WASHINGTON (CNN) - MoveOn.org is targeting three Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee who voted against provisions that would have called for a new government-run health insurance program.
The liberal advocacy group announced Wednesday that it will release radio ads on Thursday condemning North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who joined all 10 Republicans on the committee on Tuesday in rejecting two amendments that would have included a public option in the health care bill.
In the ads, the group says the senators "sided with the special interests and insurance companies" over their constituents.
The spots will run for a week in the senators' home states.
(CNN) - Sometimes, even in Washington, there's no way around a central truth: that in governing, there are moments when real, tough decisions must be made. No waffling. None of the usual "on the one hand, on the other hand." No hiding behind the votes cast by others.
There is one vote, and it belongs to the president.
It was that way with George W. Bush in December 2006, when, after conferring for three months with his generals and his Cabinet - not to mention the advice offered by the pooh-bahs in the Iraq Study Group - he decided on a surge strategy in Iraq. It was not a plan highly touted by many of his advisers, but by January, Bush told the nation "America will change our strategy ... [and] this will require increasing American force levels."
As it turns out, the surge worked.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The videotaped beating death of an honors student in Chicago, Illinois, is "chilling" and one of the most shocking things "you can ever see," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.
At his daily news briefing, Gibbs said President Barack Obama was concerned about the killing and the issue of violence in his former hometown. He said Obama discussed the matter earlier Wednesday in the Oval Office.
"This is not just a Chicago-specific problem," Gibbs said. "Obviously, youth crime and gang violence are something that this administration takes seriously and we'll have more on that soon."
(CNN) - Republicans are pouncing on a late-night House floor speech from Rep. Alan Grayson, during which the freshman Florida Democrat said the Republican health care plan calls for sick people to "die quickly."
"It's a very simple plan," Grayson said in the speech Tuesday night. "Don't get sick. That's what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly."
The after-hours speech, which included prominent banners behind the congressman to reinforce his point, drew immediate calls from some Republicans for an apology.
"That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I've ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don't appreciate it," Tennessee Republican Rep. Jimmy Duncan told the Politico.
Grayson has not issued an apology, and a spokesman for the congressman said no additional statement on the matter is forthcoming.
(CNN) - As lawmakers huddled this summer to put together the framework for health care legislation, it quickly became evident that the battle over President Obama's top priority would be neither quick nor easy.
After months of debate and missed deadlines, the public option has emerged as the main sticking point.
From the beginning, some Democrats said they wouldn't pass a bill without a government-sponsored, public option, while other Democrats and most Republicans said they'd say no to any plan that included one.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Setting the stage for a dramatic battle over gun rights, the Supreme Court Wednesday accepted an appeal challenging the ability of state and local governments to enforce strict limits on handguns and other weapons.
The high court returned from its summer recess, meeting in private to consider thousands of pending appeals that have piled up the past three months. The Second Amendment case from Chicago was the most anticipated of the petitions, and oral arguments will be held sometime early next year. Nine other cases were also accepted for review.
At issue is whether the constitutional "right of the people to keep and bear arms" applies to local gun control ordinances, or only to federal restrictions. The basic question has remained unanswered for decades, and gives the conservative majority on the high court another chance to allow individuals expanded weapon ownership rights.
The appeal was filed by a community activist in Chicago who sought a handgun for protection from gangs.
The justices last year affirmed an individual right to possess handguns, tossing out restrictive laws in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court has agreed to review a civil liberties dispute over the government's power to criminalize "support" of a terrorist organization.
The justices on Wednesday accepted review of a key provision of the 2001 Patriot Act, and whether it threatens free speech rights of those who would assist non-violent activities of designated groups.
Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, federal prosecutors have pursued "material support" cases against at least 120 individuals or organizations, winning convictions in about half of those cases. Nearly every such domestic terrorism-related prosecution has included that charge as part of the indictment.
At issue is whether the congressional law allows prosecution of those with knowledge of "any service, training, expert advice or assistance" to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the U.S. government.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco, California, struck down several parts of the legislation, finding them too vague to satisfy the Constitution. The government then asked the high court to intervene and uphold the law.
(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele Wednesday beat back suggestions from some political commentators - most recently from the New York Times' Tom Friedman - that conservative opposition to President Obama is creating a political climate that may foreshadow attempts of violence against the commander-in-chief.
"Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this," Steele told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning in direct response to a quote from Friedman's column Wednesday equating the current political environment to that which occurred ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in 1995.
"To make those equations, examples and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy and yeah, I'm sorry, but if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position," Steele continued. "[They're] saying, because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of the sudden we're going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff. I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn't have this kind of conversation."
"There are passions that run deep and long on both sides of the aisle," Steele also said. "Don't necessarily jump to the conclusion that, because someone says something vitriolic or hot that's necessarily from the right or the left. It's reflecting deep-seeded frustrations people have."
Steele also criticized accusations that many of the president's critics are driven by race, rather than pure policy disagreements.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama is under increasing pressure to decide whether the United States will commit more troops and resources to the conflict in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, the head of NATO met with the president and endorsed Obama's plan to fine-tune the strategy for Afghanistan before deciding on whether to deploy more troops.
"I agree with President Obama in his approach: strategy first, then resources," Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after meeting with Obama at the White House.
The meeting comes a day before Obama is scheduled to discuss Afghanistan strategy with his national security team.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs backed up Rasmussen's assessment.
(CNN) - With less than five weeks before Election Day, a new poll suggests that New Jersey's gubernatorial race is tightening up.
Governor Jon Corzine trails Republican challenger Chris Christie by four points, according to a Quinnipiac University survey of New Jersey residents likely to vote in the November 3 election.
Forty-three percent of people questioned in the poll, released Tuesday morning, back Christie - the former federal prosecutor in New Jersey - with 39 percent supporting Corzine - the Democratic incumbent who's fighting for a second term as governor - and 12 percent supporting Independent candidate Christopher Daggett.
Six percent are undecided.
The four point lead for Christie is within the survey's sampling error, and his lead is down from a ten point margin in Quinnipiac's most recent poll conducted a month ago.