WASHINGTON (CNN) – Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Tuesday that the race in New York's 23rd congressional district is evidence that the Republican Party is "at war with themselves."
"The Republican Party is a little bit at war with themselves, aren't they," the Maryland Democrat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I mean, they've got the right wing of their party and they've got the extreme right wing of their party and you've seen them turn on each other time and again as they figure out what they want to do as a party, let alone what sort of direction they want to lead our country in."
But Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said that particular race – where the local GOP appointed the nominee instead of conducting a primary – should be a lesson to Republican Party leaders around the country to hold elections.
Barbour, a Republican, reiterated that he does not see Tuesday's election results as a referendum on President Obama, but rather as a reflection of how voters feel about his policies. He said that if the Democratic candidates lose or win the gubernatorial races in New Jersey or Virginia by a small margin, that it will "help Republicans next year, because they're going to be really good for candidate recruiting and they're going to be a real springboard for the 2010 elections."
"A win is a win, except if you're trying to assess what effect is the administration and its policies having on Democratic candidates," Barbour said.
(CNN) – Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman told CNN on Monday that battle over the congressional seat in New York's 23rd district that led to the withdrawal of the Republican candidate isn't evidence of a split within the GOP.
Hoffman called Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee who dropped out of the race over the weekend, an "ultra-liberal" - but denied the GOP is at war with itself, or that the race offer a glimpse what's to come in next fall's midterm elections.
There is room for moderates in the GOP, said Hoffman. "I think this was a unique situation where the candidate happened to be more Democrat than Republican," he told CNN's Mary Snow and Shirley Zilberstein. "And basically, I was fighting to stand up for the values and ideals of the Republican Party."
Before Scozzafava dropped out, Republicans were split between her and Hoffman, allowing Democrat Bill Owens to take the lead in this reliably-Republican district. Scozzafava is now backing Owens - a decision that Hoffman said "surprised" him, but shows that he's always been the "real Republican" in the race.
"Well, my candidacy has been for fighting for the soul of the Republican Party," Hoffman said. "I think the events of the last two days have shown that I have been the real Republican in this race, the real common sense conservative Ronald Reagan Republican."
Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden suggested that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh "handpick[ed]" Hoffman to run. Hoffman called that notion "ridiculous": "I've never spoken to Rush Limbaugh so I don't know where he's getting that information from."
(CNN) - The Republican National Committee is pouring some last-minute money into the highly-anticipated special election in New York's 23rd congressional district with a new radio ad, as the party throws its support to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
The RNC released a new radio ad on Monday encouraging Republicans to support conservative candidates on Election Day. Without naming Hoffman, the narrator says that voters "need conservative leaders who stand up for our values."
"Whose side are you on? The Pelosi-Paterson tax-and-spend train wreck?" the narrator asks in the ad, echoing a Hoffman campaign theme. "Or do you believe in Republican conservative values, like thrift, personal responsibility, and family? Let's tell the liberals, enough is enough."
The RNC had previously backed Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out of the race over the weekend and officially backed the Democratic nominee, Bill Owens.
The ad will air for two days in North Country media markets. The RNC would not reveal the size of the buy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Two senators are taking another shot at crafting a law that would protect journalists from having to reveal the identity of their sources.
Democratic Sens. Arlen Specter and Charles Schumer released details Friday of a revised version of the Free Flow of Information Act, which would provide a federal legal protection to reporters who refuse to reveal their confidential sources from being fined or imprisoned.
President Obama came under fire earlier this month for weakening an earlier shield law proposal by modifying a safeguard that would force prosecutors to exhaust all other options before making a reporter testify in court. Under the administration's version at the time, reporters would not be protected if executive branch believed the source's information caused "significant" harm to national security.
Schumer said this version of the bill provides new provisions to help the government protect national security interests while providing legal protection for journalists. More specifically, the government would have to prove to a judge that compelling a reporter to give up a confidential source would help the government in "preventing or mitigating" a future act of terrorism, according to excerpts of the bill.
"This new version preserves a strong protection for reporters interested in protecting their sources, while also making sure that the government can still do the job of protecting its citizens," Schumer said in a statement. "This agreement should expedite this bill's movement through committee and the full Senate."
WASHINGTON (CNN) –- A long-awaited House health care bill will likely include a “negotiated rate” public health insurance option, Rep. Chris Van Hollen told CNN after a closed-door meeting Wednesday with members of the House leadership to finalize their version of the legislation.
