(CNN) - Massachusetts voters head to the polls Tuesday to narrow the field of candidates vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a fixture in national politics who established himself as one of the most powerful lawmakers to serve in the Senate.
Four Democrats are battling for their party's nomination, while two Republicans are competing for the GOP nod in a special primary election. The general election to fill the remaining two years of Kennedy's six-year term will take place on January 19, 2010.
Attention in the race has focused primarily on the Democratic nomination, which features a congressman, state attorney general, professional basketball team owner and a nonprofit executive.
Related: Copenhagen gears up for historic deal
(CNN) - The day after President Obama's inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described herself as "on a high."
"I am very excited about the prospect of serving as the Speaker of the House with President Barack Obama because of the power of his ideas, the strategic thinking that he brings to it and the leadership that he provides to speak to the American people," the California Democrat said.
Obama laid out his agenda for the country and his plan to bring about the change he promised during the campaign. Still glowing from the elections, Pelosi said, "my attitude is to take his lead."
In the 10 months since then, Pelosi has successfully done what she's needed to do to push Obama's agenda through the House - so much so, that some have asserted she's more effective than the president.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday that the United States "will never turn our back" on Afghanistan. Gates, who is on an unannounced visit in the war zone, held a joint news conference with Karzai.
"President Obama is sending 30,000 more U.S. troops, the first of which are scheduled to arrive within days," Gates said. "Afghanistan's international partners have pledged at least 7,000 additional troops; when all is said and done, some 43 nations will make up a force."
Gates also was scheduled to meet with Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, as well as American military officials.
(CNN) - A same-sex marriage bill has cleared a hurdle in New Jersey and is now headed for a full state Senate vote on Thursday.
Washington (CNN) – Republicans on Monday were quick to pounce on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, for comparing the battle over health care to the battle over the legacy of slavery.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee purchased a Web ad on the popular Drudge Report asking readers: "Do you agree with Harry Reid?"
Those who click on the ad are taken to an NRSC Web site called "Health Care Task Force," which asks readers to sign a petition and "stand up to Harry Reid and his insulting remarks."
Reid, who is in danger of losing his re-election bid next year, made the remarks Monday morning on the floor of the Senate.
"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans can come up with is this: slow down, stop everything, let's start over," Reid said.
"If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said slow down, it's too early, let's wait, things aren't bad enough."
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
CNN: U.S. defense secretary arrives in Afghanistan
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday, a week after President Barack Obama announced he was sending 30,000 additional troops to the central Asian nation. Gates was expected to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other U.S. military officials on the unannounced visit.
New York Times: Officials Try to Unite on Afghan Plan
When General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry sit down next to each other on Tuesday to testify before the House and Senate about President Obama’s new Afghan policy, they will have to work hard to project the image of lockstep unity so valued by this White House.
Washington Post: Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
LAGHMAN, AFGHANISTAN - Like nearly all provinces in Afghanistan, this one has two governors. The first was appointed by President Hamid Karzai and is backed by thousands of U.S. troops. …The second governor was chosen by Taliban leader Mohammad Omar and, hunted by American soldiers, sneaks in only at night.
CNN: Senate Democrats eye alternatives to public option
Liberal and moderate Senate Democrats said Monday they may be nearing agreement on a package of alternatives to a government-run public health insurance option in the chamber's sweeping health care bill.
Denver Post: Colo. Sens. Udall, Bennet among freshmen pushing for health-bill changes
Eleven first-term Democrats will announce Tuesday a "freshmen package" of more than a dozen amendments that take on everything from bureaucratic red tape to the fee-for-service model on which most health care in the United States is based.
Salt Lake Tribune: Hatch files abortion amendment to Senate health reform bill
The issue of abortion coverage within health insurance exchanges has turned into one of the largest roadblocks for reform, inflaming an already intense partisan debate.
Wall Street Journal: Senate Turns to Medicare, Medicaid
Senate Democrats are considering a significant expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, the health programs for the elderly and the poor, as part of a package of potential changes to health-overhaul legislation that would also sharply scale back a proposed new government-run insurance plan.