WASHINGTON (CNN) - The organizer of a "Tea Party" protest in Virginia says he intends to move forward with plans to burn House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tom Perriello in effigy next weekend at a rally to protest Democratic health care legislation.
The event is scheduled for next Saturday in Danville, which borders North Carolina and sits at the southern end of Perriello's congressional district. Perriello, a Democrat, narrowly won his House seat in 2008 and is considered a top target of Congressional Republicans in next year's midterm elections.
When news of the rally surfaced Friday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen condemned the plans as "shocking and despicable."
But Nigel Coleman, the organizer of the Tea Party, told CNN he doesn't see what all the fuss is about. The attention, he said, should be on the Democratic plans to overhaul the health care system.
"We're not going to actually set Perriello on fire or Mrs. Pelosi on fire," Coleman said. "But we have been trying to months to get our point across just how vehemently we are opposed to this health care legislation. For the House vote to come so close and to know that Mr. Perriello is on the other side, it's a kick in the stomach that a lot of people couldn't take."
Coleman said none of Perriello's potential Republican challengers have been invited to the event, which he expects will draw about 100 people.
"Something shocking and despicable is how they've handled this health care legislation," Coleman said, responding to Van Hollen's statement. "Going behind closed doors, writing a bill that is going to fundamentally change what America is. More people are going to be killed by this health care legislation than this bonfire."
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain has already received a signed copy of Sarah Palin's new memoir "Going Rogue," but the former Republican presidential nominee hasn't read it yet.
"I've just received a signed copy from her yesterday, so I will read it with interest," the senator told reporters Friday in his home state of Arizona.
While the book contains a healthy dose of score-settling aimed at former McCain campaign aides, the senator stressed that he was "proud and honored" to have had Palin as his running mate.
"One of the things about campaigns that lose, there's always mistakes made and the campaign that wins is always the perfect campaign," he said. "I'm proud of the campaign we ran. I'm proud of Sarah Palin and we continue to have a great and wonderful relationship. So, I'm very proud of the campaign we ran and I have moved forward."
When asked if the book has become "a nuisance," McCain responded no. "It is the usual background noise," he said.
He also responded to a question he has heard over and over again since the campaign ended: Can Palin be a viable presidential candidate herself in 2012?
"Sure," he said. "I think there are a number of viable candidates out there. I think that Sarah Palin is obviously one of them and we'll start through the process in about a year or so of selecting our nominee, but I think she's a very strong force in the Republican Party. I can't predict who's gonna get the nomination but I certainly think she would be competitive."
Story updated below with Hutchison's remarks as prepared for delivery on Saturday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who previously said she would resign her seat to run for governor, will announce Saturday she will remain in the Senate as she seeks the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination, a Hutchison aide tells CNN.
"She will announce tomorrow at the Texas Federation of Republican Women’s Convention in Galveston that she will not be resigning her seat before the primary,” said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “She is running for governor because she feels it is important to fight on two fronts, for the race for governor and against the Democratic health care proposal and cap and trade.”
In July, Hutchison told Dallas radio station WBAP that she planned to leave the Senate in the fall.
"Then the actual leaving of the Senate will be sometime — October, November — that, in that time frame," she said.
The aide said that Hutchison “plans to resign” her Senate seat “after the primary,” which the aide noted she will win. The aide brushed off the question of whether she would quit if she ends up losing the primary to Gov. Rick Perry.
A Perry spokesman quickly responded to the latest news in what has been a contentious primary battle.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sixty. It's the magic number of votes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needs to move his health care reform bill to the Senate floor and tamp down filibuster threats by Republicans.
And the 60th vote could well be Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska.
Nelson and other Democrats have spoken out against the costs of plans being discussed, and most recently the $1.1 trillion House bill, which passed last weekend.
Reid doesn't expect Republican support for the bill, so he'll need all of the 58 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them.
Nelson, 68, recently said he would decide how to vote on whether to send the bill to the Senate floor once he sees the final version.
"I'm not going to make any kind of commitment until I see the bill," Nelson said, adding that he has not given Reid any assurance or "secret" acknowledgment of support.
"I can't decide about the procedural vote until I see the underlying bill," he told CNN.
Nelson told ABC News on Tuesday that faced with a decision on whether to "move a bill that is bad, I won't vote to move it."
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) - Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction last summer on 11 counts of corruption.
There is no punitive fine but he will have to pay $1,100 in special assessments.
Jefferson did not speak in court on advice of his counsel.
The case against the former nine-term Louisiana congressman included allegations of influence-peddling and the discovery of $90,000 in cash in his freezer.
Jefferson's family was in the courtroom when District Judge T.S. Ellis handed down the sentence.
He had faced up to 150 years in prison.
(CNN) - The House squeaked out its version of health care reform and now President Obama is putting pressure on the Senate to do the same so he can sign a bill before the end of the year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he hopes to start debate next week on whether to send his bill to the floor. The Congressional Budget Office is appraising components of Reid's legislation.
But a handful of moderate Democrats might determine whether Reid's bill is debated.
Republicans are basically united in opposition to Reid's plan. With 60 votes needed to start debate on the legislation, Reid needs all 58 of the Democrats in the Senate and the two independents who caucus with them to vote his way.
Time is ticking away on reaching Obama's goal. Democrats are already doubtful that they'll be able to reach it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sarah Palin will travel to the Fort Hood Army post in early December as part of her national book tour, Palin's publisher confirmed to CNN Friday.
The December 4 visit will come roughly one month after a mass shooting on the base that left 13 people dead and 38 wounded.
The stop, which had not been previously announced, is scheduled for the same day Palin signs books at a store in in the Dallas area.
The former Alaska governor is also making an appearance at Fort Bragg in North Carolina during her tour.
The visit was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) - Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Friday for his conviction last summer on 11 counts of corruption.
He faces a sentence of up to 150 years in prison, but the judge may accept sentencing guidelines that range from 27 to 33 years. Prosecutors and Jefferson's defense attorney have filed arguments they hope will influence the judge's decision.
The case has included allegations of influence-peddling and the discovery of $90,000 in cash in Jefferson's freezer.
Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat who served 18 years in Congress representing the New Orleans area, already faces the forfeiture of nearly half a million dollars - money a jury said is linked to criminal activity for which he stands convicted.
The jury August 5 found Jefferson guilty on four bribery counts, three counts of money laundering, three counts of wire fraud and one count of racketeering. He was acquitted on five other counts including wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Growing partisan tensions over national security issues exploded Friday as several top Republicans ripped Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try five suspected 9/11 terrorists in civilian court.
The attorney general was accused of risking Americans' security by treating the suspects like "common criminals" with a right to greater
constitutional protections than they would otherwise receive in a military trial.
Five Guantanamo Bay detainees with alleged ties to the September 11, 2001, attacks - including confessed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - will be tried in civilian court in New York, Holder announced Friday.
"These terrorists planned and executed the mass murder of thousands of innocent Americans. Treating them like common criminals is unconscionable," Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said in a written statement.