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Grayson as Ricky Gervais; NRCC calls him 'narcissist'

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This is the the picture Alan Grayson's campaign office e-mailed to supporters recently, soliciting contributions for his re-election campaign.

The picture, of course, is a spoof of the upcoming movie "The Invention of Lying," in which Ricky Gervais becomes the first person to discover dishonesty. Grayson's implication is that he's the first politician to speak the truth.

Grayson has been doubling down on his firebrand liberalism in the last few weeks after controversially accusing Republicans of wanting the sick to "die quickly."

Republicans responed to Grayson's "movie premiere" with amusement.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) forwarded the email to reporters along with the Mayo Clinic's definition of "Narcissistic personality disorder."

"Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration," the email read.

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Rep. Bachmann calls for a 'strong investigation' into non-profits

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) called for a "strong investigation" into a variety of nonprofits in the wake of political corruption allegations at ACORN.

Bachmann, who has been an outspoken critic of ACORN, said that a broader investigation of other nonprofit organizations is needed because they could be using federal funds to influence the outcome of elections, like ACORN did.

"We need a strong investigation into nonprofits," she said in a conference call with conservative bloggers hosted by the Heritage Foundation. "No political party should be funded through a quote 'nonprofit.' "

"Without [government] money they would not be in existence," she added.

The conservative congresswoman said that "we've only started to scratch the surface" of allegations into ACORN's use of public funds to electioneer. Many Republicans have accused ACORN of committing voter registration fraud during the 2008 election, during which the community organization backed President Barack Obama.

Bachmann also accused ACORN of wrongly playing a role in the close Minnesota Senate race. After several recounts, Al Franken (D-Minn.) prevailed over incumbent Norm Coleman (R).

She called ACORN a "cold storage unit for campaign people to elect Democrats."

ACORN again found itself in the limelight after conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute caught employees advising the couple on how to conceal their income. Both houses of Congress have voted to strip several agencies' funding from ACORN.

But Bachmann stressed that more probing was needed. She said there should be "six or eight" investigations into ACORN conducted by the Justice Department, IRS and appropriate congressional committees.

"If this was a Republican organization, they would be dead right now," she said. "There would be scalps of Republican congressmen hung out to dry."

Bachmann also called on the president to publicly distance himself on ACORN.

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GOP senator: 'Very good chance' health bill passes under reconciliation

Senate Democrats have a "very good chance" of passing healthcare legislation if they use budget reconciliation rules, one Republican senator conceded Tuesday.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said that while the bill's fate is "very much in play," if Democrats use the budget maneuver, which sidesteps the 60-vote filibuster rule, they would almost certainly be able to pass their bill.

"There are two schools of thoughts, and I believe the odds these two are about 50/50 for each one," Crapo told Idaho reporters during a conference call this morning.

The first scenario would see the public option removed in order to win Democratic votes, Crapo said.

"The other notion is that people will continue to see the heavy government intrusion in the legislation, will see the expensive taxes and the high price tag of the bill, and will have the same kind of reservations about it, and that that will cause the Democratic leadership to be unable to pass their version in the Senate," the Idaho Republican added.

"That then raises the question as to whether they would move to reconciliation, where they didn't have to get to 60 votes, and only needed 50," Crapo explained. "If they do move to reconciliation, I do think they actually have a very good chance of passing that."

Crapo said that he credited the August recess protests with having created enough of an impression among his colleagues for them to have voted down public option amendments in the Senate Finance Committee, but he worried the protests haven't had enough of an impact as the debate moves forward.

"I'm concerned that that impact is not as deep as they thought it would be," he said.

Overall, the senator maintained that the fate of the legislation is "very much in play," and that Republicans would work to stop the public option from becoming law.

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Harman on Afghanistan: 'It's the corruption, stupid'

Deploying additional troops to Afghanistan is unlikely to stop the spread of al Qaeda to other Middle Eastern states, one House Democrat stressed Tuesday.

