WASHINGTON (CNN)- As President Obama prepares to deliver his health care message to the American people Wednesday night, the umbrella group Health Care for America Now and union allies launched a weeklong media and grassroots campaign in Maine to pressure the state's GOP senators to back a public health insurance option.
Sen. Olympia Snowe has been in quiet talks with the White House about a "trigger" option, which would threaten the insurance industry with a new public health insurance plan in several years if it did not meet certain coverage standards.
The new $280,000 campaign aimed at Snowe and fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins will include radio, print and television advertising in the state through Saturday, along with mailers and an online petition calling on Snowe to "stand up to the insurance company lobbyists."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has shown throughout her career that when it comes to voting, it's her principles and constituents that guide her, not her party.
Those principles, analysts note, are guiding her to find a compromise on health care reform currently stalemated in Congress.
Jennifer Duffy, who follows the Senate for the Cook Political Report, said Snowe's independent streak is "not new behavior for her."
"I think they [Republicans] also realize that the only reason that the state of Maine has two Republican senators at all is the fact that they are very independent-minded and they vote their state," she said, referring to Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins.
In fact, some estimates place Snowe as having voted with her party only 57 percent of the time in the current Congress.
While her moderate views are at odds with GOP opposition to several of President Obama's economic plans this year, the senator's constituents seem to agree with her.
In 2006, she won re-election with 74 percent of the vote, compared to her Democratic opponent's 21 percent. In 2000, Snowe received 69 percent of the vote.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama and top aides have quietly stepped up talks with moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine on a scaled-back health-care bill, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.
The compromise plan would lack a government-run public health insurance option favored by Obama, but would leave the door open to adding that provision down the road under an idea proposed by Snowe, the sources said.
One of the sources said White House officials are "deep in conversations" with Snowe on a much smaller health-care bill than Obama originally envisioned.
The modified proposal would include insurance reforms, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, according to the source.
The potential deal would give insurance companies a defined time period to make such changes in order to help cover more people and drive down long-term costs. But if those changes failed to occur within the defined period, a so-called "trigger" would provide for creating a public option to force change on the insurance companies, the source said.
Snowe is pivotal to the debate because she may be Obama's last possibility for getting a Republican senator to support his push for a health-care overhaul.
She is one of the so-called "Gang of Six" members of the Senate Finance Committee - three Democrats and three Republicans - involved in separate negotiations on the only bipartisan health-care proposal in Congress so far.
However, the slow pace of those talks and recent partisan attacks by the other two Republicans in the negotiations have dimmed hopes for a breakthrough, leaving Snowe as the only Republican senator that White House aides believe they can work with on the issue.
(CNN) – GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mel Martinez of Florida Friday both publicly announced their support for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, bringing the tally of Republican senators supporting Obama's pick to three.
"Judge Sotomayor is knowledgeable of the law, would be a fair and impartial judge, and seems to have a good understanding of the limited role the judiciary plays in our democracy," Martinez said in a statement.
Martinez, who was born in Cuba, also praised the historic nature of Sotomayor's nomination.
"As an Hispanic American, I take great pride in Judge Sotomayor's historic achievement. Given her qualifications and testimony this week, I intend to vote in favor of her confirmation."
Snowe said in a statement she was impressed with Sotomayor's performance at the hearings. "She appears neither rigid nor dogmatic in her approach to the essential task of constitutional interpretation," Snowe said.
Earlier Friday, Indiana Republican Dick Lugar also announced his support of Sotomayor.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Six key senators – three Democrats, one independent and two moderate Republicans – sent a letter to Senate leaders calling for a slowdown in the push for a health care overhaul, in light of the Congressional Budget Office's assessment that the Democratic plan currently being considered would not cut medical costs
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"We believe taking additional time to achieve a bipartisan result is critical for legislation that affects 17 percent of our economy and every individual in the U.S.," read the letter, signed by Democrats Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Ron Wyden. independent Joe Lieberman and Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who also said they were "firmly committed to enactment of comprehensive reform this year."
