(CNN) - Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is taking the initial steps to challenge California Democrat Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat, a move that could lay the groundwork for one of the most high profile and expensive contests of 2010.
Fiorina, the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company and a former surrogate for John McCain's presidential bid, filed a tax identification number and registered a campaign committee with the IRS Tuesday called "Carly for California."
"The people of California have serious concerns about job creation, economic growth and the role of government in solving problems that touch each of ourlives," Fiorina said in a statement. "I have received a great deal of encouragement to make a run for the Senate in 2010 from people across the political spectrum because these are all issues that need focused attention in Washington, D.C."
Under the new committee, Fiorina will begin to aggressively raise money as well as speak with policy experts and campaign advisors, spokeswoman Beth Miller told CNN.
Boxer's campaign coffers are already loaded: the three-term senator's latest filing with the Federal Elections Commission shows she raised well over $2 million during the first half of the year and has close to $5.5 million cash on hand.
Though Fiorina does not have a set timetable to formally announce a Senate bid, Miller said the former Hewlett-Packard CEO's window to make a decision is only a couple of months given a GOP primary is set for next June.
A former economic adviser and visible presence on cable news, Fiorina was largely sidelined from public appearances from the McCain campaign after telling an interviewer she didn't think either member of the GOP presidential ticket was qualified to run a major company.
Democrats wasted little time in attacking Fiorina's latest move.
“This is a person who was fired from Hewlett Packard for running the company into the ground, fired from the McCain Presidential Campaign for incompetence, and now thinks the people of California are going to hire her," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senator Chuck Grassley, the lead Republican in bipartisan health care negotiations, disclosed Tuesday morning that in a private meeting with President Obama earlier this month, he personally urged the president to make clear he is not wedded to a public option.
“I told the president then that he needed to make public whether or not he could sign a bill that didn't have a public option in it," Grassley said on Radio Iowa. "He didn't have to take a position against a public option, but would he sign a bill that wouldn't have a public option in it, and I thought a statement from him would be very helpful."
Grassley and the five other bipartisan negotiators met with the president on August 6, just before leaving Washington for summer recess, to discuss their efforts towards a health care bill that can pass the Senate Finance Committee in September.
Listen: Grassley discusses his conversation with Obama on Radio Iowa
On Saturday, President Obama said “the public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform.”
Then on Sunday, on CNN’s State of The Union, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said a public option is “not an essential element.”
White House spokesman Bill Burton stuck to the administration’s contention that it has not changed its position on a public option, and he expressed doubt that Grassley’s plea to the president earlier this month had any impact on the administration’s comments this past weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton met for 70 minutes Tuesday with President Barack Obama to brief him on Clinton's trip to North Korea earlier this month to secure the release of two jailed journalists.
It was the first face-to-face meeting between the men since Clinton returned to the United States on August 5 with the two journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling.
During his stay in North Korea, Clinton met with reclusive leader Kim Jong Il, whose government is under U.N. sanctions for its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program.
A White House statement said Obama and Clinton met for nearly 40 minutes in the White House Situation Room, where Obama thanked Clinton for undertaking the mission.
(CNN) - The White House released a statement Tuesday night on President Obama's meeting with former President Clinton.
President Obama today met in the Situation Room with former President Clinton for nearly forty minutes to thank him in person for undertaking the humanitarian mission to secure the release of two American citizens who had been detained by North Korea for over four months. Former President Clinton described the process, including a meeting with Kim Jong-il, that culminated in the North Korean leadership granting "special amnesty" to the two journalists and permitting them to return to the United States. President Obama said he was gratified that the Americans had been safely reunited with their families. After the meeting, President Obama invited President Clinton to the Oval Office to continue their conversation for another half hour.
(CNN) - President Obama will be among the speakers at a memorial tribute to the late CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite on September 9 at Lincoln Center in New York, according to senior administration officials.
The event is expected to be a who's who of the media establishment, ranging from Katie Couric and Andy Rooney of CBS News to former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw. Cronkite, the legendary anchor once called the most trusted newsman in America, died on July 17.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress said Tuesday that he would "have to think long and hard" about voting in favor of a health care bill that did not include a public option.
"I'd have to think long and hard, I'd have to see if it moved health care forward," New York Rep. Eliot Engel told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "...I think it would be a terrible miscalculation if we didn't have a public option."
Engel called nonprofit health cooperatives, or "co-ops" - which are being proposed as an alternative - "untested," and said that he needs proof that they would help to lower costs.
The administration has faced criticism from the left in recent days over statements that seemed to indicate a willingness to drop a public option in the final bill. Engel said "nothing is changed" and that he believes President Obama continues to support the inclusion of a public option.
Jason Rogers of San Antonio, Texas: "Four years ago my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. After 18 months, we fought that disease with everything we had. Under a public option or government-run health care system, would that type of care be possible? Is it something that 10 years from now we're going to have to sacrifice or come up with a tremendous amount of cash to pay for it because it would be rationed under our government-run health care system?"
Get the facts and the verdict after the jump:
WASHINGTON (CNN) - While a government-run public health care option irks conservatives, and even some fiscally minded Democrats, the idea of health care cooperatives has emerged as an option in the reform debate.
Small health care cooperatives have worked in a couple of markets. But whether the idea can be applied on a national scale is debatable.
Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is pushing the co-op idea as an alternative to a government-sponsored insurance program that would compete with private insurers. He doesn't think a government option will pass in the Senate.
Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday that his model could attract 12 million members and "be the third-largest insurer in the country and be a very effective competitor [with private insurance companies]."
Related: Doctors, patients praise co-ops
"If you believe competition helps drive down costs, then they would certainly contribute to holding down costs," Conrad said.
But Tim Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University, said that Conrad is not offering concrete statistics on how the plan will help reform health care.
"I have not seen anything, other than Sen. Conrad's statements to the press, explaining how this is going to work," he said. "He put out a couple of one-pagers early on, but he is talking about this actuarial data. Let's make it public, let's find out who the actuaries are."
(CNN) - Are you confused by all the back and forth on health care reform? Here's a guide to some of the terms commonly tossed about in the debate.
Blue Dog coalition: The Blue Dog coalition is a group of 52 fiscally conservative Democrats in the House. The Blue Dogs insist that health care reform should preserve patient choice and maintain competition in the marketplace without adding to the national deficit. They'll play a critical role in getting a bill through the House.
Co-op: Nonprofit health cooperatives, or "co-ops," are being proposed as an option to compete with the private sector and as an alternative to a government-sponsored public health insurance option. Co-ops are owned and governed by the same people they insure.
Electronic records: President Obama wants to computerize all records within five years as a way to increase quality of health care and decrease costs. Under his plan to modernize health care, all health records would be standardized and electronic.
What's the "public option"?: CNN Radio explains:
End-of-life counseling: The current version of the House bill contains a provision for end-of-life counseling for Medicare beneficiaries who want it. The House bill allows for coverage of such appointments as long as an individual has not had an end-of-life care or advance care planning consultation within the last five years. The idea has been a sticking point in the health care debate, as critics have likened it to a step toward euthanasia and "death panels."
More health care lingo explained in the full story