[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/13/art.coburn0813.gi.jpg caption="Coburn warned citizens not to 'catch yourself being biased by Fox News.'"](CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - a lightning rod among opponents of the recent health care legislation - is being defended by an unlikely source: Conservative Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
Coburn is a fierce opponent of the health care bill but told participants at a recent town hall in his home state that Pelosi is a "nice lady" who deserves to be treated with civility.
"Come on now, she is a nice - how many of you all have met her?" Coburn said to groans from the crowd. "She is a nice person. Let me give you a little lesson here, I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they aren't a good person."
The comments, first reported by Capitol News Connection and recorded by local NPR station KGOU, strike a markedly different tone than that adopted by the Republican National Committee, which posted a large "Fire Pelosi" banner on its Web site last month and pictured the House Speaker amidst balls of fire.
Coburn spokesman John Hart confirmed the comments and said he believed they came during a March 31 event in Oklahoma City.
In the same town-hall, Coburn reiterated his opposition to the health care legislation but warned town-hall attendees to be wary of information they receive about the bill on Fox News.
"What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so that you can see what's going on and make a determination yourself," he said. "So don't catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/06/art.malley0406.gi.jpg caption ="Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Tuesday offered to debate former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich."](CNN) - This rematch is getting interesting.
Wednesday, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich kicks off his bid for his old office. On the eve of that campaign kickoff, the man he's running against, current Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, offered to debate Ehrlich this Saturday morning on a popular Baltimore radio station.
"I welcome Mr. Ehrlich back into the race for governor," said the first term Democratic governor, on his Facebook page. "I look forward to an issue-based discussion about ideas and issues that can keep our state moving forward. If Ehrlich accepts our challenge we are looking forward to an hour-long Saturday morning debate on Maryland's future on WBAL radio."
An Ehrlich spokesman tells WBAL they are reviewing the request.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/23/art.barbour.gi.jpg caption ="Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Tuesday that he would not ‘critique’ RNC Chairman Michael Steele."]Washington (CNN) - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Tuesday that Republican governors will have the resources necessary for the November elections if the Republican National Committee fails to provide the financial help needed for get-out-the-vote efforts.
But Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said he would not criticize RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who is under fire for his stewardship of the organization.
"Look, every chairman of the party has his ups and downs," Barbour said in an interview on CNN's John King, USA. "I was criticized when I was chairman for different things.
"I don't think it's useful for me to critique any chairman now or any chairman since I was chairman. And I've not done that. I'm not going to start now. It's just not useful."
Barbour served as RNC chairman for two terms in the mid-1990's and he is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
Washington (CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended one embattled Republican Tuesday, but slammed another.
In an interview on CNN's The Situation Room, Giuliani said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele should not resign, and explained why he endorsed Marco Rubio over Charlie Crist in the Florida Republican Senatorial primary.
"I believe Michael [Steele] should remain exactly where he is," Giuliani said as Steele continued to face criticism about his leadership of the RNC.
"Somebody made a very serious mistake – very embarrassing, terrible mistake," said Giuliani referring to embarrassing revelations that the RNC had picked up a nearly $2,000 tab at a bondage-themed West Hollywood nightclub for a group of young donors. "It's something Michael certainly didn't sanction, something Michael didn't want."
"I think Michael [Steele] has us on a good track. We've won three major elections in a row," Giuliani added, referring to Republican wins in governors races in Virginia and New Jersey and the Republican pick up of the Senate seat held by the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/19/art.tpawcpac0219.gi.jpg caption ="Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday that he will contest the new federal health care law."](CNN) - Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minnesota, announced Tuesday he intends to file suit against the new federal health care law.
Critics of the law argue that its requirement for individuals to buy health insurance violates the Constitution.
"The federal government is now requiring citizens under penalty of a fine to buy a good or a service, and we think that's an unprecedented overreach by the federal government into the lives of individual citizens," the governor said following a meeting on education reform.
Pawlenty, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, did not say whether he will pursue his own lawsuit or join legal challenges from 14 attorneys general filed last month.
TOPICS: Mood of nation
Washington (CNN) - Two-thirds of all Americans say that things are going badly in the country today, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates that the public's mood has improved over the past year.
Sixty-seven percent of people questioned say things are going badly in the country, with 32 percent saying that things are going well. The 67 percent is down 10 points from a year ago.
CNN Polling Director Keating Holland say the new numbers paint "a fairly negative view of the state of the country, but a significant improvement over the mood of the nation a year ago."
The survey indicates that optimism appears to have peaked last November, when the number who thought things were going well was at 37 percent.
Washington (CNN) - A member of the Republican National Committee resigned his post in protest on Tuesday, accusing party chairman Michael Steele of spending donor's money with "reckless disregard."
Sean Mahoney, one of New Hampshire's three national committee members, sent his resignation letter to Steele one day after RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay resigned in the wake of several spending controversies that have engulfed the committee.
Longtime Steele consultant Curt Anderson also parted ways with the RNC on Monday, as did a top fundraiser, former Belgium Ambassador Sam Fox.
Read the full letter after the jump
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/06/art.murray.gi.jpg caption="Police arrested a 64-year-old Washington state resident for allegedly making death threats against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray."](CNN) - Police arrested a 64-year-old Washington state resident for allegedly making death threats against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
A department statement said the suspect, identified as Charles Alan Wilson of Selah, Washington, made the threats in phone messages to Murray's office between March 22 and April 4.
Wilson allegedly stated that Murray "had a target on her back" and that he wanted to kill her, according to the statement, which said the threats were in response to congressional passage of the new health care bill.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/07/art.toomy.gi.jpg caption ="Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey is one of a number of politicians who received a campaign contribution from Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship."]Washington (CNN) - Executives of the company that owns a West Virginia coal mine that claimed 25 lives on Monday have long been involved in donating to state and national political leaders.
People associated with Massey Energy, along with its political action committee, donated more than $307,000 to federal candidates since the 1990 election cycle, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The center found that 91% of that money went to Republicans.
In addition, the company's CEO, Don Blankenship, has personally donated more than $60,000 since 2000 - all of it to GOP candidates and causes.
"Don Blankenship ... is a particularly active political bankroller," a report from the center finds. In the last two years, according to its information, Blankenship has given $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $2,300 to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; $2,300 to former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who was exploring in 2008 presidential bid; and $2,000 to Pennsylvania senatorial Candidate Pat Toomey.