Strongsville, Ohio (CNN) - The yearlong fight over health care reached a fever pitch Monday as President Barack Obama took his call for change to the political swing state of Ohio, slamming insurance companies and repeating his call for a final congressional vote on his sweeping reform plan.
The president's push came as the House of Representatives prepared for an expected vote this week on the roughly $875 billion bill passed by the Senate in December. Under the strategy adopted by congressional leaders, both chambers of Congress then would pass a series of changes designed in part to make the legislation more acceptable to House Democrats.
If enacted, the reform proposal would constitute the biggest expansion of federal health care guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid more than four decades ago. The plan is expected to extend insurance coverage to 30 million-plus Americans.
The Senate bill would reduce federal deficits by about $118 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Monday to Haiti earthquake task force volunteers to express the U.S. Government’s appreciation for their work in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, was one of Mitt Romney's top backers during the 2008 presidential campaign – a key endorsement that helped the former Massachusetts governor boost his profile among conservatives.
But if Romney decides to run for president again in 2012, a prospect that seems likely, he might have to do so without DeMint's support.
DeMint told CNN Monday he isn't sure he'll endorse Romney this time around - even though Romney was recently in South Carolina raising money for the senator's re-election bid.
"Mitt is still near the top of my list of candidates, but I want to look and see who steps up to the plate," DeMint said after a fundraiser with Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio. "Frankly I think we need to wait until after the 2010 election to see what happens in Congress."
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Harry Reid's wife, Landra, who broke her neck last week in a four-vehicle accident, was released Sunday from a Virginia hospital, a spokesman for the majority leader said.
Landra Reid, 69, also broke her nose and a vertebra in her lower back in the four-vehicle wreck, which occurred Thursday on Interstate 95 in Fairfax County, Virginia.
She underwent neck surgery Friday.
The couple's adult daughter, Lana Reid Barringer of McLean, Virginia, suffered a neck injury and facial lacerations, and was released from the hospital Thursday night.
Washington (CNN) - As a vote on health care reform nears, Republican and conservative groups are attempting to defeat the bill by pressuring undecided and vulnerable Democrats to vote against the legislation.
Bob Adams, the executive director of the League of American Voters, tells CNN that his organization will place a $547,000 television ad buy on Monday which will target 21 legislators. The group has spent $330,000 running ads since February 27.
The group has listed on their Web site the name and phone number of every Democrat who voted against the House's health care bill in November, as well as those of the 21 Democrats who voted "yea" in November but may change their vote.
As the phone lines jam, the offices of some of those Democrats are expressing frustration that their constituents may be unable to reach out.
New York Rep. Dan Maffei's press secretary Abby Gardner told CNN that her office was averaging about 500 phone calls per day last week, but that only 20 or so were from constituents in Maffei's district.
"The calls from the district are very mixed pro/for [and] against health care legislation," Gardner said. "The calls from outside of the district are exclusively against health care."
"Unfortunately the call volume makes it difficult for people to get through, and while I think the groups who really generate these calls consider jamming our phone lines a sign of strength and success, it really doesn't do anything to persuade the Rep.'s opinion on how to vote," Gardner said.
(CNN) - Sarah Palin's dad is again weighing in on the Nevada Senate race – this time by starring in a new radio ad on behalf of Republican primary candidate Danny Tarkanian.
Palin's father Chuck Heath has long supported Tarkanian, one of the many Republicans hoping to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this November.
"You supported my daughter Sarah Palin, now please join me in supporting another strong conservative – Danny Tarkanian," Heath says in the state-wide ad, according to a script provided by the campaign. "Danny Tarkanian is strongly pro-life, and he will protect our Second Amendment rights. He will fight to cut taxes, slash spending, and end budget-busting pork barrel politics."
The retired science teacher who lives in Alaska made five stops across Nevada last October with Tarkanian, the son of legendary college basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. A recent Mason-Dixon poll shows Tarkanian trailing Nevada GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden by nearly 20 points. The survey also showed Lowden leading Reid by 13 points and Tarkanian leading the Senate's top Democrat by 11 points.
Palin herself has not endorsed a candidate, thought she will be on hand for a Tea Party event later this month in Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nevada.
The primary will be held on June 8.
Washington (CNN) - A Republican candidate vying to capture President Obama's old Senate seat released his first political ad of the season Monday.
The 30-second spot highlights Rep. Mark Kirk's record on tax cuts and what his campaign calls, "a thoughtful, independent and effective record of standing up to special interests and party leaders."
Set to run statewide, the ad entitled "Independent" also focuses on Kirk's military service as a naval intelligence officer.
The ad paints Kirk as a centrist, as the candidate seeks to shore up support with independent voters ahead of the general election.
But the ad's narrator also says Kirk will work to "end the corruption in Illinois" as images of current Senator Roland Burris and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich flash on screen.
"The whole story is based on false premises," Rubio told CNN Monday during a fundraising swing through South Carolina with one of his top political patrons, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint. "It costs money to be in politics and that's what the committees were for."
The story, published Saturday in the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald, said Rubio started one political committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership, in 2003. The committee only doled out $4,000 to GOP candidates, but spent nearly $90,000 on political consultants, $14,000 in reimbursements to Rubio and over $50,000 in credit card expenses, according to the report.
A second committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government, paid thousands of dollars to "couriers" - several of whom were Rubio's relatives. A top supporter of Rubio's opponent in the Florida Senate primary, Gov. Charlie Crist, accused Rubio and his family of "living off" the committees – a charge the Rubio campaign vehemently denied in the story.
Rubio said it's not uncommon for members of his political operation to be family members. He said the relatives were "staffers that worked on our campaign."
Rubio's campaign has acknowledged that the relatives should have been listed by bookkeepers as campaign aides, but said the candidate did nothing wrong.
Those family members, Rubio told CNN, were paid "for work delivered."
CNN caught up with Rubio on Monday. Watch the exclusive video after the jump:
Washington (CNN) - Upwards of $1 million a day is expected to be spent on health care television ads this week, as interest groups work overtime to try to influence Congress before the House votes on President Obama's top domestic priority.
Health care commercials all but vanished from the airwaves in late January after Republicans scored an upset victory in the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Republican Scott Brown's win gave the GOP the crucial 41st vote needed to sustain a filibuster to block passage of the Democratic health care reform bill.
Now, as Democrats try to pass the legislation later this week without Republican support, outside groups are weighing in.
Last year, special interest groups spent a combined $200 million just on TV ads as Congress struggled to agree on how to overhaul the nation's health care system, said Evan Tracey, a CNN consultant and president of Campaign Media Analysis Group.
Washington (CNN) – Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday that there’s nothing to recent reports of tension between himself and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Related video: Axelrod on Emanuel
“These stories are what Washington does,” Axelrod, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, said in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union. “When people think there are political challenges, then the ‘palace intrigue’ stories get written and so on. We are a tight group. We are all committed to the same thing and I would discount those stories.”
On a more personal note, Axelrod also spoke favorably of Emanuel, who has a reputation for sometimes being rough around the edges in his political dealings with allies and foes.