isn't just about end-of-life counseling. Death panels are the bureaucracies that President Obama is establishing, that will -- where bureaucrats will make the decision on who gets health care, and how much. who will have access to doctors? How quickly? What will the delays be? Because we know, this bill will include rationing."

Check out the video, after the jump.

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Below is the text of Obama's remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Federal Hall in New York City on September 14, 2009. The President's address falls on the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Thank you all for being here and for your warm welcome. It's a privilege to be in historic Federal Hall. It was here more than two centuries ago that our first Congress served and our first President was inaugurated. It was here, in the early days of our Republic, that Hamilton and Jefferson debated how best to administer a young economy and to ensure that our nation rewarded the talents and drive of its people. Two centuries later, we still grapple with these questions - questions made more acute in moments of crisis.

It was one year ago that we experienced just such a crisis. As investors and pension-holders watched with dread and dismay, and after a series of emergency meetings often conducted in the dead of the night, several of the world's largest and oldest financial institutions had fallen, either bankrupt, bought, or bailed out: Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Washington Mutual, Wachovia. A week before this began, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been taken over by the government. Other large firms teetered on the brink of insolvency. Credit markets froze as banks refused to lend not only to families and businesses but to one another. Five trillion dollars of Americans' household wealth evaporated in the span of just three months.

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The word for the last week or two has been that the White House is hoping that, by moving toward a "triggered" public option, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will be the 60th vote for health care reform. In the background, many have wondered whether Snowe's almost-as-moderate colleague, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), would join in as vote number 61.

The answer to that appears to be "no."



"The problem with the trigger is that it just delays the public option, because the people who are going to be making the determination about whether the market is competitive enough want the public option. So I think the trigger is just a delay."

That's not 100 percent iron clad, but there's certainly not much reason to think she'll help break a health care filibuster.

In a newly broadcast interview with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the senator describes how his father demanded him to do something important with his life.

"I had a sit down with my dad, and he said, I tell you, you have to make up your mind whether you want to have a constructive, positive attitude and influence on your time," Kennedy said, "and if you're not interested in a purposeful, useful, constructive life, I just want you to know I have other children that are out there ... So you have to make up your mind about which direction you want to go."

Kennedy said he remembers laying in bed that night staring at the ceiling. By the end of the night, he said, "It was very clear to me what kind of life I wanted to lead."

Excerpts from the interview, which was recorded five months before Kennedy's death with his publisher, were broadcast on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America. Kennedy's memoir, True Compass, was released today.

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A new Monmouth University poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race underscores the big problem that Democrats are facing in this blue state: A lack of motivation for their own voters, compared to an energized GOP base.

Among likely voters, Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie leads with 47% against Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's 39%, plus 5% for independent candidate Chris Daggett.

Among the larger pool of registered voters, however, it's Corzine who edges ahead: Corzine 41%, Christie 40%, Daggett 6%.

From the pollster's analysis: "At this point, the likely voter result is our best estimate of where the dynamics of this race stand at this time. We provide the registered voter results in the interest of furthering our understanding of the entire New Jersey electorate's concerns and motivations. The bottom line is that turnout always matters. It just may matter more in this election than usual."

In taking up Ted Kennedy's mantle as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is leaving no doubt that he plans to fight hard for a politically contentious feature of his panel's health care reform bill.

"That bill -- mark my word, I'm the chairman -- is going to have a strong public option," Harkin told constituents at his annual Steak Fry in Iowa.

He made it clear, too, that he views a strong fight for the public option as part of his role in carrying on Kennedy's legacy. "We lost a great progressive, a great leader on so many issues," Harkin said. "It now falls to me to pick up the torch."

Harkin's ability to impact the fight over public option will be determined in no small part by whether he's selected as a negotiator if and when House and Senate health care legislation are merged in a conference committee. Though he now chairs the HELP committee, the panel's health care process was overseen by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) who acted as chairman until shortly after Kennedy's death.

Here's the fun audio, via the Not Larry Sabato blog, of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell using profanity during an interview:



"I've outlined 12 f---ing funding mechanisms that are creative, that are entrepreneurial," said McDonnell, in explaining his transportation policies to a reporter from radio station WTOP. It's very interesting language for a politician who got into politics after writing a hard-right political manifesto for Pat Robertson's university, talking about how government should uphold values.

McDonnell communications director Tucker Martin later told CNN that it was a slip of the tongue. "At one point Bob was speaking quickly, and in trying to say 'funding mechanism,' he stumbled and accidentally said another word," said Martin. "It was unintentional, and anyone who spends any time around Bob knows he does not use such language. It was an accident. It is that simple."

The former top fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich died over the weekend in an apparent suicide.

Chris Kelly was found Friday night slumped over the wheel of his black Cadillac Escalade in a lumber yard in suburban Country Club Hills outside Chicago. Drugs were found in the vehicle. Kelly died Saturday morning in a Chicago hospital.

Kelly, a high-stakes gambler, faced eight years in prison for hiding income that he used to pay gambling debts, and for participating in an $8.5 million fraud involving roofing work on airline hangars at O'Hare International Airport. He was also facing trial for his role in the alleged pay-for-play corruption connected to Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor.

We've obtained an exclusive excerpt from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's autobiography "True Compass" -- which goes on sale today -- in which the Massachusetts Democrat blasts the Bush administration's selling and execution of the Iraq War.

Kennedy wrote that "America's people deserved better than the misuse of power in Iraq" and described the run-up to war as a "march to disaster" in which "the administration's justifications departed from reality."

"The president and his men lost no time exploiting that trust and goodwill," Kennedy wrote, adding that "there was no just cause for the invasion of Iraq."

Full excerpt available after the jump.







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