Washington (CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter's party switch last year was a boon for Democrats, and maybe a survival move on his part. But with the wave of anti-incumbency sweeping the nation, his job is still in jeopardy.
Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall University's Center for Politics and Public Affairs is following the Democratic primary between Specter and suburban Philadelphia Rep. Joe Sestak.
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"This has turned into a dogfight," Madonna said, pointing to polls that indicate support for Sestak is surging in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's statewide vote, in which only Democrats can participate.
Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat, was by his own admission made in part to aid his chances for re-election, a fact Sestak has been all too happy to point out.
(CNN) - Political candidates have learned to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking tools to promote their campaigns. But is there room for yet another?
"If you look at these types of sites, the last thing we need to do is start creating these networks all over again because it is pretty time-consuming," says David Almacy, the White House Internet Director for much of former President Bush George W. Bush's second term.
Now a senior vice president at Edelman Communications, Almacy said that he worries some new "fad" for communicating a political message might come along forcing campaigns to start from scratch, which he said could frustrate supporters who are comfortable with the current online networking tools.
He thinks the major sites have not matured completely, but are well established and useful enough that "we're on the cusp of it coming into more of a 'Golden Age'" with less need for something new to engage voters and activists.
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(CNN) – "We still have to communicate" the need for health care reform and what it is already starting to do.
That's the thinking of Nancy-Ann DeParle, the Director of the White House Office on Health Reform, sometimes called the "Health Reform Czar."
President Obama has embarked on a series of town hall-style rallies, including last week in Charlotte, N.C and Maine, to promote the laws that he signed last month, implementing major changes in health care policy.
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Washington (CNN) – From President Jefferson to President Obama, politicians have been using new media to promote their campaigns, besmirch opponents and bottom line: win elections.
Jefferson printed short opinion pieces known as tracts in the 1800 presidential campaign, while Obama is credited with successfully harnessing social media technology in his 2008 bid for the White House. Recently, Obama's White House staff has warmed up considerably to Twitter.
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Washington (CNN) - There is an overriding theme to Sen. Carl Levin's acceptance of President Obama's expected announcement that the United States will be sending upwards of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan: The chairman of the Armed Services Committee thinks the president's Tuesday night message to the nation must "connect the dots" between the added cost in American lives and a willingness of Afghan soldiers to start taking over more of the fighting.
"The nation's going to want to hear why this mission is important, (and) what is the relationship between any additional troops and success in Afghanistan," Levin told CNN.
"...If there's going to be additional [U.S.] troops, which obviously there are, what is the relationship between additional troops and increasing the size and capability of the Afghan army?"
Levin indicated he had been in contact with President Obama about the pending strategy shift late last week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – If you have not had enough of reform talk, welcome to "Health Care Action Week." That's what Organizing for America is calling its grassroots meetings, phone banks and door-to-door canvassing efforts this week, as it helps push broad Democratic health care reform proposals.
Organizing for America is the grassroots network that was "Obama for America" during the 2008 presidential election cycle. After the inauguration, OFA moved its operations to the Democratic National Committee.
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And between now and the scheduled August 7 recess of Congress, OFA and the DNC have launched 30-second TV and radio ads, some running on CNN, urging the public to get behind the broader health care reform proposals.
The campaign has raised eyebrows for its obvious targeting of certain lawmakers including some moderate Democrats. On the Senate level, the ads will be running in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska and Ohio.
In the ads, average Americans give very brief statements about their problems with the current health care system; the ad concludes with them consecutively saying, "It's time!" - meaning it's time to reform the system. At the end, a phone number appears urging viewers to call Senators or Representatives, depending on the target.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration's plan to overhaul lending regulations - stemming from the housing and credit meltdowns, as well as the current recession - moves to Capitol Hill Wednesday with the start of three straight days of hearings. The House Financial Services Committee will get the banking community's input first.
Steve Bartlett, president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, an industry lobbying group, told CNN Radio that larger lending institutions "favor major regulatory reform. We think the time is overdue." But the administration's plan is a mixed bag, even if "generally in the right direction," according to Bartlett, who is scheduled to be one of the lead-off witnesses.
Bankers approve of some of the administration's plans to consolidate the myriad of agencies that regulate financial products. "We would like to see more consolidation. We think what America needs now is fewer regulators, but stronger regulators. Fewer agencies, but agencies that have more stick."
Where bankers split strongly with the White House is over the idea of creating a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. "We think consumer protection should be beefed up. What we don't like is ... putting it into a separate, free-standing agency that will have less power to protect consumers," Bartlett said.
Current regulators, according to Bartlett, "have the full power of cease-and-desist orders, or life and death, over the financial institutions."
After 25 years, CEO From is stepping down from a political apparatus he helped build out of the ashes of the 1984 presidential re-election landslide of Ronald Reagan. A party operative on Capitol Hill, From was approached by Democratic moderates, including Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri. Their aim was to steer the party toward a middle course and help elect a Democrat to the White House in 1988. Early on, the governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton hitched his wagon to the DLC, gaining the national party prominence that would help him clinch the nomination in 1992.
"The key to our revival [as a party was] to figure out what you're going to stand for…and make sure it's things that connect with a majority of Americans," From says in an interview with CNN Radio.
At its founding, From says the DLC took "fundamental first principles of the Democratic Party: Jackson's credo of 'Opportunity for All; Kennedy's ethic of civic responsibility; Truman's tough-minded internationalism; Roosevelt's innovation; Johnson's quest for social justice." He calls it a "modern political philosophy for progressive governance. It wasn't just a compromise between liberalism and conservatism."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a roundtable with radio reporters Friday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wondered if Sonia Sotomayor's backpedaling on her now famous statement about a "wise Latina woman" possibly coming to better decisions than a white male was genuine.
"If it was a bad choice of words, it was a bad choice of words repeatedly [offered].... leading one to believe that it probably wasn't just anisolated statement, but a core belief," McConnell said. Past comments by Sotomayor regarding ethnicity are being circulated by her supporters to show that Republicans didn't raise objections when she was nominated as a federal judge and then for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
The GOP backs off some of its criticism of Sotomayor
(CNN) – New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez is a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. After considerable delay, the bill to aid homeowners who are facing foreclosure because of significant jumps in the their "sub-prime" mortgage rates, will almost certainly pass the Senate Saturday morning. The White House says President Bush will sign it, despite his objections of $4 billion included that would allow distressed communities to buy up foreclosed homes.
Menendez talks about that issue and the fact it is difficult to get an actual cost on the bill, because it allows struggling borrowers to refinance under Federal Housing Administration-backed loans, but in a standard mortgage format (as opposed to sub-prime). Tacked on as well, is the idea the Treasury Secretary can help Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as needed, at a time when the two companies' stocks have dropped significantly.
Listen: Menendez talks to CNN Radio about the housing bill