The House leadership announced after the meeting they will unveil their bill on Thursday. It will include a more moderate version of a public option, and Van Hollen - the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman from Maryland - said the entire bill will cost under $900 billion and reduce the deficit.
"The public option will be a public option and again there's going to be some final discussion within the caucus, but the likely result will be a negotiated rate public option, which is a public option that will create competition and choice,” Van Hollen said on CNN’s The Situation Room.
“We do not have an opt-out provision," he added, referring to a provision in the Senate version of the bill that would allow states to decide against including a public option.
"I think all this - people have lost sight of what our objective was to begin with and that is to have a public option out there," Van Hollen said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – After a dizzying few days of prominent Republican endorsements of the Conservative Party's nominee in New York's 23rd congressional district, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said he will stand behind the embattled GOP candidate in the upcoming special election.
Steele will back Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, breaking with some party conservatives - including Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Fred Thompson and Dick Armey - who are backing third-party candidate Doug Hoffman.
"I support the Republican nominee, as the Republican Party chairman," Steele told MSNBC Wednesday morning. "And that's the way it should go."
Scozzafava has an endorsement from former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the NRA - but some prominent conservative leaders, activists and groups who view her as too liberal have thrown their weight behind Hoffman.
Scozzafava, Hoffman and Bill Owens are on the ballot in the special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by former GOP Rep. John Hughes, now President Obama's Secretary of the Army. Election Day is November 3.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing next month on the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, committee chairman Carl Levin's spokeswoman confirmed Friday.
The precise date for the November hearing hasn't been set yet, said Levin spokeswoman Tara Andringa.
The Michigan senator, who supports ending that policy, made the announcement after a Friday event marking the passage of a bill that extends hate crimes protection to victims assaulted because of their sexual orientation. "My hope is that we are going to find a way to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell," Levin said, according to AFP. The Armed Services Committee had previously announced it would debate the policy sometime this fall.
President Obama has faced criticism from the gay community for not moving forward quickly to repeal the policy. Earlier this month, at a fundraiser for a gay rights organization, he pledged to end the practice of discharging members of the military because of their sexual orientation, but did not give a timeline for when that might happen.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The banking system today may be in a more precarious position than it was a year ago, the man charged with overseeing a $700 billion bailout program said Wednesday.
Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general managing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that the government's decision to support bank mergers over the past year may have put the U.S. economy more at risk.
"These banks that were too big to fail are now bigger," Barofsky said. "Government has sponsored and supported several mergers that made them larger and that guarantee, that implicit guarantee of moral hazard, the idea that the government is not going to let these banks fail, which was implicit a year ago, is now explicit, we've said it. So if anything, not only have there not been any meaningful regulatory reform to make it less likely, in a lot of ways, the government has made such problems more likely.
"Potentially we could be in more danger now than we were a year ago," he added.
Earlier in the day, Barofsky issued a scathing report criticizing the Treasury Department for not being transparent enough about how bailout money was being spent. He warned that this could have lasting effects.
"I think this cynicism, this anger, this distrust of government that's born in part from a lack of transparency could have far-reaching ramifications, whether there's a next crisis or when anytime the government is going to call on the American people, the taxpayer, to support necessary programs," Barofsky said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sarah Palin will sit down with Oprah Winfrey the day before her new memoir hits bookstores, Harpo announced Tuesday.
The former Alaska governor will make the appearance on Oprah on November 16 to talk about her highly anticipated tell-all, "Going Rogue: An American Life."
Palin has never before appeared on the popular daytime talk show. Last December, Winfrey said she had invited her on the show to discuss the election, but suggested at the time that Palin had instead chose other interviewers.
"I said I would be happy to talk to Sarah Palin when the election was over... I went and tried to talk to Sarah Palin and instead she talked to Greta [Van Susteren]. She talked to Matt [Lauer]. She talked to Larry [King]. But she didn't talk to me," Oprah told the show Extra last year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats won the money war in September.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Monday that it doubled its Republican counterpart in fundraising last month, bringing in $7.05 million to bring its total to $14.7 million in the bank.
The National Republican Campaign Committee brought in $3.4 million in September and now has $4.3 million cash on hand. This is the fourth straight month that House Republicans have topped $3 million, which spokesman Paul Lindsay called one of the "encouraging signs."
"Our continued and steady improvement in grassroots fundraising is just one of the many encouraging signs that the policies of a Democrat-run Washington are mobilizing Americans to take action and support our efforts," Lindsay said in a statement.
Senate Democrats had similar success last month. Last week, they announced they had outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee $5.9 million to $3.2 million in September.