First Read Flash: Health care worries

Updated

Roll Call: “President Barack Obama heard an earful at the White House Wednesday from Senate Democrats running for re-election next year who are fuming about the Affordable Care Act’s rocky rollout. During a two-hour meeting that was not on the president’s public schedule, the president met with 15 Senate Democrats facing the voters next year, as well as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet, D-Colo.”

Wall Street Journal: “Among the more than a dozen Democratic senators who pressed President Barack Obama to fix problems with the law’s implementation that have frustrated many Americans were several senators who face particularly tough races next November, including Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska.”

NBC’s Ali Weinberg: ”Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius faced a bipartisan grilling before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday, as technical problems with the federal insurance exchange continue to persist.”

New York Times: “Leaders of the Republican establishment, alarmed by the emergence of far-right and often unpredictable Tea Party candidates, are pushing their party to rethink how it chooses nominees and advocating changes they say would result in the selection of less extreme contenders….The party leaders pushing for changes want to replace state caucuses and conventions, like the one that nominated” Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia “with a more open primary system that they believe will draw a broader cross-section of Republicans and produce more moderate candidates.”

USA Today:The failure of Tea Party-backed candidates in Tuesday’s election shows that Democrats have been successful in making the Tea Party label a negative for Republicans, even if it isn’t always clear what being a Tea Party candidate means.”

Politico: “Senate Republicans are spoiling for a fight this primary season as they try to take back control of the party from conservative activists. The strategy: prop up the most electable candidates — even if they are more moderate than ones demanded by tea party activists — and punish those who get in their way.

Washington Post:Top Democratic officials launched a concerted offensive Wednesday to define New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a negative light, believing that he has emerged from his reelection landslide as the Republican Party’s strongest potential presidential contender for 2016. Some Democratic strategists said the party made a mistake by not spending more money to attack Christie during the gubernatorial campaign, which might have suppressed his margin of victory and denied the Republican a sweeping mandate in a blue state. In the months to come, Democrats say, they plan to chip away at Christie’s moderate image and present him nationally as a hard-edged conservative.”

NBC’s Carrie Dann and Michael O’Brien: “Chris Christie said Wednesday that he’s ignoring – for now – the fevered speculation about his presidential ambitions following a decisive re-election victory as a Republican in deep-blue New Jersey. But his words and actions suggested otherwise.”

Politico: “At a time when not much is going right politically for the Republican Party, one thing certainly is: Obamacare. And the Virginia governor’s race this week, party hands say, is the best evidence yet. Exit polls Tuesday showed voters lining up against Obamacare, with 53 percent saying they were opposed to the law — and those voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Whether health care is the singular issue that made the race closer than expected is hard to say. But after Cuccinelli made an anti-Obamacare message the centerpiece of his closing argument, it’s likely that it played some role in helping to close the gap between him and Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final days of the contest.”

Washington Post; “In what might amount to the opening salvo of the 2016 Republican race for president, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) Wednesday for appearing in a series of television ads designed to boost the New Jersey economy after Hurricane Sandy.:

Los Angeles Times: “A group urging Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president in 2016 held a fundraiser in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night, during which supporters called it their duty to encourage the former secretary of State to seek the White House.”

GEORGIA: Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in a move that catapults the gubernatorial contest into the national spotlight and tests whether Georgia’s changing demographics can loosen the Republican Party’s 12-year grip on the state’s highest office. Carter’s decision…is another step along the trail forged by his famous grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was elected to the state Senate and then the Governor’s Mansion before winning the presidency.”

MONTANA: Billings Gazette: “Former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger announced Tuesday night that he’s running for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat next year, becoming the third Democrat to get in the race. Bohlinger, 77,….joins current Lt. Gov. John Walsh and Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams as Democrats in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is retiring next year.”

NEW JERSEY: NBC’s Jessica Taylor:Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) announced he wouldn’t seek a third term in Congress, giving Democrats a prime pickup opportunity in 2014 in district that President Obama won last year.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Runyan cited a desire to spend more time with his children…But three Republican sources said the congressman was also exasperated by the gridlock that has come to define Washington. One party leader pointed specifically to clashes between pragmatic Republicans and the unyielding tea party wing that holds sway in the House.”

VIRGINIA: Daily Rundown’s Jessica Taylor:A loss by Ken Cuccinelli was supposed to have been a wake-up call to the tea party that deeply conservative candidates couldn’t win in swing states like Virginia. Instead, the GOP nominee’s near-miss in Tuesday’s race for governor has only deepened the party’s ideological divide….when the results came in, and the margin was only three points, many were left wondering whether a win had been within reach. They blamed the GOP cavalry for failing to ride in, believing that Cuccinelli’s framing of the race as a referendum against Obamacare had been a winning message.”

Washington Post: “Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s unexpectedly slim victory in Virginia set off an explosion of recriminations among Republicans on Wednesday, and rather than settling the battle between the GOP’s tea party and business factions, the election appears to have deepened the internal divide. If lessons emerged from Tuesday’s vote, they were almost instantly lost in the volley of finger-pointing that began even before the polls closed. “

Politico:Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign was never built for a landslide victory. Not that the legendary Democratic operative-turned-candidate would have objected to a bigger win – but McAuliffe’s 2.5-point, 55,000-vote edge over Republican Ken Cuccinelli was the narrow margin his team planned for starting in early 2013, when McAuliffe’s advisers mapped out a strategy for winning in the difficult environment of an off-year Virginia election.”

Washington Post:”Virginians may be in for a long wait, possibly into December, to learn who will become their next attorney general, the official who serves as the commonwealth’s top lawyer in such a prominent office that it has become a springboard to the governor’s mansion.”

First Read Flash: Health care worries

Updated