(CNN) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley Thursday formally announced her bid for the state's vacant Senate seat long held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
"We face a crisis of confidence. We have lost our distinguished and tenacious senator, Ted Kennedy," Coakley said Thursday in an event surrounded by supporters. "We have depended upon him in the Common Wealth and in Washington, and we will miss his strength, his leadership, and his sense of humor. As some have noted, no one can fill his shoes, but we must strive to follow in his footsteps."
Coakley is the first candidate on either side to officially enter the race for the seat that for over four decades was held by Kennedy, who died last week. The move comes days after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced a special election to fill the vacancy will be held on January 19, 2010 with party primaries to be held December 8.
"I believe government has to work well, and it has to work for everyone," said Coakley, a former district attorney and the state's attorney general since 2006. "I believe that is the promise democracy has been based and I believe it is time to renew that promise."
With Massachusetts effectively a one-party state - Democrats control the governorship and every congressional seat, and have overwhelming majorities in both houses of the state legislature - it's likely the Democratic primary race will ultimately determine the state's next senator.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden trumpeted the role of the administration's $787 billion stimulus package Thursday in sparking an economic recovery.
"There is a growing consensus: the recovery act is working," he told an audience at the Brookings Institute.
"Instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we are talking about the end of a recession."
The stimulus plan, enacted almost 200 days ago, "is doing more faster and more efficiently and more effectively than most people expected," he argued.
The vice president, who is overseeing the implementation of the plan, cited multiple independent analysts who claim the stimulus plan has created or saved between 500,000 and 750,000 jobs.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly nine in ten Americans say the country's still in a recession, according to a new national poll.
Eighty-seven percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning say the nation's in a serious, moderate or mild recession, and nearly seven in ten say things are going badly in the country today.
"Economists may be speculating that the recession is over, but don't tell that to the American public," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The good news - if you can call it good news - is that the number who say things are going badly has been dropping steadily since last fall - from an all time high of 83 percent in November to 77 percent in April and 69 percent now."
The survey also suggests another positive sign: The number of Americans who say the country's in a serious recession has also dropped a bit, from 42 percent in May to 36 percent. And while the economy's still the top issue on the mind of Americans, the poll indicates its dropping in importance. Forty-one percent of those questioned say the economy's the most important issue, down ten points from June and a drop of 22 points from March.
The Republicans still get more blame than Democrats for the country's economic problems, but that figure's down from 53 percent in May to 41 percent now. Twenty-seven percent say the Democrats are more responsible for the economy, up six points from May.
(CNN) - New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie gets a helping hand today from a high profile surrogate.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will join Christie on the campaign trail at a meet and greet with volunteers in Bergen County, New Jersey. It's an event that will be seen by many who cover national politics as the latest high profile step for Pawlenty toward a possible run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Last month Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at a major dinner hosted by the Republican Party of Florida. In July, he addressed top party members at a Republican National Committee conference in San Diego. Next month, Pawlenty 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 last month. "It is time we stand up for our principles, and it is time we stand up for the American people."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama and top aides have quietly stepped up talks with moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine on a scaled-back health-care bill, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.
The compromise plan would lack a government-run public health insurance option favored by Obama, but would leave the door open to adding that provision down the road under an idea proposed by Snowe, the sources said.
One of the sources said White House officials are "deep in conversations" with Snowe on a much smaller health-care bill than Obama originally envisioned.
The modified proposal would include insurance reforms, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, according to the source.
The potential deal would give insurance companies a defined time period to make such changes in order to help cover more people and drive down long-term costs. But if those changes failed to occur within the defined period, a so-called "trigger" would provide for creating a public option to force change on the insurance companies, the source said.
Snowe is pivotal to the debate because she may be Obama's last possibility for getting a Republican senator to support his push for a health-care overhaul.
She is one of the so-called "Gang of Six" members of the Senate Finance Committee - three Democrats and three Republicans - involved in separate negotiations on the only bipartisan health-care proposal in Congress so far.
However, the slow pace of those talks and recent partisan attacks by the other two Republicans in the negotiations have dimmed hopes for a breakthrough, leaving Snowe as the only Republican senator that White House aides believe they can work with on the issue.
EL PASO, Texas (CNN) - As the Tea Party Express makes its way across the country, Sarah Palin has emerged as a favorite daughter of the movement, and organizers have invited her to join the tour - or at least come to the final stop in the nation's capital.
The bus is scheduled to end its nationwide journey in Washington on Saturday, September 12.
"We've been in touch with her people, letting her know the response that we've gotten. She's very suportive of the movement," says Joe Wierzbicki, one of the organizers traveling on the Tea Party Express.
So far, no politician has emerged as a leader of the Tea Party movement – and the question of just who might eventually take up the mantle is a hot topic on the bus. Nobody may be better positioned than Palin - but organizers, some of the most motivated members of the conservative base, still say she'll need to earn that title.
"Right now there's a handful of people who strike a chord with the tea party base, and she is certainly one of those people," says Wierzbicki. "Whether or not she emerges as one of those leaders, that's between her and the American people."
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.
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