Despite the obvious threat that town hall events with members of Congress will be disrupted by tea party protesters and other right wingers, President Obama today signed his name to an email to his supporters, encouraging them to commit to attending at least one such event anyhow.
"There are those who profit from the status quo, or see this debate as a political game, and they will stop at nothing to block reform," Obama writes.
They are filling the airwaves and the internet with outrageous falsehoods to scare people into opposing change. And some people, not surprisingly, are getting pretty nervous. So we've got to get out there, fight lies with truth, and set the record straight....
[T]hese canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support. So here's what I need from you:
Can you commit to join at least one event in your community this month?
You can read the entire letter below the fold. The goal appears to be to increase the attendance at these events, so that health care reform supporters aren't outnumbered by shouting protesters. That's also a key aspect of the new strategy endorsed by Health Care for America Now, the reform campaign that's now preparing activists to deal with their vocal opponents at meetings with members of Congress.
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Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has a new attack ad against his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, reminding voters of Christie's very damaging connections to a certain political figure: George W. Bush.
"Chris Christie. He was a George W. Bush Pioneer. Helped raise over $350,000 for him. And getting named U.S. Attorney in return." the announcer says -- with some cleverly selected video of Christie clapping while there's a photo of Bush on the wall in the background.
Christie has a big lead in the polls right now, even in this blue state, as Corzine's approval ratings are pretty lackluster. However, as the Corzine campaign has demonstrated, they can go after Christie because there's another politician who's even more unpopular. Consider this new spot to be the mirror image of Corzine's other recent ad, which is a positive spot featuring the endorsement of President Obama.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will begin strategically hitting vulnerable, moderate, and high-profile Republicans today, as part of a month-long ground assault for health care reform. Seven of the more than two dozen Republicans on their target list will be attacked in radio ads, like this one targeting Michele Bachmann:
Similar ads will greet Reps. Joseph Cao (R-LA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Pat Tiberi (R-OH).
The DCCC is also sponsoring live, and automated calls in the districts of 25 Republicans. Here's the script of a robocall targeting Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
This call is paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, 202-741-1350. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee
I have an important message about your health care. Insurance companies are posting record profits while health bills skyrocket. Now they are lining up to stop health care reforms and protect profits. Congressman Pete Sessions took almost four hundred thousand dollars from the insurance industry and now he's trying to block reform... like reducing costs by forcing insurance companies to compete and preventing them from denying you coverage. Call Congressman Sessions today. Ask him to stop standing up for insurance companies and start standing up for us.
I've pasted a full list of those being targeted below the fold. The campaign, dubbed "Health Care ER" will also include an email and letter-writing drive, volunteer calls to talk radio stations, petitioning, and tele-town hall events.
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Looks like our old friend Allen Stanford is having some trouble finding a lawyer.
Two high-profile white-collar crime attorneys, including the man who represents Karl Rove, are trying to make sure they don't get roped into defending the cricket-loving billionaire -- who's accused of orchestrating an $8 billion fraud -- without a guarantee of payment.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has announced that he will vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the Kansas City Star reports.
"Elections do have consequences," said Bond, adding that he's voted in the past for justices with whom he disagreed, and that Sotomayor is well qualified.
Sotomayor currently has seven Republicans set to vote for her: Bond, Mel Martinez (FL), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lamar Alexander (TN), Dick Lugar (IN) Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME). No Democrat has come out against her.
It's worth pointing that Bond will neither pay any price among the GOP base, nor win over swing voters -- he's retiring in 2010.
Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) is firing back at the disruption of a recent town hall that he held, telling Wisconsin Public Radio that the insurance industry is behind a misinformation campaign that included the right-wingers who stormed his event.
"I couldn't have organized it better," said Kagen. "I believe some people are being frightened (with misinformation) ... The first casualty of war is truth."
Kagen said he's standing by the public option: "You can count on it. I can't be bought."
With a significant campaign of town hall disruptions underway, it seems pretty clear that health care reform activists will have their work cut out for them, at least for the time being. But that's why they're changing their own playbook.
A new strategy document, produced by the umbrella campaign Health Care for America Now, outlines the various ways reformers and activists can respond when town hall events with members of Congress are interrupted.
You can read the entire memo here. Below the fold, I've included the section of the document which advises activists on how to respond to an anti-reform disruption. Among other things, it suggests, "[i]nterrupt them when they get disruptive and refocus the meeting: Line up a number of people who feel comfortable interrupting and prepare them...prep people on our side to keep raising the questions that we want answered. Repetition is the key."
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the likely 2010 GOP nominee for Senate in this perennial swing state, says he doesn't want to talk anymore about whether President Obama was born in the United States, the Springfield News-Leaderreports. But Blunt still doesn't seem to be giving up on it as a legitimate issue, either.
Blunt said last week that "I don't have any reason not to believe" that Obama is a natural-born citizen -- but at the same time he said the Birthers had a "legitimate question" about Obama's birth certificate. Well, the local media in Missouri is now asking him about it, and here's what he said:
"What I actually think is that you guys don't have any capacity to talk about that in a legitimate way, so I'm going to stop talking about it," Blunt told a reporter.
If requested, Blunt said, he would produce his original birth certificate to prove he was born Jan. 10, 1950, in Niangua.
By the way, Niangua is a small town in southern Missouri -- not a coastal city in Kenya.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted this morning on the disrupted town halls:
Town hall meetings are an American tradition - we should allow everyone to express their views without disruption - even if we disagree!
This seems to be directed at protesters, more or less telling them to cut the stunts. McCain has a pretty solid record of stopping during town halls and speeches to ask protesters to be more respectful, even of his opponents. Remember the campaign events (like the one where a woman called Obama "an Arab")?
For the record, a McCain spokeswoman tells us the tweet was "directed at everyone."