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« New Garden State Polls: Split Decision | Blog Home Page | Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (11 Days) »

Strategy Memo: Incumbent Protection

Today President Obama makes his third political trip to the Northeast this week and his second in support of embattled Democratic incumbents. On the official schedule: a stop at a research lab at MIT, and a speech on the recovery act. Then, the politics: fundraising events for Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who will face a tough three-way race in '10. In Connecticut, Obama will then tour a small business before speaking at a fundraising event for Sen. Chris Dodd (D)

House Democratic leaders are holding a press conference this morning to discuss new details regarding seniors and health care reform legislation. On the floor, the House is expected to vote by 1 p.m. on the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. Senators Carl Levin and Patrick Leahy are holding a press conference alongside civil rights leaders to discuss hate crimes legislation. The Senate is not in session.

**Congress
*Mike Allen reports this morning: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi counted votes Thursday night and determined she could not pass a 'robust public option' -- the most aggressive of the three forms of a public option House Democrats have been considering as part of a national overhaul of health care. Pelosi's decision -- coupled with a significant turn of events yesterday during a private White House meeting -- points to an increasingly likely compromise for a trigger option for a government plan."

*"The health care reform debate will be pushed deep into December and possibly beyond by a lengthy floor debate, several senators predicted Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is under pressure from a group of centrist Republicans and Democrats who are demanding a go-slow approach," The Hill reports.

*Reid "is leaning toward putting a public insurance option in the Senate health reform bill," Politico reports. "But President Barack Obama stopped short of endorsing the approach during a hastily called meeting Thursday with the Senate Democratic leadership at the White House."

*"The likelihood of climate change legislation making it to the Senate floor this year may be in doubt, but Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) vowed Thursday he would press on with negotiations in order to keep the issue ripe for next year," Roll Call reports.

*More ethics trouble for Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)?

**President Obama
*While in Massachusetts today, the president won't be highlighting that state's health care plan, the Post reports. "The president's critics say his reluctance to spotlight the Massachusetts model is real-world evidence that his vision would not work on a national scale. High costs have forced the state to trim benefits for legal immigrants and prompted one safety-net hospital to sue over a $38 million shortfall."

*But the trip is mostly about politics, AP reports. "The president's politicking on Friday begins in Cambridge, Mass., with a quick 'official' event at MIT to challenge the nation to lead the global economy in clean energy. That appearance significantly brings down the cost of flying the president to fundraisers designed to raise money for two politically anemic Democrats, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut."

*From the podium, Robert Gibbs responded to Dick Cheney yesterday. "What Vice President Cheney calls 'dithering,' President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public," Gibbs said, per CNN. "I think we've all seen what happens when someone doesn't take that responsibility seriously."

*Is the White House trying to insulate itself from a loss in Virginia? Washington Post: "Senior administration officials have expressed frustration with how Democrat R. Creigh Deeds has handled his campaign for governor, refusing early offers of strategic advice and failing to reach out to several key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in 2008, they say."

**Campaign Stuff
*Sarah Palin has made an endorsement in NY-23: conservative Doug Hoffman. From a Facebook note: "Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of 'blurring the lines' between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket."

*Mitt Romney has an op-ed in the Union Leader on Israel, which echoes some of his speech to AIPAC earlier this week.

*JMart was on the scene for Tim Pawlenty's first PAC fundraiser in DC last night.

*FL Sen: The Charlie Crist-Marco Rubio race could be helping Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) by taking the attention off him, Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) endorsed Meek less than a week after dropping her own exploratory bid, Roll Call reports.

*Des Moines lawyer and 1982 gubernatorial nominee Roxanne Conlin said she wants to run against Sen. Chuck Grassley (D), the Des Moines Register reports. "Should Conlin be nominated next year, she would bring fundraising might to a challenge of the five-term Republican. She is the former president of the nation's trial lawyers association, a ready donor well."

*DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen warns his colleagues: "Historically, we're facing a headwind this cycle with a record number of Frontline Members, a smaller playing field of challenger races, and a difficult fundraising environment. We've known about that challenge from the start and have been aggressively preparing for it, applying the lessons from the last two successful cycles." CNN reports that in a memo to his membership, Van Hollen also urged them all to pitch in to help one another.

*Is the Obama Cabinet stopping in Las Vegas often to help Harry Reid? AP has the story.

*Utah Sen: Millionaire Tim Bridgewater broke down in tears, then entered the crowded GOP Senate primary race yesterday, Deseret News reports.

*Washington Post looks at Beau Biden's potential next battle -- replacing his father in the U.S. Senate.

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad