WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected an amendment to include a government-run public health insurance option in the only compromise health care bill so far.
The amendment by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia fell by a 15-8 vote, with committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and four other Democrats joining all 10 Republicans in opposing the measure.
The other Democrats voting against the public option amendment were Sens. Blanch Lincoln of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Tom Carper of Delaware.
It was one of two amendments for a public option proposed by Democrats, and the committee immediately began debate on the second amendment proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.
Baucus explained he liked much about the idea of a public option, but he knew a health care bill containing the provision would fail to win enough support in the full Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster.
"I fear if this provision is in the bill, it will hold back meaningful reform this year," Baucus said.
UPDATE: The Schumer amendment on the public option also failed. It drew the support of 10 Democrats, including Carper and Nelson. Baucus, Conrad and Lincoln joined the GOP vote against it.
(CNN) - A former GOP official in California is dropping his endorsement of State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and will instead support his rival, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary.
Bob Naylor, a former Minority Leader in the California State Assembly and a onetime chairman of the California Republican Party, said Tuesday that Whitman has a better chance of appealing to moderates and Democrats in the 2010 general election - if she can survive the Republican primary gauntlet.
"The party has to be able to attract more independents and minorities and women than we did in the last two election cycles," said Naylor, an attorney who served as state party chairman from 1987 to 1989. "I have to come to believe that she can attract more votes and independents and Democrats than Mr. Poizner. I think her story is more compelling than his."
Naylor told CNN he wrote Poizner a letter informing him of his decision three weeks ago, but never heard back.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Senate Democratic leader acknowledged Tuesday his party failed to move quickly enough to counter Republican critics over the summer, but predicted that GOP gains based on town hall pushback to President Obama's health care plan would cost Republicans at the polls next November.
"To be honest, we needed to be more aggressive in August," New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters. "We saw Republicans led by extremists in their party mobilize and make a lot of noise. There's no question some momentum was lost during that period of time.
"But the Republican strategy is for the president and the Congress is to be defeated in policy... It may seem like a strategy, but it is a strategy that's going to backfire on them" in the long term, he predicted.
Menendez is responsible for the Senate Democratic campaign operation and his job has been complicated by primary battles in Colorado, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Joe Biden's headed back to Iowa.
Wait - this isn't a flashback to 2007, when then-Sen. Biden was making his own bid for the White House. The vice president will be the special guest at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. The event, which is scheduled to take place November 21 in Des Moines, was announced by the Iowa Democratic Party and confirmed by the vice president's office Tuesday.
Next month, Biden will also lend a helping hand to Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democratic senior senator from Pennsylvania, who faces a primary challenge next year from Rep. Joe Sestak.
The vice president's office confirms to CNN that Biden will appear with Specter at two events, a Bucks County Democratic Dinner on October 2 and a Allegheny County Democratic Dinner on October 19.
UPDATE: The Vice President's office confirms that Biden will attend an event for Rep. Paul Hodes - the New Hampshire congressman now running for the Senate - October 5 in New York City.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - With just over a month to go until election day in Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds is deploying the state's most popular elected politician in a big way.
The Deeds campaign debuted a new television ad featuring Sen. Mark Warner - also the state's governor from 2002 to 2006 - vouching for the Democratic nominee and talking about the economy. The ad is airing throughout the commonwealth, according to a campaign aide, but is not yet running in the pricey Washington, D.C. media market.
"The choice in this election for Governor is really pretty simple," Warner says, speaking directly into the camera. "Do we move Virginia forward by continuing the pro-business economic policies that I helped put in place? Or do we go backwards with the failed economic approach that ruined our economy?"
Recent polls suggest that nearly two-thirds of Virginia voters have a favorable opinion of Warner, and he enjoyed sky-high approval ratings by the time he left the governor's office in January 2006 - thanks largely to his success at creating jobs and his efforts to fix the state's budget. Warner ushered through a bipartisan budget package in 2004 that included a tax increase. an effort that rescued the budget and maintained the state's precious AAA-bond rating.
(CNN) - A new poll suggests Minnesotans don't want their two term governor to run for the White House in 2012. But if Tim Pawlenty does win the next GOP presidential nomination, a Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune survey released Tuesday says about half those questioned would consider voting for him.
The poll indicates that 30 percent of Minnesota voters want Pawlenty to make a bid for the presidency, with 55 percent saying they don't want him to run. But if Pawlenty does run for the White House and ends up winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, one out of four say there's a good chance they'd vote for him, with another one in four saying there was at least some chance they'd cast a ballot for their current governor. According to the survey, 43 percent said there was no chance they'd vote for Pawlenty for president.
Pawlenty's announcement earlier this year that he would not run next year for a third term as Minnesota governor was considered by many political analysts to be a sign that he's considering a bid for the White House. Since then, Pawlenty has been very visible, speaking out against the Obama Administration and appearing at a number of Republican and conservative conferences. He also became vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Pawlenty adviser Alex Conant tells CNN it's far too premature to discuss 2012 and says Pawlenty is focusing on finishing his term as governor and helping elect conservatives in 2010.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's decision to head to Copenhagen, Denmark, later this week to make a push to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago is not without political controversy.
Critics say Obama is making a risky move, since key issues - ranging from Iran's nuclear ambitions and health care reform in Congress to deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan - are pressing on the administration.
"I think it's baffling that the president has time to travel to Copenhagen," said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri. "[Obama's] got a lot of responsibilities. His number one responsibility is to keep our country safe."
Chicago is vying for the Summer Games against Madrid, Spain; Tokyo, Japan; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leaders from Brazil, Spain and Japan are expected to also make in-person pitches. The International Olympic Committee will vote on the host city Friday in Copenhagen.
(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is sharply criticizing President Obama's planned trip to Denmark to promote Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, characterizing the 24-hour trek as an unnecessary distraction.
"I think at a time of war, I think at a time of recession, at time where Americans have expressed rather significantly their concerns and frustrations over the course of the spring and summer …this trip, while nice, is not necessary for the president," Steele said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
Steele is the latest Republican to take aim at Obama's decision to accompany his wife Thursday night to the International Olympic Committee meeting in Copenhagen where representatives from the four finalist cities will make pitches ahead of the IOC vote in a few weeks. It is the first time a U.S. president has attended an IOC meeting.
"I think the first lady would have been and should have been the lead here, and let her go and sell Chicago," Steele also said. "The goal should be creating not job opportunities seven years from now, but job opportunities today."
Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, and Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, both leveled similar criticisms at the president Monday.
NEW YORK (CNN) - Troubled community organizing group ACORN suffered another setback on Monday, when Bank of America announced it is pulling its funding of ACORN Housing.
In a statement, Bank of America said that is it "suspending current commitments to ACORN Housing and will not enter into any further agreements with ACORN or any of its affiliates" until it is satisfied that all issues related to the organization have been resolved.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, has been under investigation by both the Justice and Treasury Department after videos recorded on hidden cameras by conservative activists showed
employees allegedly giving advice on illegal activities.
ACORN is also conducting its own investigation through an independent auditor and it says that it has fired the employees involved in the recorded incidents.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Senate committee debating the only compromise health care bill so far took on the most contentious issue Tuesday - whether to include a government-run public health insurance option that is opposed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats.
Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia proposed an amendment to add the public option to the proposal before the Senate Finance Committee. Another Democratic senator, Charles Schumer of New York, also was expected to propose a public option amendment.
The Finance Committee is the last congressional panel to consider health care legislation before debate begins in the full House and Senate. Democratic proposals passed by another Senate committee and three House committees all include the public insurance option.
Republicans unanimously oppose the government-run insurance option, saying it would drive private insurers from the market and eventually bring a government takeover of the health care system. Democratic leaders reject that claim, saying the public option would provide needed competition for private insurers while making health coverage accessible to millions of people currently lacking health insurance.