(CNN) - Republican Rob Portman, the former congressman and George W. Bush cabinet official now running for Senate in Ohio, finished the latest fundraising period with a big cash advantage over the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.
Portman raised $1.3 million in the last three months - more than double the amount of Fisher, who collected $620,000. Also good news for Republicans: Portman has over $5 million on hand, while Fisher has $1.6 million.
Fisher's rival for the Democratic nomination, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, has yet to release her third-quarter numbers, but has admitted raising less than she did in the second quarter, when she took in just $228,000. Some have questioned whether Brunner is planning to drop out of the race, but she has rejected that speculation, telling the Columbus Dispatch Thursday that she has replaced her campaign finance team.
Portman, too, is facing an intra-party challenge - from Cleveland car dealer Thomas Ganley, who has pledged to contribute up to $7 million to fund his campaign.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee is targeting the health insurance industry in its latest public relations campaign to try and discredit critics of President Obama's efforts to reform the nation's health care system, a party official tells CNN.
The DNC will send supporters an email this afternoon informing them that America's Health Insurance Plans - the insurance lobbying arm - has been picked for its "Call 'em Out" campaign. The DNC has created a new Web page and video that criticizes the industry for opposing Obama on this issue.
"The lobby has invested millions trying to convince Congress to oppose reform,"
Jen O'Malley Dillon, executive director of the DNC, writes in the e-mail provided to CNN. "So this week, we're not simply debunking lies: The best way to Call 'em Out is to cut through the spin and tell our representatives to say 'no' to deceitful lobbyists and 'yes' to reform."
So far, the DNC has only targeted Republican elected officials in the month-old campaign: House Minority Leader John Boenher of Ohio, Arizona Sen. John Kyl, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. This is the first time the DNC is taking on a particular industry.
Follow Mark Preston on Twitter: @prestoncnn
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Will immigration reform return as the next big congressional fight? CNN's Dick Uliano
found high hopes at a Latino rally - but the political currents may berunning against those who want to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - There will be no cost-of-living increase for 57 million Social Security beneficiaries next year because consumer prices have fallen, the Social Security Administration announced on Thursday.
It marks the first time that Social Security benefits have not been increased year over year since the cost-of-living adjustment was put into
effect in 1975.
To help counterbalance the hit, President Obama is calling on Congress to send another $250 relief payment to seniors and other Americans to stem the economic strain.
"Even as we seek to bring about recovery, we must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession," Obama said in a statement Wednesday. "That is why I am announcing my support for an additional $250 in emergency recovery assistance to seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities to help them make it through these difficult times."
Last year, Social Security beneficiaries got a 5.8% cost-of-living adjustment, the largest since 1982, largely because of the spike in energy prices.
"This year, in light of the human need, we need to support President Obama's call for us to make another $250 recovery payment for 57 million Americans," said Commissioner of Social Security Michael J. Astrue in a written statement.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama, who as a candidate lambasted the federal government for its response to Hurricane Katrina, is visiting New Orleans, Louisiana, as president for the first time Thursday, and is attracting some criticism of his own.
Four years after Hurricane Katrina, evidence of the storm's devastation still linger. Some 60,000 properties in New Orleans are still abandoned, and there are still 1,500 people in Louisiana living in temporary housing, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Army Corps of Engineers is only a third of the way through a $15 billion system to provide 100-year flood protection for the city.
However, the agency says 76 disputed projects in Louisiana have been resolved since Obama took office, and more than $1.4 billion in aid has been sent to Louisiana, along with more than $160 million to Mississippi. Still, the length and nature of Obama's visit Thursday is drawing some ire.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday providing an additional $7.5 billion in assistance to the Pakistani government.
"This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the U.S.," the White House said in a written statement.
The act bolsters a partnership "based on a shared commitment to improving the living conditions of the people of Pakistan through sustainable economic development, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and combating the extremism that threatens Pakistan and the United States," it said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The White House unveiled Thursday the first hard data on how many jobs the $787 billion recovery act has created.
So far, 30,383 jobs have been created by companies that have gotten $2.2 billion worth of stimulus contracts directly from the federal government. That equates to $71,500 per job based on just the funds that have been distributed.
These firms have been awarded a total of $16 billion.
Stimulus-fueled job creation has become a very controversial issue. The White House has faced blistering attacks by Republicans, who contend that the recovery act has failed to live up to its promise to put Americans back to work.
The Obama administration downplayed the reports released Thursday, saying they represent just a small sliver of the stimulus that's been spent, since the massive recovery act was enacted in February. The first reports detailing the number of stimulus jobs created or saved were submitted last weekend by
recipients of stimulus-funded contracts, grants and loans.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her Senate counterparts Thursday that she intends to fight hard for a government-run health care plan as part of any comprehensive overhaul bill.
Pelosi's adamant defense of the politically polarizing public option puts her on a potential collision course with the Senate Finance Committee, which dropped the idea from its sweeping $827 billion proposal.
Democratic Senate leaders have not yet indicated if they will include the option when they combine the Finance Committee's legislation with a separate measure advanced by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
If the House and Senate manage to pass health care reform bills, a conference committee would then negotiate a final version requiring approval from both chambers before going to President Barack Obama for his signature.
"I want our conferees to have the most muscle for the middle class whenthey go to the table (to negotiate with the Senate)," Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.
"Why would "you throw (people) into the lion's den of the insurance industry without the leverage" of a public option, she asked. "Our House position is what we will go in there to fight for."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, is using his top Democratic supporter in a new television ad.
The 30-second spot is a simple testimonial from Sheila Johnson, the co-founder of BET and McDonnell's most prominent African-American backer. McDonnell has released a slew of ads featuring female supporters, an effort to blunt criticism from Democrat Creigh Deeds that the Republican opposes equal treatment for working women, a group McDonnell described as "detrimental" to the family in his 1989 master's thesis.
Johnson is also a frequent campaign surrogate who landed the McDonnell campaign in hot water earlier this month when she mocked his Democratic rival's stuttering speaking style. She later apologized for her remarks.
"I'm Sheila Johnson, a Democrat businesswoman," she says in the ad, speaking directly into the camera. "I know what it takes to start and grow successful businesses and create jobs. That's why I support Bob McDonnell for governor."
The ad is running in Democratic-leaning northern Virginia.
(CNN) - A new poll indicates that a split on the right could allow Democrats to take over a congressional district they haven't won in generations.
According to a Siena College survey released Thursday, 33 percent of likely voters in New York's 23rd congressional district support Democrat Bill Owens, with 29 percent backing Republican Dierdre Scozzafava and 23 percent supporting Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
Scozzafava's dropped 6 points over the past two weeks, with Owens now up 5 points and Hoffman jumping 7 points. The Democrat's 4-point lead over the Republican is within the poll's sampling error.
The election in the three-way race to fill a vacant congressional seat is 19 days away. The office opened up after nine-term Republican Rep. John McHugh stepped down after being confirmed as Secretary of the Army. The largely rural district spans 11 counties in northern New York.