(CNN) - The health care ad wars aren't letting up as the dog days of summer set in.
First, national Republicans are targeting two potentially vulnerable 'Blue Dog' Democrats during the congressional recess over Democratic efforts at health care reform.
The new ads launching Friday will air in the swing districts of New York Rep. Mike Arcuri and Ohio Rep. Zack Space. NRCC spokesman Ken Spain declined to reveal the size of the ad buy but described it as "significant."
"President Obama and Nancy Pelosi are cooking up a risky experiment, on health care. Higher costs, tax hikes, and, get this, massive cuts to Medicare," versions of both ads state. Arcuri/Space already votes with Pelosi 90 percent of the time, now what do you think he'll do?"
Meanwhile, the liberal labor group Americans United for Change announced Friday it is launching a new ad on national cable next week that beats back at debunked claims about the Democrats' health care plans and spotlights what it calls "the real death panels that exist in America today."
"Their lies about phony Death Panels have all been proven false...unfortunately, there are real death panels in America," the announcer says, as footage is shown of 13-year old congressional testimony from a former Blue Cross/Blue Shield medical director who said she has denied patients potential life-saving surgeries.
A new poll suggests Americans are losing confidence in President Obama. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new poll suggests that Americans' faith in President Barack Obama to make the right decisions for the country is dropping.
Forty-nine percent of people questioned in a ABC/Washington Post survey released Friday say they have a great deal or good amount of confidence in the president's leadership, down 11 points from April. According to the poll, half of all Americans have little or no confidence in Obama's ability to make the right decisions, up ten points from April.
But the survey indicates that a dip in confidence in the president doesn't mean a rise in confidence in Republicans in Congress. Just 20 percent of people questioned say they have a great deal or good amount of faith in Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions, unchanged from April.
"This summer has been the season of discontent with all politicians," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The ABC/Washington Post poll indicates that Americans don't have confidence in the president or in Congress, and aren't confident about Democrats or Republicans."
According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing as president, down two points from July. Four in ten disapprove, up three points from the 37 percent who disapproved of the president's performance in last month's survey by ABC/Washington Post.
Three other national polls released earlier this week, NBC News, Pew Research Center and the Gallup daily tracking poll, all separately indicated a 51 percent approval rating for Obama.
(CNN) - Call Tim Pawlenty "Mr. Main Event."
The Minnesota governor is the keynote speaker Saturday night at a major dinner hosted by the Republican Party of Florida. The speech will be seen by many who cover national politics as the latest high profile step by Pawlenty toward a possible run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Last month, Pawlenty addressed top party members at a Republican National Committee conference in San Diego. In October, the Minnesota governor heads back to California, as a featured speaker at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference.
Earlier this summer, the two term governor announced he would not run next year for a third term, a move seen by many as a signal that Pawlenty is interested in running for the White House. Since that announcement, Pawlenty has stepped up his criticism of President Barack Obama.
"It is time we stand up to President Obama," Pawlenty said to members of the Republican National Committee. "It is time we stand up for our principles, and it is time we stand up for the American people."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A former Bush administration official said she thinks former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's recent charges that politics were behind raising the terror level in 2004 were "personally motivated."
In a new book, Ridge says top Bush administration officials may have tried to raise the nation's terror alert for political reasons in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.
In response, Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush and now a CNN contributor, told CNN's "American Morning" that she believes Ridge is trying to profit by separating himself politically from Bush's record.
"You have to wonder if this is not just publicity meant to sell more books," Townsend said.
(CNN) - President Obama's approval ratings are sinking in a key state that helped seal his White House victory, a new survey out Thursday suggests.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters, the president's approval rating now stands at 47 percent in the Sunshine State, while 48 percent of voters there disapprove of the job he is doing.
Obama's approval in that key presidential swing state is now at a new low, and down more than 10 points from a similar survey conducted in June.
The poll also suggests the president's approval rating in Florida has largely been hurt by his aggressive push for health care reform: Only 38 percent of Florida voters believe his plan will improve the nation's healthcare system while 45 percent say it will hurt it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, a power broker in the health care negotiations, joins Ed Henry to discuss the latest developments in the debate that could determine the fate of President Obama’s domestic agenda.
Was Nelson pleased by the president’s decision to show more flexibility over a public option, and will this make it more likely that the senator will provide a pivotal swing vote in favor of health care reform this fall?
Tune in at 11 a.m. ET today to 44 with Ed Henry.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge says he successfully countered an effort by senior Bush administration officials to raise the nation's terror alert level in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.
"An election-eve drama was being played out at the highest levels of our government" after Osama bin Laden released a pre-election message critical of President Bush, writes Ridge in his new book, The Test of Our Times.
Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld strongly advocated raising the security threat level to "orange" – even though Ridge believed a threatening message "should not be the sole reason to elevate the threat level."
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: Ridge: I fought raising security level before '04 vote
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge says he successfully countered an effort by senior Bush administration officials to raise the nation's terror alert level in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.
CNN: 'Romney care' touted as a model for national health care reform
If Washington wants health care reform with bipartisan support, experts say consider what former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accomplished as governor in Democratic Massachusetts.
CNN: Pelosi: Health bill must have public option to pass House
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a clear message Thursday to congressional negotiators on the health-care bill — dropping the public option would destroy any chance for comprehensive reform.
CNN: Source: CIA hired Blackwater to help hunt al Qaeda leaders
The Central Intelligence Agency hired the private security firm Blackwater USA in 2004 to work on a covert program aimed at targeting and potentially killing top al Qaeda leaders, according to a source familiar with the program.
CNN: Ailing Kennedy wants replacement law changed
Sen. Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, is urging Massachusetts officials to change a law to allow for an immediate temporary replacement should a vacancy occur for one of his state's two Senate seats.
CNN: Kennedy letter followed discussions with Kerry, Frank
A source close to Ted Kennedy tells CNN that he decided to write his letter on how he believed a Senate vacancy should be filled after a series of private discussions in late June with Massachusetts colleagues and friends including Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. William Delahunt.
CNN: Obama says reform a 'matter of necessity'
President Obama took his health care message to talk radio Thursday, telling listeners of Philadelphia-based host Michael Smerconish that he wants to overhaul the nation's ailing health care system out of necessity rather than politics.