"Our goal here ... is to stop al Qaeda around the world; al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan, it's in Pakistan," Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) told MSNBC. "And if we focus on taking out al-Qaeda in Pakistan... and we focus on Yemen and Somalia and other places al Qaeda is moving, I think that's the strategy that ought to get the primary attention."

Debate over whether the White House should request additional troops for its mission in Afghanistan reached a new intensity last week, after Gen. Stanley McChrystal suggested conditions in the war-torn state were growing increasingly chaotic. He has since pined the Obama administration publicly for more military help -- a decision the White House has said it is still in the process of making.

But Harman on Tuesday argued additional troops would not improve the White House's chances for success in Afghanistan. Echoing her fellow Democratic lawmakers, she said a more realistic strategy would focus on training local security forces and rooting out any remaining political corruption.

"My view is... 'It's the corruption, stupid,'" Harman said. "If we don't move to try to help fix what everyone perceives is sham election, and to help the people feel that they're getting services from their government... they're not going to buy into what we're doing, and we're not going to have the situation we had in Iraq..."

"We have folks who want to join the Taliban, and we will not succeed by just adding troops," she added.


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Weiner slams debate opponent as 'liar'

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) faced off against conservative healthcare critic Betsy McCaughey last night in a fiery debate over reform legislation.

McCaughey, a former Lt. Gov. of New York who rose to prominence opposing Hillarycare in 1993-94, has re-emerged as a strident opponent of Democrats' plans for healthcare reform.

Weiner blasted McCaughey in last night's debate, repeatedly calling her a liar.

"There have been elements of this debate that have been just bad," Weiner said. "And unfortunately the woman I'm debating today has been part of that element of the debate."

"She'll talk page numbers," Weiner continued. "The page numbers will have nothing to do with what she says they have to do with."

When McCaughey urged Weiner to support a bill requiring all legislation be posted online for 72 hours before a vote, Weiner shot the real problem was misinformation.

"This isn't a problem of people not reading the bill," he said. "In your case it's a problem of people reading the bill and then lying about what's in it."

McCaughey criticized Democrats' reform package for cutting Medicare to pay for coverage for the uninsured.

"That's like snatching purses from little old ladies," McCaughey quipped.

Watch clips of the debate after the jump.


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Poll shows Tommy Thompson would lead Feingold

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) won't be on anybody's target list unless things get pretty bad for Democrats, but a new poll shows the right candidate could at least have a shot at beating him.

The poll, which was conducted by University of Wisconsin professor Ken Goldstein for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, shows former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) leading Feingold 43-39 in a head-to-head matchup. Thompson hasn't shown interest in running against Feingold, though, and his inclusion in the poll represents something of a best-case-scenario for Republicans.

In contrast, Feingold polled double-digit leads over Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and former Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) in June.

Feingold has never taken more than 55 percent of the vote in three races, but he's not generally thought of as a top potential target. Now that Republicans have apparently landed Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) to run in that state, perhaps they will try to get candidates in races against Feingold and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).

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Podesta endorses Bloomberg

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) picked up an endorsement from a high-profile national Democrat today, securing the support of Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta.

Podesta previously served as White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton and was co-chairman of President Barack Obama's transition team earlier this year.

The mayor, who is running for a third term, faces Democratic City Comptroller Bill Thompson in the general election.

"I have been privileged to work closely with two Presidents, and I know what kind of abilities a chief executive needs to succeed," Podesta said in a release. "Mike Bloomberg has those skills and the guts to put them to work ensuring that New York City is a national leader in fostering a cleaner environment, better schools, economic opportunity for all, affordable quality health care and reproductive rights."

Bloomberg, who was formerly a Republican, changed his party registration to Independent in 2007 during his second term as mayor. The financial media magnate has backed the president's push for healthcare reform legislation.

The mayor also picked up endorsements from the president of Planned Parenthood and the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

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Pelosi says new tax is 'on the table'

A new value-added tax (VAT) is "on the table" to help the U.S. address its fiscal liabilities, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday night.

