WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama's political team has raised more than a million dollars in the hours since his congressional address, the Democratic National Committee reported Thursday.
Since the president's Wednesday night speech, more than 381,000 people have signed Organizing for America's online letter in support of his health care plan. The DNC also said that $1,087,000 has been donated in that time, even though OFA has yet to send out a dedicated fundraising e-mail.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of Congress - returning to work after a chaotic August recess - may be welcoming a return to their D.C. offices and a schedule free of visits to town halls, the district-level gatherings that have provided the stage for some of the summer's fiercest faceoffs. But their break is likely to be a short one: Next week, a flood of those town hall protesters are planning to head to the Hill.
Starting Thursday September 10, the day after President Obama delivers an address on health care reform to a joint session of Congress, thousands of opponents of his proposal are slated to swarm congressional offices. The push marks the kickoff of the annual three-day March on Washington organized by former Rep. Dick Armey's FreedomWorks organization. Given its critics' show of strength, predicts FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe, the latest Democratic health care legislation will be "dead on arrival."
The first two days of the event are slated to include workshops on fundraising, "grassroots on the ground" and Web activism. But the centerpiece of the agenda Thursday and Friday are congressional visits: Participants will be given lobbying guidance before being directed to head to the Hill for planned, and unplanned, meetings with legislators - particularly those who support, or are considering support for, President Obama's health care plan. An overwhelming number of the new attendees, and speakers at the weekend's events, are expected to come from the ranks of the Tea Party Patriots, as the group's "Tea Party Express" tour ends in the nation's capital.
Planners say they aren't looking to re-create a town hall atmosphere on Capitol Hill – but admit the prospect is likely. "There'll be some chaos, there'll be some yelling," concedes coordinator Brendan Steinhauser; some individuals visiting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might call her an "evil-monger." But FreedomWorks, which has consistently denied charges it helped organize deliberate disruptions of congressional town halls this summer, continues to claim a hands-off approach, insisting that any aggressive activity won't be directed by them, and that they will be asking participants to take a civil approach. "We do our best to guide (those headed to the Hill)," said Steinhauser Wednesday, a week before the event. "But they're individuals. There's no guarantees."
(CNN) – He may have left federal detention quietly, but - like almost everything else about James Traficant - the former congressman's Youngstown, Ohio homecoming promises to be a little bit over-the-top, and impossible to ignore.
A special "Traficant release night"-themed home game by the area's minor league baseball team, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, was canceled after a wave of criticism.
But a welcome home banquet for Traficant - what supporters are calling "an appreciation dinner" - will be held Sunday afternoon at a local banquet hall, where a representative said the venue was expecting 1,200 guests.
One of the organizers, Tony Trolio, told CNN that 1,200 was the official capacity crowd for the event, but that roughly 765 tickets had been sold as of midweek. The agenda is slated to include musical performances - including an appearance by an Elvis impersonator - and a PowerPoint presentation chronicling highlights of Traficant's congressional career.
(CNN) – In a highly-expected move, Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon said Thursday that he will enter the race to take on Republican Sen. David Vitter in the Louisiana Senate race next year.
"Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate to replace David Vitter, because Louisiana deserves better," said the three-term congressman in a video message sent to supporters.
Vitter has been focusing his fire on Melancon for months, including a Web ad earlier this summer that took a swipe at the congressman for fundraising in the Northeast, and attempted to tie him to President Obama.
"It didn't take long for President Obama and his liberal friends to throw their support behind David's opponent, Charlie Melancon," said the incumbent in a fundraising appeal to his own supporters, slamming Melancon for "(flying) up to Martha's Vinyard to collect campaign cash from Obama's wealthiest supporters at cocktail parties in Massachusetts."
RESTON, Virginia (CNN) – Rep. Jim Moran's health care town hall Tuesday night spiraled into chaos and displays of political theater as opponents of the president's overhaul plan spent two hours trying to shout down the Virginia Democrat and his party's former national chairman, Howard Dean.
Foes of President Barack Obama's health care plan had publicly pledged to disrupt the event. Three hours before it began, hundreds of area residents were already lined up outside the venue, a high school in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Reston. When the town hall began, at least 2,500 people packed the high school gymnasium, with even more left in line outside.