The letter echoes concerns raised by many conservative Democrats on the House side.
Full text of the letter after the jump.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Al Franken became poised to claim the 60th Democratic seat in the Senate on Tuesday, President Obama reached out in a phone call to Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, a key member of the Senate Finance Committee whose vote could be decisive in passing the president's health care reform package.
Snowe is considered a moderate Republican and could serve as the 60th senator to support the president's proposal, since a handful of Democrats have expressed skepticism of the so-called "public option" to compete with private health insurance companies. Snowe told the AP Monday she would support a government-run plan only if private insurers failed to deliver affordable coverage first.
According to Snowe's office, Obama "expressed his desire to work with" the senator and solicited her input on health care reform.
"I reaffirmed to the President my commitment to ensuring the Finance Committee creates the best possible package to guarantee health security for all Americans," Snowe said in a statement.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House is not talking about any other calls President Obama may have made today regarding health care legislation.
Sen. Snowe's full statement after the jump.
Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe issued the following statement Tuesday on Sotomayor's nomination:
"Indisputably, this is an historic selection, as Sonia Sotomayor is just the third woman to be nominated to The Court and the first Hispanic American. I commend President Obama for nominating a well-qualified woman, as I urged him to do during a one-on-one meeting on a variety of issues in the Oval Office earlier this month.
"I also appreciate that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called me personally this morning to inform me of the President's selection. As the process moves forward, I will apply the same standards of review that I have in the past - that any Supreme Court nominee should bring a balanced approach to cases, possess a strong intellect and suitable judicial temperament, and follow a disciplined judicial methodology in reaching decisions. Justices on the High Court sit for life, so the Senate must exercise this constitutional duty thoughtfully, and give careful and thorough consideration to Judge Sotomayor, as it should to every nominee. I share the view that the proper role of the judiciary is one of interpreting the Constitution and acts of Congress, not legislating from the bench. As such, I will carefully evaluate Sonia Sotomayor’s record and temperament in making my determination."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, a Democrat, and Olympia Snowe of Maine, a Republican, sent the following letter to President Obama Monday.
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The announced retirement of United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter—an outstanding jurist—has left you with the crucial task of nominating someone for a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest bench.
The most important thing is to nominate an exceptionally well-qualified, intelligent person to replace Justice Souter – and we are convinced that person should be a woman.
Women make up more than half of our population, but right now hold only one seat out of nine on the United States Supreme Court. This is out of balance. In order for the Court to be relevant, it needs to be diverse and better reflect America.
Mr. President, we look forward with great anticipation to your choice for the Supreme Court vacancy.
(CNN) - Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe called fellow colleague Sen. Arlen Specter's party defection disconcerning Wednesday, and likened moderate Republicans to participants on a reality television show known for isolating its members and picking them off one-by-one.
"Being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of "Survivor" - you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you're no longer welcome in the tribe," Snowe wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.
The remarks follow Pennsylvania veteran Sen. Arlen Specter's unexpected defection to the Democratic Party on the eve of President Obama's 100th day in office. A member of the Republican Party since 1966, Specter announced his change of political affiliation to Democrat, citing the GOP has shifted too far to the right of his views and that his chance of winning the state Republican primary next year was bleak.
"It is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party," Snowe says. "It didn't have to be this way."
The moderate Republican senator from Maine blamed the GOP emphasis on conservative social values over the party's core fiscal principles as the reason for Republican voter losses.
"Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities – indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash," she writes. "We should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal."
"We cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates," Snowe warns.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Olympia Snowe - one of the three moderate Republicans including Arlen Specter who supported President Obama's stimulus package - told CNN Tuesday that she has also been approached many times about becoming a Democrat, but that it hasn't happened for a while.
"I've been asked, but not recently," she said.
Snowe said the Republican Party never learned its lesson from the "painful" party switch of Sen. Jim Jeffords in 2001.
"For me personally and then for the party, its devastating," Snowe said of Specter's move. "I've always been concerned about the Republican party nationally, about their exclusionary policies towards moderate Republicans. That's not a secretly held view on my part."