TPM News

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), champion of a nonprofit coop over a government-run public option, told CNBC today that Senate leadership asked him months ago to come up with an alternative. The leaders, he said, didn't think they could get 60 votes for a public option.

"The reason I was asked to advance an alternative was it was clear at the time ... that there were not the votes for a public option," he said. With Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd ill, and one of the Minnesota seats not filled, "we only had 57 votes."

"So I was asked to come up with something that would be a not for profit competitor that was not government run," he said.

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Steve Miller of ACCCE just told the Markey committee that his firm never opposed the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation.

But look at this Greenwire story, via the New York Times, from last month ... and especially this "clarification."

Clarification: This story was changed to state that ACCCE opposed Waxman-Markey. An ACCCE spokeswoman in an interview Wednesday said that ACCCE was not opposed to Waxman-Markey but later in the day said that was an error and ACCCE at the time of the vote opposed the bill.

So clearly there's been confusion about this before. But it looks like Miller just said something that's flatly not true.

NRCC communications director Ken Spain released this statement on the House Democrats' unveiling of their health care bill, making it clear that the GOP will try to keep on using this issue as a cudgel against Democrats in swing districts:

"The lasting image coming out of today's press conference is one of dozens of House Democrats standing proudly behind an incredibly unpopular Nancy Pelosi as she prepares to lead them off a political cliff. Not only will the Democrats' government takeover of healthcare lead to increased costs, higher taxes, and cuts to Medicare, it also feeds into the emerging narrative that Nancy Pelosi and her puppets are more interested in creating government even if it comes at the expense of creating jobs."

Rep. Inslee is now telling Steve Miller of ACCCE that as "penance" for the forged letter fiasco, his group should tell Sen. James Inhofe that we need to take serious efforts to limit global warming legislation.

And that they should run an ad that says at the top: "We need CO2 regulation in America and we need it fast."

Miller, unsurprisingly, is unwiling to do this.

It certainly wasn't the "flash mob" organizers were hoping for, but a small but determined group of Tea Party Patriots gathered on the Capitol Lawn this morning to protest the announcement of a final House health care reform bill.

TPMDC counted about 10 Tea Partiers holding signs denouncing a "government takeover" of health care and looking with disdain as House Democrats gathered on the Capitol Steps. They stood in a larger group of protesters from other groups, mostly focused on abortion rights.

Joann Abbott, a grandmother from Northern Virginia, made the drive to the protest this morning after seeing the email sent by Tea Party leaders last night. When asked if she was part of the "flash mob," she laughed. "I'm here on my own," she said, looking around at the scattered protesters around her. "If this is organized, we suck."

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Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is brushing off former Vice President Dick Cheney's endorsement of Perry's primary challenger, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison -- saying he'd rather have his current support from Sarah Palin.

Perry touted an upcoming endorsement from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, as evidence of Republican support. Perry was then asked if he would rather have Cheney or Palin, who endorsed him back in February.

Perry's response: "I think I'd stick with Sarah."

Both lawmakers and the other witnesses are now lambasting Bonner on two of his claims: that he didn't know when the vote was, and that he didn't know which members of Congress were swing votes on the issue.

One witness from a community group points out that any grassroots lobbying firm worth it's salt would know these things, and calls Bonner's claims "disingenuous."

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs showed a rare flash of emotion this morning reflecting on his own experience at President Obama's side in the predawn hours at Dover Air Force Base as the bodies of 18 killed in Afghanistan arrived in the United States.

Eyes glistening, Gibbs told reporters during a gaggle in his West Wing office he'd never had such an experience.

"You get a real sense of gravity when you see the faces of those there to grieve for a loved one," Gibbs said after TPMDC asked him about his own reaction during the surprise visit.

"These were very recent deaths," he continued. "You can see the genuine anguish on their faces. It's hard not to be overwhelmed by what you see."

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