Washington (CNN) - Traditional Senate decorum yielded to brass-knuckle politicking in the health care debate Friday as top congressional Democrats sought to close party ranks before a key procedural vote this weekend.
Senate Democrats slammed their Republican colleagues as leaders of a counterproductive party of fear caught in an obstructionist mindset dating back to the New Deal. Republicans, in turn, ripped Democrats for pushing a bill that conservatives claim will force millions of Americans to drop insurance plans they like while jacking up premiums and doing nothing to slow spiraling medical costs.
The harsh rhetoric served as a backdrop for a rare Saturday night Senate
vote on whether to formally proceed with floor debate on Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid's sweeping $848 billion health care bill.
If Republicans stay unified in opposition to the bill, Reid will need the support of all 58 Senate Democrats along with independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.
Three key Democratic moderates - Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska - have refused to publicly indicate if they'll back Reid. Each has expressed concern about the cost and scope of the legislation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Representatives from some of the top 2008 GOP presidential campaigns gathered in Washington, D.C. Thursday to urge the Republican National Committee to lock in a 2012 primary calendar as early as possible to avoid the confusion that dogged the early stages of last year's nomination contest. One campaign manager took his recommendations a step further and suggested ending the traditional first-in-the-nation statuses of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
An RNC panel headed by party chairman Michael Steele invited the campaigns to share their views as it considers numerous possible changes to the process the party will use to nominate a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
Mike DuHaime, the 2008 campaign manager for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told the panel that the three early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina should continue to hold contests early in the process, but not necessarily as the first three contests.
"I believe there needs to be greater decision-making authority given to states beyond the early states," said DuHaime, referring to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. "If you win two out of three states, those have been our nominees. With that, 47 other states don't have the same say."
"I think that is ultimately not in the best interests of the party," he added.
DuHaime went on to say that the early phase of the nomination calendar should be more geographically and ethnically diverse and that doing so could make the party more competitive in general elections.
DuHaime's candidate did not campaign heavily in the early states and instead focused his time and energy on later contests.
WASHINGTON (CNN)– The day before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opens the debate on health care reform, a group of liberal activists who once attacked the Nevada Democrat announced they will begin making robocalls encouraging Reid to stand strong in the fight for health care reform and the public option.
In the calls, longtime Nevada nurse Lee Slaugher - the star of an attack ad released late last month which questioned Reid's political strength, tells residents in her state to stand behind their Senator.
"I'm very thankful that Senator Harry Reid has included a public health insurance option in his health care bill. He shocked the political world by being so bold on this issue." Slaughter says in the calls released by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal political action committee with the express goal of electing progressive candidates to federal office.
"If you want to join me in thanking Senator Reid, and letting him know that we'll stand with him as long as he keeps fighting for a public option, please press one on your keypad," Slaughter concludes.
The group says the calls are expected to reach 10,000 Nevada voters beginning Saturday, as Democrats and Republicans take to the Senate floor to vote on beginning debate on health care legislation introduced by Democrats.
The 2,074-page Senate bill seeks to reduce long-term costs of health care for the government, businesses and individuals while reforming how services are delivered to increase efficiency and effectiveness. It includes controversial provisions such as a government-run public health insurance option.
Republicans have vowed to try to block the bill, requiring Reid to round up 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to overcome a GOP filibuster and launch debate.
Washington (CNN) - Nearly two years into the recession, opinion about which political party is responsible for the severe economic downturn is shifting, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday morning indicates that 38 percent of the public blames Republicans for the country's current economic problems. That's down 15 points from May, when 53 percent blamed the GOP. According to the poll 27 percent now blame the Democrats for the recession, up 6 points from May. Twenty-seven percent now say both parties are responsible for the economic mess.
"The bad news for the Democrats is that the number of Americans who hold the GOP exclusively responsible for the recession has been steadily falling by about two to three points per month," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "At that rate, only a handful of voters will blame the economy on the Republicans by the time next year's midterm elections roll around."
Thirty-six percent of people questioned say that President Barack Obama's policies have improved economic conditions, with 28 percent feeling that the president's programs have made things worse, and 35 percent saying what he's done has had no effect on the economy.
It's one reason so many people are stunned when they're hit with unexpected rate increases or penalty fees: It's in the small print.
CNN asked 13 credit card holders to review a basic five-page credit card agreement. Only four of them were able to find the annual percentage rate, and it wasn't easy.
"It's very confusing, and I'm an intelligent person," Amy Gould said, adding that she thinks the credit card companies have a stake in keeping their agreements opaque. "I think it tries to make the consumer confused. It takes advantage."
Alan Siegel thinks he has the answer. He runs Siegel+Gale, a marketing firm that's specialized in contract simplification for 30 years. He's simplified agreements for the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Mint, major banks and insurance companies. He believes that it's time credit card companies got on board.
According to Siegel, the current contracts are full of "gobbledygook." He insists that "it's a total disregard and disrespectful to the relationship with the consumer." He believes that card companies can make their agreements crystal clear.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will not announce a new Afghanistan war strategy until after Thanksgiving, a senior administration official said Friday.
CEDAR CREEK, Texas (CNN) - Virginia Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell on Wednesday declined to weigh in on Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson’s recent claim that Islam is not a religion, but “a violent political system.”
McDonnell, though, stressed that he reached out to Muslims and visited mosques in Virginia throughout the governor’s race and will continue to do so when he takes office in January.
Muslim groups have called on McDonnell to condemn the remark because Robertson is a longtime political benefactor of the Republican, who won a blowout victory in this year’s closely-watched gubernatorial election.
McDonnell attended law school at CBN University (now Regent University), founded by Robertson, and has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the televangelist along with appearing on his show, “The 700 Club.”
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
NY Daily News: Rudy Giuliani will very likely seek U.S. Senate seat, and if elected maybe 2012 White House: source
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has decided against running for governor, but is strongly considering running for U.S. Senate instead, sources told the Daily News.
McClatchy: Senate girds for Saturday vote and long battle on health care
The Senate Thursday began what promises to be a bitter, lengthy battle over the future of health care in America, and taxes, abortion, affordability and federal deficits emerged as key flashpoints. Senate Democratic leaders expect the first test vote on their new $848 billion, 2,074-page health care overhaul bill will come on Saturday evening.
Washington Post: GAO warns stimulus jobs data could contain inaccuracies
Government auditors raised doubts Thursday about the number of jobs created or saved by the economic stimulus program, but they also said that mistakes reported in recent weeks signal the benefits of government transparency.
Foreign Policy: White House: No Afghanistan announcement until after Thanksgiving
The Obama administration won't announce its new comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan until after Thanksgiving, a White House official confirms to The Cable, and observers and experts close to the discussions see it as the White House's attempt to stage a full and controlled rollout over the week beginning November 30.
New York Times: Clinton Emerges as Key Link to Afghan Leader
It is far from clear that President Obama can depend on President Hamid Karzai to bring order to this violent country, but it is becoming clear that he will depend on Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his go-between in dealing with the mercurial Afghan leader.
USA Today: Senate panel notes 'red flags galore' in Fort Hood incident
Military and FBI officials appeared to miss numerous warning signs in the months leading up to the Nov. 5 killings of 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, lawmakers said Thursday in the first congressional hearing into the incident.