1. As Florida goes, so goes...Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) played the cooling saucer a bit this morning, expressing pessimism about a robust public option but did not rule out voting for one in the final analysis. Would Nelson support a filibuster cut-off knowing that the underlying bill would include a public option? Said he: "I think, reckless to say I'll support the procedure without knowing what the underlying bill consists of. And it's not put together yet. It's a draft -- it will be a draft bill some time next week, submitted the Congressional Budget Office for the review of the cost."
2. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai thanked Sen. John Kerry for helping him make the decision to accept a run-off election, said that he would not be open to a unity government (and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said he wouldn't join one) but would welcome advice from his challengers, and did not agree that more American troops would necessarily be viewed as occupiers.
That is a legitimate concern, and that has to be taken very much into consideration, and that's why I emphasized two very important things. The arrival of forces must enhance the sense of protection of the Afghan people, and must give protection to the Afghan people. It must not be a capture and kill pursuit of the Taliban, it must be one that provides protection to the country, and must also lead to the enhancement of the abilities of the Afghan military and security forces. Therefore they have to come as liberators as they did in 2002 and not otherwise
3. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) predicted that President Obama would have "trouble with the American people" if he sends 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Sen. Chuck Schumer said that "leader Reid is ... leaning towards ... putting a state opt-out public option in the bill."
4. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) lauded the Obama administration's preparation for the H1N1 emergency and said that one reason why more people are going to the hospital is that public awareness has been sufficiently raised.
5. Prediction: Al Hunt believes that Sen. Olympia Snowe's vote will be critical to final passage and that she'll provide cover for moderate Democrats and even some Senate Republicans. And Newt Gingrich says he'll decide about 2012...in February of 2011.