Pelosi, appearing on PBS's "The Charlie Rose Show" asserted that "it's fair to look at" the VAT as part of an overhaul of the nation's tax code.

"I would say, Put everything on the table and subject it to the scrutiny that it deserves," Pelosi told Rose when asked if the VAT has any appeal to her.

The VAT is a tax on manufacturers at each stage of production on the amount of value an additional producer adds to a product.

Pelosi argued that the VAT would level the playing field between U.S. and foreign manufacturers, the latter of which do not have pension and healthcare costs included in the price of their goods because their governments provide those services, financed by similar taxes.

"They get a tax off of that and they use that money to pay the healthcare for their own workers," Pelosi said, using the example of auto manufacturers. "So their cars coming into our country don't have a healthcare component cost.

"Somewhere along the way, a value-added tax plays into this. Of course, we want to take down the healthcare cost, that's one part of it," the Speaker added. "But in the scheme of things, I think it's fair look at a value- added tax as well."

Pelosi said that any new taxes would come after the Congress finishes the healthcare debate consuming most lawmakers' time, and that it may come as part of a larger overhaul to the tax code.

The Speaker also emphasized that any reworking of the tax code would not result in an increase in taxes on middle-class Americans.

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Rubio ramps up fundraising with $1 million third quarter

Former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio may be getting some traction in his Senate primary with Gov. Charlie Crist (R).

In an e-mail to supporters Tuesday, Rubio reported that he raised nearly $1 million in the third quarter — a marked improvement over a disappointing $350,000 raised in the second quarter.

He will still get trounced in the fundraising race (Crist raised well more than $4 million in the second quarter), but Rubio's total is a good sign for his campaign. It looks as though he cashed in on some publicity from his appearance on the cover of the National Review.

From Rubio's e-mail:

Today, I want to thank you for the support you’ve given my campaign for U.S. Senate. Because of your generosity, we raised almost $1 million during the third quarter that concluded last week.

This is a strong statement about the direction you believe our Republican Party, our state and our nation should take. It is also an encouraging reminder about how piece by piece, supporter by supporter and idea by idea, we are building a movement that will only continue growing and gaining momentum as we move forward.

We know the road ahead is not an easy one as our opponents feel the pressure and inevitably step up their efforts against me. This is why, as I continue working to secure the resources to communicate my message, I need your support today to help us get the fourth quarter off to a strong and robust start.

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Frist: I would not vote for any current healthcare proposal

After backtracking on his support for one health reform proposal yesterday, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said on Tuesday he would support none of the current reform plans.

Frist told ABC yesterday that he would not back the Senate Finance Committee's health bill, but expanded his opposition to all five healthcare bills in Congress. Last Friday, Frist told Time's Karen Tumulty that he would vote for healthcare reform legislation.

"Right now, in the shape that each of those are in, I wouldn't vote for any of them," Frist told CNBC.

Frist, however, insisted that Tumulty's piece "was exactly right" in that it captured his thoughts on specific provisions of reform legislation like expanding coverage and controlling costs.

The former senator originally told Tumulty that he "would end up voting for it. As leader, I would take heat for it...That's what leadership is all about."

Frist, however, said that he would support a bipartisan bill that is "market-based," provides universal healthcare with an individual mandate, but controls costs.

Last week, Frist signaled support for a public option "trigger" that would provide public health insurance if private insurers do not meet certain benchmarks. But he did not address the public option today.

Frist stressed the "moral" importance of expanding coverage to 20 million Americans who do not have insurance.

"We have a moral obligation, and I would argue an economic obligation, to bring the uninsured into the market to prevent cherry picking exclusion by pre-existing illness, and at the same time address the cost out there which are going up to fast," Frist said.

He added that ideas currently circulating Congress are stale and that legislators need to adopt more a "radical" plan.

"I argue for much more radical reform, transformational reform," Frist said. "Right now, what's going on on the Senate floor and the House floor is really just a mixture of old ideas. It's not really changing the overall delivery of healthcare between doctors and patients."

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