WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top Republican senator warned Tuesday that if Democrats try to overhaul health care without Republican support, "it will wreck our health care system and wreck the Democratic Party."
"The intensity on this issue across the country is like nothing I"ve seen in a long, long time," said Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate.
After a month of town halls back home, Alexander said it's clear to him and other Republicans that Americans are "scared to death" about the sweeping policy changes coming from Washington this year and the massive debt they are creating.
Alexander warned there would be "a minor revolution in this country" if Democrats try to "ram" a health care overhaul using a legislative tool called reconciliation, which would allow a bill to pass with 50 votes instead of 60.
Alexander also complained the White House has cut Republicans out of talks.
(CNN) - Sarah Palin's political action committee is handing out cash to some of the most conservative members of Congress, a new report filed with the Federal Elections Commission reveals.
According to the latest disclosure with the FEC, SarahPac has donated to money to Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Senate hopeful Rob Portman of Ohio.
Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton confirms the former Alaska governor's committee did donate $1,000 to each of those Republicans, as well as $2,500 to Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell, now dealing with fallout from the revelation of a controversial 20-year-old thesis.
The donations come more than a week after SarahPAC was notified by the FEC that it violated federal election law with the donations it gave to Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski earlier this year. Because the PAC had only given money to two candidates, it was only allowed to donate $4,800 to them per election cycle. (The PAC had donated $5,000 and received a refund of $200 from both McCain and Murkowski.)
But with the recent additional donations, the PAC now qualifies as a "multi-candidate PAC" and is allowed to give $10,000 to a candidate per cycle
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(CNN) - The former chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party said Tuesday he's planning to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
"I have decided that during this important time in our nation's history, one should not be a political spectator," Arkansas State Sen. Gilbert Baker said in a statement announcing his primary bid for the 2010 nomination, pledging to help provide "checks and balances on the policies being pushed by President Obama and the D.C. leadership."
Lincoln has long been a top 2010 Republican target. Amber Wilkerson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, praised Baker's move Tuesday, calling it "another indication that Blanche Lincoln is facing an uphill battle in her quest for re-election in 2010."
A campaign spokesman for Lincoln had no comment on Baker or other potential GOP challengers - but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee signaled a tough fight ahead for the challenger if he captures the Republican nod. "As Baker's record comes under close examination, the people of Arkansas will find a Little Rock insider who repeatedly puts his own self-interest above those he has pledged to serve," said Eric Schultz, the DSCC's communications director.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A majority of independent voters disapprove of how Barack Obama's handling his job as president, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-three percent of independents questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they disapprove of how Obama's handling his duties in the White House, with 43 percent in approval. That result marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of independents give the president's performance a thumbs-down.
Obama's overall approval rating of 53 percent is down 3 points from a month ago, and down 8 points from June. Forty-five percent of those questioned disapprove, up 5 points from a month ago and up 8 points from June.
According to the poll, nine in 10 Democrats approve of the job Obama's doing, up three points from a month ago, with 15 percent of Republicans approving, down 8 points.
"Obama won a majority of the vote among independents last year, and that helped put him in the White House," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Losing their support makes it more difficult for Obama to govern from the center."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time high in a new national poll.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, with 42 percent supporting the military mission. The percentage of those in opposition to the war is up 11 points since April, and is the highest ever in CNN polling since the launch of the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
The poll indicates that opposition to the war is coming mainly from Democrats and independents.
"Fifty-seven percent of independents and nearly three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war. Seven in 10 Republicans support what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Democrats mildly opposed the war in April while independents and Republicans favored it. But opposition has grown 18 points among Democrats and 10 points among independents."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans Tuesday to take "common-sense" steps in preparation for an expected resurgence in the H1N1 virus this fall.
Among other things, he said, people should wash their hands frequently and stay home from work if they are ill.
"I know it sounds simple, but it's important and it works" he said at the White House.
"I don't want anybody to be alarmed. But I do want (people) to be prepared."
The president said hospitals need to prepare for an unusually large influx of patients. While the federal government is doing everything possible to prepare for a new H1N1 outbreak, there will likely be "issues coming up over the next several months," he said. The way the virus is "moving is still unpredictable."
(CNN) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, has taken the first step to run for Ted Kennedy's empty Senate seat.
Brian McNiff, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Secretary of State, confirms to CNN a representative for Coakley picked up nomination papers for the race earlier Tuesday. Coakley will now have to gather 10,000 signatures by October 20 to be eligible to run for the seat long held by Kennedy, who died last week.
Coakley is the first candidate on either side to officially pick up the nomination papers, but McNiff indicated he thinks other candidates might do so Tuesday as well.
"The day is young," he said.
The move comes one day after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick formally announced a special election to fill the seat will be held on January 19, 2010. Patrick also said Republican and Democratic primaries will be held December 8.
Several other Massachusetts Democrats have not ruled out running for the seat, including Kennedy's nephew former Rep. Joseph Kennedy, who reportedly has close to $1.8 million left over from his campaign fund when he was a member of Congress 10 years ago.
On the Republican side, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, businessman David Sukoff and State Sen. Scott Brown are reportedly interested in running.
A former district attorney, Coakley was elected attorney general in 2006.
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(CNN) - Republican Chris Christie enlisted popular former New Jersey governor Tom Kean on Tuesday to help shift the dialogue of the race back to the subject Jon Corzine's record as governor and away from questions about Christie's private behavior.
Kean, honorary chairman of the Christie campaign, accused Corzine of sullying the race by launching a salvo of character attacks against the Republican candidate, who still leads in the polls.
"The public doesn't like it, I don't like it," Kean said on a conference call with reporters. "The poll numbers haven't moved."
He may be right: According to a Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday, of the people who have seen Corzine ads criticizing Christie for giving contracts to people with ties to former President George W. Bush, 56 percent say the ads are an unfair attack, while 36 percent say they are a legitimate campaign issue.