The crowd generally reflected the demographics of Moran's solidly Democratic northern Virginia district, with supporters of the president's health care overhaul effort - many wielding signs provided by Organizing for America, his campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee - outnumbering opponents by at least 5 to 1. Organizing for America and union organizers, many on hand for the night's event, have urged supporters to pack town halls in response to similar efforts by health care overhaul opponents.
Moran spent most of the two-hour event addressing a dozen false rumors about the health care proposal being weighed by Congress. Several questioners asked whether the congressman would guarantee that he would not exclude his own insurance plan from the effects of the measures in the $1.6 trillion proposal.
NEW YORK (CNN) – Embattled New York Gov. David Paterson lashed out at critics and at the media Friday, telling an interviewer that race has played a role in his recent political woes.
"This state is not in the trouble that Michigan is in Pennsylvania is in and Massachusetts is in, but you don't see in those other states this crescendo about getting rid of the governor just because we're in a recession," Paterson, who is African-American, said Friday in a radio interview with Errol Louis of the New York Daily News.
He added that he wasn't the only black politician facing a double standard. "And I submit that the same kind of treatment that Deval Patrick is receiving right now in Massachusetts, and I'm receiving - the way in which the New York State Senate was written about, calling them a bunch of people with thick necks, they're talking about Malcolm Smith and John Sampson - that we're not in the post-racial period."
"…And the reality is that the next victim on the list - and you see it coming - is President Barack Obama… only because he's trying to make change" in the nation's health care system.
The most recent available figures show Paterson trailing state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by 2-to-1 margin in polls of a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup for the party's 2010 gubernatorial nod – and by a similar margin in the campaign money chase for the first half of the year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Just a few days after warning Democratic lawmakers that failure to support a public option might cost them union support, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and incoming President Richard Trumka released a statement repeating the threat and promising to keep the heat on Congress and the Obama administration to support a government-run insurance option in the final version of the health care bill.
"We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises," said Trumka Wednesday. "If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people."
Undecided Democratic members of Congress have faced ads and grassroots pressure from both the left and right this summer. Much of the liberal pressure has come from the Health Care for America Now coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO, and Organizing for America, President Obama's campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee.
Earlier this week, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said Democratic members of Congress who opposed a public option could expect primary challenges next year.
(Full statement after the jump)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat slammed recent town hall protests Sunday as organized disruptions of the democratic process.
“We have these screaming groups on either side. That isn't helpful. Let's be honest about this. Town meetings are not bean bag, I've had hundreds of them and sometimes folks get upset. And that's part of America, part of our process,” Sen. Dick Durbin told CNN’s John King on “State of the Union.”
“But this is clearly being orchestrated and these folks have instructions. They come down from a Texas lobbyist in Washington..." he said.
"When there are a group of people honestly sitting in the middle trying to ask the important questions and get the right answers, and instead someone takes the microphone and screams and shouts to the point where the meeting comes to an end, that isn't dialogue, that isn't the democratic process. You know, we need to respect free speech, but we need to respect one another's rights to free speech too. When these people come in just to disrupt the meetings, no, that isn't right.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democrats are headed for a tough primary fight in Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday, telling CNN he was ready to go “toe to toe” with primary opponent Rep. Joe Sestak.
Specter said Sestak was wrong to question the Republican-turned-Democratic incumbent’s allegiance to his new party, adding that his voting record had always leaned Democratic. “President Obama thinks that my principles and values are right in line with his, which is why he's backing me, and Joe Biden and Ed Rendell,” he told CNN’s John King on “State of the Union.”
Related: Specter's polling edge evaporates
“When Congressman Sestak starts to throw stones, he lives in a big glass house. The guy has the worst voting record in the Congress from the Pennsylvania delegation. He's missed 104 votes this year. He talks about his military record. If he was still in the service, he would be a court martial, and he's been AWOL, absent without leave.
“Now, I don't want to get involved in brickbats, and I'd rather talk about the issues, but if Congressman Sestak wants to go negative, I'm prepared to battle him toe to toe.”